Question About Walk-In Bathtub Salesmen
Did you know that many of the large national in-home sales walk-in bathtub companies are using the same sleazy, manipulative sales gimmicks that have been used for decades? Today, I’m going to show you how to see through that, give you the unvarnished truth and help you protect yourself from what I believe are unethical practices.
There are good guys in the walk-in bathtub industry, and there are bad guys just like anything. I’m a lawyer, trust me, there are some fantastic attorneys out there. And there are also some sleazebag lawyers you want to stay away from. These people give the profession a bad name.
There are good walk-in tub companies, and we love competing and working with these people. They make us proud to be in this industry. But some walk-in tub companies have decided that making money and profits is more important to them than doing what’s best for you. These direct sales companies are giving the walk-in tub industry a bad name too.
I believe they are also damaging the brand reputation of many large well-known companies. Remember me talking about how they need to get your trust? These nationally recognized brands have decided they can make a lot of money licensing, using subsidiaries, or contracting marketing companies to sell their brand on walk-in tubs. And they are right. Many seniors and other consumers are drawn to the brand name assuming they can trust them. These companies make millions and millions of dollars.
CONSUMER NOTE: If you dig a little beyond the good reviews at the top, and check into the reviews of these companies, you will see that they have many complaints. They often do not service their customers, and for many, their “lifetime warranty” is virtually worthless. Go to a review site, and search for one-star reviews. I am not suggesting that they have no satisfied customers. I am certain that they do. But consider the volume of sales they are doing, and the subcontracted work, and check into all reviews (good and bad) to get a more honest overview of what you could experience. I think you’ll get the point. I’m not saying everyone is bad. I am saying some factors are good, bad, right, and wrong. Just BE INFORMED. I intend to open your eyes to the need to be vigilant when doing business with anyone.
A little background about me and my law career in direct sales
I started working in direct sales when I was going to law school and it helped pay my way through. And since then, as a lawyer, I have worked with numerous direct sales companies. I’ve worked with consumers who were vetting companies they were considering doing business with, and I have helped folks who have been taken advantage of by these companies.
I’ve even done consulting and training for many direct sales companies. I enjoyed going after bad companies that are taking advantage of and cheating people. And in particular, those that are taking advantage of seniors and people with health and mobility issues.
I am very familiar with many of the various sales gimmicks and tricks that some in-home sales and walk-in tub companies are using. And trust me, they have been using them for decades.
Why? Because they work.
Most people, especially seniors and people with health and mobility issues and other challenges are subject to being taken advantage of, and I don’t like to think that this is happening, I want to do whatever I can to put a stop to it.
Now I may not be able to make these companies change their sleazy practices, but if I can educate you, the consumer, about what’s going on so that you can recognize these sleazy unethical practices, you’ll be better able to protect yourself. You’ll recognize them in a heartbeat, and you’ll be able to tell that salesperson… “don’t let the door hit you in the rear end on the way out.”
Knowledge is powerful, but only applied knowledge will help you. So my goal here is to give you a level playing field, so you know when you’re being treated unethically, and when you’re being manipulated. I think that’s key.
What is value?
I like the way Jeff Ludy describes it. It’s not the price. It’s the difference between what you think you should pay for something and what you actually end up paying for it.
Jeff uses this example, he says, you’re running out of gas, you pull up to an intersection and there’s a gas station on all four corners. Three of the stations are selling a gallon of gas for $4.50, but one of them is selling a gallon of gas for $4. The difference of 50 cents is clear, real value. I can see that I should be paying $4.50, but I can get it for $4 at this one station. Guess where I’m going to fill my car up? I would go to the one that will give me the most REAL value. Make sense?
So, if someone convinces you that a walk-in tub should cost you let’s say $30,000 and you ultimately can buy one for $23,000, well, that appears to be a real value. If you believe the higher price is legitimate, you feel like $23,000 is a good deal. Right?
Creating False Value
How do these walk-in tub companies build value in their sales process and their product with you?
Most walk-in tub companies get their leads through mass media advertising. Which is very, very expensive advertising.
