Capitol Sales Gives Dealers a “Differentiator”
While manufacturers were well represented at Capitol Sales’ 13th annual Dealer and Technology Showcase, the St. Paul, Minn.-based distributor put a stronger focus than in the past on education to help its dealers improve business and increase their competitive edge in a tough economic environment.
“Product is essentially product, but business always evolves,” said Curt Hayes, Capitol Sales’ president and chief financial officer, referring to the nine or so different classes featured at the showcase. “We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to help our dealers with their businesses?’ The education and training is our differentiator.”
The 75 education tracts included classes on “Who’s Running Your Business?” Win Customers With a Superior Marketing Plan,” “Introduction to Small Business Accounting Software: Quickbooks,” and “Retirement Plan Solutions to Retain Employees.”
Hayes expected more than 325 dealers from roughly 20 states to attend the two-day event. This is the first time about half of them have attended, something Hayes attributes to their hunger for education.
John Scott, owner of JES the Details, a custom installer in Burnsville, Minn., was one of them. He said he learned a lot from the marketing class taught by Leslie Stevens of Eclipse Marketing.
“I need to get more marketing information so I can use it to drive more business,” Scott said, as he waited outside a class on how to enter the commercial audio market. “I have to improve my Web site with more professional-quality photos and develop a more direct plan on the types of markets I want to serve, and stick to that plan. When I get back I’m also going to start calling customers I did installs for four and five years ago to show them all the new products and solutions that are on the market.”
About 125 manufacturers exhibited products aimed at the custom installation and specialty retail markets, including the latest phone systems from NEC Unified Solutions, Inter-Tel and Panasonic; OmniMount, Peerless, Chief and Sanus Systems mounts; A/V remote control solutions from Monster Central and Universal Remote; flat-panel TVs and displays from Panasonic, Toshiba, Westinghouse and Audiovox; Optoma and Panasonic projectors; and a slew of consumer and commercial audio gear from Harman/Kardon, Musica, MTX, Pinnacle, JBL, Russound, JobSite, Canton, Onkyo, AudioAccess, Crown and Monster.