This podcast episode discusses the difference between a custom build versus a cookie cutter build swimming pool
Welcome to the Pool Doctor of the Palm Beaches online podcast. With your hosts, Holly Colasurdo and Elizabeth Varian.
Elizabeth: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Pool Doctor of the Palm Beaches, the “pool news you can use” podcast. There’s a mouthful of P’s. Say hello to Holly, who’s on the other line.
Holly: Hello! Hello, all my curious pool people.
Holly: Nice to be back.
Elizabeth: It’s great to be back. We had a little delay with all the weather going on, it seems to have everybody out and about and down …
Holly: Good old Florida weather. So unpredictable.
Elizabeth: Yes. Let’s just jump right in, because we’ve kind of let everybody know last time, we really wanted to discuss quality custom pool builds.
Elizabeth: With the economy healing a lot in the real estate market, people are buying pools, and they’re looking either at a blank ground or they’re looking at a pool that is way outdated, maybe from the 1970s, and they really want to come in and get a backyard oasis so they can escape life and enjoy.
Elizabeth: We’re going to start off … We got a letter from Jamie in Boyton Beach, and she had a very interesting letter to us that I wanted to ask you about, Holly.
Elizabeth: I’m not going to list the company’s name, so we’ll just call them XYZ.
Elizabeth: She says, “I see signs from XYZ company everywhere. I have never heard anything good about them. How are they doing so much volume but have little good word?”
Holly: Okay, that’s probably a cookie cutter company. Companies that probably only build pools, I’m thinking, that don’t include service and renovation like we do. Probably, that’s what I’m thinking that that is. The reason you don’t, they just churn and burn them, and I can almost bet that the quality of the materials is really not the best. I can actually would bet my life on that.
Elizabeth: That kind of cost saving …
Holly: Right. It’s just the way of the world here in Florida, especially with pool companies. It doesn’t just fall on pool companies, it’s every service business. Any time you see people or companies churning and burning, you’re like, “What are they doing?” Well, it’s what they’re not doing that you don’t know. When it’s less, it’s definitely not necessarily best, and if it’s too good to be true, then it is what it is.
Elizabeth: Now you mentioned the word, “cookie cutter build.” What are the benefits between a custom build versus a cookie cutter build?
Holly: Cookie cutter … A lot of people, especially if you want to keep it cheap, they’ll probably just keep you in that cookie cutter mode. If you want to come to them, say with a picture of a home that you love and the pool, they might not necessarily be able to build that, or they might slowly sell you on something different where it’s not too much for them. You want a marble patio and you want it grey, and they say, “Okay, we’re going to give you a grey marble patio,” and they’ll say, “We’ll do it for less.” The client will say, “Oh, sure,” and here we are, we’ve quoted them the price as far as paying our workers for labor and material, and then they’re quoted a godawful lower price, and when you put that deck next to that picture, you’re going to see where they cut corners. It’s not going to be a true grey, or it’s going to be a little bit of grey but mostly white, because the white marble’s less than the grey color.
There are always little things you can look for, so again, it’s just who you feel most comfortable with. We don’t do cookie cutter, we’ll never do cookie cutter. When a client comes to us, we say, “Find your dream pool, we can build it.” We’re not putting men on the moon here.
Elizabeth: They can have their own style, they’re not stuck with rectangle or kidney.
Elizabeth: They can have their own added materials, they can have their own style, spa. And because you’re customizing it, you’re laying all the plans out first and getting all the approvals as you go, and when they’re done, it’s exactly what they want, not, “But this is what you could afford.”
Holly: Right, we will always gently guide them, and if they’re really totally off base on something or looking at a product, they’re thinking that it’s the product of the day, and it’s really not, we will gently say, “These are the experiences we’ve had,” and we will still let them make their own choice. That’s just the way it should be.
Elizabeth: Oh good, so they’re not left alone to design it all by themselves and show you a picture.
