Reno, Nevada, shut down completely for two weeks in March, as a governor’s order limited what retailers could sell and how. Hot Tub Superstore, a local dealer, sold hot tubs via video chat to keep revenue coming in.
Owner Daniel Powers began many calls by asking customers their height and sent videos of he and his salesman, Jon, sitting in the spas. “I’m 5 foot 10 and he’s 6 foot 2, so we’d literally sit in the hot tub and say, ‘Here’s me sitting in the hot tub, this is how I fit and this is my height,’ ” Powers says.
It was tricky at first to sell over the phone and setting appointments, Powers says. They’d schedule people a day out for hour-long calls and walk them through the showroom on a video call. “It was a different approach,” he says, “but it worked very well.” The timing of the shutdown was especially difficult for Hot Tub Superstore because the company mutually resigned a partnership with its main spa manufacturer in early 2020. Thankfully, Powers had other hot tubs on the showroom floor from a smattering of manufacturers, but up to that point, the other brands were all secondary options presented to customers, and he didn’t have a strong relationship with their reps. “I thought I was out here on my own,” Powers says.
And while Hot Tub Superstore had been a MAAX dealer since 2018, Powers says he didn’t know the company’s story or which features to tout to customers. When Powers lost his biggest manufacturer, however, his MAAX rep reached out. “And, before you know it, I’m like ‘I really like your brands, so I’m going to give you 50% of the showroom,’ ” Powers says.
That soon became 80%, and then in a matter of weeks, MAAX Spas took over the Hut Tub Superstore showroom floor, just in the nick of time. Soon after, Powers and his sales rep, Jon, were forced into those video chat demonstrations. The company has been selling other brands via the website, but MAAX is the showroom display model.
Now, Powers says, Hot Tub Superstore is on track to quadruple sales over last year. That’s due, in part, to Powers’ strategic planning. By April, practically everything on the showroom floor had sold and, while Powers says other dealers seemed to sit in neutral, he saw an opportunity.
He contacted his MAAX rep and ordered spas just as sales across the board started to dwindle. “They had to make sure it was OK with everybody before [processing my order],” Powers says. “It was unheard of.”
That first order was approved, and two weeks later, Powers ordered more spas each of the next two weeks. He now has a showroom full of hot tubs and is sitting on inventory orders he says should have his showroom supplied through at least January, despite the extended lead times many dealers face. “That’s how you stand out from everybody else,” he says. “You do the opposite of what the market’s doing. Taking the action that I did in the beginning is what saved me.”
Photography by Shaun Hunter