Keep customers’ ponds clean to grow profits and business.
By Maddy Heleine
When it comes to pond maintenance products, there are many good stocking options available to retailers. In order to keep their water clean, pond owners purchase dependable vacuums, skimming nets, algaecides and bacterial fighting chemicals that will work along with their filters to get the job done properly.
Fortunately for retailers, pond vacuums are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes and can often serve more than one function.
“The Python Ulti-Vac offers powerful suction and it comes with a convenient catch bucket,” said Lance Reyniers, owner of Python Products Inc. in Milwaukee, Wis. “Larger organic matter that is trapped in the removable container can be used as a nutrient rich fertilizer for gardens and flowerbeds. The Ulti-Vac kit includes a 13-foot hose with connector and pump, a filter tube and cap, and a 4-foot cleaning tube. ”
Consumers have other options for pond vacuums and related products, as well.
“Blagdon’s PondMonsta, although a pond cleaning system, is not a vacuum,” said Karen Paxton ,of Aquatics Marketing at Blagdon in the United Kingdom.
What is the best type of maintenance advice that a retailer can offer to their customers?
“Filtration is one of the most important maintenance items. Customers also need a pole with a net head attached that is long enough to reach all areas of their pond.”
--Lance Reyniers, owner of Python Products Inc. in Milwaukee, Wis.
“A good pond needs UV clarifiers and lots of plants.”
--Michael Hresko, owner of House of Tropicals Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland
“Blagdon would recommend their using Mini Pond and Midi Pond filters. These filters were both developed for the most effective filtration with the easiest maintenance.”
--Karen Paxton, Aquatics Marketing at Blagdon in the United Kingdom
“A pond should have the right circulation and aeration. Pond water should be turned over once an hour, so a 1000-gallon pond needs equipment that will turn over 1000 gallons per hour.”
--John Lottes, owner of Anjon Manufacturing in O'Fallon, Missouri
“The main thing is to not over feed the pond, and use bacteria removal products.”
--Jeff Scudder, Emmons Tropical Fish in Simsbury, Conn.
“All pond owners need to keep bad bacteria under control by adding beneficial pond bacteria.”
--George Jacome, owner of Fish Town USA in Flushing Queens, N.Y.
Retailers differ regarding what consumers need in a pond vacuum.
“I really like to stock the Odyssey Muck Vacuum because it eliminates built-up pond muck without tearing up plants and other decorations,” said George Jacome, owner of Fish Town USA in Flushing Queens, N.Y. “Customers can even use it for cleaning out small pools and saunas because it has a telescoping pole.”
It comes down to what types of ponds consumers have, and how retailers can meet their cleaning needs.
“Many customers like the smaller vacuum options that are available,” said Michael Hresko, owner of House of Tropicals in Baltimore, Maryland. “The Hagen Power Clean, which is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, sells well, and is a outstanding pump for a good price.”
Jeff Scudder of Emmons Tropical Fish in Simsbury Connecticut agrees.
“Smaller end vacuum stock moves well because many customers have small ponds,” he said. “We sell a lot of the Hagen Power Clean Machines and the Rainbow Lifeguard Pond Mini Vacuums.”
So what’s the best way to sell pond vacuums in a retail store?
“If space is available, retailers can display a pond vacuum in a small kiddy pool, barrel or other container so that customers can see how easy they are to use,” Jacome said. “Afterward, employees can then help them to locate the proper vacuum for the shape and size of their particular pond.”
Retail employees should be informed about products that they stock, said John Lottes of Anjon Manufacturing.
“When selling pond vacuums or any other item, it is important to have an educated sales force that uses brochures, and point-of-purchase displays,” Lottes said. “Customers really like to know and see how products work before they buy them whenever possible.”
Often, manufactures will provide aids and special product packaging to help retailers market their products.
“Blagdon supports retailers with a variety of material,” Paxton said. “We have a point of sale unit which includes a full size ‘dummy’ product as well as a film to demonstrate the key selling benefits of PondMonsta.”
Even manufacturers’ boxes can be used to help sell pond maintenance products.
“Retailers can take three Python Ulti-Vac boxes that have pictures printed on three sides, and put them together in their store to form an instant four-foot billboard,” Reyniers said. “The specially printed product box essentially acts as its own display.”
Another important tool to help with pond maintenance is a skimmer net.
“We manufacture different soft net heads to fit pond fish properly, and we offer ‘The Hand’ attachment that consists of flexible plastic fingers and two thumbs,” Reyniers said. “The Hand can be placed on the end of our pond pole instead of a net when you are doing your maintenance routine. The flexible joints of the Python Hand ‘walk’ along the pond bottom to safely rake debris to a convenient point for scooping.”
Other manufacturers offer skimming nets, as well.
“Blagdon offers a selection of strong and effective pond skimming nets,” Paxton said. “They are designed as either complete nets or as modular systems to offer the retailers a flexible display in store. Another option would be the Blagdon Clearview Pond Covernet, which is invisibly fixed over the pond to catch leaves and falling debris. There is an added bonus to this product because it will deter most predators. Blagdon pond nets are available on a Blagdon stand system for clear and attractive merchandising. Our covernets are also available in a self assembly display unit which is colorful and has a small ‘footprint’ for the stock holding.”
Pond algae can be unsightly, upsetting the balance of the water, and carry an unpleasant smell, so manufacturers have created products to help battle overgrowth.
“I like to stock Ecological Laboratories GreenClean algae killer because it works on contact and is great for getting rid of string algae” Hresko said. “Winston Crystal Clear Algae-Off and the Mars line of algae products like Mars Fishcare PC Microbial Algae Clean are among our best sellers.”
Scudder also believes that Greenclean is a great product.
“We sell a lot of it, and we also do well with Algae Fix, which is manufactured by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals,” He said.
Despite the fact that bad anaerobic bacteria can cause odor and poor water quality, it can be kept under control using aerobic bacteria.
“ I like to stock Pond Keeper Pro-Beneficial Bacteria concentrate and Pond Keeper Dissolvable Bacteria Blocks from Natural Environmental Systems,” Hresko said. “Beneficial Bacteria For Ponds by Aquascape is another one of our top sellers, and customers tell me that is really does a good job.”
When it comes to algae control, retailer opinions vary depending on the customer base.
“Microbe-Lift PL sells well in our store and is a great additive to a maintenance routine,” Jacome said. “It is completely safe for pond fish and plants, and helps to reduce inorganic and organic buildup in the water. This product is really popular with customers because it also helps to eliminate unpleasant odors to keep their pond smelling fresh.”
With the popularity of ponds on the rise, retailers can help to satisfy their customers’ needs by stocking maintenance products such as vacuums, skimming nets, algaecides, and bacterial fighting chemicals that can be just as important as the main filter in keeping their water clean and stable. Knowing a customer’s needs can make all the difference between simply owning a business and having a pet paradise that customers can rely on to provide them with good advice and the best products that manufacturers have to offer.<HOME>
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