Spa dealers are encountering a never-before-seen conundrum as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic: hot tub demand has skyrocketed while the average wait for new spas is now up to six months.
That creates a tricky sales dynamic. What should be a perfect storm for sales—a constant parade of customers who, cautious about travel, are eager and ready to invest in home improvements and luxury items—is complicated by a lack of available inventory.
This is a nightmare scenario for both the salespeople and the customers who work together to find the right spa and are ready to close the deal. No retailer on earth wants to tell a prospective customer there is a six-month wait to fulfill orders.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of our industry right now.
Here are some messaging ideas for the salesperson to keep conversion high, helping retailers capitalize on the demand by ensuring they move sales forward in the face of stock delays.
Messaging Is Key
How do retailers tell a hot-to-soak customer about the time lag between purchase and installation?
Be upfront and clever. Most customers don’t want to hear about the intricacies of supply-chain issues rooted in China. But salespeople can back into the subject by letting their customers know that spa sales are through the roof.
When you discuss how the entire industry is exploding—that consumer interest in home spas is at an all-time high in the wake of the pandemic—you’re letting the customer know they aren’t alone. In fact, they are part of a movement.
At this point, you may want to zero in on the customer, their needs, budget, wishlist, and concentrate on finding the right spa for them.
Once a client settles on a spa, or if they broach the issue of a timeline, it is time to address the invisible elephant in the room: the long wait before delivery. Explain the situation in three sentences:
- The surge in orders, coupled with Covid-related supply chain issues, means there’s a waiting list for full delivery and installations.
- All leading spas manufacturers have supply-chain issues causing lengthy production delays.
- And that means that every spa dealer in the entire country has stock issues and a growing waitlist.
- Let your customers know what specifically your manufacturing partner is doing to address the situation and improve clarity on estimated production times.
This third point is critical. Every store has inventory issues. Make it clear you are not “just saying that to win a sale.” Searching for a retailer with in-stock inventory or shorter wait times is very likely to be a waste of time, but always be respectful of a customer’s decision to do so. It’s always good to offer a reminder about your unique value proposition and the special benefits your products provide over time compared to your competition here.
Turn Demand Into a Sales Advantage
These unavoidable delays can actually be used as a selling point for retailers in the form of a call to action. The wise retailer wants to under-promise and over-deliver, and it may turn out that manufacturers wind up shortening production cycles. But for now, every day that passes is another day the waiting list grows. And that is the message you want to impart. The sooner a customer places an order, the sooner you can submit it to a manufacturer and the faster it will be fulfilled.
The long delay can also provide retailers with a legitimate, customer-focused reason to contact their customer base. You know what hot tub they have and whether they might be in the market for a replacement. It helps to target this segment of your list with an email letting them know about the extraordinary demand for spas. Ideally, this works best as a soft sell or customer service advisory. Encourage the customer to plan ahead—and visit your store.
Another angle worth exploring is the idea of reopening a “closed waiting list.” This is a waiting list for a specific model that you stopped taking orders on because you decided the backlog is too great or the wait times are too onerous. Now, you’ve decided to open up the list and are taking orders. By communicating this waitlist reopening via email, phone, or flyer, you have a new customer-focused pitch to reactivate potential buyers, turning a problem into an opportunity. You could even reach back out when there’s been a “cancellation” on the list: “a customer canceled and there is a spot, And naturally I thought of you.”
Sensitivity to customer expectations should be top of mind, especially when it comes to closing a sale. Since a six-month delay can be a real deterrent for some customers, consider special “Order Now Deals” to encourage the purchase.
- Discounts for full payment: Knock a certain percentage off the price for anyone paying full cost upfront.
- Discounts for partial payment: Offer a smaller discount price for anyone paying 75% down.
- Discounts on financing: Offer a certain percentage off on any purchase that uses financing and promote payment over time benefits.
- Free service calls: Offer a limited number of maintenance calls or water care package for their new spa. “Because you’re waiting so long, we are going to include…” For dealers who also offer service contracts, this is a great way to enhance the lifetime value of a customer.
- Free product deliveries: Offer free delivery, which can be built into your pricing strategy ahead of time just as you would for the above discount options mentioned.
Saling in a Perfect Storm
There are good problems and there are bad problems. The current demand-supply conundrum is, all things considered, a good one. Make sure you review these sales strategies with your staff, try different offers, and analyze your results. Handled correctly, this pandemic-related retail storm could turn out to be extremely good for your bottom line once we pop out the other side.