ProSource at 5 Years: ‘We Know Who We Are’
The annual ProSource Summit, held March 1 through 4 at Nashville’s Opryland Resort and Convention Center, marked this AVB member buying group’s fifth anniversary since its formation, which combined the purchasing power of PRO Group’s and Home Entertainment Source’s specialty electronics dealers and custom integration experts into a single synergistic force.
Themed “Better Together,” the meeting and product exposition were co-located with the BrandSource Summit, and both memberships here also marked parent organization AVB’s 50th anniversary.
“What we bring our members due to our association with AVB and BrandSource is a unique business model – it’s a group you simply cannot outgrow. We are, in fact, better together,” remarked Dave Workman, ProSource president and CEO, in his State of the Business address. He told members, “We have the intense focus of being CI and premium – we know who we are. We want to use this time to help you refine your business and build on what we started last year… Our greatest enemy is when good enough becomes good enough. It’s not enough to just tell people premium – we have to show them what it can do.” He emphasized the need to demonstrate the experience in members’ business operations “as a differentiation from the two brothers in the van – and from Amazon.”
He said attendance this year was almost double that of the 150 the meeting attracted at ProSource’s 2014 inception. The organization, he pointed out, is run as a non-profit entity, noting that a dues abatement has been given to members for each of the last three years.
As for membership increases, Workman said the group added 48 new custom installers representing $112 million in new revenues, and recruited nine additional Power-level members with the aid of the Bravas group. He also said that churn – members leaving the group – was at “an all-time low of less than three percent.” He also told us that membership was expected to eclipse the 600-member level next year. It currently stands at 580 members representing $5.5 billion in sales volume.
Workman cited a few 2018 performance results for several categories that are key for his membership. In audio, where “we dominate as a one of the last bastions” of supremacy in the category, sales were up 10.07 percent vs. 2017. In custom installation products and accessories, sales increased 17 percent over the previous year. Premium TV sales were down slightly at 2.6 percent.
Workman emphasized the high-touch aspect of ProSource’s approach to its members, saying engagement and interaction with members through frequent visits is a continuing priority. “Our dealers are seeing us constantly,” he said. These “touches” include regionally held Town Hall Dinners where he said there is “interaction with peers going through the same things as you.”
Many of the overarching goals set at this meeting were to further initiatives that had their start in 2018. These included the pursuit of lighting and shading as profit avenues. “Dealers see it as the next opportunity for growth,” said ProSource’s Andy Orozco, vice president of business development, who spearheaded the formation of a dozen-member committee that brought three new lighting vendors into the ProSource fold. He added that about 20 to 25 percent of the membership was already involved in lighting, and that an advantage for expansion of membership involvement in the category was that “our guys already understand control” as a foundational basis Additionally, the American Lighting Association was on the show floor, making access to training resources available to attendees for a nominal fee, said Workman.
ProSource is also offering programs designed provide affordable health care to member employees, to give facelifts to storefronts and to get members up to speed on including video in their online presence.
The health care initiative, through MAHCA Captive (Making American Health Care Affordable) is “a journey,” Workman said, with the goal being to reach 5,000 insurable members, when “we can show one rate.” “We’re the only group that has cracked this code for its membership.”
A showroom “Extreme Makeover-style” initiative, dubbed “My Dream Showroom,” is a contest designed to elevate the in-store experience, introducing the idea of re-imagining the look of members’ showrooms. Its kickoff is centered around a contest whereby one member can win a $30,000 three-day showroom overhaul; it will also be offered as a buy-in opportunity for members, with overhaul levels available that can range upwards for as little as a modest paint job.
Under the auspices of AVB Marketing, the Video Experts initiative is designed to use the talents of the best-of-the-best sales associates as spokespeople in videos designed to simplify and explain technology features to customers who are checking out websites for information – along the lines of the way Zappo’s uses online video to get in the weeds about a particular style of shoe.
Stay tuned to our web sites for further reporting on the Summit events.