the Secret world of Spa Sales and down time for making art

January 5, 2017 zoezuniga@gmail.com
Hot tub photo from unsplash
Hot tub photo courtesy of unsplash

Consider Spa Sales for the downtime

Are you extroverted or you find the studio isolating and wish you had a little human contact sometimes? Do you do something like writing or digital art or small pieces that are portable enough to do at a small desk? Then selling luxury spas might be the perfect job for you while you build your reputation, style, and brand of art.

How I was hired to sell a luxury item with no sales experience

I was able to get myself a job doing sales in 2016 selling hot tubs or Spas as they are called in the business, without an iota of sales experience. in a decent company with OK benefits and a lot of downtime so I was able to write, study 3D modeling work on doll sculpting and create logos and websites for my own customers working remotely from my job within a job. Who knew spa selling could be such a good job for an artist?

I suggest looking around your area and seeing how many spa stores there are, what they pay and what else they sell. I was lucky enough to find a company with several stores in a high-end market that did not sell fireplaces or woodstoves as well to offset the winter lull. Spas are a summer item. people do not think about buying or replacing a hot tub in the middle of the winter. but once they start cleaning up the yard in the spring business picks up in the world of high-end spas.

 

One of the other salespeople was an accomplished fine arts photographer who had shown in galleries in San Francisco and been very successful as a fine art black and white photographer. He had done most of his marketing while at the spa job. He was suited for it and had been in sales most of his working life. Curiously he did not seem to do photography anymore. He had run out of topics to photograph.

Your local luxury stores may be desperate for salespeople

I applied for a maintenance job driving the truck around cleaning people’s hot tubs. Since I am an introvert  I thought this would be low key and at least  I would get some exercise. But they, being desperate, suggested I try the sales job which I did. It was very easy to learn the sales pitch and spa specs. If you are an extrovert and love to talk to people this might be a good choice for you while you launch or as a full-time gig to do your art from permanently.  Because of company politics, the place I worked for had a  high turnover rate but I met people who were lifers in the “spa industry” and had worked in the industry for various companies their entire lives. Who knew there was a spa industry with tradeshows that salespeople traveled to selling any and every brand of hot tub? they guy who trained me had been recruited by the company I was with during a recent tradeshow. He was tired of life on the road and so decided to settle down. He was making more than me because he was training everyone but I had access to all of the same giant  indoor lap pools and high-end spas that he did as a 20 year veteran so there is potential if you are in an urban area with spa and furniture store strip around the corner from the car lots for instance.

If you can put up with a little Cheese Luxury sales can be a worthwhile occupation for a creative person

You just have to be tolerant of a little bullshit that goes with sales. There are the quarterly meetings and training and quotas to keep up and not everyone can handle that stuff. You must keep up with stats, the science of spas, and human psychology and the cheesy way the different companies compete. But it is not that difficult to learn. I recorded all the training demos of my mentor selling and just memorized all his patter. Then I read and memorized the tech manuals for spas names, and sizes and features and learned a bit about spa chemicals and did some of the research online. I still had plenty of time to write and do digital art and design while I worked for the company. And for an introvert, I was pretty good at figuring out customers and selling spas.

Spa sales jobs have a lot of downtime

I started training in the off-season. I was given an hourly wage of $20 per hour for my first month of training and once I started making commissions the hourly pay rate went down but in the 8 months I was there I made about $35 per hour.The company owners did not care what I did as long as I was there on time and waited on customers and answered the phone, occasionally straightened up theshowroomm and restocked the shelves of chemicals and spa supplies.

Some days during the long 6-month long slow season, it was quiet for 5 or 6 hours straight and I get a lot of creative work done on my laptop. It was possible to make 24 thousand the 8 months I was there, plus my fees for web design during the down time, with commissions and base pay. I could have made more if I was not training the first month and had been willing to be a little more aggressive, extroverted and obnoxious.

Yet I didn’t feel excited about selling those 8 thousand to 20 thousand dollar hot tubs. I felt sort of dirty and guilty. As if I was doing something wrong. I felt like it wasn’t good enough because it was not a traditional artist’s life style spending all day in the studio.  So it did not count. I was a tacky sell out or some crap. But  I would have stayed if management had not been so messed up. It was a good gig. I set up a standing desk in my area next to my regular desk and even brought in polymer clay for sculpting small peices. The owner and sales manager encouraged this behavior. they just wanted people to be happy and occupied during the winter lull and then sell sell sell during the summer.

I also spent 6 months as an illustrator and salesperson for a high-end Jeweler in Wellesley Massachusetts, a very upscale town, by applying to an ad, but that was a whole different mindset from spa sales. learn how to sell illustration and design to high-end jewelers in my article next month.