Our industry is looking at a long lasting hosepipe ban and a drought that has spread to many more counties and I’m looking out of the window at grey skies and falling rain.
We’ve got some breaking news on that hosepipe story in this newsletter, but what can our wet leisure industry do in a climate like this?
Not only is it raining, but it’s the wrong sort of rain. (Heavy downpours tend to run off dry land; light drizzle is what is needed to restore the groundwater that we rely on, particularly in the South East.)
And the economic forecast is no brighter.
So why isn’t everyone being affected the same way?
The wet leisure industry is large and diverse.
It can be divided up into pools, spas and saunas but there is also a domestic and a commercial sector, a price-conscious middle ground and the top end of our market, plus quite distinct areas and regions across the UK.
Each sector has different strengths and weaknesses and if we know what they are, we can play to our strengths or even diversify into an area that is holding its ground or even growing.
£I Billion pounds worth of pools.
SPATA estimate the UK residential pool market to be worth £500 million per year and the commercial and public sector to be about the same again.
There are an estimated 7,000 commercial pools in the UK. Those commercial pools aren’t covered by the hosepipe ban. Do all your customers who run hotels or health clubs know that?
It’s true that good summers and warm weather prompt impulse purchases of above ground pools and some of those people new to pool ownership will, in time, upgrade to something more expensive.
But high end, luxury pool installations remain steady and constant. A £50,000+ pool isn’t an impulse purchase brought about by a sunny day or two; and it’s probably going to be indoors or under an enclosure anyway.
Have you explored working in the top end of the market in your area? (There are some insights on that here.)
There are almost a quarter of a million families in the UK who know what it’s like to enjoy being able to swim in their own pool at home.
They are not going to give up that pleasure. It is those people who are driving the increasing demand for add-ons that make it more economic and practical to continue using their pool.
They are in the market for cartridge filter systems that save water by never needing to be backwashed; the MultiCyclone that saves energy and water; pool covers and enclosures; heat pumps and solar thermal energy installations.
Do your customers know that you are at the forefront of modern ecological and economical technologies and have the products and support to prove it?
We believe in the pool industry in the UK and we have launched YourPool.co to help inform and grow that market.
We believe that at any time, but especially in tough times, a business needs good planning, good marketing and great selling to stay on top and that’s why we launched WetLeisure.co to give you access to constantly updated advice and tips on all those aspects of your business.
If you are on LinkedIn, then you can join our UK Wet Leisure Industry Group and there is some breaking news about how the hosepipe ban has been interpreted in some areas and possible exemptions for some pool customers.
But what else is happening across the industry?
Spas and hot tubs escape the hosepipe ban.
Hot tubs and spas aren’t covered by the hosepipe ban and are certainly less affected by the weather; for many people the best time to enjoy their hot tub is on a cold and cloudy day.
The economic downturn has certainly had its affect and the hot tub market has become a tougher business.
However, there are some encouraging signs. YourSpa.co , which is our constantly updated consumer guide to hot tubs and spas, more than doubled its traffic last month so there is plenty of interest in this sector of the wet leisure industry.
Swim spas are the closest alternative to a full size swimming pool and they are showing a steady growth.
Accessories that make spas more enjoyable like covers, cover-lifters and spa steps are also showing good business.
The hot tub market in the UK is a highly competitive one so you have to be offering good value by backing up your sales with the best possible service and you have to be letting your customers know that with the best possible marketing. WetLeisure.co carries some marketing articles that will be of particular interest to spa dealers.
Saunas and steam rooms? Surely we are all looking to relax a little?
When we conducted our Wet Leisure Industry Survey last year, the respondents who dealt in saunas were the most relaxed and optimistic group. (Perhaps they are always using their own products?)
Untouched by the weather, the sauna business isn’t even seasonal. Of course the economy has an impact, but the stresses and strains of modern life can make people value quiet relaxation even more.
YourSauna.co has seen a steadily growing amount of traffic and steam showers are such a fantastic product that it is only a matter of time before they really take off.
So does the future look bright?
Economic downturns don’t last forever and droughts break.
Having said that, there are lessons to be learned for all of us.
Issues regarding water conservation, renewable energy, eco-awareness and energy efficiency are going to become more and more important. We need to seek out those products and make sure our customers are aware of them and their benefits.
We live in a business culture where good marketing is a given and only truly smart marketing gives you an edge. Everyone in your business needs to be involved and feel involved in marketing the business in order to see it grow.
We need to be more flexible and more innovative, break bad habits and establish new ones. Perhaps diversification is the way forward; selling spas alongside pools can make perfect sense, surely there are other ways of utilising your customer base and business reputation as well?
Please get yourself registered on WetLeisure.co because all of our Golden Coast customers will automatically have their information displayed on each of our consumer sites; YourPool, YourSpa and YourSauna.
Please visit our new B2B web shop, www.GCTrade.co.uk . it’s free for anyone to browse but in order to place an order you must have an account with us and be given a unique log in. Just use the link above to apply for an account or to contact us.
And please, if you have any thoughts you’d like to share about any issues raised in this newsletter then use the comment box below.