Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on May 9, 2021 Updated on November 30, 2023
$5,550 - $12,100
$36,000 - $75,000 p.a.
Time to build
1 - 3 months
$29,000 - $37,000 p.a.
As pools have become less expensive in recent years they have also become more popular, which means the demand for pool cleaning services is also on the rise. This explains why the number of US pool cleaning businesses has increased 7% annually since 2016 to top 80,000, according to market analyst IBISWorld.
Yet still the US’ 10 million residential pools and more than 300,000 public pools struggle to find reliable cleaners, so there’s still money out there for quality service. Cleaning pools may not be the most glamorous line of work, but that’s one reason it offers real opportunity: because not everybody is willing to get their hands dirty!
Of course, starting a business is never easy. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide will walk you through the launch and development process and set you on the road to cleaning up in the pool servicing industry.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
How much does it cost to start a pool cleaning business?
The startup costs for a pool cleaning company can vary depending on the pool care service you want to operate. While the initial capital needed can be as little as $2,000, you probably want to set aside at least $8,500 to get your business off the ground.
A significant portion of the capital goes toward equipment. You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your pool cleaning business. Here’s a list to help you get started:
Skimmers and brushes
Water testing kit
Pool cleaning chemicals
Truck or SUV to transport your equipment
Or a trailer for a smaller vehicle
Invoice book, contract, and pricing sheets
Here’s a minimum startup cost breakdown for a pool cleaning business:
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$2,000 - $5,000
Tools and supplies
$2,000 - $3,000
$100 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
$5,550 - $12,100
Recurring annual costs include insurance, permits, and marketing. You’ll also need to regularly replenish your cleaning supplies.
How much can you earn from a pool cleaning business?
Pool cleaners generally charge $80 to $100 per hour, or as much as $200 per hour if you also offer pool maintenance and repair. But your ability to complete jobs quickly and the number of new customers you gain every month will determine your income.
In your first year or two, you could work from home and confirm 150 3-hour bookings per year. At $80 per hour, you’ll be bringing in $36,000 in annual revenue. This would mean around $29,000 in profit, assuming an 80% margin. As you gain more clients, bookings could climb to 250 per year. At this stage, you’d raise your fee to $100 per hour and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 50%. With annual revenue of $75,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $37,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
Starting a swimming pool cleaning business is pretty straightforward. But in some states, you can’t just decide to venture into the pool industry. You’ll need to be certified and undergo training before you’re allowed to clean residential or commercial pools. So it’s a good idea to get some training before you venture into this industry.
Before you become a pool technician, you could start by offering simple cleaning services such as skimming debris out of the water as you continue to hone your skills.
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
With the basics out of the way, it’s time to lay the groundwork for a successful launch.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Your direct competitors will be established cleaning companies in your area, and you could further narrow down by service or niche. For instance, if you clean commercial pools, you’ll be competing against companies targeting the same types of pools.
Research your competition to review their service offerings and prices and consider what you might do better. Ideally, you want to target an underserved segment of the market. It might help to narrow your focus to increase the chances of getting a foothold in the market and being able to build a reputation.
What? Determine your products or services
The pool cleaning business falls into two broad categories – cleaning and repair/maintenance. It makes perfect sense to decide which one you want to pursue early on to increase your chances of success.
Pool maintenance includes testing water pH levels, cleaning filter cartridges, checking water levels, vacuuming the pool bottom, and skimming debris from the surface.
Repair and replacement include fixing cracks and leaks in the pool structure, fitting and repairing pipes in pools and spas, replacing underwater lights, and fixing faulty pool cleaning equipment.
Nailing down a niche makes it easier for you to determine your potential customer, which in turn enables you to choose the best marketing strategy.
How much should you charge for pool cleaning?
