Britain has gone hot tub crazy and Shiver has been capturing the craze for a peak time ITV documentary. Following the work of Blackpool’s Hot Tub Superstore, this fun ‘slice of British life’ meets the punters taking the plunge and sees how the booming family business that’s flogging them copes with the strain during their busiest selling season yet.
Once the preserve of the rich and famous, hot tubs have officially gone mainstream and are now an affordable luxury for many people, an essential garden accessory and the ultimate way to relax al fresco.
One family firm in Blackpool is cashing in on the trend for bubbles, currently selling around 40 hot tubs a week to everyone from footballers to dinner ladies. At their hot tub superstore, run by Den Holmes, son Dan and son-in-law Ross, business is booming. They are the market leaders and currently on track to double their takings this year. But as sales rocket, relationships are put under pressure and tensions begin to show.
Hot Tub Britain delves deep into the frothy world of hot tubs, hearing from contented customers about why they love their spas and what they get up to in them and going behind the scenes as the firm works hard to keep up with the huge demand for these luxury tubs.
Ross, a former Royal Marine has been selling hot tubs for almost a decade and knows every trick in the book.
Ross says: “Everyone in sales will know it’s about nailing a hat on. It’s about somebody coming and having a look and it’s not pressured but you need a deposit out of somebody.”
But the customers don’t need much persuasion, over the last two years the sales at the Hot Tub Superstore have gone through the roof and the firm is currently selling a million pounds worth of spas a month.
Ross says: “We are officially bonkers busy. We are the Tesco or the Sainsbury’s of the hot tub market. We rack and stack ‘em and pop them out the door and I like to think we do a bloody good job.”
After a sale has been made it’s up to the hot tub technicians to deliver and install the tubs to homes all over the country. No two deliveries are the same for the technicians as they face the daily challenge of getting the hot tubs into the customer’s back gardens.
Den’s stepson, Guy, and his grandson, Wes, team up to deliver a hot tub to supermarket worker Les from Rotherham.
Guy says: “I love my job, I’m like Father Christmas bringing a new toy to every person every day I go out. I’ve done quite a few installs where everyone is sitting there in their bikinis and shorts waiting to go in it.”
Les hopes to be relaxing in his hot tub by the end of day.
Les says: “If the temperature is right we’ll be in it tonight. I’ve got some friends coming round, we’ll have a few beers and just celebrate.”
He adds: “You can’t be not happy in one of those, it’s built for fun, not stupid fun just enjoyable fun.”
Dinner lady Paula and window fitter Barratt have ordered a tub to go in the summerhouse in their newly revamped back garden. And after two hours and the removal of a gatepost the tub is in position.
Paula says: “When I mentioned to the girls in my work in the kitchen that I was getting a hot tub they went, ‘oh get you’ and I said do you know what, anyone can afford a hot tub.”
Simon and Tracey from Halesowen have also bought a tub but when the technicians arrive to install it they aren’t able to fit it down their side passage. Not to be beaten, the technicians arrange for a huge crane to lift it up over the suburban semi and lower it into their back garden.
Tracey says: “Nobody knew we were having it in this cul-de-sac but the fact that we’ve had a crane to discreetly put in the back garden is actually quite funny, I think everyone knows now.”
Although sales are booming, Dan and Ross are keen to grow the business further.
Ross says: “There’s so much fuel for growth, as good as this is we’ve not scratched the surface. It can go so much bigger, you’ve got to make it work and make it better and improve it.”
But selling more hot tubs means more work for all the employees and the delivery drivers are working 14 hour days, seven days a week to keep up with demand. They are also feeling the pressure from new delivery supervisor, Jerry, the new husband of Den’s ex-wife.
Jerry has brought his experience of working as a police officer into the hot tub world which means CCTV cameras being installed, fingerprint recognition for all drivers, a new dress code and random drug tests.
Jerry says: “They come in and they are expected to do a job and if they don’t want to do that job no matter who it is then they are not doing their job at all. I’ll just get someone else to do it.”
The growing tension comes to a head when Jerry has a run in with Guy, owner Den’s stepson, who is the longest serving hot tub technician at the company. After a heated argument about a delivery, Jerry suspends Guy who then decides to quit altogether.
Guy says: “It was getting a bit too much, the hot tubs, it was either Jerry’s way or the highway. I don’t want to do it Jerry’s way, I wanted to do it the right way.”
Eventually as the demand for extra staff continues to grow, the bosses decide to take on four new employees and Jerry even gets an assistant to help with his daily workload.
Jerry says: “This is only the beginning. Where it’s all going to end, who knows. Perhaps everyone in the country will end up with a hot tub, I haven’t got a clue. But while it’s here and everyone wants ‘em let’s get them out.”
Hot Tub Britain airs on ITV at 9pm, Tuesday 9th September 2014.