Elizabeth: You’re going to let them know, “Hey, the plumbing isn’t going to work the best here, but it will work over here,” and, “That is 20 years ago; let me show you some options for current day.”
Elizabeth: That’s wonderful, because our homes, they really become our castle, and you really want to make sure that you get what you want and that you can enjoy it, and not just be thrown together.
Holly: Or you don’t —
Elizabeth: I’m losing you. Are you there?
Holly: Yep, I’m here. Do you hear me?
Elizabeth: Yup, I didn’t hear the last few words that you said.
Holly: I was just saying you don’t have to have your neighbor’s pool, you can have your own individual pool. You might like your neighbor’s pool but might want something different, the surface to be different, the tile to be different, the deck to be different.
Elizabeth: Make it your own. Yeah, definitely don’t want to follow a crowd, especially since a lot of neighborhoods start to look alike.
Elizabeth: You want to make that stand out, especially if you’re going for resale value down the road.
Elizabeth: Now let’s talk about beyond the build, because I kind of slipped you a notice of who XYZ company was, and one of the things you had said is, “Oh, Elizabeth, they don’t do anything but build.”
Elizabeth: So tell me how you guys differ from that company, beyond the build.
Holly: I was going to say, too much building causes overcrowding of customer service, and you just don’t get the customer service you deserve. Many days of waiting, many days of follow up — again, that’s another thing of building too many pools at once, you don’t get the customer service that you’re expecting.
Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s during the build, absolutely.
Holly: Right. So follow up … Yeah, we’re a service company as well, so once we build your pool, we know all about it. We built it, we service it, it’s one big happy family. If something goes wrong with it or if you need a new motor, we know your pool and we can have that new motor ordered right away or whatever it is you need, because we’ll be servicing that pool.
Elizabeth: A lot of times, these cookie cutter businesses, they’re just going in, building, and moving on, going in, building, and moving on.
Elizabeth: You’re developing a relationship with your customers.
Holly: A relationship, yep. And it’s good.
Elizabeth: That’s fantastic, and if after 5, 10 years, they decide, “Oh, I want to change the spa,” you can change the spa. If after they build it, they go, “You know what? I would really like a custom outdoor kitchen,” you guys can go in and say, “You know what? We know how your pool was built, we know how your backyard is laid out. The custom kitchen would look great over here, and now we can match the materials because we bought the materials for you originally with the pool.”
Elizabeth: That just makes it so much better to have that one-stop, custom, customer care-centered pool company that you guys have become. That’s absolutely fantastic.
Let’s talk about pool services overall. We already kind of mentioned XYZ company; that kind of makes me wonder about pool cleaning competition. After the build, when you’re cleaning … I got three cards in the mail last week from someone who’s promoting. I mean, the prices were dirt cheap, and I had to call you guys up and go, “How come they’re so, so little?”
Holly: Yeah. You have to be careful, they’re out there. Everybody tries to undercut everybody, but in the long run, the client is not stupid. They always end up … Even if they leave us as a client, and that’s fine, we say, “Why?”, and they say, “I could find it cheaper.” That’s fine with us, but we do encourage them, if something happens or if you’re not happy, we’re always here for you, come back to us, we can pick up where we left off, and most of the time, they do because they’re either skimping on chemicals, they can’t clear up the problem they were promised, you have to … People think you can just build a pool and just hire a service company that doesn’t charge anything, or some people think they can do their own chemicals. It’s like having the cleaning lady once every two weeks in the house; she’s going to cut you on things that you might miss during the week.
Holly: That’s what that good consistent knowledge of how many chemicals you need in this pool, how much usage does it get. Depending on the usage, you’re going to have to add more chemicals. Some clients don’t understand that. Sometimes, that’s a hard, hard sell because they just don’t. But if they’ve been with us, if they’ve had a pool built by us, if they’ve had a pool renovated by us, service is really a no brainer.
And their pool is consistently maintained, and it lasts longer. We do know how they do it cheaply; some days, they don’t add chemicals when they should, and they see how long they can go without it and they stretch it out, and that pool suffers, believe it or not.