As stated above, the hourly charge to clean pools runs from $80 to $100. But pool cleaning prices often differ from one task to another. So, it would be best if you considered several factors before you determine how much you’ll charge, such as:
The type of pool
The number of hours needed to finish the job
The location of the pool
We recommend you inspect the pool before giving a quote.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Once you’ve decided which segment of the market you want to pursue, the next step is to identify your target market, or typical customer. If you decide to focus on residential cleaning, your target market will be successful professionals and family homes often found in high-end suburbs.
If you choose to service businesses, potential commercial clients might include recreation centers, hotels, gyms, apartment complexes, and spas.
Where? Choose your business premises
Since you’re not going to be driving hundreds of miles to clean a pool, the location of your pool cleaning business has a direct impact on your service area and potential customers.
In Florida, for instance, you’ll be able to clean and service a variety of pools year-round, while in New York you’ll mostly be working on indoor residential pools and spas, due to seasonal weather patterns.
As a rule of thumb, you’re better off locating your business in an area with a high concentration of pools.
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Pool Cleaning Company Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “pools” or “cleaning”, boosts SEO
Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Aqua Clean Pool Services” over “Commercial Pool Care” or “Pool Chemical Solutions”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Pool Cleaning Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: A brief overview of your pool cleaning business, highlighting key points like mission, goals, and financial projections.
Business Overview: Detailed information on the nature of your pool cleaning business, including its mission, vision, and the specific services you offer.
Product and Services: Clear descriptions of the pool cleaning services you provide, outlining the scope and quality of your offerings.
Market Analysis: In-depth research on the pool cleaning industry, target market, and customer needs, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the business environment.
Competitive Analysis: Evaluation of competitors in the pool cleaning market, identifying strengths and weaknesses to position your business effectively.
Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting your pool cleaning services, including pricing, advertising, and customer acquisition tactics.
Management Team: Profiles of key individuals involved in the pool cleaning business, highlighting their expertise and roles in ensuring the business’s success.
Operations Plan: Details on the day-to-day activities of your pool cleaning business, from scheduling to equipment management and quality control.
Financial Plan: A comprehensive overview of your pool cleaning business’s financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis.
Appendix: Supplementary materials such as additional financial data, charts, or any other relevant information that supports and enhances the business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to servicing pools.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your pool service will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)– Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a pool cleaning business.
To be a commercial pool cleaner, you’ll need to be a certified technician. In essence, this means you’ll take a certification program consisting of 15 hours of training and an exam. If you want to offer repair and replacement services for parts like pool railings, filters, or piping, you’ll need to apply for a contractor’s license.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your pool cleaning business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Good pool service software like PoolTrac and PoolCarePRO can manage your scheduling and employees and optimize payments to boost customer service and accounting.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Congratulations on venturing into the pool cleaning business! To help you make a splash in the market, here are some practical marketing strategies:
Social Media Campaigns: Leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase your expertise with before-and-after pictures, maintenance tips, and customer testimonials, engaging potential clients visually and building trust.
Referral Programs: Encourage your satisfied customers to refer your services by offering discounts or a free cleaning for every successful referral, creating a network of loyal clients.
Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses such as real estate agents, home improvement stores, or property management companies to cross-promote services, expanding your reach within the community.
Seasonal Promotions: Design targeted promotions based on seasonal demands, offering discounts on winterizing services or pre-summer pool openings to attract customers at specific times of the year.
Community Events Sponsorship: Sponsor or participate in local community events, fairs, or charity activities to increase brand visibility and demonstrate your commitment to the community.
Mobile Advertising: Utilize vehicle decals or wraps to turn your service vehicles into mobile advertisements, creating a moving billboard that attracts attention while you’re on the job.
Customer Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program that rewards recurring customers with discounts, free services, or priority scheduling, incentivizing them to stick with your services.
Google My Business Optimization: Optimize your Google My Business profile with accurate information, high-quality images, and positive reviews to enhance your online presence and attract local customers searching for pool cleaning services.
Educational Content: Create informative blog posts, videos, or infographics about pool maintenance tips, water chemistry, and common issues, positioning yourself as an expert in the field and attracting customers seeking valuable information.
