June 2008 Issue

 

AC Power & Human Error

When it comes to AC power, there are some things you can rely on—the presence of AC noise contamination, and surges and failures of all types due to an aged and unreliable power grid. The ultra-sensitive circuits in today’s home theater, distributed audio and integrated home systems are technologically superb, but they are also very fragile. This has made it increasingly imperative to employ an advanced power management system for any A/V or integrated system installation. This is nothing new to Paragon Technology Group (www.paragon-usa.com), an electronic systems integrator with offices in Aspen, Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colo. As a leader in home


CR’s inaugural Customer Satisfaction Award goes to...

Barretts Home Theater of Naperville and Algonquin, Ill. An A+ Job Barretts was chosen due to their soup-to-nuts success story on customer John Underwood’s home theater. A CustomRetailer interview with Mr. Underwood concluded with his comment, “I am a very demanding customer. I will be the first on the phone if there is a problem on a job at my house. These guys [Barretts], were incredible. From start to finish they were professional all the way and never let us down. Even when one of the guys, Dave, cut his finger, left to go get stitches and returned to finish the job!” Congratulations Barretts!


Creating, Strengthening Relationships With Builders

So how would you characterize the current state of the home building market in regards to the home technology market: run and hide or great opportunity? My answer: great opportunity. Current market conditions are by no means good, but they are also at a point where business-savvy companies secure new customers, strengthen existing relationships and focus internally. One to two years ago, you could not do this. Builders were too busy and, frankly, did not care, since the game was “get it up as fast as possible and sell it.” I am sure you have heard people say before “in down times, the rich


E-stablish a High Profile With Your Web site

As the decade has progressed there is no denying the growing importance of your Web site. It is your business calling card; the face you represent to the world. One of the keynote speakers at HTSA a couple of months ago was David Meerman Scott, author of the book, “New Rules of Marketing & PR.” He pointed out that, “Our economy and culture is shifting from a mass market to millions of niche markets. You have to be able to spread your ideas.” Scott stressed the need for HTSA members, and all business owners, to reach their customers online, “It’s a new world you


Get On the DTV Bandwagon

It’s too late to sign up to accept the government-issued DTV converter box coupons, but you still have time to get on the DTV transition bandwagon. More importantly, your customers need your help now more than ever. A report on Denver’s 9News KUSA TV showed just how ill-informed sales associates in consumer electronics stores are and how they mislead confused customers. The station sent reporters into seven stores and found most clerks didn’t even know the exact date of the transition. Many told the reporters they’d have to buy all new TVs. Few were willing to tell their prospects that all they needed was


Hot House

t’s become a standing joke out at Progressive Audio in central Ohio: customers all want to know, could CEO Les Viragh use a night watchman? It’s not only that Viragh’s Columbus showrooms, originally an elegant set of Arts & Crafts-style apartments, feature a luxurious master bedroom. It’s also the bright sunroom with a comfy porch swing, the welcoming dark-wood dining room, and the media den with a faint-on-me-now chaise lounge that have folks confusing Progressive’s headquarters with what could be a nearly perfect bed & breakfast destination. It’s an impression that Viragh celebrates. “Successful retail spaces don’t feel like stores,” he says. “They


Luxury Branding—Myth vs. Reality

I thought you would like to take a look at the idea of branding through the eyes of the luxury market. After all, Mother always said, it is easier to go downtown than it is to go uptown. So even if your bread-and-butter business is not with the luxury market crowd, there is plenty to be learned by studying the strategies of that business model as it relates to yours. And if you are servicing the luxury market, there is so much to be gained by looking at other luxury brands, how they attract the toney set and how they cultivate the tag of


Making the Connection

Displays, sources, amplifiers and other equipment are obviously important parts of any A/V installation. However, these components alone won’t produce the picture and sound your customers are looking for. Often an afterthought, in addition to equipment, installers have to seriously consider the task of connection. Without proper connections, the performance of any system can be severely compromised. Among other things, noise in the picture and audio can be introduced, certain colors might be missing or intermittent picture and sound may occur. Even worse, these issues can arise after you’ve left the site, leaving your customer with a system that doesn’t work, and you with


Marketing Wiring & Cable

While the shortest distance between two points is roundly believed to be a straight line, opinions of installation experts about the shortest distance to a trouble-free wiring or cable installation are loaded with some very curvy nuances and reasonings. Views tend to converge on the necessity for the ultimate must-have element in any cabling product—reliability. That said, installers’ preferences when it comes to this category hinge to varying degrees on things such as design characteristics, timely product acquisition, ease of installation and hassle-free dealings with the companies who provide the goods. Clay Curry, installation manager at Winter Park, Fla.’s Absolute Sound, cites durability as


Resurrecting Audio

Watch the demographics; they are shifting and so, ironically, is the ability of mature listeners to detect and appreciate superior sound quality. (It’s ironic because older people generally lose high-end frequency hearing. However, in this case, that is compensated for by attentive, so-called, “active” listening.) For years, we have been promoting hidden custom sound and we have at the same time been “dumbing down” the quality of sound via the iPod craze. The marketplace bought into it, largely because time has become a very limited commodity. People work longer hours, they commute longer, they have the kids’ ballgames to go to, and the “Crack”


Think You Have a Brand….Ask These Questions

By responding to the following questions you can determine if you have a brand or not. If you don’t have a brand yet, I’ll give you some ideas on ways to make one in your market. Branding Questions Is your location a destination for consumers? What image does your brand give when it is mentioned to consumers? Does your brand create a need or fulfill a need that consumers have in a product or service? Do you sell your brand (name) or only the products you stock and display? How important is price in your market positioning? Is your name


Under Construction

Whether your company is a small mom-and-pop retailer or a multi-level global manufacturer, the Internet is a crucial and increasingly necessary tool for growing profit and expanding your business. But making sure you make all the right Web moves can be tricky. CR spoke with Rick Gualtieri, Interactive Marketing Manager for D&M Holdings, the umbrella company that owns Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory, Boston Acoustics, Snell Acoustics, Escient, Calrec Audio, Denon DJ, Allen & Heath, D&M Professional and D&M Premium Sound Solutions, for tips on how individual custom installers can use the power of the Internet to boost their bottom lines. At D&M Holdings, Gualtieri


Web Branding Essentials

“If you manage a traditional brand, you will need to understand that the Web is about two-way communication (vs. the one-way communication of traditional branding), and it’s about the user’s ‘experience’ with your Web site and Web marketing.” — Deborah Kania, Webologist, Consumer behavior on the World Wide Web; a metaphor In a previous column “What’s in a Brand?” I discussed the concept of branding and how it represents the sum total of every interaction your company has, directly or indirectly, with the public. These interactions, or touch points, can be as involved as a