O-Care teaches its subscription model to retailers
Roel Fassbender sold cars before he entered the hot tub industry, and he has instituted many automotive-inspired programs into his hot tub business.
In addition to sales, his auto dealership in Holland’s main source of business was maintenance and a car wash. He was used to people purchasing a car from him, then coming back to get their oil changed — or seeing them every week if they bought a car wash subscription. Fassbender sees the spa business following the same path as the car business.
“Because of increased competition hot tub margins are under pressure, which is similar to what happened to the automotive industry years ago,” Fassbender says. “This trend makes after sales much more important, so service and subscriptions can offer relief and repeat income even during the slow winter months. You really have to think towards that service.”
So when he and his partner Barry Vorstenbosch purchased a hot tub store, Fassbender focused on capturing chemical sales, harkening back to his car-wash subscription.
“I did the same with this product, with everybody on a subscription,” he says. “[Customers] get that product every three, four or five months and it keeps that relationship with my customers.”
When customers began calling to complain about flakes appearing in the water with the water conditioner in their subscription service, Fassbender enlisted a friend who worked in a lab to figure out the problem. O-Care was born.
For the first six years, O-Care offered its water conditioner only to Fassbender’s retail and subscription customers, but as word got out to friends in the industry, other dealers asked if they could start selling it. Soon, it was expanding to other countries, and in 2017 O-Care made its debut in the United States.
O-Care is helping dealers set up the same subscription model Fassbender instituted at his store, which he says provides steady cash flow during the off-season.
“Once you get that into the DNA of a retailer, [it’s easy] to put a sticker on a box and have 50 or 60 boxes going out every month,” he says. “It really adds value to your end user as well.”
Mindy Walsh, whose company Alternative Water Care Solutions is marketing and distributing O-Care in the U.S., says this subscription model was one of the things that attracted her to the company.
“The industry is at a really interesting shift right now,” Walsh says. “We’ve gone from where it’s all built on personal relationships. But the customer doesn’t want that anymore. We as an industry have to shift to the customers needs. We’re selling a whole program, a whole concept.”
O-Care offers an app that helps customers navigate water issues and lets them order the solution directly from their dealer. The app has text and video, so consumers can choose how they want information.
“Some people want to read, some people want to see, some people just want to hear,” Fassbender says. “You’ve got to serve people the way they want to be served.”
The app is branded to the retailer, not O-Care.
“As soon as the retailer joins the O-Care plan, the app becomes not an O-Care app, but that retailer’s app,” Fassbender says. “It’s making that loop — knowledge combined with a subscription plan to get that client loyalty to keep them in. We have that altogether to add this value.”
Fassbender says the company is “all about clean, safe water,” and donates $2 per box to Water.org, which helps provide drinking water and sanitation around the world.
The hot tub market in Holland is relatively young, so Fassbender is excited to break into the older, more robust American market. “There are so many tubs out there,” he says.
“We are retailers and we think like retailers,” Fassbender says. “O-Care has a blueprint to make this a success. We know how to do this, [and] we know how to help you because we understand the industry from where you are.”