While the pandemic has created challenges for pool and spa retailers, it has also created opportunities for “out of the box” thinking. Business owners have had to quickly develop new programs that create additional revenue streams. One idea that emerged for several retailers is using mobile water testing software to provide professional, at-home, poolside water testing. This way, customers don’t have to bring water samples into the retail store.
Initially, retailers were looking for ways to stay connected to the customers that normally came in for water testing and then purchased chemicals once their test was complete. For example, Steve White, owner of Underwater Pool Masters, was panicked at the beginning of the pandemic, worried about lost income from his otherwise very profitable in-store water-testing service. But one of White’s friends, a marketing specialist on the west coast, encouraged him to look at this as an opportunity to distinguish his business from others in the marketplace.
“She said to me, Steve, why don’t you take your expertise directly to the customer, to their doorstep, and give extra personal service and charge a premium. And it turns out, she was right,” says White.
From the encouragement given by his friend, the Underwater Pool Masters team developed what they now call “The Poolside Chemist.” Poolside Chemist is a program that was created to solve the in-store water testing problem created by the pandemic.
Poolside Chemist brings an in-store water-testing lab to the poolside of the customer, with all COVID safety protocols in place for the well-being of the pool service tech as well as the customer. For a fee, a certified pool operator uses state-of-the-art water testing technology to assess chemical levels in the water and apply necessary chemicals in a contactless experience for the customer.
“The program featured use of the LaMotte3585 WaterLink Spin Touch, a mobile water testing system that generates an instant and accurate range of chemical levels, sending results to the customer instantly by email,” explains White. “We really couldn’t have made this program a reality without the LaMotte technology.”
It turns out that this idea started to emerge even prior to the pandemic. Dan Lenz, manager at All Seasons Pools in Illinois, also saw a business opportunity for his service department by creating a mobile service using water testing software.
“We also use the LaMotte mobile spin test equipment and we realized there would be a real opportunity to get into the backyard to test the pool water and examine the entire pool while water testing,” says Lenz. “There are hundreds of folks who come into our store every year with their water for testing and they usually just test their water, buy their chemicals a vac or a brush and leave the store. We know nothing else about their pool,” explains Lenz. “But by being at the pool to test the water, our techs look around at the entire pool and the pool equipment, looking for opportunities to upgrade pumps, heaters, filters and more importantly, help a pool owner determine why the might be experiencing a chronic water problem or staining that has more to do with the physical equipment of the pool and can’t only be fixed with chemicals.”
Because the new mobile water testing service was a means for the All Seasons service department to develop leads, Lenz and his team created a detailed checklist for their techs to use when doing the mobile water testing so that techs get a complete profile of the pool including photos of the pool, the pump room and the backyard surroundings. This profile is then used as a lead for selling additional services and products in the future.
“It’s a bit of an investment to purchase the LaMotte mobile devices, but the potential revenue from these sales leads will quickly cover the initial cost. Not to mention, we also charge a fee for the mobile water testing service.” Lenz had started to pioneer this program prior to the pandemic but quickly found renewed reasons to make it a priority during COVID lockdown.
Both Underwater Pool Masters and All Seasons are now building valuable databases of information as a result of creating mobile poolside, water-testing programs. The RB Retail and Service software offers an integrated solution for pool and spa businesses including a Water Lab Sync component that integrates with the LaMotte system and also has a Mobile Service system that automatically links your in-house database of customers with water testing information and history, which can all be entered from the field using RB’s Mobile Service feature.
Being able to provide staff with real time, and immediate access to important water testing information as well products owned, pool and spa size, stored images and schematics, previous water problems, equipment profiles, personal information, directions, and more, gives pool and spa businesses the tools to create sales opportunities. It also makes for an exceptional customer service experience that will keep customers coming back to you well beyond the pandemic.
The use of mobile apps has exploded for every business in light of the pandemic. Apps have made it easier than ever – for both consumers and retailers – to make safe transactions and stay in touch while maintaining social distancing. There are now many mobile apps available through business software packages or as stand alone tools, that will ensure your company provides better service to customers and makes daily operations less stressful for employees. Delivering exceptional service can be challenging during the busy season when insufficient checkout resources at peak times often lead to long lines, frustrated customers, and lost sales. Taking water testing poolside and using mobile apps can help resolve these issues and elevate the customer experience.
Having a water-testing database that is integrated into point of sale software allows staff in the store and techs in the field to better help customers. The ability to help a customer with readily accessible information at any terminal or on any screen in-store improves service and builds an incredible amount of customer loyalty. This also applies to service techs in the field, where apps allow them to upload photos, equipment information and other customer data for future reference as well as tools to help diagnose water chemistry issues. They even allow techs to send messages directly to clients with recommended product purchases that can be made directly through your online store.
Moving the traditional water testing system from an in-store service to a mobile, poolside service might have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic but it is also helping to alleviate an existing common pain point for pool and spa businesses. By embracing the mobile technology, businesses like Underwater Pool Masters and All Seasons are providing better customer service, distinguishing themselves from their competitors and generating an incredible amount of information saved in their CRM databases for future sales and revenue opportunities. There is still time to set up a poolside water-testing program for this season. Get a jump-start by using an industry-specific business software program with an integrated water-testing sync and a mobile app to expand your customer base and your revenue streams.