You’re driving along listening to the radio, when ahead you see a big white tent with banners waving in the wind. There wasn’t one there yesterday. Curiosity takes over, and you look to see what’s happening. In big letters, the banners shout HOT TUBS plus a local business’s logo.
“Put up a tent and people will come,” says Jamie Severs, general manager for Lifestyles Hot Tubs, which has nine Michigan locations. “Driving along, we need to stop and see what’s in the tent.”
Each Lifestyles tent sale has a barbecue going with hot dogs and burgers. Free bottled water, seltzer and pop is offered to customers and browsers. Severs will often eat when a potential customer does. “It becomes more friendly and personal when you break bread together,” he says. “People will hang out longer and feel more inclined to engage with a salesperson when they are welcomed in by food. It’s a gift, and they know and appreciate it.”
Hot tub tent sales offer discounts to potential costumers on the hot tubs, accessories or combinations. Many retailers do them to make room for new stock, discounting last year’s models (which are still brand new and work perfectly well). The discounts will vary depending on who is hosting the event — the retailer or a third party — and where it’s located. Prices on hot tubs at a tent sale in the dealer’s parking lot may not be as heavily discounted as those offered under a tent in a Costco parking lot (because Costco sets the prices with the partnering retailer).
Severs says often potential customers will stop in the store to get a quote, then drop into the tent sale. They’ll see the additional discounts and realize buying at the sale is a better deal.
Severs doesn’t do tents in the same areas too often. His goal is to set up the sales far away from each other throughout the Lifestyles service area, ideally having the sales spaced between two stores so customers can also visit the store closest to them if they need anything else like water care products.
Most tent sales are held between late spring and early fall. Keep a look out for big banners you can see from a distance, and tents with hot tub brand names. There might be lots of movement to catch the eye: balloons, tube dudes and beach-type flags in bright colors attract attention. Lights, especially as the sunlight wanes, are important; tents tend to be dark. A spa retailer that puts effort into the tent sale will also put effort into helping you find the right hot tub at an optimal price point.