Industry salary survey reveals latest trends

March 27, 2017

Compiled by Jason Cramp

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This report marks the seventh year we’ve asked readers of Pool & Spa Marketing to participate in our annual salary survey to provide input on the state of the country’s pool, spa/hot tub, and landscaping design/build and retail industry, as well as offer foresight into the coming season and years ahead.

The following are the collected results, based on the responses we received to the survey’s multiple-choice format.

Basic demographics

We asked and the industry responded. Industry professionals across all Canadian regions provided feedback. As the survey has shown in the past, men once again made up more than three-quarters of all responses. Women were represented by just more than 20 per cent, which was slightly lower than in 2016. Almost 80 per cent were older than 40, with 47.5 per cent of all respondents having more than 25 years of industry experience; 52.5 per cent said they have been in the industry between 10 and 24 years. This is an increase of more than 10 per cent in this demographic.

Moving on or staying put?

In keeping with the trend the last survey showed, with respect to passing on the business (in many cases to younger family members), the results of the current survey are on point. The only difference is the current survey suggests many industry veterans are, in fact, retiring. Those respondents with more than 40 years in the industry were the second largest demographic in 2015, whereas now they are one of the smallest. In terms of experience, those who have been in the industry between 10 and 15 years represented 36 per cent of all respondents. Longevity is another possible indicator of a change of guard, as 51 per cent of respondents have been with their current company between two to 14 years, an increase of 10 per cent year-over-year. Almost 60 per cent of all respondents have worked with less than two companies, while 32 per cent have been with two to four companies.

Who are you?

Pool & Spa Marketing is dedicated to providing leaders in the pool, spa/hot tub and landscape industry with the latest news, products, services and techniques. The magazine has a huge following—from builders/contractors and service professionals to landscape architects/designers and retail sales managers. In fact, the largest number of respondents selected ‘business owner’ as their job description, followed by ‘other.’ Additional popular occupations included retail sales manager, builder/contractor (residential), landscape/architect designer, and service manager.

Salaries

Respondents to this year’s salary survey represented a sweeping view of the different employment sectors within the pool and spa/hot tub industry. From business owners, supervisors, and sales managers to pool operators, service technicians, distribution managers, and landscape architects, the field was diverse. Considering the average Canadian annual salary in 2016 was just under $50 K per year, those employed in the aquatics industry are doing well, as 43 per cent of respondents said they earned between $60 and $99 K, while more than
16 per cent made more than 100 K. Similar to last year’s survey, 52 per cent of respondents did not receive a raise, while 35 per cent got a cost-of-living raise (between one and five per cent).

Education

Roughly one sixth of all respondents (30 per cent) have some college education, but no degree, while almost the same number of respondents (28 per cent) have an undergraduate degree. Although the number of respondents who said they have a degree increased by four per cent year-over-year, 92 per cent (six per cent more than the previous survey) said it was not related to the pool and/or spa/hot tub industry. For those employed in this trade, their education comes from within the industry with more than half of respondents (56 per cent) saying they have participated in specific manufacturer/dealer training courses. Thirty-four per cent said they have taken the Certified Pool Operator course and 20.5 per cent have participated in courses through the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC).

Working hours

Due to the nature of this seasonal business, the unpredictability of the weather, and the fact every homeowner wants their project installed ‘yesterday,’ working long hours in the pool and spa/hot tub industry is the norm. That said, even with last summer’s favourable weather and more than 13,000 permits registered, 36 per cent of respondents said they worked more than 41 hours per week, which is nine per cent less than last year. Another 36 per cent were on the job for more than 51 hours, representing a four per cent decrease year-over-year.

Company profiles

Survey respondents’ companies were just as diverse as the professionals they employ with respect to business size and average project value. Economic uncertainty and the unpredictability of the weather can take its toll on the pool and spa/hot tub sector; however, the industry remains optimistic. When asked how profitability had been over the last five years, 59 per cent said it had increased, while another 28 per cent said it had remained the same.

Social media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have become huge marketing outlets for businesses and they have not gone unnoticed by those in the aquatics industry. The analytic tools these applications offer provide businesses with valuable information about their clients and potential customers and, in most cases, marketing campaigns can be set-up easily and for free. That said, social media for business is no longer optional and it comes as no surprise that Facebook leads the way. In fact, 82 per cent of all respondents are using the social networking service, while 33 per cent are using Twitter.

Looking into the future

There are many variables for pool and spa/hot tub businesses going into each season; therefore, predicting how successful they will be can be difficult. Despite this uncertainty, survey respondents are very confident in their businesses, along with the projects they build and products they sell, as 95 per cent said the next five years will be better than or the same as the previous five. Only five per cent said business would be down.

Weather/economy

Due to the nature of the products the industry offers consumers, the economy and weather are the main factors between a good, bad, or mediocre year. Take, for instance, a hot summer like last year when business was booming for most. However, poor weather combined with a bad economy can disrupt business success—the latter no one can predict or control. While most large pool and spa/hot tub firms have survived many of these economic and weather-related ebbs and flows, depending on how severe they are, it is the smaller companies, or new start-ups that typically get hit the worst. When asked which has a more negative influence on business, 44 per cent said the economy (up three per cent from last year), while 44 per cent said the weather, up 11 per cent year-over-year.

Industry associations

Belonging to a professional association in the aquatics industry helps to connect similar businesses which all abide by a set code of ethics. These not-for-profit groups provide its members insights, guidelines and, in some cases, industry standards. Members include builders and contractors, retailers, service providers, manufacturers, and distributors. Not surprising, 49 per cent of respondents belong to the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC), which is up 25 per cent over last year, while 35 per cent (17 per cent more than a year ago) are members of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP). Seven per cent said they are members of the Association des commerçants de piscines du Québec (ACPQ), which is down two per cent year-over-year.

What is the greatest frustration with your job?
“Difficulties finding staff, especially those driven to improve.”
“Dealing with the inevitable seasonal construction/renovation rush.”
“Clients who do not listen and shop for the cheapest price not
the best job.”
“Customers not paying on time or trying to get a discount.”
“Miscommunication between employees.”
“Internet companies taking sales away from brick-and-mortar businesses.”
“The lack of work in the winter.”
What single thing will have the biggest Impact over the next five years?
In addition to weather and the economy, respondents had several other opinions on what may or may not influence the pool and spa/hot tub industry, including:
“Proximity of new companies and regional growth.”
“Social media and the Internet.”
“Maintaining great customer service.”
“The U.S. economy and how it affects the global economy.”
“Reputation for quality work.”
“Sales and crew efficiency.”
“Higher interest rates and another recession.”
“Economic policy of the federal government.”
“Housing prices.”

Crowning achievement

What a difference a year can make—especially when it is a successful one. While the majority of respondents to last year’s survey said they were “equally satisfied” with their career, this changed for the better in 2016. This time, almost half of all respondents (46 per cent) described themselves as being “more satisfied,” representing an increase of 14 per cent year-over-year. Although it is not a significant change, the number of respondents who said they were “less satisfied” with their careers saw a positive decrease of one per cent, nonetheless. Further, when comparing this year’s trends to the responses we received five years ago (2012), just as the survey asks, the number of respondents who said they were “more satisfied” increased by 11 per cent, while those who are “equally satisfied” decreased by three per cent, and those “less satisfied” dropped by eight per cent, respectively.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: http://poolspamarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/16-12-11.jpg

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