Roger Retailer has a successful local spa dealership. His reputation in town and in surrounding communities is spotless, and he has a great sales team that is focused on customer service and satisfaction. Roger is sitting back in his desk chair, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and going through the morning mail. Suddenly, there it is: Glossy, colorful and loudly proclaiming “HOT TUB AND SWIM SPA BLOWOUT EXPO.”
Intelligent business owners like Roger know that these traveling shows pose a danger to his current and future customers for the simple fact that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Is Roger worried? No. Why not? Because Roger has a plan…
Our friend Roger understands that a promise of “Huge Savings” and “50% to 70% off Entire Inventory” are very tempting to potential spa customers. However, Roger also knows that well-educated consumers will choose the local store over the “Three Days Only” sale in the mall parking lot. For Roger Retailer, that direct mail circular is really announcing a teachable moment.
The spa show direct mail circular announcing '50 to 70% off for 3 days only' is really announcing a teachable moment.
In this scenario, Roger is already ahead of the game because he has consumer watch information ready to be posted in his store. This flyer on the entrance and exit doors of his store provides a list of questions that reputable dealers will be able to answer and information they should be able to provide:
- Who manufactured and who is selling the product you intend to buy?
- What are the details of the warranty that is being offered (if there is one)?
- Who is selling you the product?
Each of these general headers contains sub-questions shoppers should ask to gain a true understanding of what is being offered.
According to the expo circular, this particular event is set to take place next weekend. Roger has a hundred or so of these consumer watch flyers printed up and placed at each point-of-sale terminal in the store. Employees are instructed to include a flyer with every purchase made until the end of the expo. Potential customers who come into the store but don’t make a purchase are given a flyer with an explanation something like this:
“We understand that a spa is a big investment, and we want you to get the best product to suit your needs. Here is a list of questions we’ve answered for you today and that we think will help you in your comparison shopping. Thanks for coming in today, and please come see us again before you make your final decision.”
Customers at Roger’s store know that he has their best interests at heart. Why else would he help them comparison shop? He knows his products are better than the competition, and now he knows his customers have the tools to see it, too.
Make Them a Better Offer
Roger now gathers his staff for a sales meeting and announces that they will run a special promotion before, during, and after the upcoming expo. The traveling show is set for a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so Roger’s store will run its sale from two days before to two days after the expo event. Advertising for your sales event will be done through a ready-to-deploy PPC digital campaign, local newspaper and radio, and through email. These are some of the things Roger considers including in his sale that the expo doesn’t offer:
- Free start up and 6 month supply of chemicals with every hot tub purchase.
- Matching any written expo offer on comparable spas (gives you a chance to honestly compare spas and offers based on features).
- Free delivery and start-up consult.
- Free accessory package with steps and cover lift.
- Mention the “show” and get $500 off your spa purchase.
He even decides to offer a free 90-day follow-up visit to inspect the spa and its placement and to ensure the customer is satisfied with their product. Roger knows that one of the keys to competing with the expo hype is emphasizing the convenience and customer service at his location, so he works hard to show his customers that he will always be right there to take care of their ongoing spa needs.
...one of the keys to competing with the expo hype is emphasizing the convenience and customer service at (your) location...
What You Can Do
As a spa retailer, like Roger, you can make sure your customer base understands what you can offer them that the big traveling expo cannot. Here’s what you have:
- A locally operated retail showroom.
- A proven history in that location.
- Proven brand and store warranties on products and services.
- A service department on-site to handle any service or repair issues.
- The ability to visit customer homes for a site inspection to ensure proper placement of the spa.
- The opportunity for customers to take a day or two to evaluate their options before making a purchase decision.
- A positive Better Business Bureau rating.
- Certified technicians and installers.
- Products in pristine condition (that haven’t been damaged from moving from location to location).
- The ability to allow customers to actually try out the spa before they make a purchase.
The most important thing you have to offer that the “show” people don’t is a reputable local store. A place where customers know they’ll get the support, service, and supplies they need to facilitate an ongoing exceptional hot tub experience in their own homes.
To be clear, we are talking about the traveling spa shows that come to town for three or four days, offer too-good-to-be-true deals and then move on to the next town. Your customer base needs to know that these shows are not the same as shows with multiple dealers and manufactures representing real brick-and-mortar stores. Legitimate shows will advertise their vendors and products in advance while traveling expos provide only hype without specific details. That’s where you have an advantage: transparency.
Educate, advertise, and out-perform: savvy customers will recognize the difference between an honest, quality experience and a 21st-century snake oil sale.
Every aspect of the spa buying experience in your store is an open book. Customers know who is making the offer, where you are physically located and what services you provide. If they ask for a copy of warranty information, you freely give it to them. If they need to take a day or two to consider their options, you’re happy to let them have the time they need. If they want a different color, more or fewer jets or different colored lights, you have those options available.
The key to competing with the traveling “Big Blowout, Everything Must Go” spa show is to make sure customers know all of the things you can offer that those shows don’t. Educate, advertise, and out-perform: savvy customers will recognize the difference between an honest, quality experience and a 21st- century snake oil sale.