By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
PARA (the Professional AudioVideo Retailers Association) outlined a variety of new benefits and programs to its members during CES here earlier this month, including an operations and strategic planning manual that exceeds 400 pages.
Executive director Deborah Smith also outlined a new dues structure and the agenda for the association's April 21-25 management conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Smith described the new planning manual as a "nuts-and-bolts how-to-run-the-company" book that includes sales-management charts and business forms, including project-management paper-flow forms. The book costs $349, or $299, if purchased before Jan. 31. PARA will give away one book per attending company as a benefit for attending the April conference.
As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, PARA changed its dues structure on Jan. 1 to a flat $499, replacing a sales-volume-based fee ranging from $400 to $1,000. In part, Smith explained, the new structure recognizes that a greater number of PARA members are now members of buying groups and that the members "have buying-group commitments in time and money." In addition, "We cut back, and we can do it without much impact on income," Smith said. Dealers who pay up by Jan. 31 get $100 off April's conference fee.
Also to celebrate PARA's anniversary, the association will offer conference attendees a 12-month, no-interest, no-down-payment consumer credit program with no transaction fee for one weekend. Dealers who take advantage of the one-weekend CitiFinancial program will be able to save $5,000 to $30,000 based on typical transaction fees of 12 percent, Smith said.
In outlining the conference agenda, Smith announced that the first day's keynote speaker will be Jim Taylor, author of "The Visionary's Handbook." He will outline ways that dealers can reinvent their companies while simultaneously running their business profitably.
Also on day one, PARA will offer six differentiation-strategy seminars, including one on creating a luxury-market strategy, one on creating a home network strategy, and one on creating a new-technology image. Other topics include developing a high-end gaming strategy, reinvigorating the audio demo, and marketing to builders and architects.
The keynote speaker on day two will be author Robert Sutton, whose topic will be "how to identify blockages in the company culture preventing you from implementing what you know," Smith told dealers.
PARA will also devote part of day two to the issue of making money on installation labor. Topics will include job costing, the development and review of proposals, how to order and stage products, buying direct rather than through distributors, and managing the change-order process.
On day three, author Robert Spector will outline how to create a customer-service strategy using eight principles implemented by Nordstrom. Later, consultant Fred Newell will outline ways to use e-mail and direct mail to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.
PARA can be reached at (617) 739-9877.
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