Opinion

Tough Economy Yet?
January 1, 2008

As I am flipping through my DirecTV news channels, I can’t help but notice the trend in today’s business news. News anchors and analysts can’t stop talking about how the slow housing market and increasing gas prices have dramatically affected our economy. As we begin 2008, some economists and business experts predict that conditions are growing even worse. A variety of factors contributed to the housing slump and the spike in gas prices, the majority of which are beyond our control. However, I firmly believe we have control over the future of the custom electronics industry, regardless of conditions in the rest of the

My New Year’s Resolutions
January 1, 2008

When I got my assignment for this month’s column, I groaned. “We want you to write about New Year’s resolutions.” Jeez. I stopped making New Years resolutions years ago. It seemed they never lasted more than a week. “I’m going to go to the gym.” “I’m going to write a book.” “I’m going to learn to dance.” Blah, blah, blah. So it might surprise you to see the list below—eight resolutions I plan to invoke from high atop a mountain in the Tetons on midnight December 31st. What’s changed you ask? I’m not really sure, but this year feels different. Maybe I’m just getting

Improve your communications; improve your performance
December 1, 2007

“The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” -George Bernard Shaw A few months back I wrote a column about managing your people to achieve success by following five basic steps. As you’ll recall, the five steps include: 1. Setting meaningful goals 2. Communicating, communicating, communicating 3. Measuring and monitoring results 4. Stacking your team with winners 5. Celebrating success This month, I’d like to go into a little more detail on the communications part. After all, it’s something that sounds simple, but in practice is very difficult to do. As the quote from George Bernard Shaw highlights, often we think we’re communicating when

But How Do I Get It Done?
November 1, 2007

It is often said we all know what to do, it’s just a matter of doing it. As we look at our businesses this is often the case. However, the things that are urgent regularly get in the way of the things that are important. How many times have you reached the end of a very busy day only to realize you have been unable to accomplish all or any of those tasks you carefully outlined on your to-do list? This often comes down to a matter of working in your business instead of on your business. Michael Gerber, in his bestseller “The E Myth,”

Let’s Talk: Listening to Customers
November 1, 2007

Customers can be a real pain. I know because I’m one of those difficult customers that retailers and service providers of all types hate. Waiters wipe their brows with relief when I leave their restaurant. Help-desk operators probably have my account flagged so that they pass me into an indefinite holding pattern whenever I call. There’s a certain retailer I’m forced to deal with weekly who undoubtedly hides behind the counter every time I walk in. I’ve called Verizon so many times to complain that I have their 800 number saved in speed dial. I can be the customer from hell. I’ve had

Evolving Priorities
October 1, 2007

What happened to audio and video? I’ve been back from this year’s CEDIA EXPO for about a week now, enough time to go through my notes (sloppy) and piles of press kits and materials (heavy) to draw a few conclusions and questions on the trends evident from the show. What stuck out most to me there, and my study of the press materials and course/seminars confirms, is that audio and video seem to be taking a back seat to control and automation. Look back at a CEDIA show a few years ago and you’ll still see the biggest booths and biggest buzz around

The ‘Predictable’ Consumer
September 1, 2007

The only most certain forecast for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday selling seasons is unpredictability. An article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune headlined “The unpredictable consumer” suggested that “a potent combination of factors has dampened consumer spending and thrown retailers’ best-laid strategies into confusion.” The latest BIGresearch study suggests that women, in particular, may be spending less than previously. The survey contends that many consumers are confused. They wonder why they are feeling bad when the experts say they should be elated. Folks on Main Street USA, where 70 percent of the economic activity takes place, may not feel the impact

The ‘Predictable’ Consumer
September 1, 2007

The only most certain forecast for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday selling seasons is unpredictability.
An article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune headlined “The unpredictable consumer” suggested that “a potent combination of factors has dampened consumer spending and thrown retailers’ best-laid strategies into confusion.”
The latest BIGresearch study suggests that women, in particular, may be spending less than previously. The survey contends that many consumers are confused. They wonder why they are feeling bad when the experts say they should be elated.
Folks on Main Street USA, where 70 percent of the economic activity takes place, may not feel the impact

Custom Electronics? Floor Coverings? Common Problems, Common Solutions
August 1, 2007

From time to time, I find information from other big-ticket consumer products industries that I think holds equally true in the custom electronics business. The customer, essentially, is the same, so we can learn a great deal from what others have found.
The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), for example, recently conducted a study to explore attitudes and perceptions of shoppers. One of the study’s goals was to compare and contrast the shopping experiences of recent floor covering buyers at big-box stores and specialty dealers. The results aren’t too surprising, but it’s instructive to see the differences in shopping experiences codified.
The study found

School’s In, School’s Out
August 1, 2007

Another year, another CEDIA EXPO on the way. Where has the time gone? It seems like this show has been around forever, but in fact it started only 17 years ago, from the humblest of beginnings. Today, it’s one of the largest trade shows in America, and a fact of life for the tens of thousands of people involved in the custom electronics industry. Its phenomenal growth has led to the creation of a second annual show, to kick off next April in Las Vegas. Most of us now have experienced Denver as host once, and hopefully the kinks will be ironed out and