Scott Call has been in the hot tub industry since the early ’80s, starting out in installation and then spending 14 years in sales. Then, in February of 1997, Call and some industry friends decided to come together to offer private-label hot tubs, and Spa Depot was formed. The company grew to 35 stores, but everything changed when the recession hit. The hot tub line was purchased by MAAX Spas, and Spa Depot showrooms started to close due to the slowdown in business.
“I was the only one to survive during that period; our Park City showroom was the last one open by 2010,” Call says. “I feel quite fortunate that we are the last remaining of the Spa Depot chain able to keep the doors open.”
Call attributes his recession survival mostly to location. In the resort ski town of Park City, demand for hot tubs is high even when the economy is bad.
Now Call is facing a different kind of shift to his business with the COVID pandemic and unprecedented sales for the entire industry. “Experiencing the two [events], I think I’d rather have this than [the recession], because at least people have money and they feel confident in spending it,” he says, “which is really good for retail.”
Spa Depot of Utah is now exclusively a Watkins dealer. A large part of the Spa Depot business is hot tub maintenance; the company will service any brand of hot tub. Call says doing so has given him a stronger appreciation for the Watkins Wellness brands. Even with demand for hot tubs at record highs, Call says he has no desire to deviate from offering only Watkins products.
Call says he appreciates the way Watkins roots for him through its product knowledge and dealer support, especially while customers have to be patient since lead times are well into next summer or fall. “Fortunately, we have found faithful customers who will wait,” he says. “We’re still able to sell on a daily basis, partly because of our reputation and our showroom.”
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The Spa Depot team is proud of the Park City showroom, which grew 50% in a renovation last year. With some design ideas and assistance from the Hot Spring dealer support development team, Call made significant upgrades, including the company’s first wet-test demo room, complete with a back-lit mural of the local Deer Valley ski mountain resort at night.
“We have about 100% close rate for anyone who has used [the demo room],” Call says. “What a difference it makes when you have an environment where customers can come in and feel comfortable.”
Additionally, an alpine ski lodge look has been incorporated as part of the Spa Depot office, and three Endless Pools have been added to the testing area, with decking and a gazebo to provide a backyard feel.
“If you make a really good first impression, that might be the one thing that makes somebody come back,” Call says. “The salespeople have a pride in it, too, when they’re able to present in this quality of a showroom. It makes it easier for them and gives them confidence.”
Call says an inviting environment is a critical part of the sale, and makes it easier for homeowners to imagine the products in their own backyard. “Whatever effort or energy it takes to set that up,” he says, “you’ll immediately see how effective that really is.”