The number of people employed in the swimming pool cleaning services industry in the U.S. increased 3.8% on average in total over the five years between 2017 and 2022, according to IBISWorld, an industry information publisher. We share advice from four pool service executives who addressed the hiring practices and leadership skills that can lead to employee loyalty and retention.
The panelists making the presentation were Harry Geller, vice president of human resources at National Pool Partners; Hal Denbar, president of National Pool Partners; Nathan White, district general manager of Patriot Pool & Spa; and Robert Daniels, area general manager for National Pool Partners.
According to the panelists at the Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, co-located with Deck Expo, held in November, employers should show potential employees what their competitive advantage is. Panelists suggest that an effective interview is a 50-50 conversation between the employer and the candidate. If a candidate sells themselves well in the interview, employers should sell the company, and the position, to the candidate.
Retention starts in the interview process, panelists said. Be aware, though, that candidates are putting forth their best impression during the first meeting. The panel suggested looking past that to see who the person really is, what motivates and drives them, and how they’re going to fit into the company.
When a job is open, the panelists agreed that employers should promote from within the company first. This will provide employees with a career path, which will allow them a sense of security.
Training investment can be high, so one of the panelists suggested putting a program in place that sets new employees up for success. Employers don’t hire people with the intention of having them leave, so show employees why you’re invested in them.
Additionally, “stay” interviews are almost as important as the initial interview, panelists said. These interviews are not common practice in the industry but having them may save a valuable employee who is considering leaving.
It can be helpful to put yourself in your employee's shoes to see the job from their perspective. Panelists suggested making your work culture and environment “enjoyable.” Also, “appreciate” your employees and make sure your leadership team appreciates them as well. (The panel didn’t provide specific examples of what making the environment enjoyable or appreciation looks like.)
A way to create buy-in, panelists said, is to let employees know where they stand and what their contribution is to the organization. This can help increase their motivation. Setting realistic goals and objectives for employees is important as well.
Use quarterly, annual or same-day employee reviews to manage accountability. Ongoing coaching and feedback provide opportunities for employees to choose to improve their performance. Employers can build accountability and coaching into regular meeting cadence, which often makes the feedback process easier for both parties.
Finally, encourage employees to take time and think for themselves before seeking out answers by asking you. If employees are always provided with answers, you will be involved in every decision, panelists said. One way to accomplish independence, they said, is to create content to educate your teams about your business and their positions and make that content accessible to employees.
Also, have faith—let your employees try new things. Micromanaging is the biggest self-limiting factor, so let go and trust that people are going to do good work for you. Get comfortable with whomever you hire and figure out what your performance tolerance is.