Spa retailers discuss how to navigate business in a volatile political climate
This story was written before the covid-19 outbreak. Though the advice is geared toward politics, much of it holds true for helping your business through a pandemic.
An election year is here, again.
But that doesn’t mean it needs to be tricky to score sales. Or
that you’ll have political feuds going down in your spa showroom.
Election years are often seen as tough on the economy because
consumers are generally more thoughtful with spending — especially when it
comes to luxury items like hot tubs. Additionally, it can lead to challenging
situations if clear policies aren’t in place regarding political discussions
For other spa retailers, it’s just not top of mind. “We worry more about the weather than an election cycle — and the weather makes us adapt our spending more than anything else does,” says Eric Cassidy, vice president of the Pennsylvania-based Valley Pool & Spa. “At least we can talk about the weather without upsetting anyone.”
Cassidy says he doesn’t have any indicators this will be a slow
year for spa retailers.
“There are no
signs inside or outside our business that the election will cause a down year,
so we are not planning for one because of it,” he says. “That being said, we do hope other
retailers are planning for a soft year in our area because that would continue
to give us the upper hand within our market.”
Election year or not, Cassidy believes putting positivity toward
the sales process is the most helpful, even in an “uncertain” economy. Encouraging sales
members through all sales seasons is a critical part of keeping morale up, he
important thing we do is to ensure our team that we are still planning big
things for the season, and that there will be little to no change because of an
election,” Cassidy says. “If
we make it seem to our team that the election cycle worries us, that would then
artificially cause a downturn in sales. We have seen in the past that the more
positive you stay, the more effective your team in making sales — regardless of
Norm Coburn of New England Spas, with three locations in Massachusetts says planning ahead for change in business is a must — election year or not.
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uncertainty of elections can contribute to consumer confidence shifts, which in
turn may inhibit spending,” he says. For his business, he doesn’t change his
focus much. He and his staff concentrate on creating the best possible customer
Coburn recommends evaluating advertising budgets during an
advertising dollars injected by candidates can affect our ability to compete
within certain media, television especially,” Coburn says. “Rates tend to go up and targeted spots may
be unavailable.” As for preparing for any slower seasons, Coburn advises to
always have cash set aside and have strong lines of credit.
Other than keeping political discussions to a minimum, expert spa
dealers also recommend reducing or eliminating any sort of political
affiliation. That goes for sales staff and the actual storefront, too.
“We ban visual
political signs, and pins, hats, etc.,” Coburn explains. “It is simply smart salesmanship to avoid
potentially controversial subjects.”
When Cassidy was asked if his storefronts would be displaying any
sort of political signage this year, he explains it’s not something his company
allows — now or in the future.
“While it’s not
saying we don’t have strong political opinions, it does say that we believe
that everyone has their right to have an opinion and that regardless of that
opinion, we want you as our customer,” he says.
When it comes to creating policies surrounding politics in the
workplace, there’s no better time than an election year. As an employer, you’re
within your rights to create such policies as long as it’s fairly applied to
If customers bring up politics, however rarely, it’s good to
practice a response that subtly redirects the conversation. “The
easiest thing to do when a customer brings up politics is to just [give] a
gentle nod or smile and then attempt to move on,” Cassidy says. “This neither says you agree or disagree
with the customer, but that you acknowledge what they said and then they can
think what they want from it.” Cassidy says he can’t recall a single riff over
politics or religion in any of his six stores, however, instead focusing on
keeping the sales floor upbeat if sales slow during an election.
“After the last
recession and recent election cycles, we made the decision that we do not dwell
on issues out of our control,” Cassidy says. “We look at the upcoming election as one of these scenarios. While
we always work at being fiscally responsible and work hard to align our sales
and expenses with our budget, we are not planning to do anything significantly
different. The economy is hot right now, and folks are buying.”