When I recently
spent a hot summer day with Bryan Chrissan, owner of Clear Valley Pool
and Spa in Murrieta, Calif., I thought I was prepared.
Sunscreen: Check. Water bottles: Check.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how hard it was to talk to
Bryan. Not because Bryan did all the talking, although he has
plenty to say. It’s because fellow service techs were often
horning in on the conversation, looking for advice on their own
That morning, we had no sooner pulled up to a pool supply
warehouse when another tech came up and talked to Bryan about a
controller he was planning to install. Before Bryan even got out of
his truck, he gave the tech his views on the controller. After
listening to Bryan, the tech changed his plan and went with a
Of course, Bryan kept up his end of the conversation too. At times
he was a little miffed at some of the calls for help. “I tell
guys all the time: manufacturers have these classes. Take
them!” he told me.
The workday started easily enough. After stopping to pick up
supplies, we went to a commercial pool to do its regular
It was an indoor pool at a swimming school. Ah, this won’t be
too bad, I thought.
Next we had a few residential service calls. By this time, it was
around 10 in the morning, and it was starting to heat up. I’d
already gone through my water. Fortunately, Bryan kept a bunch of
frozen water bottles behind the front seat of his truck.
For me, a novice in the pool industry, it was amazing how well
Bryan knew each customer, his or her preferences, and exactly what
their pool needed.
It might be because of the copious notes he took. The only thing
that rivaled our water consumption that day was Bryan’s use
of Post-It Notes.
Of course, Bryan saved the most difficult job — a pump
replacement — for the hottest part of the day. The
customer’s house was on a ridge in a rural area, where hot,
dusty breezes made the work even more miserable.
The only good thing was that the equipment was out in the open,
making it easy to work on.
“This job will be an hour, 90 minutes at the most,”
Bryan said. I remember thinking: “Oh boy, I’ll bet he
just jinxed us.”
Nope. He called it just about right. By the time he was done (with
some definitely unskilled help from me), it had been about an hour
and a half.
Our shirts were wet and our faces were red, but we finally were
able to return to the oasis of his air-conditioned
We had a couple more stops scheduled.
The next one up was a startup. I thought about asking to stay in
the truck, but I sensed that wouldn’t fly. After we finished
that call though, Bryan called it quits. He didn’t get an
argument from me.
The main thing I learned in my day with Bryan was that
there’s always something else you can learn to improve your
business. Bryan is glad to give advice to his colleagues, but urges
them to spend the time it takes to learn more about the equipment
they work on.
Oh, I learned another thing: Wear sunscreen.