Making Things Easier

By Jim McCloskey

There’s nothing like a good breeze to turn swimming pools and other watershapes into magnets for debris – especially if there are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

We had gusting winds of record strength here in Southern California the other day – enough, in fact, to make the national news.  When I walked out into my backyard the next day, the skimmer basket was full and the pool cleaner had taken to whimpering in the corner.  I started by restoring both to working order, then devoted some time to sweeping the surface with a net, figuring the skimmer and cleaner would need my help again in an hour or so anyway.

The experience made me think a bit about Andrew Pansini, the founder of Jandy Industries, who passed away recently and left as his legacy the first automatic pool sweep.  Where I’m always a little too ready to pick up a net and scoop up the mess by myself, he was impatient enough with the process to invent his way to a landmark solution.

Net in hand, I also thought about other innovations that have taken so much of the monotony out of maintaining pools – auto-fill devices, chemical feeders, automatic covers, pump actuators, valve controls, automation systems and all the rest of the components that make it possible for pool owners not to mind doing the occasional bit of manual labor to keep up with devil winds.

I know we’ve come a long way toward making pools, spas, ponds, fountains and other waterfeatures relatively maintenance-free.  Still, we have a way to go to include as “standard equipment” all the systems and devices designed to produce that happy outcome.   

Long ago, the car companies learned the value of making everything but the most deluxe features “standard.”  The good thing for car companies is that consumers simply absorb the extra cost; the great thing is that consumers are happier with their vehicles and keep coming back for more.

Would the same approach work for watershapes?  I can’t see why not.


What do you think?  Would consumers accept the concept (and cost) of a standard, no-exceptions package of features that will make their watershapes easier to manage?  Share your thoughts below!   

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3 Responses to Making Things Easier

  1. Bob Knox says:

    Customers now get several estimates, and most times overlook the fine details. Most accept low to mid-level bids. Don’t forget this economy is in shambles. If every contractor bid the job apples-to-apples, however, what a wonderful way this would be to improve the future of our industry

  2. Jim Trask says:

    If we are likening pool/water feature bidding to car sales I would suggest establishing a base model price to compete with other bids, but define the “add-ons” or accessories for an increase in price for which the client has first hand knowledge of accepting a higher price. Thusly we compete with the competition (apples to apples) and have a chance to upgrade with the client’s understanding of why we now have apple pie with cheese on top!

  3. Stan Zielinski says:

    Most consumers know more about the car they drive than about the body of water that they are about to have installed or already have in their back yard. Most know about the transmission which engine, gas mileage,xm,heated seats,filtered A/C etc.
    Trying to educate a consumer of a water project can be frustrating at best. showing them the energy savings from one equipment set to another, the R.O.I. warranties and manufacturers willingness to jump in are just a few factors. Couple in a few more details such as gunite versus shot-crete, steel and plumbing schedules, cement ratios in the entire process,automation,solar and energy efficiencies.
    Apples to Apples ? You have to be joking! It’s more like the meat and potatoes compared to a 5 star meal cooked by Wolgang served by Cirque d Soliel.
    Personally, I try and educate consumers with as much information that is pertinent to their project as possible, let them decide how much they can afford and then push them an extra inch towards the items that are the most energy efficient and deliver a R.O.I. If they decide to shave on the project or play me against my competitor at least I know that I am playing on the same field with the same rules.
    Jim, after spending 25 years in Southern California servicing pools I feel for your biceps. Been there done that ! A few tips on cleaning trashed pools. 1. Until you get the trash off the top, shut off the pump. The potential for clogged plumbing is too great! 2. It’s easier to scoop stuff from the shallow end than the deep end. 3. A net, brush, garden hose and a bottle of diluted soap are your most efficient tools. 4. Always work from the deep end to the shallow end. 5. There is a zen to this task and you can become a master like Yoda with a bit of patience. 6. Clean 15 to 25 pools a day and you will quickly discover the Force. 7. Smart pool owners hire a real good, competent pool technician, pay them a fair wage and compensate them well when their pool ( ie LEXUS) gets trashed and needs to be detailed. The rest of my secrets you will need to contact me personally for, I’ll pay S&H.

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