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How to price pool cleaning services

pool cleaning tools
August 30, 2022
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
August 30, 2022 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

Pool cleaning services are vital to communities—pools in homeowners’ backyards, municipal complexes, and resort spaces all require maintenance, and pool cleaning service providers fill that niche. 

But, if you’re starting a pool cleaning business, you might not know how to price pool services. Pool cleaning service prices vary widely depending on the tasks completed, your geographic location, pool size, and so much more. 

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about how to price pool services, breaking down rate considerations step-by-step. This guide will equip you with the tools you need to build a competitive pricing model. 

Types of pool services

Whether you are helping homeowners check off their home maintenance checklist or working with more commercial clients, how you price each job depends on the types of services involved. Some common pool cleaning services include the following: 

Pool vacuuming

During pool vacuuming, technicians connect a removable hose and suction device to a pool’s built-in water return valve to clear sand, dirt, leaves, and other debris from the pool surface. 

Vacuuming is crucial to pool maintenance plans—when vacuuming, pool service technicians take a detailed look beneath the surface, identifying issues before they escalate, including:

  • Surface stains
  • Cracks or holes
  • Mold growth
  • Broken lights, drains, and valves

In addition, vacuuming is likely to be one of your most highly requested services. So, developing a vacuuming pricing guide should be one of your first steps when starting a pool cleaning business.

Pool brushing

While likely less familiar to your client base, pool surface brushing is part and parcel of any maintenance plan. Why should you offer pool brushing to your clients?

  • Algae protection – Algae can turn pools green or even make them unsafe to swim in. Since algae thrive in aquatic environments (especially in warm climates), it’s crucial for pool owners to manage growth as proactively as possible. Brushing can eliminate spores before they’re even visible, preventing algal growth and maintaining water safety. 
  • Surface protection and maintenance – When dirt, debris, and plant matter settle on the bottom of a pool, they can create staining or facilitate algae growth. Brushing the bottom and sides of a pool can prevent debris from sticking to the surface, ensuring a shiny appearance.
  • New surface protocols -  After a pool is resurfaced—or a new pool is completed and filled—the surfacing materials are likely to shed grout particles, dust, and other debris into the bottom of the pool. Many surfacing manufacturers recommend brushing a pool frequently after it’s resurfaced to prevent caking and permanent damage to the finish until the pool filter removes the shed particles.

Pool brushing can be laborious and time-consuming, and your pricing should reflect your efforts. 

Pool netting

Pool netting—also known as skimming—removes debris floating on top of the water. Leaves and grass clippings are common targets for netting. 

Proactive netting can decrease your pool vacuuming efforts by intercepting debris before it sinks to the bottom. In turn, effective netting can prevent surface staining and algal growth. 

Pool cleaners offering netting services are also likely to encounter insects, amphibians, or other animals who have found their way into swimming pools. While they’re typically easy to remove with a skimming tool, unwelcome visitors can carry viruses and bacteria that can make people sick. Thus, netting services should occupy a space on your pricing list. 

Pool maintenance

Aside from cleaning inside of the pool via vacuuming, brushing, and netting, pool cleaning service technicians sometimes offer basic pool maintenance services, including:

  • Filter cleaning – Swimming pools rely upon a series of filters to perform some self-cleaning functions and maintain water safety. But, these filters don’t clear on their own—pool service technicians can remove a pool’s various filters, empty the debris, and clean them for optimal operation. 
  • Chemical management and water treatment - To remain safe for swimming, pool water must be treated with a variety of chemicals like chlorine, bromine, shock solutions, or salt. Pool cleaning service providers sometimes offer chemical maintenance services to help pool owners maintain a safe pH for swimming. 
  • Pump maintenance – Pools require pumps to circulate clean and dirty water through the system. But, like any other equipment, pool pumps require maintenance to operate efficiently, maintain suction, and adequately filter contaminants. 

Offering pool maintenance services to your customers in addition to cleaning services can help you become a one-stop shop for pool owners. As always, pool maintenance cost can also depend on its own factors, like if it needs a chemical water treatment, filter cleaning, etc.

Pool area maintenance

If you have other skills aside from pool maintenance, consider offering additional services, like:

  • Cleaning or pressure washing pavers and outdoor surfaces
  • Removing nearby lawn debris that could blow into the pool
  • Umbrella maintenance and cleaning
  • Pool cover cleaning
  • Pool draining and other winter preparation services

By offering turnkey pool services at an affordable price, you can achieve a larger client base and secure larger contracts per customer. 

