Each year, scores of industry newcomers pass through the halls of the nation’s largest, most comprehensive training facility of its kind and graduate as skilled tradespeople.

But you don’t necessarily need a 20,000-square-foot campus, complete with 12 fully functional display pools to train the ASP way. (Though, you’ve got to admit, it would be nice.)

Here, America’s Swimming Pool Co., the service industry’s preeminent franchiser, shares five tips on how to shape neophytes into competent pool pros.

1. Let them take the reins. ASP’s pool school, conducted in the heart of Georgia, has new franchisees ride along with an experienced tech during Week One. Throughout the second week, however, the trainee works the route under supervision to gain real, honest-to-goodness field experience. “At the end of the day, we conclude in the classroom … and do some reinforcement,” says Jimmie Meece, vice president of franchise operations.

2. Software is a safety net. It’s nice to have backup so that, when a trainee is stumped, he or she doesn’t have to call the boss to ask how many pounds of bicarb to add. ASP recently developed a proprietary software program called PoolOps. Among many things, it calculates dosages based on pool sizes. While PoolOps is exclusive to ASP franchisees (for now), there are similar programs on the market. Such programs can help curb human error.

3. Learn online. Fully baked learning programs are available through industry associations and various manufacturers. Because of its size, of course, ASP is able to create an online catalog of training videos. The portal will include modules on chemistry and equipment repair that ASP owners can refer to for continuing education.

4. Rig up a pool. It doesn’t take a national company to set up a small training facility. Upon graduating pool school, many ASP owners will create their own. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Ask manufacturers for display models of equipment or save some of the filters and pumps you replaced at your clients’ pools. Hook them up to a kiddie pool or a large tank of water and — viola! — you have an instant training pool. “That really gives them the combined classroom-style education and hands-on learning before they go to a customer’s backyard, where they may be under the microscope,” Meece says.

5. Get them certified. ASP franchise owners require their staffers to earn CPO accreditation. Not only will this reinforce what they’ve already learned, it makes good business sense, too. “It’s another way to separate yourself from the competition,” Meece says.