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FREE WATER TESTING

Free Water Testing seems to be the norm with Pool/Spa retailers. However in order to deter pool/spa owners from taking advantage of free water testing and then buying from a discounter or Big Box retailer, this year we introduced a Water Testing Card which provides 10 tests for $50.00. This card has no expiry date and affords the buyer a 10% discount on all chemical purchases. For the customer who does not want to buy the card, we charge $10.00 per test. I am wondering how other Pool/Spa retailers deal with the problems of free water testing

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  • Great post, Tricia! I totally agree with the points you make  and we have the same philosophy in our stores.
  • I work for a small retail pool store and we do offer free testing. I have been in this industry for almost 20 years and I can say that so far the free testing is working well for us. I have seen my customer loyalty base grow every month and my customers tell me the reason they keep coming back is because I take the time to tell explain to them what each test does and why it is important. I don't fill there heads with a lot fluff and I don't try to sell them them something they don't need. I have "converted" many customers over from my local competitor (which is a large National chain). Comparing the overall cost for the software, and equipment for the testing station and what I have gained in sales and business from repeat customers is skyrocketing. Of course I have customers who come in and call asking about the cost of pumps and filters and then telling me they can get it cheaper on the internet. and I tell them that is true. As a one store operation I can not compete with the internet in price for most items but I make up for that in having an actual store they can walk into and see the actual part, not just a "stock" photo they they hope is the part they are looking for. They get to talk to a human face to face, (me), and I have the knowledge to answer their questions, troubleshoot problems, give them step by step instructions and actually go to their home and install and talk them through the process. I give them my undivided attention and it is paying off 10-fold for our business. Can the internet do that? No. So for the few one time customers that may not return after the free water test, I gain triple that in customers who do come back repeatedly and 9 times out of 10 they always buy something. So for me personally, The rewards certainly out-weigh the cost.
  • During my days working for the largest retailer in the pool industry, we never charged for a water test.  As Don mentioned in an earlier post; there will always be those looking to take advantage of true dealers in our industry and then buy from larger box stores that sell products at a cheaper price.  However, the knowledge we have will drive a consumer back into your store when they have a problem that a big box store cannot correct.  This is your time to shine and win them over for future sales.
  • Hello Russ,

    I was interested in how your customers get to be VIP or Loyalty members?
    (New Pool Sales VIP, or due they buy in as Loyalty Members for a greater discount, or savings)

    Also, what type of POS, or CRM software u are using.

    Thank, Noel


    Russ Fraley said:
    We instituted a $10 water testing fee for non members for the same reason. We also offered free testing for our VIP and Loyalty members. If the customer made a purchase they received a $5.00 discount on their water test. The fact that the customers learned they could earn free water testing based on their purchases turned out to be a big positive and loyalty builder.
  • We instituted a $10 water testing fee for non members for the same reason. We also offered free testing for our VIP and Loyalty members. If the customer made a purchase they received a $5.00 discount on their water test. The fact that the customers learned they could earn free water testing based on their purchases turned out to be a big positive and loyalty builder.
  • Perhaps not completely relevant to the original post, but we water test for free and we have to drive to the customers pool to do it! I carry a Taylor K-2006 kit so that I can accurately test FC to the higher levels required for shocking a pool, but I need to have real water test results for CH, TDS and CYA to do my job properly.

    I have yet to have a lost a job that I have been able to perform a water test on and show the customer the results. I also sell quite a few test kits this way, as most of my customers take a real interest in their pool. I don't know how I, or anyone else, could accurately sell a customer any product or service without first knowing what is in the water, and I think it is just something that you have to factor for as opposed to charging for. The tests take little time and cost little to perform, and are the start of the relationship with the customer.
  • Mark I am coureous about this post, though it is from a year ago. In regards to the customers who you stated were getting water test but had very little sales history 1.) When you refer to "very little purchase history" do you mean very little in total dollars or in frequency of purchase. If you are guaging the frequency of purchase to the frequency of water test the value may be skewed if they do big one time purchases at the beginning or end of season. 2.) The customers with "very little purchase history", on there water analysis did they need product on each test.

    Theoretically it would be nice to be able to identify the customers who are using your services and not shoping with you, and weed them out. However, that is a hard process, and one which may cost you some incremental sales and new customers. There will always be those who intend to take advantage of us, and go for better pricing at the big box stores. We all know that one day a pump is going to burn out, a filter will crack, or there will be a stain or algae that the 15year old at the big box store will not be able to help with. That is your opportunity to win them over

    I will say that as you identify the customers who are not your "customers" do not blatantly toss them from the building. For these customers I use an aquacheck silver test strip.

