While much of the nation is digging out from the most recent snowstorm, pool and spa vendors are planning for the industry’s busy season. Many operators have to contend with a new sales channel reality because consumers are increasingly purchasing routine supplies like chemicals and filters from online retailers. This change means that local pool service companies are missing out on a significant percentage of profitable sales. To counter this shift in the industry, more local service tech companies are establishing new marketing partnerships with online retailers.
When consumers increasingly began purchasing pool supplies from online vendors, the response of local service companies was to refuse to work with these supplies. Many techs felt their reasoning was justified. The online vendors did not guide consumers to the right products for their needs. As a result, tech were left struggling to install the wrong size filters or chemicals.
A better model may be one that is built on cooperation. Online retailers concede that they may have taken market share from local service companies but many stand ready to help these companies build their business. Online retailers have in some cases established networks and refer customers to local service providers. To date, many of these networks are informal and regional. Often the online vendor and local service techs meet each other at trade shows and start the process of establishing a referral network. Industry practitioners say, in some cases, the service provider can make up for the loss of big-ticket sales by charging pool owners for advice and expertise as they install or upgrade equipment.
It’s clear that the nature of selling supplies and servicing swimming pools and spas is changing. Dan Harrison, president of the Las Vegas-based Poolandspa.com Inc., says “I think we’re going to see a ‘Geek Squad’ of the pool industry.” All of the players in this changing industry could grow business by coordinating their traditional and digital marketing programs to sell quality supplies and service to pool and spa owners.[Source: Thomas, Ben. Online Retailers Pitch Partnerships. Poolspanews.com. 22. Dec. 2010. Web. 18 Jan. 2011]