At The Spa Shoppe we are tired of seeing people spending more on hot tubs than they should. That is why we decided to write this article explaining how you can get a better deal on any hot tub. In this article we will cover:
- Why you should consider who you buy from.
- How to negotiate a better deal on your chosen hot tub.
- Why you should also consider the long term costs of your hot tub.
Without any further delay, here’s how you can get the best deal on the best hot tub that fits within your long term budget.
BUY FROM A LOCALLY OWNED SPECIALTY SHOP
There are three types of store that sell hot tubs:
- Big box stores – Large national retailer chains like Costco.
- Specialty chains – Regional chains that specialize in the hot tub and pool industry.
- Locally owned specialty shops – Locally owned stores that specialize in the hot tub and pool industry.
Big Box Stores
The first issue with buying a hot tub from big box stores is that they lack knowledge of the product. Big box stores decide which hot tub lines to carry mostly based on price. They want to be able to sell hot tubs for as cheap as possible. Their lack of hot tub expertise however, means that overall quality usually suffers. Without knowing what to look for, big chains can only take the word of the manufacturer that the hot tub is well built and reliable.
The second issue with buying from big box stores is their after sale service. Warranty work is sub-contracted out to the lowest bidder, often to companies with limited experience in the hot tub industry. These companies also typically have to service a wide area and don’t keep parts on hand, meaning a long wait for repairs.
Further complications arise when the big box stores switch brands and begin selling another line of hot tubs. If box stores experience continued problems with a manufacturer, they will begin looking for other manufacturers to deal with. Once the switch to the new manufacturer is made they are no longer able to get parts from their original manufacturer and stop supporting the warranty. This means having to call a 1-800 number and deal with the manufacturer directly for any warranty work. It also means having to find another sub-contractor to do the repair.
Specialty chains solve most of the problems associated with buying a hot tub from a big box store. They are much more knowledgeable and because of that generally sell a higher quality hot tub than big box stores. They also provide after sales support like water testing and will have most basic replacement parts in stock if something breaks.
Where specialty chains typically fall flat however is service quality. While they often employ their own team of service technicians, this team has to service the whole company. This means longer wait times for repairs as the service technicians might only work one day per week in your area. Because of this, customers are often made to wait over a week for even the most basic repair.
Locally Owned Hot Tub Specialty Stores
Locally owned specialty shops, however, offer much more flexibility. Since they service a smaller area, they can respond to most calls within a few days and carry all the parts needed to do most repairs. While that is great, it isn’t the biggest reason to shop at a locally owned hot tub store. The biggest reason is that the owners are on site.
Being able to deal directly with an owner is a huge advantage. Not only are they usually the most knowledgable about the product, they genuinely care about your business. You buying a hot tub and becoming a long-term customer with them is what keeps them in business. Because of that they are more willing to give you a deal than a salesperson or manager is. They will also work harder to keep you happy if a problem arises down the road.
BUY DURING EVENTS
When looking for a great deal on a hot tub, timing is everything. The best time to buy a hot tub is during event sales. There are three reasons for this:
- When businesses purchase several hot tubs at once, the manufacturers give them better pricing and free freight. This means that the business can sell their hot tubs for less than they normally could.
- These businesses typically spend a lot of money to set-up and advertise these events, meaning they have to sell a lot of hot tubs just to break even.
- If they don’t sell all of their hot tubs the store is either stuck with the remaining hot tubs or have pay to send them back to the manufacturer. This gives owners extra incentive to get rid of every hot tub at the sale.
Simply put, event sales give you the advantage in negotiations. Not only are the prices lower than normal, the owners are under a lot of financial pressure to sell as many hot tubs as possible.
No event sales on right now? Talk to the owner of the business to see if there are any coming up. Hot tubs for event sales usually need to be ordered weeks or months in advance. Owners will know exactly what they’ve ordered and usually have no problem pre-selling a few event sale hot tubs. This means that you can get your hot tub at event sale pricing, before the event sale even happens!
If you miss the event sales entirely, don’t worry, you can still get a great deal on a hot tub. Talk to the owner of the business and see if there are any floor models they are looking to move. If you’re not picky about colours, there will usually be at least a couple of floor models that the owner will be willing to give a great deal on; sometimes even better than event sale pricing!
