For Dan Boelhauf, it's the little things that count. With more than 15 years in the pool and spa industry, more than a decade of which he's spent at St. Louis-area Prestige Pools & Spas, Boelhauf has learned that customers have changed — but throwing in a freebie goes a long way in making a hot tub sale.

"For better or for worse, most of our customers believe they are experts now. Whether they are or not," he says. "The Internet has given them the ability to do their shopping online in the sense of getting their background information."

Armed with information, customers are now more likely to negotiate with a sales representative. While a sales rep can only go so low in price, there are other things he or she can do to sweeten the deal — and that's where the freebie comes in.

"I'll throw in steps and cover lifts just to kind of hammer home the idea that on top of the reduction of price, you're also getting these two extra things that are going to make using the tub easier for you," he says.

Boelhauf finds add-ons like free steps and cover lifts are an especially valuable tool when selling at home shows, fairs and other special events, as they make the product look more attractive to those looking to make a quick, big-ticket purchase. In the store, he says salespeople can be a bit more nuanced in their add-ons.

"Sometimes we will show them a figure-four handrail, and that's just something for people who may be looking at a little taller tub or maybe they're on the elderly side," Boelhauf says. "We show them one of those and sometimes it's like, 'You know, in order to make the deal, let's just throw one of those in.'"

For customers on the shorter side, Boelhauf might include a booster seat, like Cover Valet's Water Brick. For customers who enjoy the bells and whistles of a high-end model, he might add an LED light in the footwell.

"We try to do little things here and there to give them added value, just to make it more appealing," Boelhauf says.

And the concept of added value doesn't end when the sale is made. When adding on a set of spa steps or cover lifter, the team at Prestige always makes sure to install those items during the spa delivery.

"It's just a little thing that we do. It doesn't mean much, but it's just a nice way of doing business," he says. "When you buy a tub from me, in six months when the novelty has worn off, I would like you to say you wouldn't have done it any differently."


Added Benefits

For Boelhauf and the team at Prestige Pools & Spas (Sunset Hills, Mo.), "added value" is a core philosophy — both during the hot tub sale and beyond. One way the team at Prestige continues their relationship with their customer is by rewarding those who traveled out of their way to buy their spa.

"When people come in from beyond our traditional base, we'll offer free chemical deliveries as long as they're purchasing $100 worth of products," Boelhauf says. "Let's say they want a filter or two for a hot tub, and then some chemicals. When we're out in their area that day, we'll drop it off at their house for free. That's just another thing we'll provide that again, doesn't have any monetary value per se, but it's just a nice little add on.

"If they're going to come 50 miles just to spend their money with me, we're going to show our appreciation by saying, 'Next time we're in that area, we'll come around to you and drop off these products for you, whatever it is you may need.' Sometimes that stuff can be a thing where it's not going to make or break you, but it helps continue that relationship and build your name and reputation as good, solid businesspeople."


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Cailley Hammel is Managing Editor of AQUA Magazine.