Two veteran service professionals are beginning an education program geared to others in their segment.
Called the Pool Business Academy, the school is meant to educate professionals on the business and technical aspects of running a service company.
The program will begin small, but founders Bryan Chrissan and Brett Gereau envision it spreading across the country and going online.
“What we’re trying to accomplish in the simplest terms is take a pool guy and turn him into a pool company,” said Chrissan, also owner of Clear Valley Pool Service in Temecula, Calif. “We need to get rid of the pool-guy mentality.”
The first classes will focus on new service professionals. With high demand and low barriers to entry, this segment experiences a higher rate of newcomers than most others.
“I’ve had a lot of guys who were friends of mine ask how I did certain things, whether it was technical issues, handling things with customers or billing,” said Gereau, who owned his own service company in Orange County until back issues caused him to change direction. “That’s what helped me realize that there was a need for more information in the industry.”
The school starts with three courses in late January/early February in Orange, Murrieta and Palm Springs, Calif. The single-day seminar, taught by both founders, is geared to those just starting in pool and spa service and will focus mostly on business subjects, including pricing, scheduling, scoring new accounts and collections. Some brief technical material will be covered, such as how to conduct quick audible and visual inspections, basic repairs, and equipment and functions.
“You could take all the repair classes you want at a trade show, but if you don’t know how to collect your money and write up a basic contract, that technical training does you no good, because you never get paid,” Chrissan said. “That’s where I think a lot of [service techs] fail.”
Chrissan and Gereau, an estimator with Alan Smith Plastering in Orange, Calif., will teach at the Western Pool and Spa Show next March in Long Beach, Calif.
The founders expect to offer other classes in the future, including some geared to more experienced professionals. On the technical side, the duo plans to address the repair of older equipment. This complements more the commonly available instruction on new products, Chrissan said.
“Right now I need to know how to work on an 8-year-old heater, and there’s nowhere to learn that,” he said. “That’s a need we want to fill for these guys so they ... can succeed in this industry.”
In the future, classes may expand geographically, first throughout the rest of California, then into other states. Eventually, Chrissan said, they may begin franchising the material out to others to teach.
The founders also hope to purchase and open a facility in the Orange County, Calif. area to conduct education, rent to manufacturers for their programs, and for other uses. This may happen in 2015, Chrissan said.
Classes may go online a little farther down the road, he added. In addition to attending classes virtually, users would be able to purchase memberships permitting access to instructional videos, he added, to offer a more formal education than YouTube videos.
Gereau will serve as president of the new entity, while Chrissan will be its director of instruction and education.