Increase your swim spa sales with a few basic techniques
by Hannah Brashers
As many pool and spa retailers are aware, swim spas are quickly becoming an alternative to the in-ground pool. The benefits of a swim spa are numerous, but despite their growing popularity, the cost can still be a deterrent for consumers. How then can dealers increase their sales of this pricey item?
Show it to sell it
To be competitive as a swim spa dealer, it’s crucial to have at least one filled swim spa on the showroom floor. Adam Hazenfield, the vice president and store manager of Watson’s in Dayton, Ohio, says, “If it’s not filled up with water where the customer can see it, feel it, touch it, then it’s a losing battle.”
Sometimes though, only showing one swim spa isn’t enough. “You need at least one wet one and one dry so [the customer] can get in,” Hazenfield says. “They can see how they would feel, they can see the depths, because water is misleading. It doesn’t look as deep until you get in there and it’s like, ‘Oh that’s a deeper puddle than I thought that I just drove through.’ ”
Tracy Hall, vice president of global swim spas for Jacuzzi and Hydropool, says some of her retailers have as many as four to six swim spa models on display. “In the future, you’re going to see a lot more people having multiple displays,” Hall says. “You’re going to see retailers that open a separate swim spa store from their hot tub store.”
A showroom game plan
Brian Wasik, owner of Spas of Montana in Missoula and Helena, says the first step is often already done for the salesperson. “Most people are already pretty darn informed when they walk in the door,” Wasik says. “You’re not creating the desire very often anymore. It’s more [about] informing people that you have what they want.”
The next step is qualifying the customer. Derek Sligh, head of the spa sales department at Rich’s for the Home in Lynwood, Washington, explains his process. First, he says, it’s important to understand the timeline the customer is working under. Do they want to purchase immediately? Or is this something they’re thinking about but need more information before making a decision?
Next, he suggests talking through potential space constraints and installation logistics. Because installing swim spas can be more labor intensive than installing a traditional hot tub, it’s important to inform the customer of this process at the beginning.
“Know that [the answers to] some of your questions may push the deal off for a few months, but the deal is going to be done right,” Wasik says. “This way, you’re not going to order [the swim spa] for them and then have them try to back out of it.”
At this point in the conversation with the customer, Sligh emphasizes the importance of narrowing down what model best fits the customer’s needs. “One of the things that may make actually closing the sale challenging is if you’re leaving multiple options on the table,” Sligh says. “You want to focus on a specific model that has the absolute best [characteristics] for the customer,” such as length, size and balance of seating and swimming area.
Sligh also addresses what he calls “the hot button:” the motivating factor for why they came in that day “to talk to a complete stranger about something that costs tens of thousands of dollars,” he says. “Is it pain? Is it social? What is really driving the interest in the product?”
Lastly, he says it’s important to slow the conversation and walk through what it’s like to own it, “because that can really put customers in a position to hesitate on making a purchase,” Sligh adds. At this stage, he will educate the customer about how to maintain the swim spa, including explaining purification, filtration and water chemistry.
The deal is in the details
Hazenfield says staff should know every possible detail about the swim spas on your showroom floor, which is key when explaining how they work. “When you have these big swim spas, there are a lot of diverters, valves and a lot of operational procedures to demonstrate,” Hazenfield says. “Show the customer how the jets and valves work, how to increase and decrease the pressure…to make sure they understand the performance of the tub.”
Debi Skains, vice president of All About Spas in Roswell, New Mexico, emphasizes that knowing the ins and outs of every model helps steer its customers toward the swim spa that best suits their needs. “The reps coming to the showroom for training are very beneficial,” she says. “The manufacturers’ sales training is an excellent source as well.”
Try it before you buy it
Wet tests are key in the sale of any spa; swim spas are no exception. Michael Swartz of Heavenly Times Hot Tubs in Dillon, Colorado, says he always encourages wet tests for swim spas. “We’ve had people who have brought bathing suits,” he says. “We’ve had people who have jumped in in their underwear, and we’ve also had some people that have gone in bare bones as well,” he adds, laughing.
If a customer comes into the store to look but doesn’t plan on purchasing that day, Swartz recommends the customer set up a wet test for another time. “You’re always trying to get that customer back into your store,” Swartz says. “And if a customer is in your store, you always have a better chance of selling them a product.”
Wet tests help the customer understand the power of the jets, and also assess the depth of the water and the size of the spa.
“You can get [swim spas] with two river jets or three river jets,” Hazenfield says. “So if you’ve got a professional swimmer and you sell him a two-jet system, he’s not going to be happy.” He adds that customers who take a wet test or two are less likely to experience buyers’ remorse.
Signing on the dotted line
There are dozens of factors that might prevent the customer from making a final purchase, but knowing some common ones can empower the seller.
“Although a swim spa is much less expensive than having an in-ground swimming pool built, price is the first and foremost reason for a customer to decide not to purchase,” Skains says. “As far as financial concerns go, we offer two sources of financing through our company and often, people will put a down payment on their credit card and secure the balance through financing.” She adds that providing customers with extended warranties also helps them overcome that initial sticker shock.
Another common concern is delivery because, as Sligh points out, most people haven’t had something craned over their house before.
Skains suggests the best ways to reassure the customer. “We typically send the salesperson or one of the company owners to the customer’s home to review preferred placement, concrete pad, electrical requirements and crane delivery clearance,” she says. “We look for overhead obstructions, such as trees, electrical lines and sloped grounds that would make it hard for the crane to execute the delivery.” She also suggests showing customers pictures of previous deliveries and including the crane costs in the original pricing. To give the customer the confidence to follow through with the purchase, Sligh offers one last bit of advice. “Get the customers excited about the many ways they’re going to be able to use the product, how often they can use the product and the impact it’s going to have on their life,” he says. “This is the big thing that gets a customer really engaged and excited about making a big decision like this.”