Lessons to Learn
Custom Installation Education Diversifies
By David Dritsas
The front line of any custom retail business is the employee. Because the employee—whether a member of the sales, design or installation team—is the primary contact to the customer, it's essential that employees genuinely know what they are talking about. They are the ones that must convincingly convey to the customer the value of what the customer is buying—or could be buying.
That's not an easy task in the increasingly complex landscape of custom CE. There's a lot to know, and classes aren't taught on college campuses. Manufacturers, retailers and installers unanimously agree that the need for training is more critical now than ever. But finding opportunities for quality training can be a daunting process. This is particularly true for the hybrid C-retailer that has both a sales and installation staff, each with different training demands.
Training options do exist, ranging from private consultants to manufacturer reps to trade associations. With each offers programs for varied levels of education, some for sales people, some for installers and others for both.
Retail Training vs. Install Training
"Training doesn't trickle down to the retail level," says Eric Johnson, founder of Home Theater Pro, a consulting company in Sebastopol, California. Johnson has conducted training programs for organizations such as the Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), and retailers like Harvey's and Good Guys. Due to the increasing technical sophistication of higher-end products, Johnson agrees that there is a enormous need for sales floor training, and particularly, more resources specifically aimed for the sales associates. Basic information that an installer draws on, he explained, also needs to be learned by the sales floor staff, in order to make them more effective at selling.
That need is what led fellow consultant, Eric Bodley, founder of Bodley & Associates to create a custom retail program and coin the acronym, IHAVS (In-Home Audio Video Specialist). The program works to qualify floor sales staff to sell in-home custom installation products and services rather than hand the sale off to a separate custom sales department. "I almost equate it to side-selling, not just sell the box or the single system," he says.