Replacement Parts Outpace Repairs
“We’ve seen an increase of more than 100 percent in equipment sales, and about a 50 percent reduction in part sales,” said Terry Brown, vice president of Buddy’s Pool & Spas in Baltimore. “When customers have equipment that’s in need of repair, more and more are telling us that they’d prefer to upgrade instead.”
So far, the trend is mainly limited to more prosperous pool markets in Texas and the East Coast.
However, the growing enthusiasm isn’t just limited to minor equipment — service people say their clients are increasingly willing to purchase new pumps, filters and heaters as well.
This marks the reversal of a more conservative purchasing trend, in which many customers opted for repairs, or minor replacements (such as pump motors), in lieu of replacing an entire component of the equipment pad. That drop in new equipment sales coincided roughly with the start of the recession — approximately three years ago — and held steady until late last year, when pool professionals began to notice heightened interest in new equipment.
Industry insiders have suggested several reasons for the shift. “The economy is beginning to get a little better, so customer behavior is starting to revert back toward normal,” said Manuel Perez de la Mesa, president and CEO of PoolCorp in Covington, La.
Warranties provide an additional motivation for new purchases. “Customers are still watching their money,” said Ben Graves, service manager at Claffey Pools in Southlake, Texas, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder. “But they’re becoming more likely to spend it on something new that comes with a warranty, rather than just fixing something that’s broken.”
Energy efficiency also provides a central selling point. Service technicians and retailers in many areas report a steady increase in sales of variable-speed pumps and other energy-saving technology.
For the time being, customer interest in equipment upgrades seems to be holding steady — and the trend may even be showing signs of growth.
“Sales haven’t slowed down; they’ve been holding steady,” Graves said. “If anything, they’re continuing to increase throughout the season.”