In small business, loyalty & appreciation are no small thing
January 18, 2019 – The other day, one of my sales associates in Seattle told me that one of my customers had come by to buy some new filters and a new cover for his hot tub and wanted to be sure to say hello. My salesperson continued to say, “He told me you would know exactly who he was if I told you his name.”
When he shared who it was, it transported me all the way back to 1996! I had only been with Olympic for a year when I met Scott and sold him his very first Hot Spring Spa—a Classic. He had the tub for about a year and came back to see me one day for water care. He proceeded to tell me he’d become engaged and was going to be married soon. Then he said, “You’re partly responsible for my engagement!” He shared the story of going on a double date with a friend of his. Through no fault of anyone, it ended up that he and his friend’s date had a connection. After the date was over, they ended up going back to his house and chatting and getting to know each other while soaking in his hot tub. That started the relationship that would end his years as a bachelor. After he married, had kids and enjoyed success in his career, he bought a lovely house in Seattle and purchased another tub from me in 2005 (this time a Hot Spring Accolade) that he owns to this day.
Today, while I was immersed in a dozen different things in my office, the door to the showroom popped open. My sales associate informed me one of my customers was here that wanted to say hello. It was such a treat to see him! Originally, his wife came in and she was all business learning about hot tubs and finding the right one for her family. It took me some time, but eventually I had her relaxed and thinking about the things that were really important to have in your first hot tub: great filtration, good healthy water care, silence when not in use, great energy efficiency, good massage vs. ridiculous jet counts.
I offered to come to her home to check out the space where they were thinking about putting their hot tub, and to check out how we would deliver it. That’s when I met her husband, Frank. We sat and chatted about all kinds of things, and discovered that I knew their niece, who did some performing around the city. (It’s always a small world eventually, isn’t it?)
They ultimately decided to purchase a Hot Spring Sovereign from me. That was fifteen years ago! They’re still using and enjoying the tub on a regular basis to this day.
Frank had come in to get some water care products. During our conversation he said to me, “I guess I could probably buy this stuff online, but I would rather give the business to you.” I told him how grateful I was that he came back to us to take care of him, the same way I had taken care of them when they bought the hot tub from me in 2004.
After our nice chat, he then popped his head back into my office and said, “Oh, by the way! I wanted to let you know that we let our cover get a bit old and it ended up causing the siding on the tub to loosen up. Boy, we called your Service Center and they were so terrific! They got right out and got things fixed up. You guys are always so great. I just wanted you to know.”
What heroes Scott and Frank are to me! In today’s world, being a small business owner has its blessings and its challenges. I often get so disillusioned when a customer will call and say, “I can get this online for a lot cheaper. Will you match the price?”
What a horribly unfair question to ask. People often forget how much money it costs to run a small business, employ people in our region and offer good wages and benefits, work to offer the best products and give the best service we can manage. That doesn’t come at a small cost. I’ve never quite understood how anyone can think we were good enough to buy their hot tub, but we weren’t good enough to continue to give business to after the hot tub was delivered.
Now, we certainly hear from those folks when they try to buy something cheaper online and it causes water care problems, a part doesn’t work, or a cover gets water logged in under a year. I’m not sure what they expected! You really must go deeper than just the price on anything.
I felt compelled to share these stories, not because I want to toot my own horn. Rather, I really wanted to let folks know how incredibly appreciative I am when customers come back to us over the years and continue to give us their business. The loyalty, the intelligence to recognize that a small business needs and appreciates continued patronage instead of hopping online or going to a big box store instead. These customers just really get that they are what help us stay in business, allow us to continue to give great service and offer the best products, and continue to enrich the lives and well-being of people in our region through hot tubbing.
Thanks to everyone who supports us through their continued business! I deeply appreciate it.
Author: Don Riling
Don Riling is the President of Olympic Hot Tub and has been an active member of the hot tub industry since 1995. As the company’s owner since 2016, he has continued Olympic’s legacy of promoting health & wellness through water.