May 2008 Issue


‘Mission Possible: Success’

Professing that “HES is the only national alternative to the box stores for high-end consumer electronics,” Home Entertainment Source executive vice president Jim Ristow kicked off the Brand Source buying group’s Dallas-held “Mission Possible: Success” 2008 Summit in mid-March—a convocation that included motivational and manufacturer presentations, deal-brokering and networking opportunities. This year, the event attracted a 75 percent larger attendance from the HES membership, he said. Bob Lawrence, Brand Source CEO, noted that the HES outbranch, which had recently passed the 500 mark in membership numbers, “has significant meaning to the Brand Source group as a whole; it’s the fastest-growing

15 Minutes With: Marilyn Sanford

Sanford, also a chair of CEDIA’s Registered Outreach Instructor (ROI) Task Force and its Green Task Force, shares her experiences building her business and her passion for the industry. What is your background? How did you come to the industry? I was an accountant/comptroller for a large multi-national, but I hated it. I’m much more entrepreneurial than just that. They kept promoting me and paying me more, so I stayed and after a while it becomes like family. We created a joint venture called Trust Joist MacMillan to take a new, engineered wood product, Parallam, to market. This was part of my responsibility

Are You Managing Your Projects or Are They Managing You?

Survey 1) What percentage of your business involves some component of delivery or installation? ______% 2) If you take the above number, what percentage of that revenue is non-product related? For example, if your total gross revenue is $1,000,000 per year and the percentage that has delivery or installation component is 80 percent or $800,000, what percentage of this $800,000 is charges for delivery, installation, project management, drafting or programming? ________% 3) Do you bill for each of the following separately? Installation ____YES ____NO Project Management ____YES ____NO Drafting ____YES ____NO

Branding Revitalized

Many years ago, my old company director, whilst we were working on a branding campaign for a client said, “You know Maureen, a rose, is a rose, is a rose. You can call your business anything. As long as you hire the right people, conduct your business with integrity and respect, and get your brand and message to your customers, you’ll be remembered.” While I believe much of this is still true, the way we do it has changed greatly over the years. The process of branding and its implications for your business, and getting the branding right, have never been more important.

Build the Buzz Is Back!

There’s no place like home, or so Dorothy said. But sitting here in a Buenos Aires café re-reading the March issue of CustomRetailer that sheds light upon the international custom electronics marketplace and strategies worldwide, I am struck by how much the world has in common. The television news here is all about elections in several South American countries, with lots of sound bites from the candidates’ point-of-view…sound familiar? And the Argentinean president is all over the news with her perspective on the terrible fires raging in the Pampas that are so reminiscent of our fires in Southern California just a few months ago.

Building A Pricing Backbone, Part 2

Editor’s Note: In August 2007, Ira kicked off his series of educational columns. This month, he continues his instruction on Building Pricing Backbone, which incorporates several staples from his earlier columns. Part 10: Last month we discussed the importance of establishing Backbone systems—these are standardized systems you can refer to when Ballparking. Ballparking Is Not an Estimating Exercise; It’s a Selling Exercise Let’s review the Ballparking process. First, you Ballpark after you’ve developed a Performance List with your prospect. The Ballpark number is thrown out to establish a value for the project. As discussed earlier, the Performance List is a well-established story you

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Garbage in, garbage out. According to Wikipedia, the phrase is commonly used to describe failures in human decision-making due to faulty data. And when it comes to running today’s ESC business, nothing can skew the decision-making process more than inaccurate or incomplete financial data. That’s why CEDIA reached out to industry expert Leslie Shiner (The ShinerGroup, Mill Valley, Calif.) to facilitate its March Webinar, titled “Using QuickBooks as a Foundation-Building Tool.” The second webinar in CEDIA’s Survival of The Fittest series, this presentation wasn’t about promoting QuickBooks; how you run your company will determine what software package is best for you. Rather, this webinar

Getting ‘Sirius’ About the Custom Channel

While one format war is over, another still rages, and custom integrators are once again in the middle of it. While there weren’t exactly parades down Main Street the day Toshiba officially marked the death knell of HD DVD, the pros responsible for recommending and installing systems that incorporated high-def video were certainly fit to be tied. So now they can turn their attention to the still fiery audio format war, one that both XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio would be all too happy to bury if only the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would allow them. In March, the United States Department


