Leveraging your Showroom to Create Buzz & Close Sales
As one of the oldest retailers in the nation, Century Stereo has been providing world class equipment and installation much longer than most. Century Stereo was one of the first retailers to display AV gear in lifestyle vignettes in their showroom as a means to differentiate themselves from competitors and show off custom solutions prowess.
And even as many retailers have either gone away or downsized and no longer operate a showroom, Century Stereo maintains its large showroom, having always seen it as a powerful sales tool. But in order for a showroom to work, retailers have to create new ways to use it, and to make sure it’s ready for prime time when they do.
In 2011, Century Stereo became one of the first McIntosh Experience Centers in the country, having been a McIntosh dealer for over 50 years. This visionary marketing initiative created a specific room within Century that became the high-visibility and high-style focal point for the McIntosh brand.
Complete with ultra-large replicas of iconic McIntosh meters over the door, the room symbolized the luxury, iconic style and range of the McIntosh product family. The end result was visually stunning and powerful, and the room immensely popular, but they knew there was an intangible keeping the McIntosh equipment from shining as they knew it should.
The culprit in this instance was the room’s natural acoustics, and in order to deliver that knock-your-socks-off experience the room was intended for, this would have to be addressed.
Having worked with Anthony Grimani of PMI Engineering and MSR Acoustics on several projects in the past—including other studios in their showroom—Century Stereo asked him to prescribe an acoustical room solution that would give people that “double wow” they were looking for.
Tony describes his visit to the McIntosh Experience Room like this: “As soon as you walk in, you’re impressed by the majesty and iconic luxury of the McIntosh collection of gear. The room is darkened and a bit mysterious, with the soft, blue, luminous glow of the McIntosh meters, like the instrument panel of a super-fast car idling before take-off. But as soon as we played some music and video, it was clear the performance was not up to that level of expectation. What started with ‘wow’ ended with ‘hmmm’.
Tony has measured, calibrated and equalized more than 500 theaters and listening rooms around the world. To say his audio experience is valid is an understatement. Here’s what he heard in the McIntosh room: “Bass response is a key indicator for me. I heard muffled, indistinct bass response coming from a system I know is capable of much better. I heard a lack of detail in the mid and upper frequencies; a lack of articulation, as there was too much sonic information arriving at the listening position, too close together time-wise. Even though this equipment is among the best in the world, it cannot overcome room anomalies by itself. Sheer equipment quality does not trump room acoustics. The fact is, room tuning solutions enable every audio system to perform closer to their true potential.”
The MSR team showed up with absorbers, Trifusers and bass filter panels from the Dimension4 Symphony line of solutions. Tony also speced in a couple of MSR-patented SpringTraps to help dissipate some of the 40Hz-100 Hz bass energy interfering with the musical reproduction. The absorbers and Trifusers were arranged around the walls of the room in an alternating pattern. SpringTraps went into the corners and the ceiling was treated with Trifusers and absorbers as well.
The low lighting subtly accented the dramatic look of the Trifusers and absorbers while the Trifusers’ wood grain created an artistic, geometric statement. The absorbers’ dark cloth seemed to blend into the softly lit walls, making it feel like you were walking into a serious room and about to hear something really special. And this time that “double wow” experience, both visually and sonically stunning, was realized. The difference immediately energized the sales staff and the room has given them something they are genuinely excited about—and something they eagerly show off to potential clients.
Century Stereo saw another opportunity to bring clients into the showroom, and invited Anthony Grimani and Terry Hill to speak on the topic of Room Tuning, and to offer tips and techniques at one of their monthly “Ask the Experts” events, using the new and improved McIntosh Experience as the perfect demonstration. The Ask the Experts event was a success, with lots of people showing up to learn about the importance of room interactions and sound quality. Century and MSR created special offers that a number of customers took full advantage of, booking in-home visits to evaluate their own rooms and get recommendations. There was real interest in finding new ways to make their rooms sound better.
So what are the take-aways for other custom retailers from the experience at Century Stereo? There are lessons here that relate to retailing and to brand management.