Pages Navigation Menu

Call Mark — 704-363-6236

What do I need to know about budgets as a Service Manger or Technician?

Posted on Aug 1, 2016


If an owner or a Manager knows that you understand budgets as well as possess the technical and interpersonal skills to run a service department effectively you will be in high demand and very appreciated. Everyone wants a Service Manager that genuinely cares about the budget and displays the ability to effectively manage it on a day to day basis.

As a Supervisor or Service Manager companies expect you to not only be able to make repairs, schedule make-readies and handle the demands of this industry but also to be able to manage the expenses with a proficient level of expertise.

If you want to have a competitive edge amongst your peers and want to move up in the industry you have to have a good solid understanding of how a budget works, how to estimate the cost of a project, and also be self-correcting while managing the

Read More

Why Technicians Should Never Use Test Strips on Your Swimming Pool!

Posted on Mar 18, 2016


How do I know which one to use?
Well, there is no doubt there are plenty of options when buying a pool test kit and every company that sells a kit will usually tell you how accurate it is and that it is just fine for what you need.

Well, if there is any one single test kit I would ever avoid using it is the test strips that give you results in less that 30 seconds. Sure, it is nice to watch the colors change and then compare them to a color chart on the back of a bottle but they are cheap for a reason and not really designed to be used in a swimming pool at an Apartment community or Hotel. How accurate do you think it really is when it is the cheapest one available?

As in most things, you get what you pay for and anything that tests water quality and can impact the health of swimmers should not be the cheapest thing you can find for sale.

The test strips that are sold rely on the user to match the color of a small square about the size of a match head and are subject to misinterpretation or “best guessing” and I have never seen one close to being  accurate when compared side by side with a higher quality test kit such as a reagent test kits or a digital tester. (They are challenging for me to read too)

If you want accurate readings that help you make correct chemical changes and have a clear pool get rid of every test strip kit on your property and buy either a reagent test kit or a digital one, whichever you prefer. They are not expensive and will absolutely be more accurate.


Pool Test Kit

In any business, better measurements/metrics lead to better performance and most often it will lead to significant savings and cost you less money in the long run. If you want to make a small change that will make your pool last longer and be safer get a good test kit now.

CPO Class Training

Mark Cukro

PS: Be sure to sign up for the newsletter!


Mark Cukro is an Instructor with the National Swimming Pool Foundation and teaches the National Certified Pool Operator Course and has been taking care of pools for 25 years.

Read More

Yes it is FREEZING! Here are a few ways to take care of your Service Team and Residents!

Posted on Dec 1, 2015

Yes this happened!

Yes this happened!

No doubt, it is freezing cold outside and your Service Team will spend more time outside than anyone else on site. Most likely they will be flooded with service requests for no heat, drafts, slippery sidewalks, stairs, broken pipes, and the many other things that typically happen when it is colder than usual.

If you are a Manager or Service Manager/Supervisor make sure everyone is warm, dry, safe, and that each person gets enough time to do their work correctly with the right resources. Everyone on the team should have appropriate clothing and if they don’t do what you can to make sure they get it.

Read More

Conversations that make a difference

Posted on Oct 9, 2015


Every successful person you meet has been through challenges, faced obstacles, strong opposition, failures, and set-backs yet they learned to overcome them and move on. Over a period of time they have learned and know how to focus on a goal like few people do, they get things done, avoid common distractions and generate results. The great ones, know how to be an excellent team player, they look out for their team and hold people accountable in a firm and encouraging way.

For every successful person I have met, they almost always remember one small piece of advice that stuck with them over the years or recall a turning point that may have even seemed insignificant at the time but proved to be profound and meaningful. Sometimes it came from a family member, coach, teacher or a random and unexpected conversation.
Let us know what made a difference for you and what would you tell someone that wants to get better results?

Share one of your stories, some insights, wisdom or a moment that you still remember so others can learn from it and have a wonderful, goal achieving, make it happen, kind of year that only you can produce!

Below are a few conversations that impacted me at one point or another and still do.

There is no such thing as fair. Fair is an opinion, held by a person or group to justify something or some result. It is a self-made perspective that is served by the person giving it. Sometimes life will work for you with little effort and sometimes it will work against you for little reason. Learn to accept that and your life will be much easier. There is right and wrong so do what is right.

“Quitting is for other people”. Is something my Dad used to say and this is phrase that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember. The unwillingness to quit, no matter what, for the right reasons will see you through more than you can imagine. Knowing deeply that you will succeed and that you just have to do what is necessary will take you a very long way. There is no substitute for genuine effort and perseverance.

There is no such thing as a loss. You either get a victory or a lesson to learn from. This can come in many forms but when you learn that small failures are as natural as breathing you’ll take more risks and learn to overcome everything in some way. People that are achievers don’t focus on failing they focus on improving based on the lesson.

You will either add to the world or take from it. You should feel obligated to leave it better than when you arrived. A sign of true strength is to build things, help people, and make everything better as much as you can. Be an example of inspiration and positive change. Even if it is small it is more than nothing at all.

Teach people, including your children, that they can achieve their goals and encourage them to become better in every endeavor. The world needs more people that make it a better place. It needs more people like you doing what is right because it is right.

There are only a few reasons for success but there is always an abundance of excuses for failure… Be a reason for happiness and success!


