What to Get Your People to do During Your Slower Months

Jason Rosenberger

Let’s face it, for most pool and hot tub retail owners, the winter months get a bit tricky. First, you have to wrestle with whom to keep on and whom to lay off. If you’re lucky, everyone stays. But, you then have to come up with a game plan for keeping everyone on your payroll busy during the slower winter months. Procrastinate if you dare – But why not enlist your ‘people’ to help and work on your business?

Your employees, in many ways, know parts of your business better than you do.

Even if you are super involved and keep yourself in the know, you cannot be the expert in all areas of your business. So, consider a few of the areas you know your business could improve in. Get your people to work on these problem areas. You will be surprised at the innovative solutions they come up with. Not to mention, they will be less likely to resist changes they have a part in implementing. Win-Win.

Working with your data from water testing: Get more bang for your buck. 

Who do you have water testing? Newbies or seasoned staff? True, anyone can perform a water test. However, your best people will maximize sales at the water test station. What system are you using to test your water? Does it offer recommendations based on your inventory? Can it tie into your POS system? Does it offer reporting? Your water testing station really should be able to do all of these.

Winter can be the best time to review and work with your water testing data. 

Why not involve some of your staff in running and reviewing the reports you have access to on water testing? Give them ownership and a voice in developing an action plan. Maybe even have them run a training session to share their findings with the rest of the store. 

Come up with a game plan and take the necessary actions to maximize add-on chemical and equipment sales in the upcoming season. Use the reports you can run at water test now while things are slower. Before you know it, your window for working out new ideas and pet projects will be gone!

Have your team review water test data in the winter (that they were too busy to consider doing over the summer months) and then plan different ways to address customers who “shop” you all swim season long but don’t actually buy from you. The same goes for previous customers who used to buy from you but have stopped for one reason or another.

Encourage your employees to:

  • Identify who actively comes in for water tests, and find out who has stopped coming in.
  • Come up with a plan to gain back the customers you have lost.
  • Identify who, from the water test list, purchased within 1, 2, and 3 years.
  • Identify the non-customers that use your water testing resources and never make a purchase.
  • Have your people come up with different plans to address people who are not purchasing (but are depending on you to test their water).
  • Keep in mind people simply coming through your doors does not make them your customer. People are your customers when they buy from you.
 

 Have your team brainstorm and share the different ways they have been successful in upselling at water test. And have them discuss how they overcome the challenge of someone who water tests with you, but buys elsewhere. 

Create a training document for these techniques and have everyone practice them. Post these methods behind the water test station. Acknowledge your people when they are trying and when they succeed. You’ll have to look at the data again, sigh. Don’t worry – you’ll love the results, and as a bonus, your store’s culture will take a massive growth step forward.

Showroom vs Storeroom Items: Taking your cues from your POS sales data

A bit more on working with the data you have available: use you POS data to discover what your top selling SKUs are. If an item doesn’t sell, consider if you just need to promote it better in order to move it – or if it’s better suited for the storeroom. Chances are there are many SKUs on your showroom floor that are better left off the sales floor. Have a runner fetch it if and when it is needed. But for those remaining SKUs? Set a goal.

This winter, work with your top 50 SKUs on better positioning and personalized displays for your space. It can be a pain to add more shelving, true.  And you may need to work out new solutions for how to present your products. New signage and POP anyone? Still, this is a great project for your slower months and it will keep your team focused and productive during a time when a lack of customers can lead to staring at the walls and reaching for mobile devices. Figure out what your data is telling you to do, and do it. Set goals. Set deadlines, establish whose helping and HAVE FUN.

What about My Sales People?

There is no such thing as downtime. We look forward to downtime and the SLOW season … but in reality it’s just the carrot to keep you going. The slow season is PROJECT season. All the tasks you wanted to address as you became aware of them over the spring and summer months – now’s your chance! This is a good time to scour all those sticky notes piled up around your desk for nuggets of insight you didn’t have time to pursue during the busy summer season.

For your sales team, contracts can be reviewed and updated for price and product changes. Someone needs to be heading up all the little things that need to be revised and updated concerning procedures and training needs to be prepared and scheduled. But what else?

Consider adopting a CRM lead management tool.

Perhaps it’s time to create email marketing campaigns for your existing customers that truly reflect the buying process your customers follow.

Check with your sales people for ideas on what to add to the campaigns. See what trends they have noticed with your customers and especially what questions are being asked. These can all be worked into the email campaigns and create a new resource that will add a good deal of value to your customers and help ensure they become lifetime customers instead of one-and-done customers.

Consider when someone buys a hot tub from you. That’s your start date and now the clock is ticking.

  • How long should the starter chemicals you provided them last
  • When should the filter cartridges next need to be replaced?
  • What other hot tub parts and accessories have an established life expectancy?
    • Covers
    • Pillows
    • Cover lifters
    • Ozone
    • Mineral sticks
    • Maybe a seasonal spa purge

With the right CRM system you can have email campaigns that generate timely, informative, useful emails with offers and calls to action pointing at the solutions your business offers for each of these eventual needs of your customers. Add some personality to the emails and keep everything as relational as possible. And make sure your offers are clear, well timed and relevant.

This way, when your customer does find that they need something for their hot tub, yours is the only business that comes to mind. Because you have been taking care of them better than anyone else and your automated email campaign has kept your business in the back of their minds… when it’s time to buy they are more likely to come to you (who they now view as the expert on their hot tub) than to an online source or big box store solution.

Who can write my email campaigns? Who can set them up?

We recommend you start by looking to your own people. Not everyone can write well. Not everyone can pull something like this off. But, the smart play is to see if there is anyone who already knows everything about your business – that loves to write and has the ability to write well.

If you have someone like this, then see what they can do!

It doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. But, maybe they can provide rough drafts and establish what types of emails are needed to best fit your business and the products that you want to build automated email campaigns around.

But what if you need help with your content?

You can always turn to content writers at The Get Smart Group for help with any creative content.

Our team of writers knows this industry. If it’s a pool or a hot tub product – or any backyard or at home recreation product line – we can help to create and then implement your automated email campaigns. What’s more, we can do this for both sales leads and for lifetime customer automated email campaigns.

Getting started

If any of the ideas shared here have sparked your interest or if you want to discuss additional ideas for what to get your people to do during the slower months:

Reach out to Jason@TheGetSmartGroup.com or call us at The Get Smart Group, (415) 800-2040.

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