Dealers have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to automatic pool cleaners. In the midst of the recession, APC sales maintained their pace. And as customers become more confident and pool equipment sales recover, automatic pool cleaner sales are stronger than ever.

We asked manufacturers for tips on how to maximize sales in this slowly growing economy. Check out their advice and, in the following pages, take a look at the latest models and upgrades in the category.

What’s your best tip for selling automatic pool cleaners?

“First and foremost, draw attention to the cleaner section by creatively merchandising your store to disrupt customers as they come through the door. Stack your cleaner packaging to create your own attractive in-store displays. Also, take advantage of manufacturer POP and collateral materials to further capture the attention of shoppers.

Most importantly, when customers approach the cleaner area, engage them with a question such as, ‘How do you currently clean your pool?’ Qualifying a customer’s pool so you can match the right cleaner to their specific cleaning challenges is critical.

One of the best techniques for selling pool cleaners is to let the customer take a unit home with them to try over a weekend. Once they’ve seen it perform in their pool and experience how effortlessly it can maintain their pool, the cleaner rarely comes back.

Also, reminding your customers about upcoming special promotions via your website and social media channels and using traditional marketing tools such as newsletters, direct mail, and in-store events (free check-ups, tune-up kit specials, etc.) are more great ways to maximize sales.”

Brian King Product Manager — Cleaners | Pentair Aquatic Systems

“In order to effectively compete with the Internet and wide range of low-cost options available to consumers today, professional pool and spa retailers need to bring added value to their customers. Be the expert! Know the products you are selling inside and out and be prepared to offer advice on models, features and warranty comparisons.

Also, retailers should offer additional services that can’t be found elsewhere. For example, offer a demo unit that consumers can try in their own pool for the weekend. It’s amazing how many of those demos turn into sales. Also, service what you sell! These are the kinds of things that neither the Internet nor the mass retailers can offer.”

Jon Bogle Director of Marketing | Maytronics

In your eyes, what are the most important features on an automatic pool cleaner?

“Performance, reliability and simple operation are what customers want and expect in a cleaner. Matching the right cleaner and technology to the specific homeowner’s cleaning challenges ultimately determines the features that are most important for that particular situation. The most important feature might be scrubbing brushes for tough debris, a large intake for backyards with lush landscaping or powerful, methodical suction for fine debris. In general, the thoroughness of cleaning, the parts durability and user friendliness are key features to tout when describing the overall benefits of a specific model.”

Brian King Product Manager — Cleaners | Pentair Aquatic Systems

“Ultimately, what consumers really want is a cleaner that works! Performance and reliability are the two most important features in a cleaner. Bells and whistles are nice, but the underlying robotic technology, the ability to effectively scan and clean all pool surfaces and the quality with which a robot is made are ultimately the most important factors when selecting a cleaner.”

Jon Bogle Director of Marketing | Maytronics

Solar Pool TechnologiesSolar Pool Technologieswww.solar-breeze.com(877) 350-7665

The Solar-Breeze is the only solar-powered robotic pool cleaner in the world. This unique 3-in-1 cleaner removes debris and organic material from the surface of the pool before it decays and sinks to the bottom. The unit also filters the water through a thin mesh in the debris collection area and distributes sanitizer as it moves around the pool. It runs all day on solar energy and most of the night using energy stored in its rechargeable battery. Customers who use the Solar-Breeze can reduce their pool electricity consumption by as much as two-thirds, the company says.

SmartPoolSmartPoolwww.smartpool.com(888) 560-7665

The Scrubber60 Plus from SmartPool has two modes: the 1-hour “Fast Track,” which is a floor-specific cleaning cycle, or the 3-hour mode that cleans from floor to waterline for just a few pennies per cleaning, the company says. At only 14 lbs., the Scrubber60 Plus is the lightest robotic cleaner in its class, and removing it from the pool is nearly effortless. Ideal for inground pools of any shape or surface up to 20 by 40 feet, it features dual-drive motors for zero-radius turning and a 60-foot power cord.

PentairPentairwww.pentairpool.com(800) 831-7133

Kreepy Krauly Racer has a sporty design and cleans up to 30 percent faster, the company says. Four venturis deliver high-performance cleaning, while the Racer’s rotating brush quickly handles hard-to-remove debris and is ideal for sandy environments and new pool finishes. In addition, Raver features Night Cruize LED lights for nighttime cleaning.

MaytronicsMaytronicswww.maytronicsus.com(888) 365-7446

Dolphin’s new C-Class line of commercial robotic cleaners is the ideal solution for commercial pools of all sizes. They feature heavy-duty cleaning performance combined with robust reliability for long-term, cost-effective operation.

Hayward Commercial Pool ProductsHayward Commercial Pool Productswww.haywardcommercialpool.com(800) 657-2287

The TigerShark 2 Plus has a preset 7-hour cleaning cycle that turns itself off when it’s done cleaning. It calculates pool size with an on-board computer and programs itself for the most efficient cleaning pattern. Powerful on-board pumps vacuum dirt and debris while scouring the pool bottom, walls, inclines and steps. It features a patented, removable cartridge that can be simply rinsed with a garden hose. TigerShark 2 Plus includes a wireless remote, making it ideal for spot cleaning, the company says.

PolarisPolariswww.polarispool.com(800) 822-7933

The breakthrough Polaris 9550 Sport robotic cleaner features performance-driven, user-focused features. The Easy Lift System takes all the hassle out of removing the cleaner from the pool, and Vortex Vacuum Technology delivers 25 percent more suction power, four times more debris capacity and an advanced motion-sensing remote control for spot-cleaning.

ZodiacZodiacwww.zodiacpoolsystems.com(800) 822-7933

The new Zodiac MX6 is a compact, yet powerful suction cleaner with an ultra-efficient design, requiring less flow than any cleaner in its class for maximum energy savings, the company says. MX6 features a cyclonic vacuum for great suction power and aggressive wall cleaning, along with X-Drive Navigation to thoroughly clean the floor, walls and waterline of smaller pools.

Water TechWater Techwww.watertechcorp.com(800) 298-8800 ext. 230

The Blue Diamond robotic pool cleaner can clean large inground pools in an hour or less using high quality parts protected by a four year warranty, the company says. Chemical and algae-resistant polyvinyl alcohol brushes are available, allowing the Blue Diamond to clean any pool surface quickly and effectively. Additionally, the unit employs the Aqua Smart guidance system to target the areas of your pool most in need of cleaning.

PoolvergnuegenPoolvergnuegenwww.thepoolcleaner.com(707) 566-0400

The revolutionary PoolCleaner family from Poolvergnuegen includes two- and four-wheel suction PoolCleaners and an innovative pressure PoolCleaner. They are available in dark bottom colors and made in the United States. They are reliable and easy to install, and suitable for all pool surfaces and shapes, the company says.

Cailley Hammel is Managing Editor of AQUA Magazine.