For the third year running, Servicing and Repairs has scored the highest when businesses are asked what services they offer their customers.
Reasons for this from the customer’s point of view might be that they are ‘cash rich and time poor’. It might be that installations are becoming more complicated or that people are becoming less practical. In part it might reflect growth in the hotel, leisure and holiday rental market.
There are strong reasons to promote this service from the businesses perspective. Servicing provides them with a regular income. It keeps them in touch with their clients so that they can sell retrofit products to upgrade existing pools and it ensures that they are top-of-mind as and when a new installation is looked for.
The next trend that we see emerging from this question is the influence of the internet over business.
We have already seen a year on year drop in wet leisure businesses who describe themselves as trading in the E-commerce market, but here we see a year on year increase in the influence that the web has on business; from 24% in 2012 to 42% in this year’s survey.
Of course, the truth is that the internet is making a massive difference to all retail business in the UK and not just in terms of straightforward competition. Customers research prices online and then expect traditional sellers to match them. Customers go to showrooms and stores seeking advice about the best products for them, and then go away to buy that product online at the lowest possible price.
Woolworths, Comet, HMV and many more traditional retailers have fallen to the affects of the Internet. It is no surprise that the wet leisure industry is experiencing some of the same issues.
Respondents have also always been asked whether most of their sales come from the top-end, middle or budget sectors of the market.
Seeing changes in the responses to this question can be particularly helpful for a business to position itself and promote itself successfully in a dynamic market.
Would you describe most of those sales at the top-end of the market, budget conscious or somewhere in between?
Probably the most significant trend that we have seen here is that the ‘Budget’ sector has fallen from 14% in 2012 to 3.5% in the 2015 survey. This has been a steady decline over the years.
As the budget sector has shrunk, it is the middle of the market that appears to have expanded in volume.
For the industry as a whole, that is probably a very positive picture. The top-end will tend to offer a higher margin, but the volume of business will generally be lower. However, a strong top-end to any industry drives customer aspirations and that consumer demand will filter down to the middle price bracket.
The middle sector of any market should be where the majority of sales are found and it should be possible to preserve reasonable margins on those sales.
“The trickle-down effect of city bonuses is not to be underestimated. Without it the pool industry would still be in the 1980’s.”
When it comes to marketing and promoting their business respondents are taking advantage of a wide range of options.
What marketing and advertising do you do for your business?
As in most industries and areas of business these days, having a website is a prerequisite. 90% of the respondents have one and that figure has remained basically unchanged over the course of the 5 years.
What we have seen change though is the growing importance of social media. Looking at the figures over the 5 years, it appears that many businesses jumped on the social bandwagon in 2011/12. In the early days, social media may have promised more than it could deliver and, in 2013 those figures dipped.
However, using social media for advertising and marketing has matured in the possibilities that are available and the importance of social media as a marketing tool has gradually increased to it’s present level of just over 59% making it second only to the website as a marketing tool.
The other area in growth over that same time period is local radio moving from just 1% up to 6% in 2015.
This trend isn’t specific to the wet leisure industry. In fact, growth in digital stations has bolstered a revival of commercial radio at a local level with advertising spend being moved from dwindling local newspapers to this broadcast media.
When asked, ‘What form of marketing works best for your business?’ word-of-mouth and recommendations clearly came out as the top answer back in 2011 and 2012. The answers to the same question in this year’s survey are much more varied with social and digital marketing having an equal importance to referrals and reputation.
“Social media is widespread and definitely a positive way to get the company out there, but it’s so constantly evolving and needs to be managed correctly.”
“Taking our exhibition trailer out to events helps, as it puts us in front of most people and people feel they can come and talk to us and ask questions where they may not have responded to printed adverts.”
“Online – most people go online before buying.”