Frank K. Sterns

Frank K. Sterns
Building a Loyal Customer

"Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life." —Napoleon Hill Whenever I talk to our dealers these days, one of the questions that always seems to come up is, "How can we make sure our business survives?" While there are many factors that can play into the…

Achieving Your New Year’s Resolution

"I don't care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don't harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you're never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants." —Zig Ziglar As we celebrate our successes of 2009 and welcome in a New Year, one common…

Preparing for the Economic Recovery

"It's not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." —Paul "Bear" Bryant Slowly, we are starting to see subtle signs of an economic recovery. While I certainly wouldn't tell you that we have completely weathered the storm, there are indicators that things will improve. If…

What’s Your Plan for Success in 2010?

During the height of the housing market, it seemed like all of us in the custom installation industry had the wind at our backs, filling our "sails" in a way that accelerated dealers and manufacturers alike to record profits

Moving Forward

Why you and your company should consider new markets

Building the Bridge to Sustainable Luxury

How "green" fits into the luxury marketMany people will argue that, at their core definitions, the terms “green” and “luxury” are complete contradictions

Hope is Not a Plan

“R.I.P Good Times”
—From Sequoia Capitol’s presentation to CEOs

Brand Building 101

As I’ve often discussed in this column, your brand is your company. Your brand is the collection of every symbol, communication and experience associated with your products and services you provide.

Managing & Motivating in Tough Times

Sometimes, when I have a bad day, I come home and pour a scotch and retreat to my backyard to think. What could I have done differently? How did this happen? What will I do now? I like to stop and think about one of my heroes, Winston Churchill. Suddenly, my problems don’t seem so earth-shattering.

Romancing Luxury Buyers

Let’s face it. The distributed A/V, home control products and services we sell are targeted at the luxury market. And luxury customers are a special breed.

The Power of Public Relations

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” —George Carlin Many will argue that a great business strategy in tough times would be to push forward while others are falling back; however, we all understand that finding the resources and funds for an elaborate marketing and advertising campaign can be difficult. While you may have cut back on the number of brochures you print or ads you place, one of the most cost-effective marketing tools any business should take advantage of is the power of public opinion. Unlike advertisements, which can often go unnoticed, public relations leverages awareness about

Voicings: Focus on the Fundamentals

-All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take. Mohandas Gandhi OK. I’ll admit it. I came home from CEDIA kind of bummed out. While I wouldn’t say we had a “bad” show, there just didn’t seem to the kind of buzz I’m used to feeling at EXPO. I usually get such a boost of creative energy and adrenaline at the show I’m still flying high long after I return. This year was different though. We had traffic

Blending Art and Science

“What is design? It’s where you stand with a foot in two worlds—the world of technology and the world of people and human purposes—and you try to bring the two together.” —Mitchell Kapor, software designer (from his book “Bringing Design to Software”) When I attended the first CEDIA expo at Amelia Island Florida in 1989, I witnessed the birth of an industry. At the time, “Custom Installation” wasn’t even a term used to describe what the pioneers of our industry were doing. Most of us were hobbyists; tinkerers; dreamers and problem solvers. We were the rebels—an underground subset of the consumer electronics business that

Making the Most of CEDIA

Times are tough and money is tight, so maybe you’re thinking this would be a good year to skip the CEDIA EXPO. But before you throw in the towel and stay at home this September, maybe now would be a good time to put a pencil to paper and take an objective look at the business reasons for attending your industry’s premier event. If you’re willing to spend some careful planning time, I can assure you that your trip to CEDIA will be well worth the expense—even in a difficult economic time. Consider your return on investment In business, everything comes