Elizabeth: Yeah. You’re going to have to shock it after a while, right?
Holly: Yeah, you just don’t know. Or you think it’s clean and it’s really not, and your child gets an earache; those are all signs of your pool water is not balanced. It’s a sensitive issue, like I said. We have clients that have cancer; sometimes we have to really watch out how many chemicals, we let them know when and where, and when they can get in. It all comes back to that customer relationship, which is really important to us. That’s how you stay in business. You can’t stay in business unless you have that … Again, we strive to please 97 percent, but the three percent, we will never ever, ever be able to please, and we understand that, but we try.
Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s every business. In fact, I think it’s 80/20, so you’re doing much better.
Holly: Right, yes. Oh, geez.
Elizabeth: We added a ton of new testimonials that you guys have received to the website.
Elizabeth: You’ve got a lot of people willing to take the time to go onto the internet and tell about how much they love working with you. I think that when other people are speaking out for you and taking the time to do it, that speaks volumes.
Elizabeth: Now what would you say to someone who gets a card in the mail and they’re deciding, “let me call the cheaper company,” are there any kind of questions that they can ask? Or if they have a cheaper company, how they can monitor it: “Am I getting the quality, or am I just getting someone showing up and dipping their toe in the water and leaving?”
Holly: Well, it depends. How do you know even if they’ve even shown up, unless you have cameras or unless they’re signing their time card, which we have our clients have a time card signed by our techs every time they clean the pool.
Elizabeth: Oh, wonderful.
Holly: So they know they’ve been there. If somebody’s running a day behind, we call and let them know. Nobody’s left hanging. First of all, I’d say, “How long have you been in business? What are you going to be doing different that my existing pool company is … How are you able to cut these corners? You’ve got to be cutting corners.” It’s not like we’re overpriced, we’re very fair, so when somebody comes with a dirt cheap price, I would probably question their credentials.
Elizabeth: “How do you keep it so cheap?” Yeah.
Holly: A lot of these guys driving around, they’re not even working for companies, they’re just little one-man shows, and they slip and fall on your property, they can sue you.
Elizabeth: Oh. I didn’t know that.
Holly: Oh, yeah.
Elizabeth: They’re a company, you think you hire a company, then they’re bonded and licensed.
Holly: Yeah, they’re protected, but if it’s a guy, if he says he works for a company, you have to call. You just have to do a little homework. It’s your property, it’s your pool, it’s your health, it’s your time and your money, it has to be valued.
Elizabeth: Wow, that’s definitely eye-opening information. You trust, but these days, it’s kind of hard to trust. I would definitely recommend Pool Doctor — not just because I’m talking to you on this podcast, but I’ve seen your work, and we’re actually getting ready to create a video to showcase some of your custom quality pool builds.
Holly: Oh good.
Elizabeth: I’m excited for them, they’re absolutely gorgeous. I saw some of the photos come through, and I think anyone listening, you should do your homework and don’t just hire a service professional that knocks on your door. That you should check for the licensing and bonding, because I don’t want someone to come in and take a slip and fall and sue me.
Elizabeth: It’s good to know about XYZ company out there just kicking out pools every other day and getting their signs in the yards, and realizing I may not be getting exactly what I want.
Elizabeth: This was very informative, so thank you so much for taking the time again to answer the questions.
Holly: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Elizabeth: Those of you listening, if you’re looking for Pool Doctor, you can find them at PoolsPalmBeaches.com, and you can also give them a call here in West Palm Beach, and that phone number is (561)-203-0270.
We will be talking again next month, Holly, and until then, have fun building those pools.
Holly: Yeah, happy pool build. Thanks, everybody.
Elizabeth: Bye, everybody.
Holly: See you on the radio.
Thank you for listening to our monthly podcast. Be sure to contact Pool Doctor of the Palm Beaches for your south Florida pool needs. Call (561)-203-0270, or visit us online at www.poolspalmbeaches.com.