February 2006 Issue


All for One, One for All

Here's some advice on how to get your sales staff—and even your current adversaries in other departments—striving for common goals. By Steve Honig Let's start by pointing out the obvious: As a sales manager, you are responsible for the performance of your sales staff. Now let's roll out an old maxim: If you don't know where you are going, you may end up somewhere else. I don't remember where I first heard that, but it sure has stuck with me throughout my career. With those two general but salient points in mind, see how many of these questions you can answer. What is your

Andy Willcox

CR's Nancy Klosek recently conducted a wide-ranging interview with new CEDIA President Andy Willcox, who also serves as president of ProLine Integrated Systems in Highland Park, Ill. Custom Retailer: As a founding member of CEDIA, you have a unique perspective on how the organization has evolved to accommodate changing industry needs while addressing new issues that arise each year. In your tenure as CEDIA president, what do you hope to preserve in the way the organization serves its membership, and what new directions do you hope to explore? Andy Willcox: I'm very happy with what's been created in the past five years. There's been

Avoid Paralysis by Analysis

Be bold. Be decisive. You'll have more fun—and the rewards could be greater than you've ever imagined. By Dave Donald and Jeremy Burkhardt Calculated risk is one of the most powerful elements in business success. General George Patton stated, "A good plan vigorously executed today is better than a perfect plan executed two weeks from now." We don't need to paralyze progress by analyzing the situation to death. Make a decision and act on it. Guess what? You're going to be wrong sometimes. Sometimes your decision will come back to bite you in the butt. Good! We all need a good bite in

Converging to What?

The goal should be that consumers converge on your business By Robert Ain This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was all abuzz—but not about the latest plasma displays or digital cameras. The buzz was all about converging media into one form or another. Of course, the big "convergence" for the manufacturers is the money that might be spent on their hardware, software and services. What did all of this hype really mean for the custom retailer? At present, not very much. Consumers are not looking at convergence as the be-all or end-all for their media needs. It's easy to forget one key point

Crossover Moves

Some dealers have integrated mobile and home installation into one successful business. Could you make the same leap? By Brett Solomon Long ago, there were the home hi-fi retailers and the car stereo shops. They had two totally different business models and, usually, two totally different customer demographics. But in an increasingly converged world, the models are intersecting. These days, home and car installations share more and more of the same product categories. What's popular in the custom home is often just as popular in the custom vehicle—iPod integration, surround sound, high-definition video, computer network control. Moreover, mobile and home installations tend to mimic

Customer Service Expense or Asset?

Is customer service a cut-and-dried profit and loss proposition, a key element of your image branding—or both? By Nancy Klosek The process of servicing a customer after a sale is both utterly quantifiable—it takes people, vans, tools and labor—and as subtle as the fadeout of the lighting in a home theater before a movie begins. As a business element, its dollars-and-cents value can be recorded in a ledger and seen as either profit or loss. But as an extension of a business' brand, its worth can only be measured by how much it adds to—or detracts from—the total customer experience. We gave several custom

InstallerNet Targets the "Value" Home Theater Installation Mark

MobileToys' InstallerNet division, heretofore known for its prepaid mobile installation services, plans to field five InstallCards for home audio/video installation services, with installations starting at the beginning of the second quarter. The ultimate goal of the company's entire InstallerNet program is to target the value installation market with fixed-price prepaid products, and support manufacturers and retailers in moving install-level product through non-installation channels. Sold as a retail product, the first home theater InstallCards will include: • A $99 A/V Hook Up card (no fishing wires, no hanging displays). • A $249 Flat Panel Wall Mount card (for displays less than 30 inches in size),

Keep 'em Happy

Good salespeople are hard to find, and many C-tailers are going to great lengths to retain them. By Audrey Gray 2003 will go down in Wilshire Home Entertainment's company lore as the year no one called out sick. Interestingly, it was also the year strange packages arrived at the homes of the Southern California C-tailer's sales staff. One day, it was boxes of suntan lotion. Another, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Those packages were helpful little reminders of a huge incentive: If the sales force met an annual goal, each and every Wilshire employee would be awarded a week for two in Maui, all expenses paid.

Make the Most of the Time with Your Team

You already have enough things to worry about all week. With some planning and reflection, your sales meetings won't add to that list. By Elly Valas You know the drill. It's late Friday afternoon, capping off what seemed to be an endlessly long week. You've interviewed dozens of candidates for a couple of openings on your sales team and no one has really hit the mark. You've struggled to cover the floor because one associate is out on a scheduled vacation and another has been out sick all week. Two others have been at each other's throats battling over the commission on what seems

Packaged Goods

Installs Inc.'s network of technicians executes installation SKUs for retailers—especially the big boxes—as well as manufacturers and service providers. By Janet Pinkerton Costco.com in mid-January offered Installs Inc.'s Flat Panel TV and 5 Speaker Installation Service for $649.99, as Item #961689. Over at walmart.com, Premium Flat Panel Wall Mount and Home Theater Installation (Wal-Mart No. 000598806), also by Installs Inc., was offered for $698. If an installation service can be reduced to a stock-keeping unit (SKU), is it then a commodity? "I don't think so," says Lee Hess, co-founder and director of Installs Inc. Over the past 10 years, his Buffalo, N.Y.-based company has

Proposal A New Model for the New-Home Market

Not making much headway with builders? Maybe it's time you partnered with one—as in, joint venture By Ira Friedman If you're looking for a way to "get in with the builders," consider selling them your company. Working with large builders presents a host of challenges. Foremost among these is the builder's knowledge that offering his buyers a control system, A/V gear or networking doesn't help sell houses. No buyer says, "I love this new home. It's in a great neighborhood. It's got everything I want. It's priced right. But there's no provision for distributed audio. I think I'll keep looking around." Just because we

Reflections on CES

Over 150,000 attendees. Over 2,500 exhibitors. Four days. We'll try to do the math. By Joe Paone This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which ran January 5 to 8 in Las Vegas, was—of no surprise to anyone—the largest CES to date. Projections originally called for about 130,000 attendees, but the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reported after the show that more than 150,000 people attended this year. CES truly has become one of those rare events that provides so many options and opportunities for learning and relationship-building that attendees owe it to themselves to carefully plot their show strategies and schedules, lest they become overwhelmed

Wireless Wars

New home control technologies could provide home control for all…once the dust settles between competing formats, that is. By Cliff Roth Time was, remote controlling lights, air conditioning and heating was considered a luxury—the stuff of James Bond movies. Much of the public still thinks of these things as flights of fancy. As we in the industry (and our happy clients) know, however, custom home theater installations often include these applications and much more, and have for years now. Thing is, lighting controls, for example, often require expensive and labor-intensive wiring. This type of wiring has especially been reserved for the most high-end of