Matt Miller knows that when you start in the spa business, you don’t leave the spa business. His grandfather, Lorin Johnson, started Raft to Rafters in Columbus, Indiana in 1974 and Matt began working for him in the field, when he was 14. Matt left to complete a degree in Aviation at Purdue University and worked as a commercial pilot for a number of years. However, when Lorin’s health dictated he step back from the business, Matt returned to Columbus to help, and ended up purchasing Raft to Rafters in 2012. Matt says with a laugh, “I had never ordered anything before in my life!” |
Raft to Rafters offers in-ground and above ground pools, hot tubs, chemicals and toys. Matt has expanded the business to include outdoor furniture, grills, gas fireplaces and fencing. They even have a landscape architect on staff! His goal is to be a one-stop destination shop for his customers.
Before Matt took the helm at Raft to Rafters they were selling “about 1 tub per year” says Matt. “In 2012 we sold 16 tubs, 2013 we sold 39 and in 2015 we sold 65!” That growth is driven by Matt’s leadership, having the right people in the organization and a vision for the future. Matt takes being a business owner very seriously. “We have 16 full-time employees” states Matt. He is keenly aware that they depend on him for their livelihood.
Matt strives to build relationships with his customers and his employees. The proof is in the longevity of service of his staff and the return business from his customers. “We know our customers on a first-name basis” states Matt. “We even had customers come in and say, ‘Where’s my wedding invitation?’ in 2015 when Lisa and I got married!”
Finding great people to work on his team is very important to Matt. He knows they are his ‘face’ to the customers. Occasionally he finds it challenging in the current labor market. “They [the employees] have to be interested in working.” says Matt. “We want to find good people who want to make it a career. We take good care of our employees.”
Raft to Rafters is looking at a great 2017. Matt is excited about the people he has in the key positions of Store Manager and Service Manager. He has recruited “top notch” people and is looking to expand into multiple locations over the next few years.
In 2012, when they brought on the Nordic Hot Tub line, Matt was impressed that a Nordic Sales Rep came in and trained him and his staff on selling techniques. “It made such a difference just having that contact!” states Matt. He is also pleased with the price point of the Nordic line in his market. “The tubs look good. The synthetic cabinet, DTS and whirlpool action are all great selling points along with being made in the USA.” Although his service calls with Nordic tubs are minimal, he is very satisfied with the responsive Service Techs at Nordic. “Oh, and the drivers are awesome!” adds Matt “They go above and beyond!”
Matt’s advice to other dealers is, “Choose your manufacturers for their quality and support. It’s not about the cheapest product. Find a partner – like Nordic is - because the warranty is only as good as the people standing behind it.”
Raft to Rafters will be hosting a Nordic Truckload Sale from October 5 - 7, 2017. Join them for great savings and get yourself into some hot water during this annual event!
Find Matt and the Raft to Rafters team at their website or on Facebook.
After working in the pool and spa industry for over 28 years in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Skipper Hatfield saw an opportunity and decided to take the plunge, so to speak. |
In 2009, he opened Skipper’s Pool and Spa Service, a full service pool and spa company, located at 1018 North Dixie Avenue, Elizabethtown, KY. The following year, after retiring from a career in health services, Rita (Skip’s lovely wife) joined the business to help with the sales and administration.
Today, with 11 full-time employees and additional seasonal workers, Skip offers a full range of products and services in above and in-ground pools, hot tubs, chemicals, pool toys, accessories and grills. He also has full time, trained and certified service technicians to make sure his customers are happily enjoying their pools and spas.
Skip feels his service is what sets his business apart from the crowd. “It all revolves around service!” he states. His techs are trained and certified in all aspects of pool and spa maintenance and repair. “Our techs do more service than anything. They’re experts…some with 35 years in the business.” states Skip. His customers also know that when they purchase from Skipper’s the products will be backed by professionals. “We have a good reputation here,” says Skip. “It’s by word of mouth, everybody knows everybody and they know I’m here to back it up. I’m not going anywhere!”
