With summer just around the corner, the pool-cleaning business is coming into peak season. That’s a mixed blessing for Bob Steinberg, owner of Bob’s Pool Service in Woodland Hills. While it’s good to have the work, he says lots of customers are a real pain. The busy Steinberg spoke with Jolie Gorchov on his cell phone from the Hollywood (101) Freeway about the business and the strange things that Santa Ana winds and El Ni & #324;o rains can do to your pool.
A friend got me into the business when I was 17 and I started cleaning pools with him. I kind of took over the business about 12 years ago. It doesn’t really feel like a business to me. It’s a pretty boring line of work; it’s just cleaning pools, you know? But my guys do all the work; I try not to clean pools anymore.
I mean, it’s nice to have your own hours, and you’re in control for better or worse. But there’s the uncertainty and responsibility; will I get paid this week? And you know if things start going bad, you gotta’ eat it.
Some customers are a pain. People have their own idea of what good pool service is, and some of them will jump all over you for things they think you should be doing or not doing. The other day, this guy had stains on his pool, and he thought it was algae. Well, the algae will brush right out, but it was one of those brown stains that you can only get out with paint or an acid wash. So, the guy ended up leaving us because he thought he knew better.
Everyone starts calling in May it’s getting really busy right now. But it’s not like nothing’s happening in the winter. Most people get the same once-a-week service. It’s actually harder in the winter because it gets really windy with the Santa Anas, and all the palm fronds and dirt and leaves fall in the pools. It’s a mess.
Out here, people don’t cover their pools they don’t even have covers. Back East, they drain the pools and cover them, which almost costs the same as winter pool service.
The worst thing I’ve ever seen is when the pool pops out of the ground. It’s really rare; I’ve only seen two or three pools do it. If the pool is drained, all the water is gone that would normally keep it weighed down. If it rains and rains and rains, all that water gets underneath the pool, and it will just float up out of the ground. There’s nothing you can do about it. They have to jackhammer the whole thing out and build another pool.