Javier Payan - President/CEO, Payan Pool Service
Javier Payan - President/CEO, Payan Pool Service

In any list of requirements for operating a successful business – and keeping it that way – adaptability will place toward the top.

The last couple years have demonstrated this for Javier Payan and his company, San Diego-based Payan Pool Service. When Payan foresaw a shift in the competitive environment due to the post-pandemic slowdown, he made a significant change to his business model. When the opportunity arose to hire a high-level industry executive, he jumped at the chance, using the key hire as a springboard for cultivating the growth he’d been wanting. Along the way, he kept chipping away at the goal of fully staffing his company, not only with enough employees to manage the current workload, but to accommodate more.

The adjustments, Payan says, have resulted in noticeable revenue increases over last year, the needed infrastructure for growth, and a solidified company culture.


Payan has long hoped to grow his company but, due to understaffing, it was slow going.

“The limitations we had in growth were getting people, having capacity, and having an infrastructure that could support more people, trucks and customers,” says the President/CEO of the company. “Part of that infrastructure was having management.”

An opportunity to begin closing this gap presented itself when a former executive of organizations such as United Aqua Group and Fluidra expressed an interest in working with Payan.

“It was just a stroke of luck,” Payan says. “I knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Scott Ferguson became the new Director of Growth and Development. Not only did he take over key initiatives such as finding the ideal software, but he immediately had an impact on company culture and, along with other recent key hires, fostered an emphasis on the company’s values.

Finally, after a couple years trying to build a full staff, the firm has finally done so, thanks to a combination of referral bonuses to employees, along with hiring websites and a service called Rapid Hire Pro, which posts the job openings on the web and performs preliminary interviews. These hires have included new department managers who have taken over much of the day-to-day operations, so Payan can focus on big-picture issues.


As a pool-service veteran of more than 35 years, Payan could see it coming: Building was slowing down, so that would bring more competition and lowballing on price for his renovations operation.

With new construction on a downward curve, pool builders are devoting more time to renovations, creating more competition in that segment. If things go as they did during the last economic downturn, builders also will pursue more service work. Of course, with the increased supply will come decreased prices.

“We’ve seen this song and dance before,” Payan says. “It’s like this whole domino train.”

To deal with the expected change, and because he’d found renovations to be the most difficult part of his business, Payan decided to stop doing them and focus on his core business, service.

“This year the theme is, ‘Let’s just do what we’re really good at,’" he says. "We’ll take the best possible care of our customers, so when someone [boasts a lower price], the customer will say, ‘I’m not switching – you guys are always there for me.’”

This also fits into his growth plans, since regular, recurring service yields the most profit for the firm. And Payan’s reconfigured staff is helping maximize that profitability. Now, his service manager can actively promote the company's Premium plan. This contract includes less-regular services such as filter cleanings and replacement of wear-and-tear items such as the pump basket, pressure gauges and O-rings.

“If you’re signed up as a premium-plan customer, you’re not going to get any other bills, except a repair that you request,” Payan says.

Though the company added this option a couple years ago, the staff was too busy to promote it. Now, most new customers are signing up for this plan.


All these changes seem to be working: Business is up 15% so far compared with the same time last year.

This opportunity has been there for some time, but now the company can accommodate it. “In the last couple years, we've had to turn away four to five brand-new service customers per day,” Payan says. “Now we have four or five new service agreements going out every day.”

And Payan can focus on steering the company’s growth and making big-picture changes.

“We’ve been kind of flying by the seat of our pants for the last 30-something years,” he says. “To get to that next step, you have to do things differently.”