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Archive for September, 2010

Hot Tub Cover Drama

September 30th, 2010 by

hot-tub-cover-dramaA year ago our logistics supplier fell upon hard times, like many. They had to sell off their assets and could not pay off many of their suppliers.  It was hard to watch people we cared about lose their jobs through no fault of their own.  Common story these past few years.

About six months ago we got a letter from one of their suppliers demanding we pay them. We thought that was a little strange since we paid all of our bills. Turns out there is this old obscure law which states the that the original shipper of product is potentially liable for the freight bill even they already paid the shipping company who managed the freight. For example, if we hired Fedex to ship a spa cover, and Fedex sub contracts part of the shipping service to a regional carrier, Fedex collects the money from us and does not pay the sub, the sub can sue us for their part of the bill even though we already paid Fedex for the complete service.

Yes, so the innocent, bill paying company can be forced to pay twice. Seems strange in America that we have laws like that. Kinda heightens my dislike for the system we have.  The net result of the story is that we just worked through it and made the best of weird situation.

That said, I’m grateful we have a thriving company which provides for many families, supplies great product and gives me a place to go everyday.

- Jerry

Hot Tub Hat and Spa Covers

September 26th, 2010 by

hot-tub-hat-2

Everyday my inbox gets a dozen or so Google alerts letting me know what’s happening in the world of hot tubs. I get real bored with the typical articles about the Hollywood stars partying in the hot tub, which is about 70% of the media coverage on hot tubs. I saw one yesterday for young Palin’s ex, that he and a video co-star used a hot tub to get to know each other. The writer is obviously misguided that people would care about Palins ex or that he got in a hot tub with another unknown.

On the other hand, now and then, I see something that makes me smile. Today, I saw one of the most entertaining hot tub product articles this year.  A hot tub hat, that’s right, a little tank to hold hot water, on your head.

Now aside from the fact that I doubt it will find much of a market, it is extremely entertaining to me to realize that some designer actually spent good time and money to pursue this idea. The designer must have been so enthralled with the idea to go through enormous hours of developing a product. It’s bizarre and I guess that’s why I like it.

We make hot tub covers, a lot of them. More than anyone else in the spa cover business. Nothing to entertaining about it but they do make sense. They wont prevent hair loss like the hot tub hat, but they will save you energy and keep the hot tub warm. Thousands of hours have gone into designing and redesigning the product and how we make it.

The spa covers we sell don’t make us laugh but they do make us smile when our clients are happy.

- Jerry

The Hot Tub Fantasy

September 21st, 2010 by

HEY-GIRL

Years ago, I put on a Jacuzzi Dealer conference and I used a film clip from a movie where the actor said “a hot tub filled with Pepto Bismol”  was part of his sexual fantasy.  The crowd laughed, with a few soft feminine gasps to indicate their shock at something like this was said out loud. I was working, so I had to hide my slight enjoyment at the reaction of few sensitive types in the crowd.

A few days ago, I had a comment from a lady who didn’t like my failing to mention the family aspect of hot tubs, which is an important fact, it just wasn’t relevant to what I was talking about. It did cause me to think about how differently men and women view hot tubs, and how different age groups look at the product category.  The Video Music Awards, for example had the Jersey Shore cast in a hot tub in which the host gets in and leaves the hot tub seconds later pregnant.

As men, I think we always have some greater association with sex in a hot tub, no matter what age.  Seems natural when you think about. Yes, it’s also relaxing and social, and Yes, it’s creates quality time and communication.

But really, there is always a boyish excitement to jumping in the hot tub with your gal (my wife in my world) and not because I am looking forward to communication. Seems pretty organic to me but then again I’m just a guy inside and out.

Men like hot tubs for many reasons, sex being one of the better reasons. :-)

- Jerry

Spa Ozone – Using Ozone in Spas & Hot Tubs

September 21st, 2010 by

ozone

Ozone is a great way to sanitize your spa or hot tub. It kills quickly and cleanly, with no byproducts – doesn’t affect water chemistry, and can be produced for just pennies per day!

Most new spas will have an ozonator, with lower end models offering it as an option. You can add a spa ozonator at any time to an existing spa. Ozone will reduce the bromine or chlorine needed, and give a noticeable shine and clarity to any spa or hot tub.

inventor of ozone christian-friedrich-schonbein

Ozone was discovered by German scientist Christian Friedrich Schönbein in the 1840s when he identified a unique odor during electrolysis and electrical sparking experiments. He recognized the scent as the same odor found after a lightening flash and named the substance ozone.

Ozone is created when oxygen molecules are split, by a high-energy electrical discharge, resulting in two individual oxygen atoms and those individual oxygen atoms unite with remaining oxygen molecules to produce a three-atom molecule of ozone.

The weak bond holding ozone’s third oxygen atom causes the molecule to be extremely unstable and thus, very effective as an oxidizer.

An oxidation reaction occurs upon any collision between an ozone molecule and an organic molecule, such as bacteria, viruses, fungus and algae, where the oxygen atom held by the weak bond splits off and only oxygen is left behind.

