Pool professionals and consumers are embracing salt-chlorine generators and reaping the benefits of this technology. However, retailers are learning that this is not a product you sell and walk away from. Consumers need to be educated on how the product works and provided a simple salt-system maintenance program. Not only will a well-organized plan ensure customer satisfaction but will also lead to a regular stream of profits for retail stores.
Selling Salt Pools
unfortunate, but consumers are mostly misinformed about what the salt-chlorine
generator does and how it works. Whether the product wasn’t explained to them
by their pool professional or perhaps their own research is misinformed, many
consumers are under the false impression that installing a salt-chlorine
generator is all they need.
that most consumers think that a salt pool doesn’t use any chlorine,” says
Kathi Belcourt, retail manager of Aqua Tech Pool, Spa & Bath in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, Canada. Many consumers believe, she adds that the installation of
that magical device eliminates the need to do anything else to the pool.
pool professionals selling salt-chlorine generators aren’t always taking the
time to explain that the salt-chlorine generator is reducing the amount of
maintenance needed to sanitize pool water, but it doesn’t eliminate the need to
shock, oxidize and ‘algae-cide’ the pool water to keep the chemistry balanced.
Cosby, store manager of Dartmouth Pools in New Bedford, Massachusetts, says
that the misinformation about what salt-chlorine generators do for pools made
it difficult for Dartmouth Pools to integrate them into the business at first. Pool
professionals need to spend more time educating consumers on this product. It’s
important to use clear language and state the facts.
quickly learned that our retail team had to all get on the same page and be
sure that the information we provided was presented in a cohesive manner using the
same terms,” Cosby says.
important to convey that salt-chlorine generators eliminate the need to put
chlorine tabs, granular chlorine or liquid chlorine into the feeder once a
week. Instead, consumers just add salt into the chlorine generator at the
beginning of the season — making it more convenient and safer to sanitize the
pool water by eliminating the handling of chemicals.
success of the salt-chlorine generators comes from the fact that people do not
want to handle chlorine tablets and they don’t want to deal with chlorine
feeders and chlorine feeder fumes,” says Jonathan Schulhoff, retail manager of
Arthur Edwards Pool and Spa Centre in Millers Place, New York.
consumer has the salt pool they want, retailers need to educate the consumer on
how to get the most value out of their salt-chlorine generator investment. This
is a huge potential profit center that allows specialty retailers to
drastically increase their profits with a salt support chemical maintenance
Selling Salt Pool Support Programs
profits and other benefits of salt-chlorine generators continue when retailers
market products and service that compliment them.
first big hurdle: explain to salt owners that their pool water is special, and
they need a special maintenance program to protect their investment.
the consumers who come in and ask to make their pool a salt pool think that the
system uses no chlorine and worst of all, they think that because they are
using salt, they are going to save money on chemicals,” Belcourt says. “Our job
is to explain how it all works, how their salt pool requires special
salt-support products and that, by following the program, they will enjoy the
many benefits of having a salt-chlorine generator on their pool for the long
hard to take all the time needed to explain the complexity of how a
salt-chlorine generator works and how it changes the makeup of the pool water,
such as why the device creates heat, how it changes the pH, why there might be
an increase in corrosion and scale and the importance of not adding phosphates
to the water. Some customers are going to want to know why all the products are
different from what goes in regular pool water. But some customers just want a
alsoimportant not to oversell the
value of the salt-chlorine generator. Continue to state the facts: a salt-chlorine
generator sanitizes the pool but you still need to keep the water balanced,
otherwise algae will develop, the pool equipment (including the chlorine
generator) could end up with corrosion and scale and the salt-chlorine
generator could potentially be less effective as well.
chemical manufacturers have created products that are specially blended to
specifically work with salt-chlorine generators. Just like specialty compound
pharmacies are now blending vitamins and prescriptions to customize programs
for consumers, pool stores need to be the supplier of specialty products
tailored to the salt pool and even more so, to how the pool is used and by
are so many different chemical support options available that Aqua Tech offers three
different brands to provide a good, better and best selection. “We decided to
embrace salt-chlorine generators realizing that, not only is the equipment
profitable to sell, but the salt-support chemical program is also highly
profitable,” Belcourt says.
again, just as patients are loyal to their physicians, salt-pool customers are
very loyal to their pool professionals. “One of the greatest benefits we have
seen from salt pools, is the incredible customer loyalty and relationship we
build with the customer as a result of spending the time to educate the
customer on the science and chemistry of the product,” Belcourt says.
several strategies that retailers are now using to successfully sell
salt-support maintenance programs:
don’t want potential customers overwhelmed when they walk into your retail
store. Grocery stores all have an organic section — follow this example and create
a space in the store specific to the products salt-pool owners will need. You
don’t want a consumer with a salt-chlorine generator to head into the general
chemical section and be overwhelmed — especially in the heat of the season when
the store is busy and you might not have staff available to help a client
immediately. Use signage and videos to get the consumer to the right section of
the store to pick up what they need until someone can attend to them.
store has a salt pool section and he explains that walking people to that
section and having everything in one place makes it easier to point out what
the customer needs “We have it displayed in such a way that it’s simple to
understand and purchase,” he says. “We even find that customers sell to one
another — when one salt-pool customer sees another salt-pool customer walking
out the door with a salt support product, they look over and ask the customer
why they are purchasing that product.”
Add salt support to
your water testing software
extremely busy during our very short season here in the northeast, so the best
move we made was to incorporate the salt support line of products into our
water testing software,” Cosby says. “There was something about the customer
seeing the printout in black and white that helped us sell and discuss the
products and the unique salt-pool maintenance. Once we did this, we immediately
watched our sales of salt support products increase dramatically.”
Edwards Pool uses a borate-based salt support product line, so testing for
borates has been a game changer Schulhoff says. “We use the LaMotte Spin test
and have included borates as one of the items to test on every water sample,”
he says. “If we didn’t include borates as part of our test, our customers might
think we were trying to sell them snake oil, so testing for borates has been a
big win for us.
Brand the salt
important to have a go to salt-pool program that includes products for startup,
scale inhibition and booster for use in the heat of the summer when bather
loads are high. Be sure that the salt-support program you provide to your
customer includes a chlorine-free shock, a scale preventer without phosphates
and an algaecide that won’t be broken down by the salt.
is an excellent way to keep it simple. Consider creating a customized
maintenance placard that the customer can take home and post in the pump room
or on the refrigerator. Take the time to brand it with your company name, too:
Label it ‘Pool Store’s Salt-Pool Maintenance Program.’
also important to have staff who enjoy explaining water chemistry to those
sitting at the water testing bar of the store, which is a great place to
educate the consumer. Another option is to set up a ‘pool school’ class at the
beginning of the season to help the consumer understand what is happening in
the pool water and why it needs sanitization, oxidation and algaecide.
people prefer the safety and convenience of a salt-chlorine generator and are
willing to pay for that ease of use and convenience. Consumers need to be
educated on how salt-chlorine generators work and need to be provided with a
simple salt-pool maintenance program. Not only will a well-organized plan
ensure customer satisfaction, but it will also create customer loyalty and a
long-term stream of profits for retail stores.