|There are people who know exactly what they want to do early in life; Brian Van Horn, owner and General Manager of Sensational Spas in Stevensville, Michigan is one of those people. When he was in high school his summers were spent working for a local pool company. He enjoyed the work and in 1989, right after his high school graduation, he opened his own business.
When he began Sensational Spas, Van Horn sold and serviced both pools and hot tubs but felt that the hot tub industry was going to grow dramatically. He continued to carry pools until the late 1990’s when he made the decision to focus solely on hot tubs. This decision has enabled Sensational Spas to develop a core expertise in the industry, allowing Van Horn to successfully open three locations in the Stevensville area.
Sensational Spas’ main location is at 5595 Red Arrow Highway where they have hot tubs displayed in both an interior showroom and an exterior lot with a gazebo. The second location is on Lawrence Avenue, also in Stevensville, where they keep a small office, hold training events for service team members and sell refurbished hot tubs. Van Horn anticipates opening the third location in downtown Stevensville in early October which will be an appointment only showroom.
Focusing on service after the sale is what Van Horn believes sets Sensational Spas apart from the competition. “Of course we like to do sales numbers, but it is not our driving force,” states Van Horn. “We have over 200 accounts that we do weekly maintenance for their hot tubs.” This is where he knows they develop and maintain those key customer relationships. “We don’t want all the business,” quips Van Horn. “We just want the good business!”
Being in business for 27 years has had its challenges. “Hiring and retaining the right team members can be a challenge,” states Van Horn. However, with the 9 employees he now has, he is very confident that Sensational Spas is well equipped to handle whatever 2017 is going to bring.
One other challenge Van Horn notes is the recession of 2007/2008. “We saw the landscape changing in the fall of ’07 so we focused on the financial aspect of our business,” says Van Horn. He credits great relationships with his suppliers and banking institutions for making the difference on how well they survived the recession. “Relationships are the key,” states Van Horn.
2016 has already been a great year for Sensational Spas. Van Horn likes to keep the growth rate of the business between 5 and 8% and he is very happy with their growth rate this year. “We don’t like those big growth swings,” states Van Horn. “That gets you into a yo-yo pattern. We would rather see slow, steady and consistent growth.”
Van Horn is also looking forward to attending the IPSP Show this November in NOLA. “We may go to the Atlantic City show but, we’ll see,” he says. He also stated that he would be stopping in at the Nordic Hot Tubs booth, #935!
When asked what he likes most about Nordic, Van Horn is quick to respond, “The people! We’ve built a fond relationship with Nordic and people are the main part of that relationship.” He also states, “Nordic builds a great product. The quality is legendary! That makes it easy on us because of its reliability and it [Nordic] has a great story to tell.”
Van Horn has advice for other dealers. “If you don’t build solid relationships with your vendors, you are missing a key part of your business. When things are good, they are good for everyone. However, when things get tough, those relationships are critical to your survival!”
Brian Van Horn and the Sensational Spas Sales Team can be contacted through the website or on Facebook.
|When you are good at what you do but a car accident throws you a curveball, what do you do? Well, for Adam Burke, it was his start into the hot tub industry.
Twenty-three years ago, Burke was looking for a hot tub to help provide relief from injuries he received in a car accident. “I saw some really bad hot tub sales presentations,” says Burke. It got him thinking that he could do that, and do it better. And so, Atlanta Spa & Leisure was born.
Burke and his wife Kim met indirectly through the business as she worked for his chemical distributor. “I ordered supplies from her over the phone for about a year then I heard she was really, really ridiculously good looking so I pursued her relentlessly until she agreed to marry me,” quips Burke. I guess you could say the rest is history!
Atlanta Spa & Leisure began in Doraville, Georgia and in 2009 they expanded into the Cumming store but not by choice. Burke again made a great outcome from an adverse situation as he relates, “We had to expand as a defensive move. We owned the building and lost the tenant so we needed to fill the space. It was the exact opposite of awesome.” But, as he now admits, it was a good move for him and the business.
The business philosophy that Burke has for Atlanta Spa & Leisure is to treat the customer the way you want to be treated. He feels that when you do the right thing, your customers come back. “Half of our business is repeat customers and referrals, so after 23 years, it seems to work well” he states.
One of the things that Burke finds most challenging is creating systems that work and make things run smoothly. “Just because you are a good salesman doesn’t always make you a great manager” says Burke. “You have to have better systems.”
These last few years have been good for Atlanta Spa & Leisure. However, one of the things that Burke is looking forward to this year is for the election to be over. “Don’t get me going on that” he chuckles. His outlook is that 2017 is going to be ‘awesome’ regardless of what happens in the election.
Burke is very pleased with Nordic Hot Tubs. He brought the Nordic line back into his showroom about 3 years ago. He has high praise for Nordic when he states, “They [the hot tubs] don’t break! I like their simplicity and that they are a good, solid product made by good, solid Mid-Western folks!”
What advice does Burke have for other dealers? “Realize that before your business can improve, you have to improve” states Burke. He takes his own advice as he is currently re-reading the book, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
One more piece of advice Burke gives is “Never give up!”
Adam and Kim Burke and the Sales Team at Atlanta Spa & Leisure can be reached through the website and on Facebook.
|Where do you go for hot tubs if you are in the town of Hilliard, Ohio? Patrick Hernon, founder and CEO of All Seasons Spas wants to be your ‘go to’ for any and all your hot tub needs. That is why he chose to keep his product line narrowed to hot tubs. “We are a specialty hot tub retailer,” states Hernon. “And we sell a lot of hot tubs out of our facility.”
Hernon began selling hot tubs in 1988, the year All Seasons Spas was founded. Through the years the business has grown and he believes it is because they have remained focused on hot tubs, adding only one sauna line to complement the tubs. “We stick to what we’re good at and we don’t want to mix it up!” says Hernon. All Seasons has a solid reputation which is important to Hernon as he states “We have a lot of repeat business through second time buyers and through friend and family recommendations.”
While taking calculated risks is part of a growing business, All Seasons has also weathered few unplanned events. “About 25 years ago our store burned to the ground” states Hernon. He rebuilt and moved down the street from the original location. A few years later one of his main manufacturers pulled the line from All Seasons, leaving Hernon with little to sell for the season. “But, they came back and we’re good” he says with a grin. “It’s just the usual stuff.”
The Sales Team at All Seasons is enjoying a great year so far. 2015 was a great sales year for them too but, as Hernon knows, that only comes through hard work. “We want to finish up from last year and stay ahead. But, I know the election will affect the last quarter.”
If you stop in to the All Seasons showroom, you will be greeted with a friendly hello, wagging tail and possibly a wet nose. One of their greatest sales assets is Leo, the Golden Retriever. “He’s not so great at running the cash register, but other than that, he’s a great salesman” laughs Hernon.
When asked how long All Seasons has carried the Nordic Hot Tub line, Hernon replies, “From the beginning!” His favorite things about Nordic are the quality and the price. “Reliability goes along with quality and Nordic is one of the few companies that appreciates what things cost.”
Hernon has some advice for other dealers. “Don’t be afraid to take big steps. We gambled when we built our 2.5 million, 19,000 square foot facility. We took that big step, took a risk, and it has paid off dramatically.”
All Seasons Spas is located at 4105 Lyman Drive in Hilliard, Ohio. Hernon and his Sales Team can be contacted through the website or on Facebook.
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