Uniform Branding: Ensure your team wears branded uniforms and your service vehicles prominently display your logo, creating a professional and cohesive brand image that builds trust with potential clients in your service area.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your pool cleaning business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Some signature USPs for your pool cleaning business could be:
The fastest, most reliable pool cleaning in town!
Big discount for committing to six months of regular cleanings
The most efficient and advanced pool cleaning tools
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a pool cleaning business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been servicing pools for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in pools. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a pool cleaning business would include:
Pool Technicians — cleaning, repair
General Manager — scheduling, hiring and firing, accounting
Marketing Lead — SEO practices, social media strategy
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Run a Pool Cleaning Business – Start Making Money!
Typically, pool cleaning is a 9 am to 6 pm business, but the schedule may vary depending on your customer. Most pool owners prefer pool cleaners and spa professionals who can make regularly scheduled visits. In essence, this means you should be open to working even during weekends.
Keep in mind also that a customer is more likely to hire a niched-down expert more familiar with their type of pool than a generalist. You’re now ready to start your entrepreneurial journey. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and launch your pool cleaning business!
Pool Cleaning Business (FAQs)
How many pools can be cleaned in a day?
Well, this depends on several factors. You’ll clean more swimming pools if you have several employees to complete jobs quickly.
The customer’s cleaning requirements can also determine how many pools you can clean in a day. It’ll take longer to complete a task if the pool requires repair and replacements.
What equipment do I need to start a pool cleaning business?
This depends on the services you’re offering. You’ll need more equipment if you’re doing repair and replacement in addition to cleaning. However, you can get started with a skimmer, water testing kit, leaf rakes, cleaning brushes, and pool chemicals as the bare minimum.
How much should I charge to clean pools?
The chargeable amount depends on the work involved, type of cleaning, and pool size. However, standard rates start from $80 to $100 per hour.
What chemical is used to clean pools?
Chlorine is commonly used to clean and sanitize pools. It helps kill bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms that can contaminate the water.
Is pool cleaning business profitable?
The profitability of a pool cleaning business can vary depending on factors such as location, competition, pricing, and the number of clients. However, with proper planning, efficient operations, and a good customer base, a pool cleaning business can be profitable.
How often should pools be cleaned and maintained?
Generally, pools should be cleaned at least once a week to remove debris, skim the surface, brush the walls and floor, and check and balance the chemical levels.
How can I effectively market my pool cleaning services to attract customers?
To effectively market your pool cleaning services and attract customers, consider the following strategies:
Develop a professional website to showcase your services, including information about your experience, certifications, and customer testimonials.
Utilize social media platforms to create engaging content, share pool maintenance tips, and advertise your services.
Network with local real estate agents, property managers, and homeowners’ associations who can refer customers to you.
Offer promotional discounts or incentives for new customers or for referrals.
Advertise in local directories, community newsletters, or online classifieds targeted to homeowners.
What are the common pool cleaning problems and how can I address them?
Common pool cleaning problems include:
Algae growth: Regularly checking and balancing chemical levels, maintaining proper filtration and circulation, and brushing the pool walls and floor can help prevent and address algae growth.
Water chemistry imbalances: Regularly testing and adjusting the pH, chlorine levels, and other chemical parameters can ensure proper water chemistry balance.
Debris accumulation: Skimming the surface, cleaning out baskets and filters, and using pool covers when not in use can help prevent debris accumulation.
Equipment malfunctions: Conduct routine inspections of pool equipment, such as pumps, filters, and heaters, to identify and address any malfunctions or issues promptly.
Water clarity issues: Proper filtration, regular cleaning, and chemical maintenance can help maintain clear and sparkling pool water.
How to Start a Pool Cleaning Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Pool Cleaning Company Name
Create a Pool Cleaning Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Pool Cleaning Business Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Pool Cleaning Business - Start Making Money!
Pool Cleaning Business (FAQs)
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