How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business
People all over the United States like to go swimming, and many of them head to a swimming pool when they want to take a dip. Keeping the many swimming pools in the country clean and operating properly is major business. According to IBISWorld, the swimming pool cleaning services industry is a $3 billion industry. With no single company dominating the industry, there’s plenty of opportunity for new business owners who are interested starting up a business that cleans and services pools.
You may also be interested in additional low cost business ideas.
Learn how to start your own Pool Cleaning Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a pool cleaning business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Pool Cleaning Business
- Form your Pool Cleaning Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Pool Cleaning Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Pool Cleaning Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Pool Cleaning Business
- Get Pool Cleaning Business Insurance
- Define your Pool Cleaning Business Brand
- Create your Pool Cleaning Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your pool cleaning business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Pool Cleaning Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a pool cleaning business?
The startup costs for a pool service business can often be kept to as little as $2,000 (not including any licensing fees). Most capital is put towards equipment and supplies. A business will need water test kits, cleaning chemicals, skimmers, brushes and leaf rakes. Purchasing chemicals in bulk helps keep costs low, although it increases the initial investment slightly.
Business owners also need a vehicle that’s large enough to transport their supplies. Trucks, SUVs and trailers are typically big enough, and some crossovers will suffice. In order to keep startup costs low, many business owners begin by using their personal vehicle if it’s large enough.
What are the ongoing expenses for a pool cleaning business?
The ongoing expenses for a pool service business include supply costs, fuel costs, and vehicle repairs, maintenance and depreciation. Altogether, ongoing expenses account for about 20 percent of a business’ revenue.
Who is the target market?
While most pool service businesses clean and maintain individual’s pools, a business’ ideal customer is a business or organization that has a commercial pool (e.g. a hotel, apartment complex, condominium property, gated community, school, park or fitness center). Commercial pools take longer to clean, but pool service businesses are able to charge more for cleaning them. They also are used by more people and, therefore, frequently need to be cleaned more often. Some commercial pools may need to be serviced weekly, or even two or three times per week.
How does a pool cleaning business make money?
A pool service business makes money by charging for cleaning swimming pools and making minor repairs to pools.
How much can you charge customers?
How much a pool service business charges customers depends on several factors, including how frequently the customer’s pool is serviced and what’s done during the service. According to Home Advisor, pool service costs average:
- $177 for weekly services
- $267 for bi-weekly services
- $190 for monthly services
- $266 for opening and closing only
How much profit can a pool cleaning business make?
A pool service business owner will make about $50 to $60 per hour cleaning pools. Working full time, this comes to $2,000 to $2,400 per week. (There may not be full-time work available in the offseason).
How can you make your business more profitable?
A pool service business owner can increase their hourly wage to between $150 and $200 per hour if they both clean pools, and perform minor repairs or maintenance to pool equipment. A business owner that does this additional work may bring in as much as $85,000 annually.
Pool service businesses can also sell supplies to pool owners who want to clean their pools themselves. This can provide an additional stream of revenue and help the business find more customers.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your pool cleaning business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Some states require the obtainment of a Pool Contractor License. There is often a specific kind of Pool Contractor License for Pool Servicing. To obtain this license, there is typically either an education requirement of a Bachelor’s Degree or 4 years of experience. If the applicant meets these requirements, he then qualifies for the Pool Exam which must be passed in order to obtain the license. There are fees for both the exam and the license.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Pool service businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your pool service business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Pool Cleaning Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Pool Cleaning Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a pool cleaning business
A pool service business’ marketing efforts should be specifically focused on pool owners within the business’ service area. Businesses may reach these potential customers online via targeted ads or through direct mailing.
Business owners who don’t have much money for marketing may even be able to get their first few customers by going door to door and cold calling. While this takes a lot of work at first, any customers gained will be in the same general area -- which will reduce how much time is lost driving between customers’ locations.
How to keep customers coming back
When a pool service business is marketed can greatly impact the business’ success. The ideal time to market a business is in the late winter and early spring -- when people are starting to think about their swimming pools but before they have signed a contract with a competitor. If a pool service business can secure customers by signing contracts during this time of year, they’ll have those customers all season long.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who enjoys working with their hands and being outside may enjoy running a pool service business. It also helps to be self-motivated, as business owners spend much of their time working alone while cleaning pools, and personable, because owners frequently see their customers when cleaning pools.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a pool cleaning business?
A pool service business owner spends a lot of their time going to customer’s locations and cleaning their pools. A typical cleaning may involve:
- Driving to a customer’s site
- Checking the pool’s water and adding chemicals as appropriate
- Emptying debris baskets, cleaning the pool’s filter and similar tasks
- Looking over the pool’s equipment and making any necessary minor repairs
- Leaving a bill and driving to the next customer’s site
When not cleaning customers’ pools, business owners schedule cleanings, market their business, order additional supplies and maintain their equipment.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pool cleaning business?
A pool service business owner needs to be familiar with how to both clean and service swimming pools. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) offers a Certified Pool/Spa Operator Certification (CPO) Program that’s widely respected in the industry. To become certified, business owners must either attend a two-day, in-person class or complete a blended class that includes one day of in-person instruction and a day of online training.
In addition to the NSPF’s CPO class, several businesses also offer courses, some of which are free. Pool Care Directory has an email course, and HD Supply provides three-hour classes on pool maintenance.
Finally, there are a number of books and ebooks available on pool cleaning. The Ultimate Guide to Pool Maintenance and Swimming Pool Basics for Servicing Professionals are two resources that business owners might want to review or keep as references.
What is the growth potential for a pool cleaning business?
A pool service business may be a single-person operation, or it can be a large company. Many business owners never hire employees and simply clean pools in their area themselves. Others grow their business into regional or national chains. An example of a local business is Belleair Pool Service & Supply. America’s Swimming Pool Co., a national franchise.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a pool cleaning business?
Cleaning pools is a seasonal business (even in the Southern United States), and business owners need to prepare for the industry’s ebbs and flows. The summer is typically steady, as people are using their pools. Spring and fall, when pools are opened and closed, can be extremely busy. The winter is often slow.
Business owners may be able to prepare for winter’s slow season by trying to find customers with indoor pools that are open year-round. Fitness clubs, high-end hotels and some apartment complexes may have indoor pools. With a few commercial accounts like these and some smart financial management, business owners might be able to get through this slow time of ear without having to find alternative employment.
How and when to build a team
Many pool service business owners never hire employees. Those that bring on employees usually hire their first employee once they have more customers than they can serve themselves.