Traveling Event Sales: Something To Avoid
One type of event sale to avoid is traveling event sales. These are hot tub sales put on by specialty chains outside of their normal selling territory. These chains hire professional “closers” to sell as many hot tubs as possible. These closers usually have little knowledge of the product they are selling and work on pure commission. This can lead to shady sales tactics and unrealistic promises just to get a sale.
Once the event is over, service will again be an issue. Since the company that sold it to you isn’t from your area, they can’t properly service your area. They usually end up hiring a sub contractor with limited experience to deal with repair work, similar to a big box store.
Before buying a hot tub at an event sale, you should first find out where the company selling it is from and how they plan on servicing your hot tub after the event is over.
The first price you get for a hot tub is never the best price. This is why it is important that you try to negotiate as much as possible when buying a hot tub. While salespeople and managers can usually drop prices a bit, you will always get the best price from the owner.
Getting The Best Price
Most owners are willing to take around $500 off the price of a hot tub in order to close a sale. Unlike salespeople and managers that only get paid commissions on the initial sale, owners think more long term. Selling a hot tub also means having a chance to sell you chemicals, filters and other accessories. Even though they are giving up $500 right now, they can make it up in other sales over the course of you owning the hot tub.
If you meet some resistance when negotiating the price, try for free or discounted upgrades and accessories instead. That $500 upgrade might only cost the owner $400 to add on. They will therefore be more likely to add that on for free than they will be to drop the price of the hot tub by $500. Don’t want any upgrades? Get them to throw in some accessories like cover lifters, filters or chemicals instead.
The last thing to consider when negotiating your price is how you’re going to pay. Businesses are charged at least 1-2% of the purchase price when you buy something with a credit card. Changing your method of payment from credit to debit or cheque saves the owner that fee and can make them more willing to negotiate further.
Getting It In Writing
Once you’ve got the best deal it’s important to get it in writing. People forget and prices change. When you come back in a few weeks to make your purchase both you and the owner have to rely on memory to figure out what deal you made.
Even writing it down yourself on a brochure doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they will be able to honour the deal. Prices for hot tubs and accessories are constantly changing. If the price of the hot tub changes between your first and second visit, they may not be able to honour your initial deal.
The best way to guarantee a deal is with a small “holding” deposit. This is usually anywhere from $250 to around half of a standard deposit, say $500. This holding deposit locks in the sale without committing you to buying the hot tub. If you decide to buy, you give the store the rest of the standard deposit and they order your hot tub. If you decide not to buy, you simply go back to the store and get your money back.
CONSIDER ONGOING COSTS
The last thing to think about when buying a hot tub is the ongoing costs of running the hot tub. Getting a great initial price doesn’t mean much if it costs you an arm and a leg to run the hot tub. For this reason you want to factor in the “cost to own” of the hot tub as well as the initial cost to buy it.
When looking at the cost of ownership there are two things to consider; energy efficiency (the cost of running the hot tub) and ease of maintenance (the time it takes to properly maintain the hot tub).
When judging the energy efficiency of a hot tub there are a few things to consider:
- How much insulation it has.
- The energy efficiency of the pumps and heater.
- The size of the pumps (smaller pumps require less power).
- The run time of the pumps (less time, less expense).
- Does the insulation protect the pumps and heater?
While the first 4 are pretty self explanatory, the last point is one that not many people consider. Most manufacturers only insulate around the shell of the hot tub. This system insulates the water in the hot tub but wastes all of the excess heat generated by the pumps and heater. By adding insulation around the cabinet, some manufacturers have starting trapping that excess heat, further increasing the energy efficiency of their hot tubs.
This added layer of insulation also helps protect the hot tub equipment from the elements, keeping them out of the intense winter cold. This added protection can also help extend the life of your equipment and keep them from freezing in the event of a power outage.
Ease Of Maintenance
Along with the monetary cost of owning a hot tub, there is also a time cost. People buy hot tubs to relax and there is nothing relaxing about cleaning and maintaining a hot tub. That is why it is important to look at how easy the hot tub you’re looking at is to maintain.
You should now be armed with everything you need to make sure that you get a great deal on a great hot tub. As you can see, there are more factors to getting a good deal than just the final price. After sale service and long term running costs are also major factors that should be considered before making a purchase.