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CEDIA Dealers’ Referral Business Up; Fewer Doing Retail

Indianapolis — Custom installers were less likely to operate a retail business and more likely to get new business through referrals in 1999 than they were during the prior year, a survey of CEDIA members shows.

The association’s annual member survey found that only 42 percent of members in 1999 did retail sales. That’s the lowest percentage since CEDIA’s first survey for calendar-year 1994 and down from 49 percent in 1998.

The change likely reflects a trend by independent audio/video retailers to refocus exclusively on custom.

Whatever their business strategy, CEDIA members were more likely in 1999 than in 1998 to cite referrals of all types as one of their top sources of new business.

Sixty-four percent cited referrals in the latest survey, up from the previous year’s 55 percent, while the percentage citing advertising fell to 18 percent from 22 percent. Repeat customers held almost steady at 25 percent, compared to 24 percent the previous year.

The percentage citing referrals was the highest since the association’s first survey. Referrals could come from builders, architects, previous customers or interior designers.

The survey also found members’ revenues growing to an average $1.71 million, with an average of $1.07 million coming from custom.

Compared to the previous year, members are just about as optimistic about their future growth and do about the same percentage of jobs in new construction.

As a percent of their jobs, retrofit installs slipped 2 percentage points, and their percentage of jobs done as part of a home remodeling picked up a bit.

For the survey, CEDIA mailed a questionnaire to 975 members, 170 of whom responded in mid-2000 for calendar 1999.