By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NORTH DALLAS – Last winter, David Pidgeon, president/CEO of Starpower Home Entertainment Systems, addressed the rank and file of Home Entertainment Source (HES) in his role as president of the specialty A/V and systems integration buying group.
He shared with fellow members some of the principals that have successfully guided Starpower on its 18-year voyage, and which could readily be adopted by other retailers.
Chief among the company tenets is taking risks. Pidgeon said he and his brother, chairman Daniel Pidgeon, demonstrated that in 2011 when they acquired a local competitor in order to enter the luxury majap market in a big way.
“We added appliances,” he told the crowd. “When we ask you to take risks, we do it too.”
Another Starpower imperative is maintaining a positive company culture through employee investment and communication. “Think about your people,” Pidgeon implored HES members. “Talk to them, make yourself available. Make an investment in continuing education, start a company newsletter. They look to you as the leader of the company. They are there and you want them there. You have to be positive, even when they make mistakes.”
He said it is also important for businesses to look outside themselves and give back to the communities that support them. Besides performing a public service, “getting involved in your community is your biggest marketing tool … the best investment you can make.” To that end, Starpower has been actively involved with the American Diabetes Association, the Nancy Lieberman Foundation – which uses basketball as a motivational tool for children – and various local charities. “You don’t have to give big items, but be involved and give when you can,” he said. “They are your customers.”
One local charity that was a recent recipient of Starpower’s largesse is the Dallas-based North Texas Food Bank (NTFB), which distributes donated, purchased and prepared foods through a network of nearly 1,000 feeding programs in 13 North Texas counties. Starpower raised $20,000 for the organization through its 12th annual charity golf tournament last month, which regularly drawers professional athletes, politicians, broadcasters and other celebrities. The donation will provide 60,000 meals to children, families and seniors.
Starpower also connects with the community – and drives traffic to its stores – with its biannual Expo customer events, which showcase new and forthcoming products, and offer consumers discounts and special offers.
More recently, the Expos have served as local launch pads for Ultra High-Definition TV, including last November’s extravaganza, which marked the Dallas market debut of Sony’s latest 84-inch 4K display. On hand were football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and 3,000 customers, some of whom queued up overnight around Starpower’s flagship store, here.
Customer feedback is also vital, and Pidgeon urged attendees to consider client commentary a “lifeline,” and to address and correct any negative feedback immediately. “Customers are being mistreated all over the place, and you have to make a difference,” he said.
Starpower generally receives 100 percent positive service feedback, as reflected in a recent pair of awards for its 6,200-square-foot Phoenix showroom and operation. Ranking Arizona, the state’s largest public opinion poll rating local businesses, placed Starpower No. 1 for the second consecutive year this past spring within the residential real estate category.
Pidgeon said of the award: “I am pleased that the principles and values in place ensure that our clients will continue to see great performance from their favorite store.”
At the same time Starpower was also honored by the Phoenix business community for exceptional marketing success in electronics. The dealer received a Phoenix Award for “excellence in retailing high-end, custom installations of audio, video, security, home automation and electronic automation,” and for carrying “the finest brands of audio/video equipment, some of which are rarely seen outside of Hollywood’s top studios,” the awards program said.
The last and latest Starpower directive is to maintain an active online presence. As Pidgeon explained, “Eighty-four percent of consumers spend time on the Internet before going to stores, and 38 million go to social-media sites,” up 14 percent since the back half of 2012.
Dealers must “get in the game,” he said. “Evolution never stops. You have to have online ads, launch an e-commerce site, try digital billboards – and getting customer feedback is a priority. You’ve got to do it.”
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.