Not all service technicians establish routes by purchasing accounts and collecting referrals.

Within trade associations, techs may swap accounts to alleviate fuel costs and create a more convenient service area.

“Normally, down here, there isn’t a whole lot of money exchanging hands,” says Jeremy Smith, owner of Tadpole Pool Service in Wylie, Texas. “A lot of people in my IPSSA chapter are trading pools because of gas prices.”

While a handful of accounts may change hands, typically it is not an even swap, according to Smith. One tech may relinquish seven pools and receive five in return. However, any additional referrals are passed on to the new tech, so the difference can be easily made up, he added.

Still, if a pool makes logistical sense, the current market may prevent much significant route-swapping between techs.

“This is the tightest year on money you can imagine,” Smith says. “I’m holding onto every last crappy pool, because there’s no telling what will happen with the economy.”