Facility Maintenance Rulez!

Managing your commercial pool, hotel pool, or club poolWith a fist pump, a 1980’s executive mullet, and a faded rock concert t-shirt emblazoned with the title “Facilities Maintenance Rulez!” I begin this PLOG (Pool Blog).

To those nameless heroes who make our commercial swimming pools comfortable for the rest of us; we salute you! Rock on, this is your anthem!

Ok, who are we kidding!? Truth is, commercial pool or hotel pool maintenance is hard work and often goes without the recognition it deserves. Let’s face it; every guest, each tenant, and all the members enjoy the pool due to the hard work of facilities maintenance engineers, which goes largely unnoticed – until something goes wrong. You are at your best when your life’s work fades into the background and for this reason you deserve a rockin’ concert.

So what does this have to do with commercial swimming pool supplies?

I’m glad you asked! Wouldn’t be much of a Plog (pool blog) without a shameless commercial pool supplies plug now would it? That said, there really are some basic rules (I’m sorry “rulez” for those of you that are still following the theme) for hotel pool management or any commercial pool that serves paying guests.

RULE #1 – Perception is reality

We’re all guilty of it. We allow the first visual representation of our surroundings to impact our perceptions of reality. Ever walk into a fast food restaurant with overflowing garbage cans, long lines, and that greasy film on the floor that makes you feel like your floating across the room? If you have,  I’m betting the food didn’t taste so good, that is if you even embraced the challenge. Fact is, the quality of the floor, garbage cans, and number of patrons has no bearing on the quality of the food, but the perceived connection IS very real and will influence your decision to return to that establishment.

If you think the your guests view your swimming pool any differently, I invite you to Google topics like” hotel swimming pool reviews”  and learn what your customers are saying about your pool and others. Bottom line; a cloudy, foamy, paint peeling, nasty smelling swimming pool with indescribable organic material suspended or lying at the bottom of the pool doesn’t send the best message to your guests. It might be cheaper to maintain, but you’ll scare off more customers in the long run than it’s worth and in this day and age of information freedom, trust me when I say you don’t want that kind of publicity.

RULE #2 – Clean isn’t clean, unless it’s clean

C’mon man! Clean, clear and balanced water should be second nature by now, but just in case you’ve gotten too busy – just remember this. Chlorine kills bacteria and prevents infections and disease! Shocking removes combined chlorine so that your pool doesn’t smell. Proper pH balance prevents your customers from getting red eyes, rashes, skin irritation, and also keeps your pool equipment from disintegrating.

Alkalinity is a buffer to pH and helps to prevent wild swings in pH level, when a busload of 14 year old kids descend on your pool. Calcium hardness keeps the pool plaster from becoming etched, which not only prevents “pool-toe” but a rough pool surface can harbor bacteria, pathogens, and other organic yet unpleasant things. Finally cyanuric acid keeps your chlorine from getting destroyed by ultraviolet light (the sun); but too much CYA, and you risk more eye irritation and skin inflammation. Miss any one of these and you’re refunding room nights, rent payments, or membership dues or worse, facing a complete shut down by the local health department.

These  chemical qualities are simple to check, and even easier to balance. Skip these and you end up with cloudy water, foam, scum, red-eyed customers, health department issues, and worse. You could end up in the news or as an example in this plog! Check out these real reviews found online:

“Gross Pool, hot rooms – Could have been much better”

“This could be have been a great pool – But the owners are letting things fall apart.”

“The pool was off colored – I think some thing was growing in it.”

“They did not clean the pool area for days – pizza boxes were left out in the same place all weekend…”

“…One good they thing they did discount my rooms due to their failures.”

RULE #3 – Time IS money!

I don’t care if you own the joint or just work there, the old saying “Time is money” couldn’t be more true. For example, let’s say you do own the joint; if you’re paying someone to clean the pool for an hour each day,  investing in an automatic pool cleaner saves not only the labor expense, but also extends the life of your pump and filter system and reduces chemical usage paying for itself in no time at all!

Still not convinced? The average time to vacuum a medium commercial pool is 1 hour and may need to be done every day. If you’re paying someone $10 and hour, even if they only clean the pool 4 times a week, that’s $40 a week. 52 weeks later and you’ve spent $2,080 just to vacuum the pool. A Duramax Jr. Ht will clean your pool automatically and can be purchased for about $1,300 saving you $780 the first year, and $2,080 each year after that!

Ok, so you don’t own the joint, but think about it; an automatic cleaner or an automatic chemical feeder or a ORP controller gives you time to focus on more pressing projects that are important to you and your employer. When you invest in products that help you do your job better; you impress the boss, and reduce costs all in one! Besides, looking to my previous example, simply saving your employer $2,000 a year makes you look good and increases your value to the company.

RULE #4 – The customer is ALWAYS right

This is true except for in those rare cases where customer is actually wrong, in which case, see rule # 4 again. In all seriousness though, if your pool looks fabulous, it is fabulous! If your pool looks dirty, the assumption is the rest of your facility is dirty! If your pool is well maintained, then your customers’ will feel the same.

The customer is always right! So why give them any reason to find fault with your facility. You’re already up against so many other uncontrollable challenges that it seems silly to let the pool area lapse. When an angry mother of twin 16 year olds comes to your front desk demanding a refund because her sons’ eyes turned red before the wedding pictures, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your pool didn’t cause the problem? Even if you still give the customer a discount, because as we all know the customer is always right, you’ll have the peace of mind that you aren’t endangering your guests.

pool rules signsWe both know that there are many more commercial pool rules, sorry RULEZ, that impact the facilities maintenance professional but I’m running long here. Rules like: A body in motion stays in motion, even when that body has no business wearing a swimsuit that small in public. Or, pedestrians have the right of way, even when they are trampling mud and snow across a freshly washed and waxed lobby floor. Or my personal favorite, no talking with your mouth full, unless of course it’s full of wisdom, humor, and a bit of extraneous data that only you and a very small group of people can truly appreciate.

Got a funny pool maintenance story you’d like to share and maybe have it mentioned in a future PLOG? I’d LOVE to hear it. Please feel free to e-mail me with your crazy tales of professional pool maintenance ~ taiken -at- intheswim.com.

Until next time, when we stump for a new National holiday, “Commercial Pool Operators Thanksgiving day” – keep on keepin’ those pool guests happy!



Tom Aiken

InTheSwim Staff Blogger


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