November 2008 Issue


CEDIA View: Survive- and Thrive- in 2009 Economy

CEDIA’s annual Management Conference will return in 2009 with an unprecedented focus on strategy. The event has spent the past 10 years helping sustain electronic systems contractors with the business tools they need to stay competitive, including a well-received series of strategic planning elements in 2008. As small industry businesses are now faced with difficult choices brought on by a looming economic crisis, the 2009 conference will help attendees take a close look at how operations can be examined, tightened and restructured to achieve maximum ROI. Management Conference 2009 will be held March 4–7 at Carefree Resort & Villas in Carefree, Ariz. The format

Channeling the Two-Channel Message

The LSA Group’s president, Brian Warford, tells how communicating the listening-room experience to your custom clients can mean mega margins. CustomRetailer: Please tell our readers how you got into the business. Brian Warford: LSA was started in Kentucky. I had worked at Nicholson’s Hi-Fi in Nashville for 16 years and our company began carrying their speakers. The customers’ reaction to them was that they liked their looks and when they heard them and then heard the pricing, it was an easy sale. The reason I decided to get involved with LSA and move from a very successful career in retail and custom installation into

cyberManor of Los Gatos, Calif.

What’s the best way to spread the word about your great customer service? Have your customers do it for you! That’s what Gordon van Zuiden of cyberManor, Los Gatos, Calif., is achieving as evidenced in this letter sent from one satisfied client to a potential new one. This letter is truly a thing of beauty to any business owner; please read on! Hello Charles, I was talking to my friend, Gordon, with cyberManor today. He mentioned your project and that he was hopeful he would be able to work for you. I asked for your e-mail address because I wanted to be able to

Effective Event Marketing: Let’s Put on a Show!

In tough economic times like these, the good news is that people often look to beef up their home entertainment systems as a way to save money and “cocoon” in style. With that in mind, now is a great time to start thinking about hosting a marketing event that can energize and inspire your community of potential customers. Event marketing is a valuable tool for any custom integration professional, and while there’s no official rule book on how to ensure a successful event, there are definitely guidelines, and some important “do’s and don’ts” to keep in mind. ‘No’ to Boring Q&A, ‘Yes’ to Revved-Up

Looking For a New Way to Network? Teach!

In the over 10 years since Josh Christian has been teaching architects and interior designers the basics of low-voltage technology, he’s learned some critical lessons: First, say “drapery,” never “drapes.” Second, make sure you have something touchy-feely on hand, like acoustically transparent fabric samples. Third, and most importantly, watch your tongue when referring to the profession of your students. “Never ever call them decorators!,” said Christian. “That’s a slap in the face to interior designers. They’ll hate you for that.” As vice president of marketing for DSI Entertainment Systems, a custom retailer based in West Hollywood, Calif., Christian’s primary responsibility is to

Seduction Via Projection

The Empress Joséphine, one of history’s master seductresses, once ordered her decorators to fashion a bedroom in the manner of a luxurious military tent so that Napoleon might feel the excitement of his many field campaigns right at home. The ploy got rave reviews from her general, earning Joséphine love letters full of phrases like, “the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.” Flash-forward 200 years to the floor of the Philadelphia Home Show, where Dave Gilbert, Vice President of custom retail operation, Hi-Fi Sales, and his staff recently spent an entire day constructing a luxurious royal blue

Strategy Guide: 10-Point Economy Survival Plan

It’s pretty clear that what started as a slowdown in home sales and led to a meltdown of financial institutions, followed by a massive Federal bailout, has now begun to hit Main Street. Now, nearly 90 days later, no one is sure how long it will last or how deep the dive will be. That being the case, let’s assume that for the short term, we have to do business with the conditions we have. It’s too risky to wait it out. The biggest change we are seeing relates to credit—both consumer credit and the ability of dealers to borrow for inventory and for

Strength in Numbers

You know me. I love a good party and I admit it! And as one who aspires to hosting memorable parties, this is one of my favorite issues because it offers so many inspiring event marketing ideas. We are big on entertaining our customers, the readers and advertisers of CustomRetailer—whether it be at our EXC!TE Awards party at CEDIA, partnering with CEA in the Specialty Dealer Days at CES this January or bringing our industry together for another rockin’ time at Digital Downtown this June ( Our core business goals as a media partner are met time and time again by sharing

Surviving & Thriving In Adversity’s Wake

Everything in Robert Owens’ background led him to a love of electronics and prepared him well for the custom trade he has so successfully plied as proprietor of Baton Rouge, La.’s Acadian Custom Installations. But nothing in his background readied him for certain events flowing from an unfortunate partnership—nor for all the challenges to both his business and to his many meticulously built client relationships that arose in the wake of that experience. Owens, who has since gotten back on track and even exceeded his earlier business achievements, says he received a bruising object lesson in why it’s important to thoroughly vet all

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