Flexing UK Muscle

Mike Genova

Leisure Concepts, the world’s leading supplier of accessories to the spa and hot tub market has trebled its warehousing presence in the UK with the unveiling of a 20,000 sq. ft. facility in Tewkesbury, Gloucester. A major investment in its British and mainland European dealers, the new base will include a trade showroom with several hot tubs displaying the comprehensive Leisure Concepts product range. The fully stocked showroom will include merchandising displays, promotional ideas and a spa-load of good advice such as ensuring priority products are displayed at eye level. The company is also retaining its existing 10,000 sq. ft. warehousing space. “Basically, we outgrew our UK premises,” explains Leisure Concepts President, Mike Genova. “I don’t know where all the hot tubs are going on that little island, called Great Britain — you sure are selling a lot of them,” he quips.

“Our investment means our customers can run their business more efficiently because we are bearing the cost of stock holding; we have made it less expensive to buy Leisure Concepts because it is right down the street.” From spa retailing roots, Mike spotted the potential for spa and hot tub accessories in 1994 when he founded Leisure Concepts. The company’s products are still manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility in Spokane, 18 miles from the Washington–Idaho border, and 228 miles east of Seattle. “I had one simple notion in mind; that an innovative and quality line of spa accessories would be a welcome addition to any dealer showroom,” explains Mike. “Nobody gives your customers more ways to enhance the spa experience than Leisure Concepts. This allows not only the strictest quality assurance, but also the most responsive inventory controls and order fulfilment possible.”

Lesiure Concepts 1Mike believes the UK market is too vulnerable to inferior Chinese products. “The Brits are usually smarter than most, but some like the Chinese product too much,” he declares. “That is part of the reason why we are flexing our UK muscle, trying to teach the dealer about quality product and ultimately to protect the consumer from inferior brands.” By side-stepping distributors in the UK, Leisure Concepts are not so much cutting out the middle man, rather they have becoming the middle man, says Mike, at the same time, taking full control over the way products and ultimately its brand is handled and perceived. “We have learned, the best way to grow our business, our products, and our brand is by doing it ourselves,” says Mike. “The UK market is soaring yet it is still an immature market with dealers still having a lot to learn about maximising sales potential,” he continues. ”The Brits are on the same learning curve that the American market went through,” he adds. “We can also work more closely with our UK customers to support and educate them and share our experience.”

In particular, Mike believes UK dealers are not maximising the upselling potential at the point of sale. He points out: “The consumer is far less likely to spend after a year or two compared with at the time of sale. “The new sale is when they are excited, with the psychological emotion of a new purchase; this is when they are more susceptible to spending additional money.” Viewed as a necessity rather than an accessory, steps and cover lifters remain Leisure Concepts’ biggest movers offering the biggest range of sizes, prize points and functionality on the market, Mike points out. While steps and cover lifters are viewed as an essential add-on sale, Mike firmly believes other products, particularly safety hand rails should also be viewed as a standard buy at time of purchase. “If it is one thing that makes me scratch my head, it is safety, hand rails,” he explains. “We are putting people three feet in the air, sometimes with a bottle of wine and potentially slippery steps – of course hand rails should be viewed as a necessity.” Mike emphasises: “If you are selling 100 hot tubs a year then you can add 70% extra to that profit with add-on sales, which cost you very little other than asking the consumer to consider it. “In the same way McDonald’s staff will ask you if you want to super-size, or add an apple pie; we need to be upselling our business,” he advises. “Avoid lost opportunities,” he concludes. “Don’t be lazy mentally or physically and work each consumer heavily on the front end to be spending more money with you…and I bet some of them will.”

Leisure Concepts
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