Today there are at least four ways to purchase hot tubs and the products needed to properly maintain them. You can buy them at:
- Local Hot Tub Dealers (this includes at their showrooms and Home Shows)
- At various Internet websites
- Discount Chains
- Road Shows
I’m going to lay out the case for shopping for both hot tubs and their related products with your local hot tub dealer. Basically, these reasons are (1) Quality of Products, (2) Value of your Purchases, (3) Warranties, (4) Service Provided to You and, (5) Expertise of the Staff.
Quality of Products
The hot tub industry is unlike most others.
All of the major brands sell ONLY through their dealer networks.
The major brands are pretty much universally recognized as Hot Spring, Jacuzzi, Bullfrog, Marquis, Caldera, Sundance, Artesian, Cal, Nordic, American Whirlpool, and Master Spas, with a recent entrant, Wellis Spas, becoming more recognized. All of them sell exclusively through their own dealers. This means that when buying a hot tub from the Internet or from a Discount Chain you are not buying the best hot tubs available.
You might ask, who is making the spas sold by Internet websites and Discount Chains?
Fair question. There are at least 65 spa manufacturers in the US. Many are quite small and regional. Some of the spas sold on the Internet and/or Discounters are made by these smaller manufacturers. Others are actually made by a couple of the major manufacturers I just mentioned, though under different brand names. However, hot tubs sold under these alternative brand names are not made to the same specifications or carry the same warranties as the hot tubs sold through their dealers. Trust me, there are 100’s of ways to make a hot tub cheaper. This leads to our next topic.
Value of your Purchases
Do you want a cheap hot tub or a high-quality hot tub?
If your answer is “cheap”, then, by all means, buy from the Internet or from a Discounter. But please, be realistic in your expectations. As I noted above, these spas are not made to the same specifications as major brand name hot tubs.
Here’s an inside “secret”. The average profit margin for hot tubs after all expenses are included (meaning the cost of the hot tub, freight, warranties, delivery to your home, etc.) is generally in the 33% – 38% range. This means that if your total price for a hot tub was $12,000, the total cost for the retailer was around $7,800. Their profit was $4,200. If you are buying a hot tub for $6,000, the total cost is likely around $3,900. Of course, the largest part of the total cost to the retailer is the actual hot tub. You can’t build a hot tub that costs $7,800 to manufacture for $3,900. It’s just that simple.
One more thing, and this in regards Road Shows. Road Shows are high-pressure sales events. You will never get a better value than from your local dealer (with reviews on Google, Facebook, etc.) at a Road Show!
Another very important way spas sold through hot tub dealers of the major brands are different than those sold on the Internet or in Discount stores is their warranties. This is not an absolute but pretty commonly the major brands sell three significant lines of spas. They may also have some specialty lines as well, but three major lines is the norm. It’s the classic Best, Better, Good marketing concept.
Hot tub warranties generally cover four different aspects of a hot tub: The shell STRUCTURE, shell SURFACE, major EQUIPMENT, and PLUMBING. I won’t get into the weeds here and discuss warranties in more detail but suffice to say that the EQUIPMENT WARRANTY is the most important part of a hot tub warranty.
All major hot tub manufacturers have a 5-Year Equipment Warranty on their top-line spas and quite a few even offer a 5-year warranty on their middle lines. Usually, it’s 2 – 3 years for the starting lines for these major spa manufacturers. However, among the Internet and Discount stores, I’ve never seen an Equipment Warranty any longer than 2 years and 1 year is not uncommon.
By the way, the FTC’s Rule on Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms requires that written warranties on consumer products costing more than $15 be available to consumers before they buy. However, you may find it a bit difficult getting a copy of the warranty when buying on the Internet or from a Discount Store. They know their warranties don’t compare with a local hot tub dealer’s.
Services Provided to You
Though there are exceptions, most local hot tub dealers do all of their service work. They will deliver the spa when you buy it, provide warranty support in the initial years, and then provide regular maintenance and repair work for many years after your purchase. It is not at all unusual for a spa from a top manufacturer to work well past 10 – 15 years if it is properly maintained.
Also, unlike Internet sites, Discounters, and Road Shows, your local dealer has plenty of reviews on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, etc. They work hard to ensure great service because they know great reviews are critical to having a thriving business.
Expertise of the Staff
I know it’s obvious, but it bears saying. No Internet site, Discount store, or Road Show has a local hot tub showroom with trained service staff. What may appear to be a good value when first purchased at one of these venues, becomes much more expensive as the spa ages with short warranties, and no local service personnel to maintain your spa.
Thanks for reading,