    Please update this discussion with what has happended since the last time you company posted



    Mark Kelly said:
    I disagree. We bend over backwards to offer outstanding service as it is. Our staff is very good at what we do,and charge a reasonable fee for our endeavours on your behalve. Do it once, Do it right!. I'm the Service Manager for the retailer mentioned above. We have tracked the time our in house staff have spent (multiple customers waiting on a regular basis to get the results from our expensive Taylor Lab on most Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon - evenings) and then checked the retail database for those specific customers year to date sales totals for the past 3 or 4 years. Lo and Behold, 1 guess at what we found........ The majority of those taking advantage of our service had none or very little purchase history over the past few years.They are not supporting us in any way, simply taking advantage of a "free" service. We simply can't keep taking this sort of hit on our staffing resources while these folks leave our premises only to purchase what we advised at a big box. Stand your ground and understand that you and your staff offer value and unsurpassed service. Let the everyday chem test "user" go to the big box for advice when the pool turns green!! All they will find is the 15 year old kid stocking shelves with "made to price point" cheapie half strength shock............

    Respectfully,
    Mark Kelly

    Mark Kelly
    Service Dept.
    Poolmaster Canada

    Merry Wise said:
    I agree with Luke. A lot depends on your competitive situation, but I think you will build your base of loyal customers best by being the "problem solver", offering the test for free, loss leading the few items they really compare price on and giving great service. That is really the "niche" for a small retailer, in my opinion. One technique I found helpful was to research the big boxes, then loss lead one or two products they sell and put a sign in the store on that product that said "Cheaper than Sam's". When they see that and get the free test, they won't really have a reason to take their buying elsewhere. You can make up your margin on your specialty products and impulse items, etc.
  • Mark, you may very well be right. There are lots of "right" ways to do things, and areas of the country differ, too, on how customers buy. You obviously are doing a good job measuring your results, so keep us posted on how it seems to be working to do it that way. Is it mainly just a few of the same customers doing this or a lot of people? There definitely are some few customers not worth having who will take advantage. Sometimes you have to let those go. Most people I find to be decent and nice, and we have a good loyal base of folks who like to trade with us. Like everyone else, we have had a few "stinkers", though!
  • I disagree. We bend over backwards to offer outstanding service as it is. Our staff is very good at what we do,and charge a reasonable fee for our endeavours on your behalve. Do it once, Do it right!. I'm the Service Manager for the retailer mentioned above. We have tracked the time our in house staff have spent (multiple customers waiting on a regular basis to get the results from our expensive Taylor Lab on most Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon - evenings) and then checked the retail database for those specific customers year to date sales totals for the past 3 or 4 years. Lo and Behold, 1 guess at what we found........ The majority of those taking advantage of our service had none or very little purchase history over the past few years.They are not supporting us in any way, simply taking advantage of a "free" service. We simply can't keep taking this sort of hit on our staffing resources while these folks leave our premises only to purchase what we advised at a big box. Stand your ground and understand that you and your staff offer value and unsurpassed service. Let the everyday chem test "user" go to the big box for advice when the pool turns green!! All they will find is the 15 year old kid stocking shelves with "made to price point" cheapie half strength shock............

    Respectfully,
    Mark Kelly

    Mark Kelly
    Service Dept.
    Poolmaster Canada

    Merry Wise said:
    I agree with Luke. A lot depends on your competitive situation, but I think you will build your base of loyal customers best by being the "problem solver", offering the test for free, loss leading the few items they really compare price on and giving great service. That is really the "niche" for a small retailer, in my opinion. One technique I found helpful was to research the big boxes, then loss lead one or two products they sell and put a sign in the store on that product that said "Cheaper than Sam's". When they see that and get the free test, they won't really have a reason to take their buying elsewhere. You can make up your margin on your specialty products and impulse items, etc.
    FREE WATER TESTING
    Free Water Testing seems to be the norm with Pool/Spa retailers. However in order to deter pool/spa owners from taking advantage of free water testin…
  • I agree with Luke. A lot depends on your competitive situation, but I think you will build your base of loyal customers best by being the "problem solver", offering the test for free, loss leading the few items they really compare price on and giving great service. That is really the "niche" for a small retailer, in my opinion. One technique I found helpful was to research the big boxes, then loss lead one or two products they sell and put a sign in the store on that product that said "Cheaper than Sam's". When they see that and get the free test, they won't really have a reason to take their buying elsewhere. You can make up your margin on your specialty products and impulse items, etc.
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