Ozone Benefits

  • It’s a natural purifier as no harmful chemical by-products are created during purification, making it environmentally friendly.
  • Eliminates chloramines, chlorine by-products that can cause skin irritations and illness, and their off-gas odor.
  • Oxidizes hydrogen sulfides, iron, manganese, arsenic and most chlorinated hydrocarbons found in water.

Ozone Facts

  • In 1906, the city of Nice, France built the first water purification plant to utilize ozone.
  • Safe for mammals and marine life, ozone is used in zoos and aquariums.
  • Ozone has been purifying bottled water since 1982.
  • Since 1984, all Olympic Games competition pools have been sanitized with ozone.
  • In 2001, the FDA allowed the use of ozone as a direct food additive and ozone can safely be used as on food equipment surfaces.
  • In the pool and spa industry, ozone has been used for more than 75 years as the most powerful oxidizer for a swimming pool or spa.

Want to learn more?  http://delozonespa.com/

del-spa-ozonator Spa EclipseDel MCD-50 ozonator for spas

Spa Cover Season is Here….

September 21st, 2010 by

spa-cover-careFall is Peak Season For Spa Covers

The transition from August to September is always known here at HotTubWorks by the ringing of the phone lines.  The ringing starts early and pretty much never ceases all day. We always consider it great news despite the increase in work load, because it represents much hard work paying off.

The production side is ready after thousands of hours retooling itself to make the product and faster, operations is ready to prove out it’s progress in moving the spa covers through the system and into shipping, reaching the client faster.

Customer Service has been instrumental in improving the site, Drake even made a few Spa CoverVideos to help with the options clients ask about. It’s been a remarkable team effort to evolve a segment of the company which was pretty healthy to begin with. I love being a part of something that everyone is so committed to making better, even when it’s not broken. It’s a rare and unique culture that actually strives to be the best, even when it’s just spa covers.

What’s The Best Hot Tub? The Truth Is….

September 20th, 2010 by

spa-awardsI recently saw another Press Release for a so called “Best Hot Tub” award.  Too bad it was bogus, because it would be great if a spa buyer had something to trust. Unfortunately, it was another award given out by a company that sells the award for advertising money. Yes, that’s right, not a single owner of the product is consulted to determine the merit of the product award.

This spurred me to look at our data from actual owners and see if it came close to the truth. What was clear was the top brands do in fact have the highest satisfaction yet the models they (manufacturers) want to sell are not the models which owners have the highest satisfaction with. I do believe the manufacturers care, they just don’t know how to get at the information.

I know it was very expensive for me, when I was head of marketing at Sundance, to even get 10 spa owners in a room for a focus group which was such a small sampling that I would just end up with information that I already knew (but at least I had a $20K document to prove it). What made people really happy about having a hot tub was information I was blind to back then.

At this point, we are holding our research under wraps – we don’t want to cause any waves but if you are a consumer and want to know, we’ll be happy to answer your questions. Call us at 800-770-0292, and we can give you some insight from the spa owner satisfaction surveys that we have conducted.

- Jerry

Spa Pump Crazy

September 20th, 2010 by

spa-pumpsCrazy about Spa Pumps!

Five years ago we added spa pumps to the site.  It’s been one of those journeys that has come very slowly, not a silver bullet anywhere to be found. We started with the best brands available, which was not an easy path, as many of the suppliers have been buying each other out.

When we started to stock spa pumps, we realized we need to test every one because it was apparent our suppliers did not, so we built a water test station, to make 100% sure we had great product before the client ever received their spa pump.

We hired a friend and former colleague from the Sundance Spas engineering department to build our work stations and create the testing protocol. It was one of those projects that seemed not to make any sense on paper, yet I knew we had to invest in, to be the best source online for spa pumps.

Sales have always been good, yet it’s taken a lot of energy with very little profit, since spa pumps are heavy to ship and the warranty costs seem to never get covered by the manufacturer. We have always been liberal with our return policy as if we were the buyers ourselves. The spa pumps just always seemed to be needing more work. So, one more time, a couple of All-Stars here jumped in and got deep into the project.

Jim and Brian spent months researching, studying everything they could to figure out what we needed for our clients, how to source correctly, the engineering of spa pumps. They went further, studying how to create the best value for our clients, and how to make it easy to find the right spa pump on our website.  These two, as always did us proud and our clients right by creating the most complete offering of spa pumps at the best prices, and a method so clients can get through the challenge of finding what they need.

They even made spa pump videos.

My hat is off to these guys who come to work everyday and care about what they do for us and for you. It’s an inspiring group.

- Jerry

Why Are My Friends Becoming Single and Firing Up The Hot Tub?

September 17th, 2010 by

single-friendsBeen a strange time, seems like everyone around me is splitting up. A couple of them are 20 year plus relationships and it’s just strange, understandable in some cases but also strange. It seems like we get so used to living a certain way, like a family unit, that imagining a world different feels almost foreign.

One of my friends, who is like a father to me, chose to make a change after 25+ years.  No, he did not have a another lady in the wings nor did he have any desire to go and find another relationship. He just needed to be free of marriage that was not happy.

