Keeping ahead of the curve and prepping for pond season can lead to growing bottom lines.
By David A Lass
Pond maintenance represents a substantial aspect of business for some in the aquatics industry. Owning a pond is kind of like having a pool and a giant aquarium, all in one. And water features invariably require maintenance.
While it is possible to get involved in maintaining ponds for customers, many retailers still opt to sell maintenance supplies to pond keepers. When it comes to offering maintenance products, there is a chance for high-dollar equipment sales, add-on sales, and additional cross-promotional opportunities beyond these.
The first thing pond retailers have to keep in mind, however, is how seasonality will affect their product offerings.
“In Florida we don’t ‘close’ our ponds because the temperatures don’t get that low,” said Lisa Burns, who along with her husband Dave owns Backyard Getaway in Myakka City, Fla.
Filtration and Maintenance Products
A number of manufacturers have developed new products for taking care of ponds. Also, larger home and garden stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are competing with local fish stores for big-ticket filters and similar items.
What products do you think will sell well for this coming pond season?
“We’ll have to wait for the season to come to really see what customers want. Last year was a lot of barley straw, peat and other products for algae control.”
-Jason Boczar, manager of The Pet Advantage in So. Burlington, Vt.
“Our best sellers are always pond fish foods, and chemicals for small patio ponds. We also think large koi will sell well this year.”
-Chip Beitel, owner of Plano Pets, Plano, Texas
“We sell pond fish foods during the winter, since some customers bring their fish inside. In the spring we sell more foods and carry a larger variety. Replacement pumps always sell well. We do not sell much in the way of water features or statuary – we are a fish store and we sell fish.”
-Jim Reiman, owner of Tropic Waters Pet Center in EauClaire, Wis.
“Pondless water features are popular. Especially the formal above ground style. Products for algae control are always popular.”
-Lisa Burns, co-owner of Backyard Getaway in Myakka City, Fla.
“We sell all of the Python products, especially the pond cleaner with the ‘hand’ on it,” said Jason Boczar, manager of The Pet Advantage in So. Burlington, Vt. “We concentrate on selling the fish, more than competing with the big boxes over the filters.”
Many stores find that they do better concentrating on one brand, and carrying all of the products in that brand’s line.
“The Laguna products and systems are our favorites” stated Jim Reiman, owner of Tropic Water in Eau Claire, Wis. “We use their line because it is complete, offering every product needed, and we like the way they all work together.”
There is a wide variety of equipment available, so there is something for every hobbyist and pond.
“Our best-selling maintenance products are our Mini-Vac and Leafeater,” said Neal Dulaney, president of LifeGard Aquatics in El Monte, Calif.
However, going with a name-brand manufacturer isn’t necessarily the only option open to retailers. Some stores have developed their own pond vacuums.
“Dave has created his own vacuum that works beautifully,” said Lisa Burns of Backyard Getaway, referring to her husband and co-owner. “For filters our first choice is the Aqua Ultraviolet Ultima II for koi ponds, and the Tetra bead filter for smaller water gardens,” Lisa concluded.
Pond additives are another add-on, repeat sales item retailers can offer customers. Retailers reported a wide range of preferences when it comes to these products.
“We carry the complete line of pond care products from Mars Fishcare,” said Chip Beitel, owner of Plano Pets in Plano, Texas.
Keeping fish healthy is one of the main goals in maintenance activities.
“We always have our customers use Stress Coat, after any water change, or after adding any new fish,” said Spencer Moore, manager of Pets-N-Pal in Staunton, Va.
Introducing fish and plants is all part of the pond’s life cycle. Starting ponds of right can also affect later cleaning needs. All of these instances in an owner's experience keeping a pond call for maintenance, and savy retailers can stay with customers throughout, potentially gaining repeat business and extra sales. <HOME>
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