You will see full-page ads in national magazines, you see TV commercials, you see pages on the back of flyers and newspapers, and you even see infomercials and commercials with celebrities in them. Very, very expensive.
CONSUMER NOTE: I have another video where I address the perception that a lot of consumers have that walk-in tubs are really expensive. There are reasons for the costs, but that does not mean these companies are pricing fairly. Just let me say that their marketing costs are a major factor in price. Learning how to avoid these mass media lead generation marketing costs in your decision-making process is one way that we can help consumers save thousands of dollars.
Walk-in tubs are a new technology, the average consumer does not fully understand this technology and that makes us vulnerable to profiteers.
Profiteers are people who take advantage of your lack of knowledge for their benefit. Remember door-to-door sales, aluminum siding, encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners knives.
My parents bought aluminum siding for a door-to-door salesman in 1969. They paid way too much, and the product was garbage.
Guess what…many of the same manipulative sales tactics are being used today by walk-in tub salespeople.
I believe this will change over time as the consumer becomes more educated. So for example, no one buys aluminum siding from a door-to-door salesman today. Today you buy it from Home Depot or reputable suppliers. Well, I believe we won’t be buying walk-in tubs from mass media sales companies and high-pressure in-home sales companies in the future. At least, I sure hope not.
So how do these walk-in companies try to create value? They go through several steps and they spend a lot of time doing it.
First of all, they spend up to three hours in your home and they want you to like them. They are trying to build rapport, … very friendly, talkative, and chatty. The most successful walk-in tub salespeople are very charming and likable. They are trained to build this rapport with you, they want you to like them. And sadly, the main thing they are doing at this point is trying to get you to trust them.
They use FEATURES to try to create a sense of value in your mind and knowledge, but virtually none are trained in aging-in-place, universal design, ADA guidelines, or the full range of safe bathing appliances available today. Instead, they are trying to build value in what they have to sell you and they are bashing everyone else along the way.
They are ready to do what’s called “price conditioning.” Regardless of how each salesperson goes about it, just know, this is a scripted and rehearsed presentation of high price points and other competitors’ high-priced bids designed to condition you to a high price.
When they think that they have you primed, they will hit you with their all-inclusive price, a price they think will shock you.
Remember these initial prices are inflated and often fabricated by the salesman on the fly based on what they think you will pay. Meaning something less than the number they’re giving you at this point.
CONSUMER NOTE: If they think you will pay $23,000, or $20,000, or $18,000, whatever, they are going to start high enough to be able to close you at the highest price that they think you will pay. So they may price condition you at $30,000 or $28,000 or some other number. But remember, if you say yes to this price, then your price is $30,000. They write you up, leave and they go celebrate!
This is what’s called a “lay down.” You have just become a “lay down” and that’s not a good thing. A laydown is what these sleazy salespeople call seniors and consumers who buy with no resistance. A laydown is somebody who naively buys at the highest price, and this means they pay too much. Some salespeople also call these folks “suckers”, or “marks.”
Now that you know that this is all an orchestrated game, hopefully, you won’t be a laydown or a sucker.
Just understand that this sales pitch is a thoroughly researched, practiced, and tested sales psychology. It is all planned and rehearsed. The person sitting in your living room does this sales pitch 3-4 times per day, 5-6 days a week. They have delivered it many, many times. They have tried and tested many approaches that deliver the most closed, signed contracts for them!
BUT, FOR SENIORS AND CONSUMERS LIKE YOU … THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME!
They want you to be shocked by the price, and they want to start high so they can get you excited when they start talking about the amazing savings and lower prices that they’re going to be able to give you.
I’ll never forget one sales manager who would say to his salespeople: “You’ve got to trick’m! You need to hook their Greed Gland!” In other words, they ultimately want you to think you are getting the greatest deal anyone ever had on a walk-in tub. You’d have to be stupid to not buy this!
The “Good For A Year” PriceI
So, let’s say you balk or say no to their opening price. They may give you the “Mr. Rogers” close to get your guard down. They will tell you: “Mr. Jones, there is no pressure here, take your time. This price is good for an entire year. So, you and Ms. Jones can think about it all you want. No pressure.”
