The pool specialist’s profession has undergone a major transformation over the past decade, due to profound changes in the requests formulated by clients looking for the latest innovations and new approaches. Pool specialists have had to train themselves and extend the scope of their expertise to fields such as design, environmental aspects, home automation and safety to continue developing on the flourishing market for pools. We take a look at this constantly changing profession.
An increasingly professionalised sector
The sector is becoming more professional and structured. Today, being a pool specialist involves integrating and/or coordinating the 10 main specialities required to implement a pool project:
- Layout (equivalent to surveying in the public works sector)
- Basic masonry (concrete, cement, reinforcements)
- Project coordination
- Construction of the pool (shaping)
- Hydraulics and plumbing (pool basin, filters, pumps)
- Waterproofing of the pool (works and inspection)
- Fittings and finishings
- Client training on water treatment and general pool use
Clients want to know which expert is going to take care of each aspect of their project.
The pool specialist must also have a developer / designer’s vision. As Miguel Silva, trainer at Yaka Consult, stresses: “Clients expect a pool specialist to be a designer-developer but to keep a strong identity as a pool expert, with three dimensions: pool builder, finishing and aesthetics specialist, and guarantor of pool water balance management”.
In 2012, pool specialists started establishing partnerships in outdoor development trades, which had hitherto been competitors: landscapers, outdoor developers, architects, etc. This collaboration process, which used to exist only for high-end pools, has now become a recurring request from most clients.
Becoming more attentive to clients’ needs
One of the most striking changes in client needs in the past few years is the growing demand for pools that are user-friendly and simple to use. Clients want a pool that is easy to set up, nice to look at and easy to maintain. They want to be able to walk into this new outdoor living space – the garden – in which the pool is the key feature. The process starts by determining the position of the pool, and then developing the surrounding areas.
“For pool specialists, this implies cultivating their attentiveness to their clients’ needs. The goal is not to build the pool that the specialist wants, but to create the ones the clients want. They want to choose, obtain the relevant information and make their own choices. The adviser aspect of the trade is now essential. Clients want a project manager who is going to handle everything from A to Z and provide guidance”, stresses Miguel Silva.
Demands change, the profession must follow suit…
In the past few years, demands in the field of pools and spas have undergone profound changes, and these have had a direct impact on the profession.
Connected objects & home-automation
Demand for connected pools has added a digital edge to the trade, though without changing radically. Pool specialists have had to seek training on the new devices to be capable of selling and installing these connected tools, and explaining to their clients how to use them. Indeed, these devices are in high demand because of the user comfort they provide.
Environment & energy
Clients are increasingly sensitive to the consumption (water, energy, etc.) of their pool and the environmental impact of its operation, particularly with regard to water treatment. They now ask themselves: “What is the environmental footprint of my pool?”. Pool specialists have had to acquire knowledge on the topic to be able to answer these questions accurately.
The visual pollution aspect is also an issue that clients are raising. Pool specialists must consider the integration of the pool into its surroundings, as clients are increasingly sensitive to aesthetics.
Contribution of 3D design and drones
Pool specialists have been training themselves and hiring staff with the relevant skills to create previews of their clients’ projects, particularly in 3D (this aspect really started developing in 2014). Today, this trend is going even further with the use of drones to take photos, make videos and show the clients what their pool will look like. As Miguel Silva explains, “Clients are willing to pay for this service because the 3D mock-up gives them a better picture of how their pool will blend into in the surroundings. Landscapers have been using these tools for several years and this is a growing trend among pool specialists”.
To comply with regulatory requirements, meet their clients’ specific requests and adapt to the development of the sector, pool specialists have had to train themselves and acquire new skills.
With regard to legal and regulatory aspects
When the Pool Safety law was adopted in 2007 (in France), the liability of pool specialists and the constraints imposed on them increased. Construction standards, the obligations in terms of urbanization DP / PC and codes of practice are constantly being updated. The profession has created a legal framework to reassure its clients. “Today, the majority of pool specialists work with layout sheets, construction stages validated by the client, and acceptance documents. They hire legal experts, lawyers and chartered accountants to obtain expert advice. They are increasingly structured”, Miguel Silva notes.
Digital resources and client pathway
The pool and spa sector used to be an artisan sector, so pool specialists had to acquire digital skills to handle a website, data bases, client pathways, etc. They had to adapt to their clients’ way of life. “A well-built website is important to complete the showroom offer” Miguel Silva points out. And the showroom must also change to become a user-friendly area where clients gladly spend time discussing and finalising their project.
The Wellness sector and water-related chemistry
Today’s pool specialists are true wellness and spas experts. They have expert knowledge of water and its chemistry and know how to manage its balance (for temperatures ranging from 30 to 40°). Pool specialists have hence won back market shares by positioning themselves as specialists in wellness through water.
What are the prospects for the future?
For Miguel Silva, “This market is going to continue to change. There is also increasing demand in the pool renovation market. This very large market is going to push pool specialists to get trained, acquire new technical skills and organise themselves in networks.
Today, pool specialists must be not just managers but also coordinators, like a conductor leading an orchestra. The pool sector is no longer an artisan sector. It spans many trades but it has kept the goodwill and the consideration for other people’s work that have always characterised it. More and more skills are being incorporated into the pool specialists’ services because clients are demanding them. They want to have a single contact person (project manager) and experts in all the different aspects.”
The skills required from pool specialists are going to keep on broadening and the profession is going to grow with them. These trends will addressed at the Piscine Global Europe 2018 exhibition, in the context of the Pool Academy and the programme of seminars held during the show.
Come and discover at Piscine Global Europe, in Lyon-Eurexpo, from November 13th to 16th, all the innovations, solutions and training on these business evolutions to respond to new emerging issues.
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