Some Thoughts on C-tailing
A Wisconsin dealer talks about the variety of challenges he's faced in his transition to the custom business.
By Gary Stein
In 1985, when I opened my business, I chose Wassau, Wis., because it was fairly close to my home in Green Bay. At the same time, it was far enough away that I wouldn't directly compete with my previous employer. It wouldn't be fair to open up in his backyard. Instead, I was able to use the same name and the same logo to create a perception of a larger regional company.
In Wassau, I also saw holes in the distribution of some major product lines, like Polk Audio, Alpine, Denon, Klipsch and Technics.
Ten years ago, we did our first custom installation: a job for a local attorney. It was a real learning curve. We didn't really know what we were doing. The gear we used was really primitive. We didn't have sophisticated tools like impedance matching controls so we just used a couple of switching boxes. We kept running out of speaker wire because we didn't know how to gauge what we needed.
We've learned a lot over the years, obviously, or I probably wouldn't be speaking to you now.
Since those seat-of-the-pants early days, our custom business has grown and we've built relationships with a lot of builders in the area.
Of course, not all builders view us in the same way.
At one point, I discovered that a number of builders were actively trying to talk their buyers out of pre-wiring their homes and including custom home theater systems in their homes. For them, we were just one more subcontractor with whom they had to deal. So we decided to partner with builders who understand the value we add to the homes they build.
The biggest challenge we face with our changing model is inventory control. There's a delicate balance between having the right products at the right time and having too much product on hand. Old inventory either becomes obsolete or we have to mark it down to reflect lower costs in the marketplace.