Dealer Strategy Session: Tent Sales
By Clearwater Pool & Spa
To pull off a successful tent sale, evaluate the associated costs, examine the importance of coworker buy-in and earn community participation. Recognize the connection between these vital components and you’ll potentially sell an average of one spa per day over a one-month period.
Investing in the success of a spa tent sale takes cash. From the price of the tent to the permits that may be required to sell in a nearby city, some of the costs will need to be paid upfront. Other expenses, such as fuel and additional inventory if your tent sale is a hit, will need to be budgeted for in advance.
Tent: You can purchase a new or used one, or simply rent from a local company experienced in setting them up and taking them down. Depending on the size of the tent — we’ve used 20 by 30 feet and 30 by 40 feet — the cost varies from $750 to $1,200 for a done-for-you rental.
Permit(s): Depending on the location of your proposed tent sale, there may be permit fees; some cities and counties require a permit for certain tent sizes, others require a permit or business license to sell the spas, and some places may require both. We have seen these costs range $15 to $100.
Inventory: It may sound like a no-brainer, but to sell 30 spas in 30 days, you need to have at least that many in stock over the course of a month. Contact your spa vendor(s) long before the sale begins; in many cases, you can negotiate a bulk discount, free or reduced freight, etc. Also ask if they have refurbished or blemished models lying around; the reduced price points can help attract more customers to your tent sale.
Marketing: Large, legible banners are eye-catchers for those driving past your tent; a 4-by-8-foot banner will typically cost between $75 and $150. Traditional advertising in local papers and/or radio stations can also be effective — your local station may sell 30-second spots for under $10. Be wise, however: These can add up quickly. We recommend scaling into marketing efforts as more spas sell.
Fuel: Depending on how you plan to transport your spas to an offsite sale, fuel costs can turn into a pricey line item. If you’re ordering in bulk, have the spas delivered directly to the tent. You may need to rent a forklift to assist with the unload (more fuel). And don’t forget: Most off-site tent sale locations won’t have power, so leave room in the budget for a generator and gas.
Labor: Just because your staff may be excited about the tent sale doesn’t mean they’ll help set it up and work it for free. Hourly employees are a large portion of your budget over a month. Don’t forget about the potential costs of hiring an IT professional to set up your off-site point-of-sale system and Internet connection.
Other expenses may include a dumpster for disposing of spa packaging; office supplies such as tape, pens and printer paper; a cooler with snacks and beverages for staff and/or customers; and a social media ad budget for boosting tent-sale posts on Facebook and/or listing the event on Craigslist.
You’ll want the buy-in of coworkers to ensure a smooth transition from normal day-to-day operations to the hustle and bustle of a tent sale. It starts with your willingness to take the lead and train the staff. You’ll want to loop in key players on:
Preparation: Hold a strategic planning meeting well in advance of your tent sale. This meeting should be used to iron out vital details, such as who will schedule tent set-up and spa deliveries; who will research what supplies need to be purchased; and who will look into whether the location requires a permit.
Pricing: Your pricing strategy is key in portraying value to the customer and should stay consistent throughout the sale. If salespeople working the tent don’t know the regular and discounted prices of the spas, or at the very least have them handy when customers ask, it’s unlikely your event will be a success. If prices change depending on the salesperson, not only will the perceived value be confusing, but your company image may be tarnished as well.
Profit: This goes hand-in-hand with the pricing strategy. Knowing your margins before advertising your tent sale discounts can make or break your event. We typically try to stay above 30 percent net profit margin when possible, unless A) we have multiples of the same item we’d rather not take back to the store, or B) it’s the last day of the sale. (You may see many customers wait until the end for additional discounts.) Again, relay those messages to the staff before the event begins.
It is our sincere hope that the above expenses and strategies don’t dissuade you from planning and executing a tent sale, but rather energize and excite you and your team. Successful tent sales can bring your team closer, boost the bottom line and give your customers one more reason to brag about your brand.
CLEARWATER POOL & SPA has been serving the middle Tennessee community since 2001. They’ve experienced double-digit growth over the past few years, and owner Eric Neel is passionate about helping other dealers increase revenue and realize their full potential. This article is part of Clearwater’s new “Dealer Strategy Sessions” series.