A Competitive Edge

REC Pool & Spa in Fort Lauderdale wants to be the best hot tub store in South Florida

Photos by Lanash Photography

Mike Hansen wants his hot tub store to be the best in south Florida. To achieve that goal would mean REC Pool & Spa has the most highly trained sales staff, the best-quality brands and the most-popular spas on the showroom floor.

Hansen has worked in the pool and spa industry for 27 years. While working for other large stores in the industry, he dreamed of starting his own store and opened REC in November 2011.

“I like the pool and spa industry because it’s fun products to sell,” Hansen says. “You’re helping families bring enjoyment to their backyard, or you’re helping people on the hot tub side who have medical ailments feel better and enjoy life.”

Hansen has six employees and four subcontractors, whom he uses for installations. His two service technicians provide warranty and non-warranty repairs, as well as regular hot tub water maintenance, regardless of whether the hot tub was purchased at the REC showroom.

Cynthia Hansen, Mike Hansen’s wife, is a valuable part of his team when she’s not at her day job as a teacher. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say my wife plays a very important role in my company,” he says. “She does a lot of the administration. She is the one who walks through the showroom and gives us ideas on improvements. She’s great with customers. I couldn’t do this without her support.”

Keeping Things New
Hansen says he’s always learning in this industry. “I don’t think you can ever be confident and say ‘I know everything,’ ” he says. “The key to this business is to continue your education, continue taking classes and going to conferences. Because if you ever sit back on your laurels and say ‘I’m the best,’ the next guy is going to come and copy what you did.”

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Hansen tries to come up with new and unexpected ways to surprise the market. “Every year I ask myself what I can do differently,” he says. “What can I do that’s new and exciting? What improvements or changes can I make to my product line?”

Finding Your Edge
Reflecting on his more than six years as an owner, there are a few things Hansen says are fundamental for success, like having an industry mentor who understands your goals. He also recommends new companies have a great accountant and lawyer and to be careful with finances in those first few years.

Hansen says he believes it’s also vital to provide top-notch customer service so you get word-of-mouth referrals. “You need to have an edge on your competition when you enter a market,” he says. Hansen says his edge is in full-service capabilities such as free water testing and in-house service techs. He’s working toward creating a beautiful, interactive showroom — REC already offers wet testing — providing a store experience that’s worth the drive. He hopes this approach will lead to opening more stores in the area soon.

“The selection, the presentation, the whole ambiance of the store [is crucial],” Hansen says. “So when they leave, they’ve had a great experience they’re telling their friends and their neighbors about, and hopefully they bought a spa.”

REC Pool & Spa
Mike Hansen
LOCATION: Fort Lauderdale, Florida