Hot Tub Retailer interviews #2 – Charlotte Anthony, Award Leisure National Sales Manager

In the second of a new series of Hot Tub Retailer interviews, Award Leisure Sales Manager Charlotte Anthony promotes the importance of managing supply chain issues honestly with customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family-run wet leisure product franchise network Award Leisure has utilised over 30 years of experience to gain a long list of trade accolades, including for top BISHTA Award-winning hot tub installations showcased at the British Pool & Hot Tub Awards. These Gold standard honours have helped propel Award Leisure to new levels of sales and marketing publicity while building an enviable reputation for customer satisfaction by retailing only top quality products.

As part of the latest chapter in this wet leisure market success story, Award Leisure has now teamed up with iconic Canadian manufacturer Beachcomber Hot Tubs to provide additional choice for consumers visiting one of the network’s seven showrooms, including a newly-launched Award Leisure Cambridge location in Huntingdon Road.

Before this Award Leisure Sales Manager Charlotte Anthony had been involved with an experienced team that was instrumental in the design and launch of the network’s very own British Hot Tubs range with the proclamation of being ‘proudly designed in the UK’. It proved to be an instant sales hit, following 12 months of investment and a huge budget in creating the right factory partnership, designs, and production processes. This range now includes WhatSpa? Best Buy Award-winning models and was expanded last year with additional swim spa models that have achieved 2021 WhatSwimSpa? Best Buy Award status after being designed and produced with specialist knowledge and feedback from UK wet leisure market consumers.

Charlotte has revealed that Award Leisure took the ambitious plunge to add swim spas to the BHT line after staff reported that prospective swim spa owners were disappointed with the swim jet power of other brands and says: “We’ve listened to feedback and ensured our British Hot Tubs swim spas provide a powerful swimming experience.”

While the launch of the British Hot Tubs brand coincided with huge demand for hot tubs and swim spas in the UK and globally during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an unprecedented negative impact on the supply chain, at all levels of the process from sourcing components to production and delivery, which has resulted in distributors and their retail networks facing much longer lead times for hot tub and swim spa deliveries. In normal retailing circumstances Charlotte and fellow Award Leisure team members would be coping easily with increased levels of sales but the pandemic has posed a new set of problems.

Charlotte has divulged that the pandemic has put a strain on normal proceedings and says: “After using our experience in the market and listening to customer feedback to help design our own range of hot tubs and swim spas we’ve had to deal with unique supply chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This has meant that we’ve had to work extra hard in the past year to try to manage our own British Hot Tubs supply chain to meet the expectations of our customers while having the enforced difficulties of dealing with their frustration of longer lead times for deliveries.

“Many prospective customers have been coming into our showrooms or trying to place online orders expecting quick delivery times when the reality is that every element of the supply chain has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now become important for us to try to educate our prospective customers about this situation and be truthful about how long it will take for hot tubs and swim spas to be delivered and installed professionally.

“When I’ve been following up WhatSpa? leads or getting calls from prospective customers doing research before a hot tub or swim spa purchases during the pandemic, I have been constantly advising them about the longer delays for deliveries. Some are desperate for immediate delivery and others are in the process of planning or currently conducting garden project work but have not yet decided on a hot tub or swim spa to purchase.

“In all these cases, it’s important to be honest about your supply chain situations. For those planning major garden projects, I advise that they should take into consideration the longer lead times for their hot tub or swim spa to arrive and then schedule it within their project plans accordingly.”