How to charge for pool services

Before you advertise your pool business, you should develop at least a preliminary pricing guide to provide to your first clients. While determining pool cleaning costs and service pricing can take time, it helps to look at the factors that impact it. Let’s explore some elements to consider when determining pool maintenance cost for your services. 

1. Pool size

Charging for services based on the total size of the pool is a simple way to produce estimates for your clients and charge a reasonable rate. But, how do you determine pool size, and how do you establish a unit rate for service areas and size-based pricing? Let's explore a few methods:

  • Bottom surface calculation – If you’re only providing vacuuming services, it may make sense to build a price that only accounts for the bottom surface of the pool. 
  • Bottom and wall surface calculation – For pool service technicians offering vacuuming and brushing, consider calculating the total surface area of the bottom of the pool and its surrounding walls to determine a fair price.
  • Gallon calculation – Pool owners likely know how many gallons their pool holds, and pool capacity is a common method for determining size. Consider setting a price for pools in tiered gallon ranges to establish simple size-based pricing. 

2. Pool area size

If you’re providing pool area maintenance in addition to pool cleaning services, consider developing a price that accounts for the entire pool area. Why?

  • Without accounting for pool area labor, you could be undercharging for services.
  • A customer’s pool area may eclipse the square footage of their pool only.
  • Larger pool areas typically feature more accouterments to maintain, like
    • Patio furniture
    • Umbrellas
    • Floats and toys
    • Pavers or decking

For turnkey packages, consider building a price based on the square footage of the entire pool area to ensure that you’re being paid for the full extent of your labor. 

3. Per service

Instead of size-based pricing, consider charging a flat rate for a la carte services. For clients who only need one-time service or who want to purchase a test clean before committing to a continuing services contract, flat-rate pricing for each service provided can make it easy to provide timely estimates. 

Consider the following method for establishing flat-rate pricing:

  • Calculate how long it takes you to provide one service for an average-sized pool.
  • Determine a fair hourly rate for your or your staff’s time.
  • Total your typical costs for supplies, fuel, meals, or other as-needed expenses.
  • Multiply your estimated time by your hourly rate and add your additional expenses.

4. Service bundles and routine maintenance

While we’ve touched on turnkey services, consider other possible bundles for clients seeking numerous services. Some example bundles could include:

  • A cleaning package featuring netting, brushing, and vacuuming
  • A cleaning and pump maintenance bundle
  • An all-in-one price for all of your services combined

In addition, consider how you’ll implement routine maintenance contracts if you plan to offer them. Consider integrating a discount system for routine customers, a rewards program for repeat customers, or another incentive for potential repeat clients. 

5. Service location

When determining how the location will factor into your pricing, consider two factors:

  1. A client’s proximity to your headquarters or office
  2. Your general geographic location

Prices for services will differ across the country—pool cleaners in Los Angeles are likely charging different rates than service providers in Washington, DC. 

To determine the going rate for pool cleaning services in your area, do some research for the rates in your local market. This is a critical element of pricing pool services, and you want to make sure that your estimates reflect local market values. Look into different ads for pool services in your area to get a feel for the types of services your competitors offer and potentially gauge their price point. 

Pool cleaning pricing examples

Speaking of market research, let’s take a look at two examples of small pool cleaning businesses and explore their services:

  • Citywide Pool Service – Based in Gainesville, Florida, Citywide Pool Service provides a la carte services and bundled pricing to their customers. But, their services are contract-free—clients don’t have to commit to a minimum contract duration, giving them more flexibility to choose their cleaning schedules.
  • Pool Care Solutions – Pool Care Solutions operates in Palm Springs, California, and the surrounding areas. They take turnkey services to the next level, offering cleaning, equipment maintenance, automation services, and pool remodeling services.

Researching your local market is one of the best ways to competitively determine your pool service cost. Local market research can also give you insight into any other swimming pool cleaning service offered by local competitors. 

Develop your pool cleaning business with Nextdoor

Pool cleaning services prices vary based on the services offered, pool size, service location, and many other factors, and determining the pricing isn’t always simple. 

If you’re starting a pool business or drafting up a pool cleaning business plan, Nextdoor is here to help. Your neighbors want to shop local, and as a small business owner, you can help your community’s economy thrive. Advertise your business on Nextdoor to jumpstart your journey to market recognition.

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