Mark Cukro

Read More

The BEST time for over seeding and aerating a lawn is now. What you need to know!

Posted on Aug 31, 2015

Beat up, thinned, and worn-out lawns invite weeds and don’t help leasing apartments but the curb appeal is the first thing every prospect that visits sees on their way to the office.

So, here are some helpful tips and things to consider BEFORE you have

your lawn seeded and aerated.


The best time period is in autumn (mid-August to mid-September). Now

The second best time (March — April)

Reseeding is without a doubt the fastest and most inexpensive way to add new life to your lawn and get it back to being lush green and looking great without major work and/or starting over.
Make sure you choose the right type of seed for your lawn such as fescue, bermuda, rye, or match what you have already. Use seed that is 99.9% weed free. Talk with your landscaper to be certain.

Core aerating is very beneficial to the lawn you are trying to grow, especially if you live in the South. It help keep the soil loose, allows for air and nutrients to get below the surface of the soil and makes amending the soil much easier better for the life of the lawn.

It is often recommended that seeding and aerating are done within a few days of each other and once the new grass grows make sure it does not get cut for a few weeks or until it is 2-3 inches tall.


The numbers on the bag or label (32-0-4) tell you what percentage of each ingredient is in the mix of fertilizer and they stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N-P-K) and the percentage of each product by weight.

Nitrogen helps it grow and get greener, Phosphorous stimulates root growth and helps seeds sprout, and Potassium helps grass withstand stresses like disease and drought. So, make sure you use the right type of fertilizer for your property. Not all fertilizers are the same, typically a slow-release fertilizer is preferred.

I hope this helps with getting your lawn nice and green and that it stays that way.


Take good care!



Mark Cukro

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Facebook – Service Team Training

Visit our Web Site and Blog or to Schedule a Seminar

Read More

How can I reduce and prevent A/C service calls?

Posted on May 12, 2015


How can I reduce and prevent A/C service calls?

Preventive Maintenance = Savings!

Take care of your HVAC system, and it will take care of the residents and result in fewer service calls.

For many of us it is a hot and hectic summer and we want fewer A/C calls and for some reason they often seem to come in all at once. For anyone on call it can seem as if it is at 4:59 pm every Friday. An effective way to reduce the amount of A/C calls is to check the entire system during the make-ready process and label the outdoor units/condensers to identify which unit it is actually connected to.

How many times have you found a unit that had the wrong number on it? Whether it was a unit that had a different number on the electrical disconnect compared to what is written on the actual unit itself or if the outdoor unit was completely on a different side of the building with no unit number identifying the units is time wasting and can be very frustrating. One way to help is to use vinyl stickers on the disconnect box and unit. They are inexpensive and do not fade in a short time period like magic markers and paint pens. In my experience if the sticker ever does get peeled off one can almost always make out the numbers and letters.


Check the Difference in Temperature The difference between the air going into the return grill and coming out of the supply vent should be around 15-20 degrees. In other words, If it is 100 degrees in someone’s home the coldest the supply air will be is 80-85 degrees. If it is 80 degrees in a home the coldest the air coming out of the vents should be is 60-65 degrees.

If the difference is too high that means something may need to be right such as airflow or the charge is either too high or low.

Make sure all coils are clean If an A/C unit doesn’t has excellent airflow it cannot and will not operate at its maximum capacity or efficiency and as a result will give incorrect gauge pressures. Cleaning the indoor and outdoor coils during a turn doesn’t take too much extra time and the time is well worth the reduction in A/C calls, unnecessary overtime, and most of all it will prevent an over-worked Service Team.

Check the Refrigerant Level Check the refrigerant charge during every turn in the summer or warm months.


Condensate Leaks. Well for some of us we have just finished getting bombarded with the first wave of A/C calls and corrected more than our share of undercharged units. Whew! Historically what happens next when the A/C systems are up and running is condensation leaks. Condensation leaks can wreak havoc in your ceilings, on the carpet, and really make a mess while frustrating a resident. Cleaning out drain pans and adding something as simple as a Sludge preventing drain tablet can save a fortune in time and frustration and prevent you from making a return trip.

Let’s face it the last thing a technician wants to do is make several trips to the same home for the same or similar problem. Keep in mind that condensation water is absolutely filthy and should be treated whenever it leaks. It has been known as a source to cause legionnaires disease so please be sure to disinfect any area that has come in contact with condensation. Many reports show that is carries more harmful bacteria than raw sewage.

An ounce of prevention will save you a pound of work so install the tablets and they will make a difference. Clean coils whenever you get a chance, and of course, the best time to install the drain tablets is during the turn process. If you make it a habit I guarantee you’ll get fewer condensation leaks. Checking the charge is one of the best ways to determine in an A/C is functioning but it should also be one of the last checks made. The reason, if the coils are clean, the airflow is correct then the gauges will give a much more accurate and telling measurement.

Train the Team

Teams that continuously train perform better than teams that don’t. Whether it is a refresher class for an experienced technician, trouble-shooting, or an introduction for a new and upcoming technician, training always costs less than one resident with no A/C for a few days.

Check our Calendar to see when a course is in your neighborhood or contact me if you want a class just for your team. You’ll be glad you did and so will your residents.

Mark Cukro President Plus One Consulting, Inc.

Call now to Book a Seminar or have Mark speak at an event 1-704-363-6236

Read More