As a hot tub retailer, we face competition from several outlets, and our customers are subject to big promises and left to wonder what separates local dealers from online retailers.
- The primary difference is service after the sale. Just about any brand or dealer that doesn’t have a true storefront is operating that way for a reason. The most common reason is that they don’t want to be bothered after the sale, their local dealers weren’t getting paid for warranty work, or were receiving sub-par products and didn’t want to be associated with them. We know because we have dealt with such companies. A local dealer with a permanent storefront is staking their reputation on not only the products’ capabilities and qualities but their own service as well.
- Another often underestimated value offered by local dealers is the delivery process. Online and home show vendors include a “delivery” in the sense that they get it to your house. That’s it, moving your new 1000lb. hot tub, full of sensitive electronics, and plumbing fittings to your backyard is now up to you. Local dealers ensure that the site is ready for the tub (electrical and structure to place the tub on), as well as coordinate with delivery crews who specialize in delivering hot tubs and use equipment specific to that purpose. At the time of delivery, a service technician will install all the accessories, connect the tub to the electricity, set the water levels and sanitize the tub, and go over the general maintenance procedures.
- More often than not, the quality of the spas at a spa show or expo is lacking as well. Cheap pumps, heaters, and circuit boards, as well as poor plumbing fittings and little to no insulation, are the norm. These shows rely on customers visual impression of the spa, and will usually try to sell a cheaper model, but have a customer test one with more powerful jets, only to be disappointed when they fill theirs. To try to build value in their products, they will often pack low-end spas with gimmicks, like TV systems and audio that are very prone to failure. By doing this, they can then say “Well how much is any other spa going to cost with the audio or a TV?” when the reason those aren’t offered by reputable brands at that price point is the equipment that will actually last costs significantly more.
- Marking up to markdown is something that happens at every hot tub show. If you’ve been to one before, you’ve undoubtedly heard “This spa costs $18,000 but for today only, it can be yours for $12,000!” This is a high-pressure sales tactic to entice you to buy today, and their spas are never sold for those absurd so-called “retail prices”. A brick and mortar location is going to give you their best price available, and honor that throughout the model year, and 90% of the time, will be at the show prices for a comparable spa.
- High-pressure sales tactics are probably the most frustrating thing about the spa shows for our customers. If you are making the decision to purchase a hot tub, you should have time to consult with everyone you plan on sharing it with and wet test it to confirm it’s the right spa. There is absolutely no reason a spa retailer cannot honor the same prices year-round.