Are distributors and rep/distributors opening more showrooms for training purposes and for installers to demonstrate products to prospective clients?
Henderson:Yes, this has been a trend
Baldwin: We have seen an increase in the number of distributors offering shared showrooms and other resources to help their dealer base close sales.
Starkey: Many dealers that are successful are best at selling themselves and their brand. A community shared showroom, while attractive in concept, does not serve this reality for the dealer.
Hench: The concept of a showroom and/or training facility for dealers is viable. I believe it is an important service for distributors to offer. I think over the long term, we will see an expansion of this type of facility.
Soumbasakis: AVAD maintains experience centers in all of our 39 locations across North America. We have fully-integrated, active systems on display for NetStreams, Niles and Life|ware. These systems incorporate lighting, HVAC, media servers, web cams and audio/video distribution. We also have LCD and plasmas on display from all of our vendors, including the 103-inch Panasonic plasma in three locations. Each location has two to four projectors on display in THX audio systems. We set up these solutions so our customers can better understand and learn about the products they sell. We also allow our customers to bring their clients in on a by appointment basis.
Baron: Our experience is with AVAD, our exclusive distributor, and we know that since they’ve developed active showrooms in their locations, higher ticket items are more successful. Our experience has shown that selling value-added audio requires a demo, pure and simple. It’s the only way to excite the installer and prove that if their customers buy the good stuff they’ll be happier. And we all know that happier customers provide more referrals.
Are distributors or reps beginning to specify jobs on behalf of installers, who focus on mining new jobs and performing the installations?
Henderson:No, or to a very minimal extent.
Starkey:A bigger trend seems to be the use of specific firms to wire while companies focus on design and programming expertise. It has not been our experience that reps or distributors are playing an active role in specifying.
Hench: Our inside support staff works closely with our dealers to answer questions and solve problems. And part of that function is making sure the right equipment is being used for the job.
Soumbasakis: We have always made this part of the service we provide to dealers. When you introduce a new system or technology, you need to support dealers in specifying and scoping the effort the first one or two times. We would rather work with them to make sure they don’t miss anything and have considered all of the possibilities. An error can be the difference between a profit and loss, and we want to make sure they have a positive experience so they continue to sell the category or product. In most cases, they can do it on their own after one or two times. We are always there to assist them in specifying the correct solution when they find themselves looking at a new application in which they are not familiar.