Q&A with Jeff Welters, business development manager for Beachcomber Hot Tubs

4 Y 809 AqAQUA recently caught up with Jeff Welters, business development manager for Beachcomber Hot Tubs in Surrey, British Columbia, and talked about the importance of hosting special events, whether advertising is the best use of a dealer's dollars and the difference between the spa markets in the United States and Canada.

What are your more-successful dealers doing right now?

They're getting out and doing special events, whether on-site or off-site, the latter being home shows or parking lots at malls or highly trafficked department stores or what have you. The on-site events can be out in the parking lot and take place at least once a quarter.

For those events to be successful, it's really go big or go home. Don't spend less because things are a little down right now. You should still bring in a truckload of hot tubs, and then invite all your prospects. You've got to mine those prospects and bring them out to the events. That'll help with the return on the investment you make in the show.

Are the home shows a bigger focus this year, now that many dealers have fewer people coming in the front door?

Well if you spend the same amount of money this year that you spent to get business last year, you're not going to get the same amount of business. There's just not as much there. So you've got to be doing more, you've got to get out there, work on increasing your closing ratio and just doing all the little things that can make a big difference. A lot of people may not be seeing the same traffic in their stores, so they've got to go out to where the people are.

What do you do to help your dealers keep their salespeople motivated?

We really focus on providing training and education at the retail level. Every two weeks we do what we call a "Beachcomber Connect" meeting, which is for store owners and staff. It goes over what's working out there for some people, and it gets ideas out to people who might not hear them otherwise. We'll have special recommendations on how to get the most out of your special events, about ways of generating new business. We focus a lot on that. We've also got regional sales training where stores can send their staff. We've got development partners who go out on the road and spend time training before an event, then stay there and help work that event for the store.

The Beachcomber Direct meetings are webinars. All of our business development partners have the ability to do those with their stores, too. We can train them online, and we can train them when we visit them. So we focus heavily on training. That's very important to us.

What about advertising? A lot of people seem to think this is a good time to spend money on ads and gain market share.

We don't necessarily push our stores to do a lot of advertising, though we do have a co-op program where we share in that cost. But the cheapest method of getting the word out is working on your referral program - working on your existing customers to build referrals. We feel we have a product where we have really happy customers. We've done studies that show that 97 percent of our customers would recommend to a family member or a friend to buy a Beachcomber. We call that our satisfaction index.

Then our stores generate the names of all the people who come into the store to have a look, and we do direct mail to those people and invite them to special events if they haven't bought yet. So if you're doing a parking lot event the store can bring in a truckload of hot tubs and get special terms on that.

If a dealer is on a street where you've got car dealerships or other kinds of heavy traffic, if they just throw a couple of hot tubs out there and that's their big event? Well, like I said, you've got to go big or go home. People need to have a dozen out there so that people see that there's really something going on. So that works if you get a lot of drive-by traffic. If you're in more of a destination location, you'd have to use other methods.

So, again, if you feel like the customers aren't walking into your store, then we encourage you to go out and go to where the customer is. So whether that's a home show, in a parking lot, near a larger department store or Home Depot where you can rent some parking lot space, we encourage that.

There are fewer people walking into our stores right now. We know that. So you have to go out there and generate new leads and sell some hot tubs.

Do you see some positive signs?

Well, most of your readership is in the United States, and we're a Canadian manufacturer, so a good portion of our business obviously comes from Canada, which is very strong right now. We're up over last year. We're in just about every market in Canada. So the factory is quite busy.

But it's definitely slower in the United States in retail stores.

So given that, now is a time to do some training where you look to increase closing rates. So if you've only got five people walking into your store as opposed to the regular 15, well, if you've got fewer people, make sure you've got an 80 percent closing ratio, whereas before maybe you had 20 percent.

So that's really what we're working on - increasing store traffic, increasing closing rates.

Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide