Episode #52, The Rep Life with Dennis Gentek, Jacuzzi/Sundance
The this is a spy tiller podcast where we talk retail business and offense related to the hudson industry. I'm your host. Megan kendrick owner spar retailer magazine. So today on the podcast. I have dennis skin tech. He's a regional sales manager for jacuzzi. Sundance he's been an industry for quite a while. So i imagine that many of you know him or at least know his face so seeing them at trade shows or see them around around the industry. You know how that goes so dennis. Thank you for coming on. It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me well before we get into your industry background. Do you mind giving me a little bit of your personal background of where you grew up where you went to school. You always been on the east coast with what's your story. I grew up in south jersey at a small beach. Town called north wildwood. It's at the southern tip of new jersey. Okay there's only a hundred and thirty people in my graduating class. It was lots of fun in the summertime because it was a tourist town. I had the bay of blocked my west and the beach two blocks to my right to the east And really enjoyed it immensely as an opportunity to grow up. There however was a small fishbowl. And i couldn't make to get out to the bigger city. Sure so when you graduated from high school. Did you get out to the big city. Yeah i i moved up towards philadelphia. I went to school at a school. Called glass bro state. At the time. It's now called growing university there. I i did it actually degree in small business management. Okay once i graduated. I stayed up that area. So i stayed in south jersey. Where cherry hill which is fifteen minutes to over the bridge philadelphia. So how did you end up. In the hatem industry selling copiers. That was my first experience into into sales in this industry. I've talked to and that's what they were doing was selling named copiers printers or something like that. It's so funny. What a great step into sales it actually is because it allows you to get from the need at a location where they probably use a copier now to giving them something that's enhancing their business capacity certainly a great stepping stone into sales and running a territory etc. In my best experience there was hey debt. Here's some brochures you should territory go out market. These things i saw. I don't have any training when he talking about. So i would go around and knock on doors and not know what i was talking about and then a week later. They bought me sales training for a week on all the things that you did wrong the week prior when you were out your territory so that was a strategy. That wasn't them. Just the like nonchalance about sending out there. They actually wanted as part of their learning process. After that. i did it part time. I had an uncle that was in the business and he was doing it part time and said that when you get off at five when he come on down we are open until eight and we're open on weekends and you can make some extra money so i started working at a retail store for six months selling rules and spas and after six months i loved it so much quit copier business in got rate into selling spas and pools full-time and loved it by the hours but not as challenging and competitively at least and running an outside territory leads. I was saying well. do these. People are just gonna come to me. And i'm going to sell them terrific. I don't have the goal hunt. I can just farm terrific. I had a combination of both. I could go out. Or i could also wait for them to come into the store either way so that background helped me and copier sales be more competitive but also to appreciate the retail side of. Yeah what year was that. Do you think that you started in team. Eighty eight nineteen eighty eight hundred eighty eight way back there thirty. That's over thirty years and the third. It's actually thirty two. I know. I looked like i started when i was eight. Hey you know we're all we're all hanging in there How did you end up. I mean we wanted to have a sales rep on the podcasts. For a long time but i mean you guys are because they're busy. Everyone knows that your heart set hard to nail down so so. I'm so glad that you're finally on. Because i think i find your job as one of the more fascinating in the industry i feel like you have a really unique view of what's actually happening on a ground level manufacturer level and. It's also probably the job that i envy the least. It's the one job that i think we're unreasonable. I'm fascinated by is that i would personally probably hate doing it so much. How did you from your uncle's business to doing what you do. Now in sales for jacuzzi sundance. I did it for ten years retail wise. And i enjoyed it immensely. I think item. They hooked me. The most was that i could sell a product for ten grand and then a week or two. After the delivery other product have the consumer come back in the store and actually kiss or hug me and say i was really skeptical about getting this product. I never owned one before. I didn't know what the lifestyle change would be. Wouldn't didn't know if i would use it a lot and it ends up. Being one of the best decisions i've ever made for my family. And i find that not only does it help me healthwise but it helps me romance wise. It helps me with my family communication. More enjoying My children and friends and occasions. When i can use the product inconvenience with my own backyard. That hit me in a big way. I don't think there's any premium product that you could sell where you have that kind of a family of consumers coming back to time and time again in talking about other lifestyle has changed and improved the product that is sold that for rs or fitness equipment. Enter things like that. Because i think it's sometimes one and done with a lotta those types of sales and this one it's ongoing and we see second and third generations of those same consumers who can't live without their hot tubs after they move for example so really hooked me in a big way to be in this industry and so i just wanted to do more and i thought from a retail standpoint. I was touching my own community and doing well with that. But what could i bring to a national level or at least at regional level. I was really well trained by my boss and armed savia. No even drop his name because he really wasn't intense trainer when it came to not only how to sell but just know how to manage the product work with the product after the sale even service the product very conscientious owner and i wanted to be able to share those practices that i learned in those ten years with others and so there was an opportunity came up to be a regional manager and i threw my name into the ring and was hired in nineteen ninety eight to become a representative and i still remain as a representative for that same company today. Twenty two years later l. That's great and very unusual. I mean i. I feel like the sales managers are maybe the people i see bounce around the most from one company to annex there with one manufacturer and then a couple of years later there was a different one and they just kind of move around. So that's pretty impressive that you've stayed with them for that long oil but also i'm blessed blessed that there are a major manufacturer that's very well known. That has a lot of resources to provide their dealerships. to type. support dealership requires once. I love to be able to communicate those tools and those programs to a dealer. So i'm i'm blessed that i've seen changes over the years that are crazy With how we do things. Are we make spas how we promote spas and that ever changing climate makes every day a different day in a new challenge. Well you kinda segue into one of my next questions. I'm curious what your daily life looks. Like what your job looks like. Obviously we are in the covid era. And so i imagine looks a lot different now versus when it did you know a year and a half ago bites. How has it changed from when you started in the nineties to now because obviously were using smartphones and all of these things that are supposedly supposed to make your life easier. So what did it look like when you started in the nineties and two now as far as getting out there traveling talking dealers. What what is it like well. As a lot of things have changed first of all just traveling itself. The job was always more than sixty five percent travel. I used to have to go upstairs and print out a map quest sheet to go from here to there and looking at those sheets while driving was not really a safe thing to do and many times. I lost in. But more miles on my car than i would have wanted to. Thank god for the the greatest invention which was Ways app and gps. So i could find my way a lot quicker and navigate through over traffic. But i have to deal with in this region especially. I've got washington. Dc traffic. I've got philadelphia traffic. And i got new york traffic so man whenever i can save a little bit of time and get there on. Time is really a common thinks something as simple as that technology has made my life so much better but also it's made more interesting to communicate with dealers about the new ways to do business websites social media in back in the day when we were in retail in the ninety s. We use newspaper. Advertisements nervous would pay to get on to communicate in that page but so limited. But now i can really talk about all the benefits of hot tubs differences of hot tubs. The lifestyle re people have once they hot never had that chance before but the the media that you have with websites blogging and social media just intensely great for our industry having having the ability to share those ways and get savvy added with dealerships. Really been probably the biggest steppingstone for me and for the industry probably to such a huge a huge huge change Overdoing today resumed exit. Thought that i know this is. This is a true. I had a bag phone when i first started getting around travel. Oh yeah we had a bag found growing up. Oh man it's sunny to think back to those days as your career went on and again as we started to see more and more of this technology come into our lives. Did you continue to travel as much. You're on the road as much or were you doing a lot. More things remotely. I think we could still continue to travel as much up until these pre cova tons. Tom's yes. I definitely use technology in my job more than i ever did. But there's more programs there's more to communicate about. So you have to use the media of the internet and and outlook to communicate those things to my dealer clientele. But i also can be more creative in my job because i have access to google and other things to help me In my job or video was never thought to be used even a decade ago yet. Technology has really helped and creativity side expanded where i can spend more time in my office and still be productive but the job still entails. I believe that communication seeing face to face seeing what's happening on the sales floor working with even in consumers. When i'm there i think there's an important approach there that to the retail stores in our job that is the sesame is still travel angry. I mean they're seeing their customers face to face still and so there's a lot of that that goes into it now that we have these cova times and you pretty much couldn't travel if you wanted to. How has that changed. How you communicate with your dealers. And how has that changed how you talk to them about communicating with their customers. It's changed because obviously not getting out and seeing them personally and normally the walk around the stores a critical part in job what we do helping them work with the tools that are on their sales floor and not being able to see what's happening at the dealer level as frequent as i used to do is kind of difficult but yet the frequency of communication that i can have with all of the other methods cellphone computers zoom etc as enabled me to maybe become closer with my clients than ever before through these times. There are three main things. I've always felt my job. Should be the roles that i should have and what my clients expected of me was always to be a liaison to the factory. So i can still do that. Even though i'm remote make sure that they are fulfilled with the information that they need training is really the difficult part. Because it's the hands on part train. It's demonstrating the product. It's the hands on see touch feel but is still some capabilities with remote that we should be taking advantage of him. We do and of course sharing best practices. When i see another dealer doing something. That's really strong or believe my dealers. Wanna hear what's working and what's not working and i wanna make sure that i share those best practices with them so i i can retain those three main pillars. Even though i'm doing it more remotely than ever before. Yeah what were the main challenges that dealers were coming to you with. Have you help them solve before covid. And now what does that look like now are they. Are they having the same struggles or is it a whole different ballgame. Definitely the struggles of changed. Obviously but just in time inventory just in time abilities to to get the product in their conversations with consumers always have been. Hey i can get up to your nearest five weeks or less. Yeah and what do you want. And do you want the stat or that jet or this feature that feature. I mean the world was oyster. You could have. You can have that hot tub however you wanted it exactly and so now. They are having to promote their sales off of predicted sales that they will have three six nine twelve months from now and after care in order for that. It is a whole new ballgame plus managing those end consumers expectations. All i have a deposit on that consumer. They're not gonna see that spa for quite a long time out to right. Keep in touch with them. Nurture them get them prepared for it and keep them still interested in getting that product. Six months from now i mean. It's just insane i. I don't think any of us were obviously. None of us. Were prepared for this. So i started in the industry pretty much at the beginning of the recession. And so this whole just in time ordering not carrying any inventory. All i know of the hot of industry is that how it has always been or was that a switch during the recession during the recession. I think we got better at lowering inventories and being more efficient than we were prior to the recession. I think we're doing more with less by far these days. Thank god for technologies. That help us do all that but i think our staffing has less than it used to be at the retail store levels in prior and yet today. What's really funky. That dealers are now starting to achieve levels of sales that they had pre recession in the early two thousand and some of them even haven't even touched what they did then yet come in and where they were so staffed up they were so stocked up back in those early two thousands now. They're coming to the same levels of production of sales soaring sales in may need to ramp it up to those same levels. But they're doing more with less these days so even before the recession. It's not like people were carrying a ton of hot have inventory. It was still. It was already kind of streamlined process. As far as their customer comes in orders what they want. They were from the manufacturer than it comes. I know not every business is always always operate that way. Every dealership is a little bit different as a generalization. That's kind of how the industry has looked for as long as we can remember. Yeah i'm pretty much. i mean. Obviously preseason the product is still seasonal We have Second and third quarters are the times when we're probably delivering the most hot tubs to end consumers and so having stock and inventory levels up higher obviously in that second and third quarter would always be critical seromba. You get into the first and fourth quarters calendar year they're carrying less and able to satisfy consumer of hey four weeks you still gotta get a pat down for that. You still gotta get your electrical contractor. So timing is perfect with four to five weeks back. Right right yeah. It was never a huge deal with not being able to get a consumer product in time. So this is a whole new process of how many dealers are running their business and manufacturers. I mean how do you help them figure out what to do. What order windsor order. How much to order. What are you guys doing to help them. Stay on top of things. They had that steady flow of hot tubs coming in without putting their business in any kind of danger. I mean they've never had so many hot tubs on order before know that they can recall and so therefore looking at how many they have and yet they still have to order more in order to meet. The demand is just a crazy condition here. We are in november when things typically a little slower here in the northeast yet if consumers were to go into a retail store and didn't know any better. they're really buying a hot tub for august. Yeah i want your hot tub for labor day and you're maybe in the fall or if they get lucky they find the product that they want whether dealer that has been ordering inventory that will get the hot tub that they wanted to the right color the right size right style for themselves maybe by march or by if there if they deal with the luckiest dealer in town i mean. Do you have any dealers who were just had that crystal ball and started placing orders before everyone else so they just. I talked to a couple who have done that. Most people are well. Were behind the eight paul. They probably aren't any more. But i have talked to a couple of dealers who win things. Were still shutdown. Just started ordering millions of dollars of products and just anticipating what i didn't see coming grew went crazy right. We did shut down in march party. April started back up in middle of may and we went from eight to ten to twelve to to twenty week lead times in just about a month and a half. It was crazy. And so it took dealerships the know how to eventually start whittling process in a new way of forecasting their sales and selling virtually those consumers who couldn't see touch feel the product and making sure that They were they were going to have the product at least in time for holidays especially cajun's events that the consumers would want and it's not just making sure that you order the right number of hot tubs is making sure you order the right. Mix of hot tub right. What is the consumer like the most. And what am i going to have available to them and i want to make sure that. There's on reduce that buyer remorse. So it's not just the number of having it in stop it's having the right model mixing stop or coming to sta. It's such a huge switch for industry in the way that we all operate I know that. I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around how this is working for dealers but it's other industries do this. I mean it's not like we don't have other places what we can look for examples of how to do this and do this while because a lot of industries have to operate this way and can't be just in time inventories. So where are you looking. And what are you seeing as to tell your dealers. These are kind of some best practices. I mean we have to look outside our industry because we don't have any insider industry. Where are you telling them to go. How are you getting them to figure out how to do this. We're talking about people. I mean you've been industry for thirty years thirty two years. A lot of the dealers are in the same same boat. This is all. they know. This is how they've operated for their entire careers. It's been a shift by miles but there are categories that are in the same situation as we are anything to do with the backyard. Yeah they're aware of that. So if they have another category on their flir experiencing similar rise in and demand as far as backyard products patio furniture to pools especially and barbecues. And so they're already familiar with the demand and the need for that but there are the categories like boating industry and rv industry where they don't have any product of display or not much at all and they're taking orders year in advance. I like to compare us to tesla you can build your own product. You just have to wait for it in. It's worth the wait there you go. I mean i think. That's what a lot of retailers are telling customers right now. I mean if you really care about having this or that feature then that's great but you're going to have to wait and publicly that means you'll just get that much more enjoyment out of it when the time you have to make them look at the long term as best as you possibly can. You're not just looking for this product for a quick turnaround. You're going to keep it for ten fifteen or even twenty years. I have definitely a lot of consumers who still maintain have their same tubs from the ninety s. And they're just changing them up now to a second generation so when you make them look at a long-term and all the holidays all the parties. All the possible aches and pains. They may have down the road. The it's a long term decision not just a short right. And and there is a concern about by remorse. Giving them a spot. It's too small but they didn't get a chance to see it in dealership right Making them have the ticket color. That won't be matching with their home decor making him. I'm going to get a lounge. Because that's all that they had. But i was really no no lounge. Kind of a consumer having representation of that product remain on floors. Really been the most difficult balance for dealers started because they want to satisfy that demand. I want sell that. Give that spot to that consumer yet at the same time. I don't have it here to show the value of it for their need physically in and get that message across virtually so so much of a different change for the dealership. I never really thought that way of it that way before because you know sales are pouring in and so on the one hand it seems like it would be easier to be a salesman hot tub industry right now but you actually have to be even more of an experts and really dig into what that consumer needs. Probably even more than you did before because like you said you don't want them coming back in six months saying you've suggested that i hate it you need to really dig in and really pro. What they're needing and wanting and their desires are because the chances of getting it wrong or probably a lot higher now than they were before this crazy sales time. So that's that's intense. You're getting a lot of sales. But you the pressure to get them right is probably even higher komo weather forecasting the weather person said this morning it was going to be really cold outside but i don't know how cold it is going to be until i step outside and then i feel it and i go. Wow he was right. It's cold but i really didn't understand it until i stepped outside. It's the same thing with a hot tub. Is this seat going to be comfortable for me. Are these jets going to provide the right massage for me. How do i describe that. Virtually without having the product. They're that they're going to be satisfied with it when they receive. It's six or nine months. Later is really pretty tricky. You really have to be on your game. Do to be able to provide that value the differences because obviously we sell a good better best product. Why should i move up in the price point. Well the feel is going to get better when you move up. Trust me and this is how it's going to get. I wanna talk a little bit about those days of cove. Ed and what. You're hearing from dealers at the beginning of shutdown because everybody. I've talked to those first few weeks. Were a real gut check. Everyone kind of prepared for the worst. Because obviously historically any kind of downturn or major shakeup is is not good for luxury consumer products and hot tubs for sure and so there. Was this panic kind of at the beginning that quickly turns into this boom that none of us were really expect team. So what were your conversations with dealers like in those first few weeks versus early may for sure when things had started to skyrocket definitely a what a one eighty change. I mean this first happened. And everything was shutting down. And here i am and nearby the epicenter of where it was all going down here in new jersey eastern pennsylvania and so there was a lot of worry a lot of dealerships closing down not knowing when they were going to open their doors again not knowing what the restrictions were going to be lifted so that they could of do business as usual not knowing when they would be able to get product from my factory. There was a lot of unknown. And so there's a lot of fear and layoffs were occurring. Thank goodness for p p. for a lot of dealerships. Yeah but i was furloughed myself for two months and so i was living there. Same as as to witness was going to stop when business as usual. Could pick back up again and it's still business as usual now. Whatever s. They started to change. People say i'm spending more time at home. And i gotta i gotta summertime coming up and we want an answer at back yard and wood products. Can we get because. We're not going to be traveling. And so the first most common denominator. I heard consumers were having conversations with dealerships. Was we're going to disneyworld normally with my family on an annual basis disney. World's not going to happen for the next few years for us so we need to do something with the money that we're not gonna spend on disneyworld go and spend it on our back yard in on our family. I must've heard disneyworld in first month about a dozen times but that was a very common thing but it was other travel to abs traveled. Europe travel year anywhere. That's where we obviously ended up being beneficiary. What a change. Yeah i was gonna ask you sort of what this cova journey has looked like for you personally so you are furloughed which also gut check. Because i'm curious because you have all of these long term relationships with dealers. I can't imagine that because you were furloughed. They just automatically stopped calling you and talking to you know now. We talked a lot even more obviously got closer to my dealer just as much as you were before or if if not more yeah yeah i definitely would still working definitely still picking up the phone. I love talking about the sale Rats my favorite thing to talk about the individual sale and how to get that sale So salespeople notre to chat with me when they want for help and information and dealerships knew that i was there and continually going to be there and that's just their work ethic that i've always had but also with this company is always instilled in me. And so yeah. Communication communication communication still had to be there and that roldan change but from my home stand situation. Obviously when you travel sixty percent plus at a time and now you're not absence always made the heart grow fonder with my wife. And i so i always knew when there was a level of annoyance that i was creating around the house that ooh i got a trip coming up. Thank goodness i'm sure she might have said. And so i go out on the road and come back in and things are great. But now i'm a complete one hundred percent annoyance Have to learn. Calm down and go into a different room when i'm conducting some of my business lifestyle change. My husband will occasionally work from home. He throughout most of this is not typically at home but every once in a while come in and be doing some paperwork during the day and it is not my favorite thing. We're in a small space together. And i'm just like why are you making so much noise. Enter my wife is a successful realtor. And i think i could sell real estate by now by listening so many conversations. She's had i think she'd be a terrific backup salesperson because she's listened to a lot of the conversations. I have had over the last six months. So you guys get this kind of step into rates other if if need be if ever. There were urgency. You could keep each other as jobs. Rolling on on the side probably true. There are sony things that we could talk about with regards to all of this once. Those times did start taking off. How did you help your dealers manage that. How have you encourage them to change their sales process and that communication process. What kind of best practices have you been talking to them about. Implementing so that they can keep those consumers engaged and updated and not. i mean. obviously they're going to be a little frustrated when they think they're going to get their hot tub in a month and it's going to take several now. What have you been encouraging them to do. Dealers have never worked so hard in their lives. There's no question about it. They'd been really working hard. There's been a demand it's been fantastic for sales but it's just been wreaking havoc on dealer anxiety levels because the consumers making a large purchase with them in their married to that consumer for just the period of time that it takes from contract to delivery is so much change There are so many more contracts. There's just so many hours in the day to talk to all those consumers and work those leads and all the other things that the dealership has to do from managing their inventory to doing deliveries and maintaining service on top of it. So they've never worked harder hats off to the retailers doing really difficult and challenging times and changing the times in quite a short period of time. So what we've worked with them on is number one as a virtual selling and making sure that they have other virtual tools that they can they using zoom or the using facetime they using the methods that we are now on this call for example with their consumers today. Still see a face. They still have that image. They still see their showroom and They get a a personal touch as best as they possibly can. Do you still have retailers. Who are still doing a lot of virtual selling. It seemed like in march and april. I was hearing a lot about that. And then a lot of people have talked to now are like we haven't really done that for a while. Do you have dealers who are still doing lots of virtual sales. There's well when it comes to sales. At one of the things that i have seen dramatic change in is obviously. There's been more sales with products sight unseen so they don't always think that they need to go into a dealership anymore to see touch and feel the product. Although it's a huge advantage for that dealer that does have that display to get the consumer to still come in the store and then practice the right social protocols that are necessary the challenge today of the virus. But the they are. There's more foot traffic in the stores to answer your question. It's limited to Certain number of people that can attend in the stores at the time trying to sell with a mask on isn't always the easiest thing to do. You have to enunciate a lot better than you've ever done before. But the traffic in the store is picked up now and it's less virtual but there are more sale still today sight unseen. It's probably onto thirty to forty percent sales over the phone over the internet. Whereas pre covid i would suggest it was five to ten percent of that. That's a pretty shocking number. Did it again. Because one of the reasons i i i wouldn't be able to sell insurance is because it's not something that's tangible and so i like selling something that's tangible myself. And so that's why. I love selling product. Sorry i interrupted your thoughts as far as helping the retailers kind of this whole new world so other than other than virtual sales. I imagine that the you know it used to be they have these these drip programs and all of those kinds of things For before the sale but now are they having to do that on on the back end like by the way you know. Here's your weekly update on where you're at in our schedule as far as getting your hot tub the you hit on a great point there and i really feel that's necessary. I've heard the term used reverse nurturing staying in touch with them or they don't say want i'm tired of waiting. Give me my money back. You don't want that way that that happens is if you don't communicate in the interim between contract and delivery and then you're next medication is the month that they're supposed to get that delivery and i'm not gonna eat that we're not gonna meet that date that we told you six months ago or three months ago. You don't want that you want. This is the status. This is where your products at. We're hearing this is the change in off-line date we look forward to getting your hot tub. You're gonna look forward to getting it as well. Because i can give you some third party stories about some people who just received their How ecstatic they are that they can have during this newer next level. Shut down once again. That's upon us again. Where we're going to have to quarantine possibly more at home than before. Now i have this product to enjoy at my home. And there's going to be a second hot boom not that there might be a second sat down. I don't know that. As much as i know that. I don't see any reason for it not to continue well into twenty twenty one right because not just the older new buyers that are coming into the category but those new buyers are obviously great references and influencers to other people who will definitely buy our products if we do right by the first set of consumers. They're gonna tell more friends and family and we're going to stay busy here. Yeah and that's really gonna be the benefit long term of this. So yeah and i really don't see at the level of sales were experiencing right. Now it's gonna change well into twenty twenty one day. We've got march april and may were. We re partially shut down this year to sell into so it should be a growth year. Yeah yeah that seems to be what. I'm hearing other people in industry as well. And i know i've said this on the podcast before but that is what i've seen in. Our own neighborhood is almost every single. One of my neighbors has done. Major upgrades in their backyards including us and and it does kind of seem to just move on down the line you know want someone does something and then the next one is oh. That's pretty great. I wish we had that an ours and it. It just is a rolling effect. We've definitely seen a few hot tubs delivered here. So the trend is is going to continue. I mean i see more. Gyms in garages boever seen so people are more health conscious to stay healthy. I definitely was looking equipment for my husband for christmas this morning. Where we're going to put it. But we gotta do something because we're both look like we were having pandemic babies at this point. So that's that's not great. I mean. I think i'm in my second trimester so so yeah i definitely think health is. There's a focus on health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I think that family. The hot tub provides The family feel and getting together is is going to be a huge part of it because we're all still at our homes and seeing each other more frequently. Let's go outside and enjoy each other's company in the backyard room and i think just the anxiety that have unfortunately been caused by this virus. Young news that we have on a regular basis is making in assessing for a better mental health that you can provide so we were really for the first time in my life. I have a terrible time. Sleepy now. I definitely could use that nightly hot tub soaked to help me actually make get a full night's sleep. I also have an infant. So i mean need to take it with a grain of salt but even when the baby's not waking up. I'm still waking up so i i in need of a hot tub stress relief time on a regular so i definitely see that as a been a beneficiary and something that we can actually provide to that makes the job more worthwhile. Yeah have you seen a change. In the types of features that consumers are interested in now versus covert. Yeah i don't think that's changed. And they wanna start. It's easy to take care of turn based fear. Spas may not easy to take care of because of the unknown. I still think that we need to address that and we are addressing it with various ways but i still think that's part of their concerns growing into it as far as features are concerned. No i i really think that. It's still the same staples of ease of maintenance and getting a good massage from the hot tub is with. They're looking for a will built one at that. Is it been easier to talk people into some of those upgrades as far as maintenance and watercare and all those kinds of things especially since they've got time to wait. I know every customer is different. But they're definitely more well informed. I mean they're using the internet way more than they've ever done. They're spending so much more time on the internet learning And therefore they see these features and see these concerns from reviews and such and so they want that to be addressed at the retail level by the retailer. And so i do see that. They're wanting to buy more ease of maintenance products with our hot tubs So whether it be ozone whether it be a jozy better filtration systems They definitely are looking for that to make their life easier. They don't want to buy something that they're going after work at. But other than that. I gotta be honest with you. There's the flipside in that is is. What do you have available now. When can you deliver it. Yes without a lot of thought into the process. I just wanna atop so it may not match that decor may not be the right size for that consumer it may not have some of those features that they may have wanted to have long-term after the fact. Yeah and that's something that we really need to slow up and take our time. Listen to what they're really wanting and and making sure that they know that they have options. That's a great point because like you said the last. I mean we don't want to have those buyer's remorse and people who end up regretting their purchase a year or two down the road because it doesn't do the things that they really needed to do for them because they're more concerned about getting an as quickly as possible and he's seen a lot of cancelled orders. I know that's been a little bit of fear in the industry that people are going to you know what the long lead times that people are gonna say. Just give me back my money. I don't wanna wait most dealerships. I've talked to that. Hasn't been a huge issue. Had a couple of cancellations but nothing. That's been to widespread sadly Most of the time cancellations come in cases of hardships that the household is having the german -ticipant when they made that purchase. So that's a sad time when you have to do that for the most part. No it hasn't been really an issue because if you're going to delay your decision on this product that you want your only further delaying what could be a real satisfactory purchase on your clutter. Adam you're going to be you're gonna cancel now. Okay then you're not going to get your product until twenty twenty two where it could still twenty twenty one. So i don't see a lot of cancellations occurring only in the hardship cases. That i just referred. Is there anything else that we haven't touched on that. You have seen out there in the field that is important for retailer to be thinking about going forward. This kind of new landscape of selling hot tubs. Yeah i definitely want to stress to my clients that they have some representations of the product on the floor display is the upper hand. No question i can show value in the product differentiation in the product. When i have it on my floor. I cannot do it as well virtually And that is probably the biggest game changer for them as the figure out. How can i order. Spas for display and not let my staff know that i've got those products coming in so they don't sell them brain then when they get there they have to convince the consumer that no one is not for sale right now but i could give you layaway up until two thousand twenty two if you want to wait that long. Yeah no i think. Oh yeah. I think the biggest thing is having that display it is. That's what i'm trying to emphasize for twenty twenty one. We got away from that big time here this year. We got to get our hands back on again. Beyond do you still have some dealerships that have fairly empty showroom. Still no i do. Yeah it's it's tough. And they're the best sales people in the best service people in the best dealerships and they're convincing people to still buy regardless of that fact. I just know that they would prefer to have representation of the product of a full floor of that. Yeah to make sure that their consumers are making the right decision on the right product. I mean i know that we wanna to keep this pretty like brand neutral. But it's i from talking to some of the been pretty good with that so far they have even hardly ever. You probably drop the jacuzzi stunt at all. I'm very pressed I know from talking to other people at that jacuzzi that you guys have developed some pretty great tools for the retailers as far as Your own virtual training for them and as far as setting up for them to be able to sell virtually and probably things. I don't even know about but it seems like you were able to jump on some of that stuff pretty quickly and provider dealers with some tools. That maybe weren't available to other retailers. So yeah i think video suffer. Some promotion subject uses video has been really huge For dealers obviously getting onto youtube obviously having video on your web being more realistic of what the product experience should be in a virtual way. Pre covid was huge. No question and the companies that were able to be more nimble in regards to using technology and using video in their advertising and marketing had the upper hand and so when cova king it was right into their sweet spot They were already adapted so much like takeout food restaurants. If you already had takeout prior to tacoma boy you laid it up and did a great job but if you've never did take out at a restaurant before have you had a really big shift. So i don't think our dealers had as great as a shift as maybe there's a because of the blessing of having strong marketing department that was already developing those types of tools to be able to do the job virtually with using video and and using virtual selling methods. So yeah we already had that employee which was terrific. Seemed like it sort of this sort of made us all shift to things that we've been talking about doing for years and never have had to do things i think were on dealers long-term planning lists and long term to do list ended up being. We need to do this in a week whether it was putting up an e commerce site or setting up curbside service or learning how to do sales over facebook. Those things that are like have get idea to implement down. The road became. Oh we have to do this now if we wanna keep some kind of money coming in for those first few weeks of the shutdown a lot of changes had to be made in a short period of time ashby adapted to including again once the stores were able to open now. Did you have all of the right protocols in your business from hand wash stations to plexiglass to masks. Just all of that stuff Wiping down displays and things like that. On a more regular basis again the workload has become quite challenging for the retailers during this time but boy. I think it's changes like you're saying for the long run that will benefit the dealer long-term by adapting to those changes absolutely had to the area that you cover on the east coast probably has some of the stricter restrictions than other areas of the country. I mean i live in oklahoma. I mean we have mask mandates but let's be honest no one's really super enforcing that and so i guess i'm just kind of curious. Do you see on the areas where you have dealerships that they do have really strict policies that they had to adhere to and are still having to adhere to because there were i feel like even kind of in the west where things are a little bit more or the middle of the country where things are a little more loosey goosey They had some really restrict things at the beginning that they did and now they're not doing them so much. Maybe now they're they're ramping back up. Is it kind of stayed at the same level for you guys this whole time. Yeah i've always wanted to get a t shirt made that said. Tell me what the rules are today. Because they seem to change so frequently and it's such a big challenge to try to keep up with it. I remember back in late march and april. You shouldn't be delivering atop during that time that you're seeing down the street with a spot on the back of your truck you might be asked to turn around and take it back because you weren't supposed to be out on the road and you weren't supposed to be working. He was supposed to be shut down. So that was a major time of uncertainty. But how long that was going to last. The restrictions are still there but there are a lot less than they were at the beginning of covert. Not only have. We learned to adapt to them. But there's more people coming into the stores now and shopping similar to the ways that they've shot in the past no doubt so. We are back to normal times in regards to the shopping experience except when they go in are they going to see the full array of broad. Do you think that there's going to be some new positions going forward that dealerships need to hire for that. They didn't end. I mean manufacturers. I know a lot of them now. Have a nurse on staff and things like that that they never dead for our dealerships. Going to be doing the same thing. Maybe not a nurse but people to help coordinate their do. They need a fulltime order. Placing person not. I can't wait to get to that level right. I would suggest that changes. I've seen is is that some dealers will have a lead concierge and that'll be somebody who tends to person who initially inquire about a hot tub and so they've put someone in position to be agreed or if you will and warm them up to the hot tub industry before they would be able to speak to a sales person who could get more into the details of ownership and taking ownership of a hot tub and how to because the leaves have been so crazy. I've seen more. Dealerships are become more agile at the front side of handling those leads but yet at the same time having that same lead concierge. Now be the reverse nurture person you now. That person needs to call so many of the consumers per day just to keep the more before between the contract time and delivery time of the hot tub. So that's droll change that i've actually seen in a big way as communicating with the end consumer more frequently after the sale prior to the delivery. Yeah that's a great idea because with the number of leads coming in and a lot of people saying oh a hot tub sounds great. Let's get a hot tub and you know step into having no idea that lead times for so long or that the cost is what it is and all of those things that's great to have someone kind of at the front heading them off before they pass them off to the final salesperson but warehousing certainly has to change for some dealerships. Now because you're gonna be able to take the product in when it's ready doing more deliveries in the wintertime. Here in the northeast and they've ever done before. Hopefully we don't have a lot of snow on the ground. There's a lot of hot tubs coming this way. And i know there's a lot of consumers looking to receive those that'll be waiting so patiently that they don't care if it gets delivered in january. I'm ready for it. Just help you clear the driveway. You know that's gonna be a different change for a lot of dealers and a lot of consumers in the northeast for sure so staffing up and keeping her staff's high in the wintertime when normally it's slower for those dealers in the winter months of december january and february for deliver those couple of changes. I definitely see happening. Retailers in the past you know sales had gone up since the recession but has kind of leveled off allow people at some kind of normal levels that they expect the same percentage of growth every year and for a lot of retailers. Basov next opportunity for real growth to be opening a new location and expanding i. I'm curious now. If dealers are still looking to expand obviously they've had sales growth without having to add locations and really without maybe even utilizing the locations that they have what there's also the opportunity for some real softening on the commercial real estate sides. Do you have dealers who were really bullish about opening new stores. Maybe pulling back from that and then some people who maybe didn't think that was in the cards for them now saying oh i can get a great deal. Let's test out this market. I think you're right on both front. I think that there's a lot of business coming into the retail store that there's still busy but right now the resources are overrun and for them to consider to expand during this time they'd be more than they can chew and so they are basically busy just trying to maintain the business that they have and again remember a large majority of my dealerships on chest focused on autopsy. Seventy percent of my dealers do pools and you're fireplaces were outdoor kitchens etc and so it's balancing all of those backyard products at the same time and how busy they are going to be through next year in all those categories out of the handle that but yet at the same time. You are absolutely right. There are dealers who are using this opportunity to their business to higher levels to sustain barger growth long term for their organization. So although the money isn't coming in just yet as the deliveries are just getting made. Now i think at the end of twenty twenty one. There's going to be a some. Bigger coffers of our dealers are going to be looking for ways to reinvest in their organization. And there's never been a better time for what you just said in. That is real estate commercial. Real estate is definitely available. And certainly to expand your reach beyond your current radius. elliot. Stewart is a huge advantage. If you have the resources to do it now or in the near future and so we have both. We have dealers that are looking at that long term. Wave other dealers who may be just trying to get through twenty twenty one sir. Of course it's not like you can just plop open a new store and fill it with hot tubs right now. either so there's so many facets to that it's interesting to listen to side of the what side of it the retailers ended up on. It just depends on the retailer. Actually and what their situation is. But i have seen both of those and the market. Yeah correct sir. All right dennis. I have asked you a lot of questions. I usually knows answers. This is great. I have gone way off of our outline. So you've done great sticking to stay with me on some of these topics right. They just come into my mind. And i have to ask you about but what is not going to change. Is this bari tiller five. Are you ready for those things. So all right. What was your first sale. Your first hot tubs sale. That you remember. I hot tub sale for sure i remember well was a sundance. Spas royal mo and that was a large lounge luxury hot tub and was my favorite goto model. Probably my favorite sale selling model. That is for quite some time. And it was in the color of teal. Teal ran the acrylic spa business for quite some time and appeal all day. Long like itsel teal teal is today's platinum acrylic color in the teal royal. You didn't see a lot of back in the day. What was your first job. Real job was working up. On the boardwalk at this beach town iran arcades video and pinball arcades for seven years in fact. I thought that's what i was going to do for the rest of my life. And i was also one of those guys that ran one of the games of chance the microphone and bringing people over winning stuffed animals and stuff like that for games of chance. So that's where. I got my big mouth from. I'm sure that's great. I mean that's pretty. That's pretty good training for any type of sales. Also you gotta be able to think pretty quick on your feet if you're doing that kind of stuff and then after that when i graduated college i got real job and i worked for. Rca in camden new jersey which is a government defence company and i worked as a budget analyst. And that's why i got into salesman. That wasn't fun. That was no fun. This is so much the financial background. I'm sure it's still serves you. Well as you're helping dealers run their businesses that yeah i mean though what would you say is the worst idea or the biggest flop that you've ever had in your career something that you were like. I consider that question earlier. And i had to say i struggled with that question most of all because you never a bad idea of mine. It was just other people's execution of that idea and it really gory. It's a little bit of a situation because you're not the one out there. You're not making the hot tubs or coming up with the development of those ideas. And or i probably would say that we were having a truckload sale in two thousand nine september when they announced the stock market crash. And that was on friday and sale that truckload sale was the worst truckload sale. You can have at the worst time. Yeah that was probably. The worst idea was didn't anticipate that that was going to happen. And yet we had it. And it was disastrous. That would be. That would be great. I'm sorry that happened. Although i feel like not necessarily your fault but you probably took a hit. Yeah because i suggested that the dealer should do that truckload sale so yeah not their favorite person for for a little while they're all right so on the flipside. What was what would you say has been one of your best ideas that you brought to your dealers. I think bringing sales training ideas to the dealer level has been one of my favorite things to do. I like to simplify the process. I'd like to see the light. Go on they understand out of present this product especially people new to the industry and how they can relate it to other products. They may have sold in the past. That's probably been my greatest thing that i've bought to. My dealerships is a sales training. I think they expected of me. And i try to outside our hot tub box and i think using training has launched me to opportunities in my career at this company to enjoy it so much more. There isn't an state. I haven't been to other than alaska so i've seen a lot. I've been to a lot of places that had the great opportunity to meet so many fabulous entrepreneurs retailers hardworking sales people in service staff. I've never worked a day as hard as a as a technician in our business. And i really appreciate what they do in the field to turn those frowns upside down. So yeah it's really been able to provide me with an understanding of the industry from every state in the united states. That experience to travel and learn from great dealers has really helped me. Help my own dealers. I kind of feel bad now that we haven't talked specifically about sales training because sounds like maybe would have been a good topic to go through with you in some more detail. It's my favorite subject. No doubt it's fun. What's your favorite book. Tv show podcast movie would have been doing to entertain yourself while you've been off the road. I've definitely watched more series in more. Tv shows than normal not any particular show but more series for sure. Definitely read more. On and jeffrey dahmer would be my go-to books. Okay i can pick that up again or any of his books up again and again and read them over and over and get something. New from jeffrey get emerged. As a sales guru who is out of north carolina was formerly from my area south jersey. Actually and he's just a great sales trainer who understands customer service and the nuances of selling in today's world. So i watch him. When i can social media podcasts and i refer to his books that's great. That's a good. That's a good tip. I'm sure there's some other salesmen out there. That would have been recommended him highly. I because he's got the new jersey style of in your face as well and so you don't escape his wrath if you're not on your game so you you like that style. Then i do. Yeah i like his now. Let's get. Let's get well dennis. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate. It was a lot of fun we might have to have you back to talk about sales training so i can pick your brain on that as well but great. Thank you so much i appreciate. Thank all my clients my dealers and everybody i've met in the industry Has really had an impact on my career. And it's made one that. I know i'm gonna retire. Happy with i mean it was jeff my former co host. He's he's on the podcast anymore. Unfortunately but he was the one that that we speak to you and he doesn't even sell your products but you guys have both in around the industry long enough that that you're kind of buddies so a great guy and he's done so well and it's just great to know somebody from the moment. He stepped into selling october into being a great dealer that he is today. And again. That's just work ethic. And that a lot of our dealers have. And that's i love people. Like jeff purser all right. I will let you get back to your day. Get back to those dealers than those phone calls. I'm sure your phones going off a lot while we've been chatting soon silence but yes thank you. I appreciate it very much. Have a great afternoon spa retailer. Podcast is reduction. Spar retailer magazine. Let us know what you think. By leaving her. Review or emailing us at podcast. Asfari taylor dot com. Thanks for listening.