Although consumer electronics continues to be one of the brightest stars in today’s sluggish economy, there’s no question that the housing slowdown and the tightening credit markets are starting to decelerate sales in our channel. For some time, it seemed as if custom retailers could get by with minimum promotion and still have their businesses grow. Customers who were pleased with their installations would refer their friends faster than installers could be trained. Word-of-mouth was cheap and effective. But times have changed. Now, dealers need to go out and find business. Professional marketing programs will continue to drive in traffic and build sales. The

In Media Servers, the Interface is King

Opinions from seasoned custom integrators about media servers are about as diverse as those you might hear in a presidential campaign poll. There are some models they love for some very specific reasons and are lukewarm on certain models or features for other reasons. But one thing everyone can agree upon is that their likes and dislikes in the category are directly related to one major factor: the all-important user interface—the bridge between customer and content. And suppliers who come closest to getting that right, they say, usually win the day. Larry Lawyer, general manager of Oklahoma City, Okla.’s Audio Dimensions, divides

Marketing Media Servers

CodexNovus Hugo Feugen, President & Founder PRODUCT/TECH TRENDS: One of our latest enhancements is our peer server functionality. With any of our storage-equipped servers, such as our HDcodex DML Series player/servers, as many a dozen units throughout a home or office network can send and/or play a standard-definition stream from any of the other units simultaneously. In addition to allowing the owner’s library of movies, music and images to be distributed over all the HDcodex devices in the network, owners can grow their storage incrementally with each added player/server. With our DMS-6000 6TB RAID5 central server, there can be literally hundreds of DMS units

Mounting a Campaign

The biggest challenge with selling mounts is getting your customer to think about their mount options with as much consideration as their panel options. Let’s face it, consumer awareness of available mounting options is low—mounts are an accessory that is literally behind the scenes. But that gives integrators, installers and salespeople the chance to be educators. They have the ability to affect change in the marketplace by bringing remote-controllable motorized mounts to the forefront. When it comes to educating customers, top-down selling is not a new sales strategy by any means. But there is definitely a new ‘top’ when it comes to selling

Standalone Blu-ray Players Struggling

While the Blu-ray Disc format has cleanly defeated HD DVD in the format war, the win has not yet translated into huge sales for stand-alone Blu-ray players. According to the research firm NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, sales of standalone Blu-ray players (meaning, non-PS3 players) only jumped 2 percent between February and March, the first month after HD DVD threw in the towel in the format war. “That standalone Blu-ray players haven’t picked up significantly from HD DVD’s loss shows that few consumers were dissuaded primarily by the ‘format war’,” NPD’s director of industry analysis, Ross Rubin, said as part of the

The Horse Capitalof the World

n EAT MALONE’S Step out to Malone’s, which has some of the best cuts of beef in town. Fast becoming the place for great steaks in Lexington, Malone’s has something for everyone, whether it is a filet or a prime rib. And if it’s just a night on the town you are looking for, step into Oscar’s piano and oyster bar. It’s lively and the oysters are decadent. JONATHAN AT GRATZ PARK Regional cuisine is at its finest at the award-winning Jonathan at Gratz Park. The upscale dining room and intimate bar are high on ambience and low on pretention. Try the

What’s in a brand?

‘A brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational and cultural image that you associate with a company or product.’ —Charles R. Pettis III, Brand Solutions The word brand comes from ancient Nordic and means to burn. If you think of a rancher branding “Lazy F Ranch” on a herd of cattle, you get the idea. The brand identifies the origin of the product (in this case, cattle) and ultimately serves the purpose of identifying one rancher’s cattle as different than another’s. In business, we use branding to “burn” an indelible image into the mind of a customer. (…you can’t use a hot iron here,

Your Brand Is Your Testament

What is a brand? A brand is a promise that you will always deliver the same quality product or experience each and every time your customer has an interaction with your company. What are you doing to create that promise with your clients? Every moment you interact is a gift, as a friend of mine said, “turn moments into monuments.” So how do you create “monuments”? Your time to get better is now, either do or do not do, focus, plan and execute with vigor and excitement. Time to Self-Examine You—who are you and what promise do you and your role in the