Brook Valley Appliance

Even though Ken ax added hot tubs to his product line on a whim, he says that they have helped him get through the slow times at his appliance store. In the resort community where Brook Valley Appliance is located, the challenges are atypical.

How do you help your employees balance all of the different products that you carry? // You have to be a consultant. That’s a hard thing sometimes, it’s a challenge for your salesmen to do. You have to get their trust, learn a little more about them and what they’re doing. Teach them about what your business is and become their consultant. Use a closing area as a place to sit down where, with the hot tubs, they can draw out their backyard or their deck, wherever they’re going to put the tub. If it’s an appliance, draw out their kitchen if they don’t have their plans with them. Let them be comfortable that you are going to be able to actually help them fulfill their needs. You have to make sure that they understand that your prices are competitive and that you’ll take care of them in the long run.

Make sure that your salespeople know that it’s a good profession, it’s not a five-year job. I have a small store. I don’t have a couple of extra salespeople. We deal with such a gamut of products in the appliance business. We do have a wide range of products and there’s definitely a difference when somebody is looking at an inexpensive commodity-based washer [rather] than something that’s going to last them 20 years. As a consultant, you can deal with that and all the extra add-ons; you’re almost doing them a disservice if you don’t tell them about everything that is available.

Do you think the diversity in your product lines has helped you during this time? // Oh absolutely. By the end of March, our second homeowners are tired of skiing and looking forward to warmer weather. So they stop coming up here. Offering the preventative maintenance [on the hot tubs] and doing all the drain-and-clean at the end of the season, it definitely keeps

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my delivery crew full-time. It keeps them busy and we’re still sending out bills. The tubs have really helped fill in the soft spots for sure.

Would you recommend hot tubs to other appliance dealers? // Appliances, in some cases, can be very drab. Hot tubs, they’re like a warm fuzzy. When you deliver a washer and dryer to somebody, you’re not bringing [over] a bottle of wine, a stick of bread and a thing of cheese to sit around outside and talk about it. With a hot tub, if you’re so inclined, you can do that and

have fun again. Retailing should be fun.

It all depends on your market, but certainly in general, most of the independent appliance retailers with upscale appliance lines, that’s exactly the same customer who is buying hot tubs. If you can find a niche to go into it, I think it’s a very good thing. You’ve already got your delivery crew and you’ve already got your service technicians. So absolutely, I would recommend it.