It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. That classic line from "A Tale of Two Cities" is a good way to describe what’s happening now in the pool and spa industry.
On the one hand, demand is higher than it’s been in some time. Thanks to the pandemic and people staying closer to home, more and more people are investing in their backyard oasis. And thanks to ongoing stimulus funding, along with favorable interest rates, they have the funds to do it.
But pool and spa professionals may have trouble meeting this demand. That’s due to what some are describing as an “unprecedented” supply chain shortage. Aqua magazine this month reports that everything from chemicals to PVC is in short supply.
That’s creating a classic supply/demand scenario that’s causing prices to increase dramatically.
Pool pro Mick Hayes writes: “Last week a 10 ft. stick of 1.5" PVC cost $16.; this week it's $32. Here in Austin pool builders were taking deposits on pools that they won't start work on for 6-9 months. ...”
Ironically, the reason for both the higher demand and the supply chain shortage is the same: the pandemic. Like the rest of the country, manufacturers had to shut down for a period during the height of COVID. And it’s taking some time to get things back up to speed. At the same time, everything from the fires in the PNW to the cold snap that crippled Texas is exacerbating the problems. It’s even reportedly hard to find enough trucks to ship supplies, let alone get the boxes needed to put the products in for transport.
Savvy pros are working with manufacturers and distributors to get the products they need now—and stock up for the future. Experts also say it's vitally important to stay in communication with customers throughout the process. Be honest about any delays or shortages and don't be afraid to pass on costs. And when you sign contracts, make sure you cover yourself for any cost increases or future delays.
Unless pros take these precautions, frustrated customers may say, "Off with their heads!"