|When it’s a great fit, it works out well! Bob and Karen Altman know this from 31 years of experience in the spa and billiard industry.
It all began when Bob Altman had a brother-in-law that was a professional billiard player. He taught young Bob how to fix and refurbish pool tables. Seizing an opportunity, Altman looked beyond service and repair of billiard tables and began selling them, right out of his apartment!
In 1996 Bob and Karen married and launched Altman’s Billiards as a full-time home-based company. Within 3 years the business had outgrown their house they looked for a larger, more professional retail space. They signed the lease on the Bloomington location and expanded their inventory to include bars, bar stools, recreational furniture and other products. In 2002 they attended their first Aqua Show and added hot tubs, backyard barbeque and patio furnishings to their product lines.
Karen feels that what sets Altman’s apart from the competition is their home-based atmosphere. She states, “We came from a home-based business and, even though our store is much larger now, we still feel like our customers are visiting our home.” On the weekends the Altman’s schedule cook-outs and offer refreshments to their customers. “Even my dog comes to work with me!” says Karen with a laugh. But the Altman’s are serious contenders in the retail hot tub industry. “We may be homegrown, but we can play in the larger market!” It’s a perfect blend in marriage and in business as Karen takes on more of the administration and financial work while Bob focuses on the sales and service side.
Over the 31 years of business, Karen sees a trend happening throughout the brick and mortar retail industry. “It’s become harder to find the right people,” she states. “Right now we have a great staff. They are the right blend and very stable. They know what to do and they do it!” she adds proudly.
Another challenge she notes is competition from the internet for customers' discretionary spending. “Now that is a whole other conversation,” Karen says with a laugh. “But, it’s not new to us. We started out selling a discretionary product and we still sell discretionary products, so we’re used to it I guess!” she adds.
The Altman’s know 2017 is going to be a good year. Karen feels they have a great staff and a great product mix. They are also looking to purchase the building in Bloomington and add on to expand the showroom. “So, 2017 is going to be more of the same but with an upswing!” says Karen. “We’re just getting better at it!”
Karen is happy they began carrying Nordic Hot Tubs in 2003. “We love their simplicity and they NEVER break!” she states. “We never do service call on Nordics. We LOVE that!” She also enjoys that Nordic has Dealer Incentive Programs. “Bob is all about this year’s incentive!” she states.
Asked if she had advice for other dealers, Karen responds, “Play by the rules and, if there is an incentive or offer out there, GO for it!” She adds, “Focus on getting the incentives and you will sell more product! Do what you do best and everybody wins!”
The Altmans and their Sales Team can be reached through the website and on Facebook.