By Michael Shebek
High-end pools are no longer the only projects where one will find an automatic cover. In fact, these covers are quickly becoming the norm in many markets throughout Canada and the United States. With more homeowners frequently requesting them, industry professionals need to decide if they should train their staff on how to install and maintain them, or outsource the installation and maintenance to a specialized company. In either case, all pool professionals should be offering automatic covers so they do not miss the opportunity to increase their profits on every pool they install.
Many pool professionals agree the automatic cover market is growing exponentially due largely to the increased awareness of the product’s availability.
According to Owen Wlodarczak, president of Reflection Pools, in Kelowna, B.C., the market for automatic pool covers is growing in his region, as roughly half of his prospective customers are aware of the product prior to meeting with him.
“Five years ago we weren’t installing any automatic covers, but today homeowners are much more aware of this option, which makes it easier to sell them as part of our pool project packages,” he says. “They have either researched cover options or have seen them on other pools. In either case, we put automatic covers as an option on all of our quotes.”
Terry Hill of Hillside Pools in Ft. Wayne, Ind., says he has also noticed the same trend.
“Five years ago, only half of our customers purchased an automatic pool cover,” says Hill. “Today, 90 per cent of our clients are purchasing one. Homeowners see their neighbours with these pool covers and come into our store inquiring about getting one for their pool. As a result, automatic pool covers have become a highly profitable product for us.”
Today, homeowners are looking for maximum gratification out of their backyard pool investment. They do not want to work at maintaining their pool; they simply want to enjoy it. Therefore, when pool professionals interview a prospective customer about how they plan to use their pool, it is important to discuss maintenance with them as well. This is the perfect time to plant the seed about opening and closing procedures, day-to-day upkeep, and the importance of keeping debris out of the pool in relation to water maintenance. If the customer is not considering an automatic cover already, this will jumpstart the thought process of the various benefits they can offer.
“I always interview prospective customers in the store about how they plan to use their pool before my husband goes out on the sales call,” says Chris Hill, co-owner of Hillside Pools. “After having this discussion, I find all of our customers want the convenience of being able to open and close the pool quickly while keeping as much debris out of the water as possible.
“It’s a lot easier for my husband to sell the customer an automatic cover if they are aware of the product’s benefits based on our earlier conversations.”
Steve Edwards of Edwards Construction in Wichita, Kan., says automatic covers are pretty much a standard pool accessory in his region. In fact, 85 per cent of all the pools his company builds have an automatic cover, making these products an integral component to every project they install.
“We regularly get 128 km/h (80 mph) winds which can fill an uncovered pool with debris and particulate matter, especially in the spring and fall,” he says. “An automatic cover helps keep our clients’ pools clean, which is a terrific convenience for our customers.”