As one of Manhattan's top real estate brokers and a former star of "Million Dollar Listing New York," Ryan Serhant doesn't usually find himself in hot water. But he does Wednesday, May 2, at 10 p.m. on Bravo when his instructional reality show, "Sell It Like Serhant," visits Ocean Spray Hot Tubs & Saunas in Westhampton Beach. Literally: He climbed into a hot tub with prospective customers, as an outré way of teaching sales techniques.
Ocean Spray owner Joe Musnicki took it all in stride. At 71 years of age, 37 of them in the business, there's little that surprises him. "I can't say I saw anything really new" in what Serhant taught his staff, he says, but he had some take-aways nonetheless: "Have more engagement with the customer, make the whole buying and selling process more fun. Sometimes when you're on the sales floor, it gets to be, 'What's the price, how soon can I get it?' But Ryan was able to put a lot of fun in the presentations."
The episode's conceit is that Serhant will take the shop's newest salesperson, Amanda Wolff — who had been there just three months when the show shot during four days in August — and teach her to outsell more seasoned pros. In addition to instructing her at the store, Serhant visited her home in Patchogue, where she lives with her husband and two daughters, to give tips on wardrobe and personal presentation.
Musnicki, who has additional outlets in Farmingdale and Melville, plus a fourth in the process of opening across the road from his existing one in Westhampton Beach, found Serhant "very impressive, very outgoing, lively. Willing to share his secrets. Someone who clearly has a strong sales background selling multimillion-dollar items — which are not easy to sell, and there's a lot competition in that category — and my staff was eager to get any tips they could."
Born and raised in Bridgehampton, the son of a farming family, Musnicki graduated from high school there in 1964 and went on to a degree from Niagara University. Then, for 15 years, he ran a Pepsi Cola route in Bay Shore and Fire Island. "Everyone knew me — the delicatessens, the supermarkets, the pizza places. Anywhere you could buy soda, I was there." But he lamented he knew few of his neighbors in Westhampton Beach, where he had settled.
"I wanted to find a business I could start in my town," he says. In 1981, he chose swimming-pool service and repair. "That branched out pretty quickly into the hot-tub business. We used to build our own," he says, until prefabricated all-in-one systems became the norm.
Musnicki and his wife, Kathy, who works for a Santander Bank branch in Melville, have two grown daughters who "grew up in the business and decided to move away and do their own thing," he says. Yet as his own success has shown, sure, you can sell it like Serhant — but you could also move it like Musnicki.