Skip knows the challenges of being a small business owner. It wasn’t easy setting up the business in the economic climate of 2009. Banks and suppliers were hesitant to extend lines of credit but Skip was determined to make things work. “Everybody said I was crazy to open in 2009 but my customers knew me and followed me.” says Skip. “I don’t take that for granted. I thank God every day because you don’t know what tomorrow brings!”
This year is going to be a good year for Skipper’s. Last year Skip took time to organize the business, sent his staff for additional training and added another Service/Delivery truck. He considers this a good investment because he knows he has great people in place to take the business into the future. “I’d be nowhere without the great group of guys and ladies working for me!” says Skip with genuine pride in his voice. “We’re going to grow more. We’re prepared! It’s a good problem to have!”
Skipper’s Pool & Spa Service became a Nordic partner in 2010 and Skip feels it was a good decision. “Nordic [Hot Tubs] have a good name. They’re well-built and do everything the customer wants at a good price point!” says Skip. “I hardly work on Nordics…and we’ve sold a lot of them! If I don’t have to work on them it’s a good thing!”
What advice would Skip give to other dealers? “Do what you say you’re going to do!” he quickly responds. “Get as much knowledge as you can on what you sell.” Then he goes on to say, “Communication with customers is key! Customers want to talk to a straight up person and know you’re going to do the right thing.” Skip must be practicing this advice because he has the loyal customer base to prove it!
To contact Skip or RIta at Skipper’s Pool & Spa Service, go to the website or find them on Facebook.
Locey Swim and Spa is located in the greater Kalamazoo/Portage area of Southwest Michigan. |
It all began in 1979 when Paul Locey decided to establish Locey Pools. Now, 37 years later, they have expanded to 2 locations and have 8 full-time employees.
Nicole Locey, Paul’s daughter, is very proud of their business. From the moment customers enter the front door, Nicole and her team do everything they can to make it a positive experience. She realizes first impressions are key. “We have a clean showroom” states Nicole. She knows that if the showroom isn’t a nice place to be, people won’t stay there very long.
The Locey Swim and Spa team gives exceptional customer service. Says Nicole, “We greet the customer and learn about them. We make it personal and kind whether it’s 1-to-1 in person or on the phone. Some [customers] just come to visit and we have fun!” Nicole says with a laugh.
The biggest challenge Nicole sees for her business is online competition. She overcomes that with a positive attitude, personal service and quality warranty work. Nicole knows that customers want value for their purchase and she knows Locey Swim and Spa delivers that value.
Locey’s always services the products they sell. “If we can help with any other service we will do that too!” states Nicole. Through this they receive a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Nicole is looking forward to offering fun, new products this year. She is increasing Locey Swim and Spa’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and they are in the process of updating their website. “We have to keep up with the times” stresses Nicole.
Locey Swim and Spa is relatively new to Nordic, having been a dealer for just over a year. Nicole is very happy with the reliability of Nordic Hot Tubs. “The manufacturing and build is reliable. There are fewer service issues” says Nicole. “And they are made in Michigan…gotta LOVE that!” She feels the quality is consistent and the company has great customer service. “When we call in we get a live person and an answer. If I leave a voice mail, I get a call back soon!”
If Nicole could advise other dealers, she would encourage them to stock a variety of models. “Take a chance even if you’re not sure about a model. You might be surprised!” says Nicole. Locey also stocks parts for quick service. “Quickly take care of your customers – old and new.” Nicole states. “Oh, and take advantage of Home Shows and keep those brochures stocked! “
To contact Locey Swim and Spa you can find them on the website or find them on Facebook.
Also check them out on Twitter!
Nicole and the staff at Locey Swim and Spa are ready to help!
Pictured L to R: Aby Stevenson, Jason Fletcher, Julie Boulter, Nicole Locey, Jim Brown.
West Main location showroom.
Hot Tub display at the West Main showroom.