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The Hidden Value of Offering Aquarium Installation and Maintenance Services At Your Local Fish Store

Local Fish Store

Business owners are looking for an edge in today’s competitive retail world. Customers are looking for “value.”

While everyone wants a good deal on price, perceived value often has nothing to do with the cost of an item. We know that some aquarists are DIY aquarists and wouldn’t have it any other way. They love to figure out how things work, are skilled at searching online for information and have hours to spend dialing in gear.

But not every client is like this.

There is a large segment of aquatics customers who would gladly pay to have someone set up and maintain their aquarium. You’re probably thinking of typical service contracts like restaurants, bars, and professional offices. You’re right—but if that’s all that comes to mind, you’re missing another growing client base.

Here’s what you need to know about these “underground” aquatics customers.

  • Not everyone who wants an aquarium has the know-how to set it up. In their mind, assembling an aquarium is a maze of parts, plugs, and confusion. They would buy an aquarium if someone would help install it. Make it clear you are with them for the entire process.
  • The reef hobby is awash in buzzwords and unfamiliar terminology. A novice trying to learn the basics online will be blown away by endless debates on gear, set-up requirements and care philosophies. Offer to select the products and explain what each piece does. The Grumpy, Impatient Retailer is not cool anymore.
  • People are busy, busier than ever it seems. Making it known your shop will set up and maintain an aquarium in the home or office makes the choice to buy much easier, especially with upscale clients. Let them know you’ll work with their schedule.
  • New programmable technology is really great but can be frustrating to set up. Offer to install and set up any gear that is wireless, networked or programmable. If you keep a file on these customers, you can send out emails blasts when add-ons and upgrades are available.
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There are many more reasons to offer extra help (value) to customers. The old joke about men not wanting to ask for directions applies to aquariums too. Here’s how to lose a chance to upsell a service call. Just tell the customer “This new gizmo is Eeeezzzeeee to set up. Anyone can do it.” That kind of marketing is used by manufacturers to sell their products. But you want to add value to your business. When the situation is right, offer to install and set-up the gear. Don’t shy away from mentioning that it can be a little tricky to get it dialed in. No one wants to be made to feel inadequate or stupid. Use tact when offering assistance.

Making Service Pay Off

All this “hand holding” may appear like a big waste of time, a money loser. Don’t confuse having your ear talked off by a self-styled expert with a genuine opportunity to build your brand and get paid for it. Some customers will steal your time and energy with endless questions and chatter. But there are a lot more that will be genuinely grateful for “concierge” service and are willing to pay for it. Price the services according to complexity and distance from the shop. Emergency hours are optional but should cost significantly more. Need more ideas for value-added service?

  • Many of today’s cars are too small to contain an aquarium and stand. Offer delivery!
  • Gravel, glass, and cabinets are heavy. Not everyone can muscle it through the door, up the stairs and lift it in place. Eliminate the objection!
  • Some customers are afraid of electricity and water. Offer a safety inspection or a “professional installation” that includes drip loops, placing power strips out of harm’s way and basic lighting timer set-up.
  • Customers over-feed. It fouls the aquarium. Customers blame the shop for sick fish. Offer to provide a “custom” feeding plan using foods you sell. Offer an in-home feeding class for the entire family.
  • Most aquarium owners delay filter maintenance and water changes. Water quality suffers. Tank looks bad. Aquarium goes to the curb. Offer scheduled maintenance using your inventory or at least set-up e-mail reminders to change the media and an offer to do it for them. Make the message positive and helpful!
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The Bottom Line on Added Value

Aquarium installs and maintenance for commercial customers is nothing new. In-home professional care for everything from personal hairstyling to grocery delivery is a new thing. The number of people using these services is growing every year. The door is wide open for the savvy aquatics retailer to offer similar specialized service options, tailored to the local market.

You don’t have to be a marketing wizard. Start small with a sign by the register or shelf-talkers. The idea is to make it easy for customers to get into the hobby and stay in it. As an extra bonus, a happy customer will sing the praises of your business to friends and associates. It’s a sure-fire way to bring in new clients and keep existing customers happy for a long time!


To learn more ways to grow your aquarium business, sign up for a Marine Depot Wholesale account or contact us today! We’ve got other helpful wholesale aquarium articles available for you too read with more in the works. Stay tuned!

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