Richard Hart, of the Aqua Warehouse Group, shares some timely business thoughts…
They say hot tub sales rose 1,000 per cent last year. We all enjoyed a fantastic year despite all the challenges of Brexit, Covid lockdowns followed by stock shortages and container delays, HGV driver shortages and price increases. Phew! They chucked everything at us.
Not only did we survive, we had an amazing time of it. We weren’t selling spas, we were just taking orders. We never had it so easy. A word of caution; things have already started to slow down and things could get a lot tougher. So we have got to be at the top of our game.
I predict it will be the lower end of the market, and with it the Internet boys, who are going to be hardest hit. Like Mercedes we need to work on the top end of the market. Like Mercedes, we don’t put a cheap spa in the corner. We keep our target on the middle to upper end of the customer demographic. Statistically, we are selling a lot more high-ticket items like swim spas, spas, kitchens, with average sales moving from £6k to the £12k mark. Let me share a little secret; we are now getting more swim spa enquiries than spa enquiries.
What I am advising is not to put all your eggs in one basket. As one of our business heroes, Jim McClure, of Vita Spas, likes to point out – a table with four legs is more stable than a table with one leg. It is time to diversify. Spas are our core business but why not sell something else. We are reinvesting in our business by extending our showroom floor and creating a separate swim spa display area. Although Vita Spas, after a 19-year relationship, will always be at our core; we have brought in Reef Spas to reach an extended demographic of the market.
It is no secret that sales of the Covana cover system are going through the roof. In fact one in every ten spa sales include a Covana cover system. That is a lot of added revenue.
Sales of the Remanso, the luxury aluminium pergolas, are sky-rocketing – and not just to go over spas but as general garden living features.
Sizzler kitchens, the ultimate outdoor living accessory, start at £13,000, with healthy margins and are attracting a whole new type of customers – who are not even buying a spa.
DON’T BE SHY
Having a quality showroom and displaying product is key to sustainable success. Don’t hide your spa accessories away, be like a supermarket and make a feature of them with stand-out displays with a point of sale focus.
Some people will aim at the lower end of the market, a sub £5k hot tub for instance. But I believe that is the end that is going to be most affected by rising energy price increases and affordability.
Style your business at a Mercedes level and aim for Waitrose customers rather than the Lidl shopper.
Invest in your showroom display presentation, your staff, your customer relationship systems and yes, if you build it, they will come.
We always thought of ourselves as spa guys. These days we are a whole lot more than that.
Aqua Warehouse Group
01245 477 400