Now, he’s happy (took a little while), and doing all the stuff he didn’t feel free to do while married, travel, more golf, have people over to his house for poker, dinner parties. It’s strange to watch because I thought the earth was supposed to open up and suck you down when you leave a marriage. So far, my buddy is floating along in single man’s bliss ( I think it might be worth noting, he has a hot tub and that could be part of the secret).

Another friend, I was best man in his wedding kind of friend,  was blindsided by his forthcoming divorce.  Wife just said “that’s it!”, out of the blue.  She said it was about money, he had lost a bunch, so he’s losing her. Cold hearted stuff.   Now, I will admit I am happy about this one and despite being shocked how it went down, I’m happy for him.  He’s not happy yet but I know he will be.  He’s been living under the iron hand of a prison warden who masqueraded as his wife for last 20 years. Once the fog of long term incarceration wears off, he’ll be Hot Tubbing in happiness.

I guess what I’m learning from this is not to judge because I have no clue what is another’s recipe for happiness.  What looks bad sometimes is really good, like many things in life.

- Jerry

Ordering a Spa Cover is Pretty Easy the Second Time Around

September 16th, 2010 by

perfect-spa-coverEasy as Apple Pie!

Earlier this week I got an email from our Customer Service star Lietta about a client who’s back for his second spa cover, 6 years later.  What was interesting about this client was the order was originally taken by our CFO Rick – who’s not your normal Spa Cover expert.

Nevertheless, the client got a perfect Spa Cover and 6 years later, all the client had to do is call us and a couple of clicks later, she’s getting another made exactly like the last time.

A few things I love about this; 1- we have a lot of repeat clients, in fact most of our clients visit us 6 times a year, 2- the the spa cover lasted much longer than the client expected, and 3- technology makes it easy and affordable to order a custom spa cover, and it’s super easy the second time around, because we have all the data on file.

It’s a small thing but it made me smile……

- Jerry

Hot Tub and Spa Awards & Ratings

September 9th, 2010 by

The truth about ” The Best  Hot Tub / Spas”

Image by Clipartpal.comThis is the time of year when the spa / hot tub manufacturers sales teams make their year happen. Spa sales hit a peak in September when many regions have fairs, festivals, and carnivals taking place. Historically, the mass exposure of the consuming public to the spa / hot tub displays at such events manifests in big sales numbers for the 100 or so spa / hot tub manufacturers  in the US.  These events are often staffed by the “hired guns” of the spa / hot tub industry.  They are a special breed of fearless extroverts who have the ability to travel endlessly, survive on fried foods, and convince the potential spa buyer they are making the best decision of their lives (buying a spa from them).

So before I say anything else, hear this: A spa / hot tub is great. The benefits of a spa or hot tub are many. Bottom line is,  get one, use it, and your body will thank you (not to mention the people you let use it). Now with that said, this over riding fact, I feel free to speak to the less flowery facts about spa / hot tub  purchasing process.

One of the growing trends is the spa brands present their brand as best – based on some secondary source, an award, a certification, a “seal of approval” from a supposedly non biased firm.  The truth is, there is no such thing as a non biased source for spas / hot tubs.  I say this with the knowledge of this being the truth because it was my former job for a better part of a decade to convince the public that my brands were the best using whatever means possible, short of breaking any laws (which is a wide road).

We had the Consumer’s Digest Award,  Five Stars Award,  Best Spa Rating,….. you name it, we had it.  Not because we had the “best”, it was because we had the budget and relationships to ensure we had every thing in our marketing kit to convince the potential spa buyer that “we are the best”.  Now, I did believe we had the best but it was my job to believe it and I did my job well. I’m guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid even though I was the chef. In any case, my point is getting distorted much like the awards I speak of. Here it is, you can’t trust what they are saying because there is the research, the data, the award – all bogus. Every award is paid for by those who have the money to buy it. Until now…….…

Hottubworks.com has hundreds of thousands of spa owners as clients.  They buy spa covers / hot tub covers, spa chemicals, spa filters, and numerous spa accessories from us online.  Hottubworks.com does not sell spas nor is affiliated with any manufacturer.

We field hundreds of calls a day helping clients with spa covers, spa parts, if happens in or around a spa we have heard it (some good stories for another blogging).  We started asking, “How do like your spa?” “how often do you use your spa?” “would you buy this spa brand again?” .  We were amazed by the clarity of information we got back.  The result is we could clearly see certain brands were better to own and yielded happier owners.

I wont say who was the best because I don’t want my phone to ring off the hook from nervous manufacturers. What I will say to you, the potential spa / hot tub buyer is it often comes down to the dealer.  If they don’t have a store in your area, most owners are not happy with purchase experience and service. One exception to this is Costco.com. They have taken care of the buyer even when the manufacturer fails to do so (most local dealers could never do so).

So ignore all of these so called Awards and Ratings, and use your common sense for it will serve you better.  If you get confused, drop us an email and we’ll try to help with some fact based direction, for free.

- Jerry