The Sales of Yesteryear

The pandemic restructures panelists’ annual promotions


At Oregon Hot Tub, we have traditionally run promotions for the benefit of our sales team. A $500 or $1,000 discount does not really make a difference for the consumer as long as they are getting a great value, but a discount or deal makes a big difference to sellers. If they believe it is a good deal, they will be more confident in their presentation.

Before the pandemic, we would have a new promotion each month. With the increase in demand for our products and services, we have not had regular promotions or discounts. We have also held back traditional discounts — what we call ‘drops.’ This is due partly to consumers investing in their backyards and wanting a hot tub or swim spa now, and the fact that manufacturers have not been able to produce them quickly enough to keep up with COVID-driven demand.

Another reason we have held back on promotions or discounts is that pretty much every vendor has had significant price increases due to supply chain issues. This has forced us as a dealer to pass these increases to the consumer. We try and operate with the same margins we recognized before the pandemic. To do that, we have had several price increases over the last year, whereas we would normally only see price increases annually. We work hard to maintain customer satisfaction with both our products and services. With supply chain issues and longer lead times, we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market, and we want to charge a fair and honest price. Price gouging or price hiking would not fit our culture of honesty. We are in the business of providing an exceptional customer experience.

Steve Ruscigno
Vice president and general manager
Oregon Hot Tub
six locations in the Portland, Oregon metro

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With the influx of interest, marketing special offers on holidays (May Long Weekend sale, etc.) are still happening, but we now use it to create realistic expectations for when we can supply and deliver. Gone are the days of a $300 off sale, but here are the days of ‘secure your delivery.’

We are lucky that our supplier partners give notice for price increases and that we can handle most change, so we are keeping our margins the same and still offering the best value we can. But there is no way that we would consider a huge jump in that margin to take advantage of being one of the lucky industries that has prospered in a pandemic.

It feels like the 1990s again, with everyone coming into the store with a passion for hot water and a desire for the bubbles lifestyle. You know life is good when pop culture is helping revive our industry. The TV show “Bless The Harts” just had a hot tub episode and, wow, was it fun to see what the rest of the world thinks hot tub ownership is like.

We sure do wish there were no supply chain problems, but all things considered, we are grateful for the tide turning to help our new and existing customers get into some hot water.

Kathi Belcourt
retail manager
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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