San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Experts say it is even more important to employ best-business practices during challenging times, so TWICE is presenting here some of the retail tips that emerged from the Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) KnowledgeFest, held earlier this year.
Almost all of these suggestions are simple and inexpensive, such as using a digital p icture frame to show off your past installations, or listing your old merchandise on Craigslist, instead of eBay, because you'll bring in local potential customers.
JVC national accounts manager Steve Jain suggested the following:
• Take pictures of your store from all angles. When you see your store every day, you lose objectivity and start to overlook eye sores. "You'll be shocked … if it looks cramped, you'll see it."
"Give your undivided attention to your customers." Don't answer the phone if you have a customer in front of you. Maximize the customers you have.
• Not a single unit should be missing on a sound board. If necessary, tape some literature over the slot for a day or two.
• It is important to negotiate with your suppliers. When they ask you to raise your monthly sales, you should ask what they will do to help you. They may not give you more discounts, but you can ask them to help out with a manufacturer sale.
• Start using email blasts to publicize a "private" sale. To execute the sale, work with a brand to bring in the rep one evening, bring extra merchandise into the store and hold an authorized sale for 5 percent to 20 percent off or a free install. It should cost you almost nothing but your time. Make sure you ask consumers to RSVP on the email blast so you know how many people will attend.
• Go to the local car dealers and introduce yourself. Bring in a car and show them that you don't just install but you integrate. "Let them see where it's split and soldered. Bring them coffee and doughnuts and give them some business cards. They'll remember you … All you need are one or two dealers to help out when business is slow."
Ben Newhall, national sales manager of Polk Audio, offered dozens of tips on selling sound quality, starting with, "You should care about sound quality because it's good for business. The response to your installation should be, 'Wow,' so when the customer leaves the store, he becomes your word-of-mouth salesperson."
Other Newhall pearls of wisdom:
• Know the basics in speaker and amplifier physics. An 8-inch woofer will have lower distortion than a 15-inch woofer. Understanding the way a speaker works can help you design a better system.
• Know the fundamentals of acoustics; know how sound travels and how the car interior impacts sound. It will help earn the trust of the customer. Trust is important because the customer is going to be leaving his expensive property — his car — with you.
• "You have to have things in your store that customers just haven't seen before. It's past the time that you can sell on just the brands in your store."
• What you should show the customer is a very good demonstration of really good sound. Again, the art of selling involves the "Wow" factor.
• Mistakes to avoid include using an FM radio as a source in a demo. If you use an iPod, you get the better sound, plus you are showing iPod integration.
• Tell people what to listen for in the demo, and show the difference between OEM and aftermarket systems.
• Always show the high-end demo first and always show them the new stuff. "It's real easy to just sell the guy the fuses and go onto the next thing."
• Leave music playing on the sound boards.
• Get the installation right. Is the system in phase? Are the speakers wired to the correct channels, and is there good blending with the woofer and the rest of the systems?
• Repeat business and references are vital to the business of a specialist. If that is true, then the customer has to get goose bumps from his install.
• A manager should listen to every system before it leaves the bay.
• "Use a better approach to better sound and watch your business grow. You're the only who can do it. Best Buy won't," Newhall said.
One more interesting piece of advice comes from Mike Cofield, president of Custom Sounds of Austin, Texas. "I think that some of the stereo guys have gotten a little old and they don't relate to the kids anymore. They don't like rap music. If you are a store owner, and kids are coming in and you're playing something other than rap, they ain't going to buy from you. So find some rap that you like with a lot of bass."