They then move right on to the next stage to close you.
How Do They Create Urgency?
Now you have pricing. It is very high, and you are not being a “lay down.” They need you to feel some scarcity or urgency to buy tonight. So, the games continue.
Drops are planned price reductions. They’ve rehearsed price reductions. They will use published discounts and ads that they recycle over and over. The only thing that changes is maybe the phone number and the date. They’re tracking these ads to see which ones draw in the most calls, opt-ins, and clicks. Again, very expensive. Hopefully, now you understand that this pricing and these ads don’t mean anything, because if you notice – the discounts in these ads are always there.
CONSUMER NOTE: Any discount, free incentive, or another offer that never changes or goes away is NOT a legitimate discount. What they want you to pay for the project is at least that much less than the price they will say they want. The alleged discount is there to induce you to reach out to them and enter into their sales funnel.
So, the salesperson now moves you through a series of fabricated discounts (drops) to get you excited about a deeply discounted price. There are many other drops they can use beyond the published discounts. Examples of false value incentives:
Senior Discount….. $1,000 off
Veterans Discount… $1500 off
Helping Hands… $ 500 off
Left-handed Senior’s Discount $1,000 off
Holiday sales, free toilets, free shower upgrades, and other gimmicks fall into this category. They can say pretty much whatever sounds good to make you think you are getting a better price.
The “30 Day” Price!
These “drops” are imaginary incentives designed to create perceived value. They will do another “trial close” at this point to see if you’ll pay the price they have you at now. With the discounts they’ve offered, let’s say your price is now $26,000. Way better than $30,000 right?
If you say “yes” to this price… then this is your price. They write you up and leave.
However, if you balk and say no at this price, the game continues. The salesperson simply shifts gears, saying something like: “Well, I understand. It is a lot of money. But, think of all the benefits you are going to experience. I like you guys and I want to help make this happen. So, I tell you what, what if I agree to keep this price locked in for you for 30 days? Would that be nice?”
They are using psychology with this “30-day price” to get you to relax and let your guard down a little. Release a little of the pressure you may be feeling. Re-engender a little trust in the salesman.
You may relax a little, but now the salesman gets ready to work on the close. You’re making them work for this, which is a good thing.
“Buy or Die”
Please know that from this point on, they are focused on one thing, getting you to say yes “tonite”! These companies have a philosophy called “buy or die”. It means the salesman is going to stay and keep trying to close you until either you buy or you die. Also, most salespeople are trained to go for “5 Noes”. This means they have at least 5 more closing tactics they can pull out to use on you. It’s not a very consumer-oriented philosophy if you ask me.
Some companies have a “no callbacks” policy. This means that if the salesman does not close you that night, while they are there, they lose the lead. They are not allowed to work with you any longer, and the company will take your lead and start working to close you after the salesman leaves. They’ll come back with even more sleazy gimmicks to get you sold.
CONSUMER NOTE: I’ll cover this next, but just know, they have a predetermined price that is much lower than these prices. Stop and think about what is going on here. Where do they get their pricing? The pricing they are giving you is NOT related to your project, the scope of work,k or the equipment. They may have looked at your bathroom, but there is little, if anything, specifically relating to your home that is driving this pricing. Some of the smarter “closers” may point out a few construction-related things to justify a price and create value, but they are NOT giving you a detailed bid. So let me ask you… would you ever allow a contractor to remodel your bathroom without a detailed written bid, specifying the exact scope of work in advance? NEVER, right? Well, this is what they are (or will be) asking you to do.
The “Tonight Only” Price
They then shift to the infamous “tonite only close”, they’re going to do or say whatever they can to get a contract and a check. They’re gonna say “Hey, look, we’re not pushy, you don’t have to make any decision tonight.”
But don’t let your guard down. They are just getting started.
The “I Can’t Come Back” Close
Then they come with a new twist to try to create urgent value in your mind. Remember, they are facing the company’s rules regarding “buy or die”, “one-call-close” and “no call-backs”. If they give up, they may lose your deal forever, and their time has been wasted. Meaning… NO COMMISSION!
