• Q&A with Mike Dunn, vice president of sales and marketing for Watkins Manufacturing

    by Barrett Kilmer August 2009

    Mike Dunn, vice president of sales and marketing for Watkins Manufacturing, Vista, Calif., recently spoke with AQUA on a range of issues, from financing and advertising to the new hot tub association and its goals.

    After Labor Day there's usually a pretty good bump in spa sales. Is Watkins doing anything to take advantage of those favorable conditions this year?


  • There's still a market for aboveground pool dealers

    by Barrett Kilmer August 2009

    Just 10 years ago the above-ground pool market was booming. From one year to the next, manufacturers and dealers kept their eyes to the sky, hoping for favorable spring weather, but had little else to worry about, save what sizes, shapes and liner patterns would catch customers' attention in the upcoming year.

    That's changed. Today, there are fewer buyers, fewer manufacturers and fewer...

  • Understanding the importance of Workers' Comp insurance

    by Phillip M. Perry August 2009

    For employers large and small the problem is the same: The rising cost of benefits is eroding the bottom line. And one of the costliest benefits is workers' compensation insurance.

    It's natural to want to trim costs wherever possible, and maybe you've started to examine your own workers' comp bill with an eye on lessening the damage. But doing any serious cost cutting in this area presents special challenges. For one thing you can't cut benefits levels as you can with health...

  • Gazebos and spa enclosures can add a second profit base for retailers

    by Barrett Kilmer August 2009

    Every backyard retailer is familiar with the up-sale, the add-on. A couple wants a hot tub, maybe they'll buy a cover lifter or a set of stairs. The more the better. But why play small ball when you've got powerful bats on the bench?

    Selling spa enclosures or gazebos gives dealers a chance to not only sweeten the deal, but to nearly double the sales ticket on a spa...

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

    by Barrett Kilmer July 2009

    AQUA 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...

  • Q&A with Alice Cunningham, co-owner Olympic Hot Tub Company

    by Barrett Kilmer June 2009

    AQUA recently asked Alice Cunningham, co-owner of Olympic Hot Tub Company, to share her ideas about the state of the hot tub retailing industry. And while she may be a little restless, she hasn't been losing sleep.

    Obviously, spa sales are down nationwide. How are things up in the Northwest?

    Well, we're definitely not as down as some other places in the country. In fact, the...

  • Keeping pool chemical sales away from big box stores

    by Scott Webb June 2009

    Pool chemicals have long been one of the most dependable profit-makers in the pool business. Unlike other items a retailer might stock, pool chemicals are not an optional buy; if you've got a pool, you've got to have them.

    In the last year or two, however, that dependable revenue stream has come under increasing pressure, and it's not entirely due to the current slump. Sure, new...

  • The ABCs Of E-Newsletters

    by Phillip M. Perry June 2009

    "Good, fast, cheap — pick two because you can't have all three." That old saw holds true in the world of retail advertising and promotion, with one notable exception: e-newsletters. Why? First, they're good ways to spark more sales. Second, they work fast. And third, they're cheap. It's tough to think of another promotional tool that gives so much bang for so little buck.

    "E-newsletters are great for establishing new lines of communication with your...

  • Hot tub manufacturers map out a plan to get the market back on course

    by Barrett Kilmer June 2009

    I reached Jim Johnston on his cell somewhere in the western part of Kansas, driving across the Great Plains en route to Florida. I was hoping to hear some positive news about the state of the spa industry, and vice presidents of sales and marketing are usually reliable sources of hope and optimism.

    "You're trying to write an article about positive things?" he deadpanned....

  • Follow a certain set of rules for success in sales

    by Kelley Robertson June 2009

    We live in a quick-fix society, so it's no wonder that many salespeople look for a magic cure or Band-Aid solution to increase their sales. However, I believe that success in sales follows a basic set of rules.

    Fill the pipeline. Many people experience tremendous peaks and valleys in their sales because they do not consistently prospect for new business. This frequently occurs when a salesperson is busy. They neglect to prospect because it is the least enjoyable...