|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.