They’ll say something like “I can see you both want this, and I want you to be able to have it too, and I understand the price is a little difficult for you, but here’s what I can do for you. I’ll probably get fired for this, but, you see, it costs a lot of time and money for me to come back out here. I just can’t afford to come back. I’m just so busy. I just don’t have time. So, as a fair recognition of you helping to avoid the time and expense of coming back, I can offer you another $3,000 off for just being decisive.”
Wow, in our example, you would now be at $20,000! Many $1,000s below where they started.
CONSUMER NOTE: Ask yourself (or better yet, ask them): “So, exactly what is the difference in equipment and scope of work between what you were trying to charge me $30,000 for just a little while ago, and now you are saying you can sell to me for only $20,000? That is $10,000 less! Were you screwing me then, or are you screwing me now?” And by now, you probably know the answer to your question… NOTHING, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING different about what you are getting, OTHER THAN THE PRICE! Sorry, but I hate that seniors and others are being taken advantage of like this.
We haven’t even discussed this yet. Since you now know that they are fabricating all their pricing to manipulate you into buying, and you certainly know they are not lined itemizing, and spelling out why things cost what they do. So, where do they get their pricing? What is the lowest price they can sell you at?
It’s called a “PAR”. Par means the average price point that they expect a professional closer to being able to sell the tub for. It is the lowest price at which the company will allow the salesman to sell you. Everything, meaning the “one-size-fits-all” pre-packaged tub (every customer gets the same tub and therapies – no choices) and the “slide-in installation” that can almost always be done in a day or less (think about that… how much quality work can be done in a day or less? Not much!).
But here is the point – They know what this number is when they walk in your front door. This is a predetermined price set by the company the salesperson is required to sell you at or higher. This is the part I hate more than anything. Most all big-name in-home walk-in tub sales companies have PARS around $17,000 to $18,000. Several are now at $20,000 or more. This price will easily cover all their expenses, costs of goods, labor, and margins, and will still generate a 50% net margin for the company OR MORE!
CONSUMER NOTE: As a lawyer and a consumer advocate, I think this should be illegal. What is happening here is if the walk-in tub salesperson can get you to buy at a higher price than PAR, guess what? The salesman keeps 50% of everything over that PAR price. It’s called a ”SPIFF” or, an “over PAR profit split”. So these salespeople are highly motivated to sell you at the highest price possible and as high above the PAR price as they possibly can.
They MUST Earn Your Trust For This To Work!
Now, this is the part I find repulsive. This only works if the salesperson has been able to earn your trust. I’m sorry, but to me that’s sleazy and I think it should be illegal. There is a lot of this going on today, A LOT.
As a lawyer, I’ll ask you to think back. Why do you think many products have an MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing)?
A few decades back, many sales practices were taking advantage of consumers, especially seniors, or anyone who was perceived as being more vulnerable by the salesperson. The consumer had no idea what a car, tv, or refrigerator should cost, and a salesman could charge you whatever they thought you would pay. A law was passed to require that consumer goods carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price. It helped the consumer to protect themselves from these price gouging and unethical practices.
Think car dealerships. Why are they required to put factory pricing on the windows? It’s to protect consumers from these types of tactics. Tactics that were used in those industries in the past.
CONSUMER NOTE: There’s a long-standing sales philosophy saying that a “good closer” will always take at least FIVE NOEs before giving up. In another video, I’m going to cover many of the specific separate scripts and high-pressure closing tactics that they use at this point to get you to say yes tonight. I think I will be able to get you versed on all the tricks they will try as they go through the 5 Noes, unless, of course, you cave and sign a contract.
I also have a video that discusses the issues and dangers of some of the financing gimmicks that these companies are using to get you to buy. And you might likely enter into a financing situation that is not in your best interest unless you are fully advised. So, you need to be careful of that too.
Please provide your comments and any of your personal experiences. If you’ve had a walk-in tub salesman come to your home, did they try different things, anything like these or something different? Or were they professional, honest, and forthright? I mean, that is a possibility too. And I’d like to hear about those experiences as well. It would be valuable to everybody.
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I love you all. I love questions. So don’t hesitate to give us a call next time. 800-688-0055