The View to 2013
CustomRetailer: What has changed most profoundly about your business since you got into the custom discipline?
Peter Cook Automation Design + Entertainment: Two things: the Internet and smart devices. Online sales have certainly impacted everything. There are both positive and negative aspects. One negative to the Internet is that people are shopping everything. Before, you’d put together a quote for clients, and you didn’t have as much “shopping.” There were just a few retailers in each area, and you had people who were dealers of this or dealers of that, and there’d be one other guy in town who was a competitor, and that was it. Now, there may be five or 10 other guys who can be a dealer for something, and can get it, and there are online people who can get it, too. Another negative is we used to be the ones who would provide client information. Even though you may have 20 years working in this field, now people think they know it all because they read a blog or an article online. But the positive of the Internet is that it gives us a conduit for our clients to connect with their house, and we can do all types of smart-house stuff because of it. Smart devices’ impact is that a lot of custom dealers aren’t doing customized $10,000 touch screens any more, because people use iPads and iPhones more for those types of things.
Tom Doherty, Doherty Design Group: There’s been an incredible increase in the awareness of what we do amongst the public, and at the same time, equally incredible downward costs in providing what we do. Thus, it remains just as hard as ever to implement technology that people appreciate, while making less per transaction than in the past as a ratio of effort vs. reward.