Rich Gallo serves an exclusive clientele in the Los Angeles area and charges some of the highest rates in the country for his company’s pool/spa maintenance and repair services.
His company, PureSwim, has seen astronomical growth since the pandemic: 2021 marked an increase of 31%; 2022 saw a 46% boost, and this year closes out higher by 23%.
PureSwim has seemed relatively impervious to the economic downslides that have kept some on the edge of their seats. And he’d like to keep it that way.
To do this, he has upped the ante when it comes to responsiveness toward customers.
“We pivot to a position where we’re always available to the client,” says the CEO with the Valencia, Calif.-based company. "Instead of having a next-day or same-day service response, we’re there the same hour. If somebody calls, with the force that we have out there, we can pivot, reschedule and get there within an hour. That makes us invaluable with the customer.”
But this strategy requires preparation.
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The company starts by doing what it can to avoid such surprises.
“The last thing I’d ever want to hear from my customers is, ‘You were just here. Why wasn’t this checked? Why am I paying all that money?’” Gallo says.
To prevent malfunctions and spontaneous calls as much as possible, PureSwim technicians take the time on each visit to go through the system, not only making sure it works, but to experience the process of operating the vessel as the customer would.
“We go on our phone, open up their app... and turn things on in the same manner the customer would,” Gallo explains. “This way, we can verify that things work as they should and as they would be expected to from the customer’s point of view. Otherwise... you’re not getting the full grasp of what they’re capable of turning on.”
Most of the company’s customer contracts stipulate that the tech can make repairs up to a certain dollar amount without prior authorization. Depending on the contract, that cap ranges from $300 to $800.
“We can go ahead and immediately take care of that and then invoice them or charge their card on file,” Gallo says. "They see the value that, if we’re there and something needs to be done, let’s not waste time trying to make phone calls or send emails."
But, even with this preventive measure in place, of course, things come up. Gallo estimates they get three to four calls a week from customers needing a special call.
“It doesn’t have to be an emergency -- it could be anything,” he says. “The customer wouldn’t call if they didn’t think it was an emergency -- and the last thing they want to be told is that it’s not a big deal.”
But in order for PureSwim to offer this level of service, its staff and trucks must be ready to turn on a dime.
“You have to have a system that shows where they’re at, and you have to have them all trained and certified in the same way,” Gallo says. “But even more important, you have to have a truck that’s properly outfitted with the tools and parts that are necessary to take on almost any task.”
Techs undergo a 24-month training period, during which time they earn just about all the certifications the industry has to offer.
“I look at employees as assets rather than liabilities, so that amount of money doesn’t bother me,” he says. “I know I’m going to be investing in that and there will be a payback.”
When a client calls with a problem that can’t wait until the next visit, ideally the company can just send the closest technician to address it. “If he can’t get back on his route and finish, you can have that rerouted for the next day,” Gallo says. “Then we just call the customer and explain, ‘We’ll be there first thing tomorrow morning.’”
Depending on the issue, it may not be that straightforward. Not every truck is outfitted the same.
“The inventory on every truck has a baseline, then some trucks have a little more of certain items if their route calls for it,” Gallo says.
For instance, some trucks need a deeper supply of heater parts to meet the needs of that set of clients. So, if a heater issue comes up, that tech may be most equipped to take the call.
This same day/same hour service is available almost exclusively to those who have contracted with PureSwim for routine visits. Gallo believes it will help safeguard his company against market highs and lows.
“That’s been our most valuable change -- creating the time that’s needed to give that level of service,” Gallo says. “We create an invaluable situation where, when times are tough, they have to really think hard about what they’d be giving up if they move on from us.”