Aside from outstanding, customer service, pool professionals agree that great deals help lure customers back into the retail store. Once someone owns a pool or spa, it is important to stay top of mind with these potential repeat customers, and it is critical to ensure they do not take their business elsewhere.
Today’s software technology gives pool and spa businesses a guaranteed system for scheduling sales promotions. “Superior business software allows you to create promotions with definitive start-and-stop dates that can be applied to products, services or construction offerings,” says Rachael Pritz, vice president at RB Retail & Service Solutions. “By setting all details in the management system and linking to outbound e-mail and other marketing communication tools, pool and spa businesses do not have to worry about missing market opportunities.”
There are software programs designed specifically for the pool industry that offer ‘event planning modules’ that enable retailers to set sale prices for specific sale dates so they automatically go into effect for each event. This automated process takes care of a big task that you will not need to worry about during the busy season or the week of your sale event preparation.
“By selecting the products in advance and deciding on the sale prices early, you can be sure that your margins remain profitable,” explains Pritz. “Whether you plan one, two or 10 events per season, select your dates and make a solid plan in advance for each.”
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Taking the time to do this will make it easier to implement promotions during the season when you and your staff are busy taking care of daily operations. Here are some best practice examples to consider:
Pre-season promotion — Many retailers and service professionals find success with offering an ‘early’ buy promotion on water care chemicals for the entire season at the start of the year. This creates a cash fl ow boost and helps customers feel as though they are offered an exclusive opportunity to get the best deal on water care products.
During-the-season promotion — Mid-way into the season, the BOGO sale on toys has proven to be highly effective with retailers throughout the country. This type of promotion ensures product is moved, which might otherwise be left on the shelves at the end of the season. The reason why this is valuable to the customer at this stage of the season is there is still plenty of time left to use them.
End-of-summer promotion — Offering 25% off on winter covers is a proven, highly successful end-of-season sale. This type of promotion also provides a cash boost as the season ends. “We find that this type of promotion creates the opportunity to up-sell service for closing and opening the following season,” says Dan Lenz, manager at All Seasons Pools in Illinois.
Up-sell related items — “Some software programs have preprogrammed ‘related items’ that can be set into your software, which helps to sell add-on items during busy sales promotion events,” says Lenz. For example, hose clamps for hoses, water lube for O-rings and clarifiers with bags of filter sand can quickly add large sums of additional profit. If these items aren’t already pre-programmed into your business software, it’s a good idea to set these up prior to your sales promotions.
Your customer database has the potential to help determine the best products to promote throughout the season. Remember that if you are an established pool and spa business, you may not need to market to new customers, but rather to customers in your existing database.
“Look at the functionality in your business software and drill down into your current customers for new business,” says Pritz. “Find out who hasn’t purchased chemicals lately, who hasn’t had a service call or who has an older model spa. Identify the target audience, then use direct mail, regular emailing, social media and marketing to reach out and bring these people back into your store for your sales promotions.”
By using the information in your current customer database, you can create selling opportunities during your sales promotions with existing customers by following their buying habits. For example, if you find that most of your clients have a salt-chlorine generator on their pool, then promote a salt-support start up chemical during your spring start up promotion.
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“Perhaps it is even time to start adding some new products,” suggests Pritz. “Your company might be known as a retailer of pools, spas and chemicals, but why not consider offering patio furniture, BBQs, fireplaces and gas stove inserts? Review the reporting options within your business software and look for trends that might make you consider new products that line up with your current offering.”
Promoting new products might even help ‘smooth out’ the seasonality of your business. Consider adding just one new product that might bring a customer into the store who might not have come in otherwise. And don’t forget to use your software to track results!
The tools found in most business software programs today allow you to identify customer types for targeted marketing and promotion of specific products and services. Target the buying habits of your clients to make your promotions successful. Use your business software to build targeted lists of people who want to receive promotions about specific products and services. And be sure to promote products during your sales that your customers need and not those that they might already own.
Start pre-planning your sales promotions now. By doing so, you will contribute to a more profitable pool and spa season and ease some of the in-season stress associated with the busiest times of the summer.