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 jobs.
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 different unit.
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 service.
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 truck.
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.