Announced at this week’s Convention21 event by AVB CEO Jim Ristow, AVB/BrandSource is launching two expansive new programs to help the group’s independent dealers maintain their record sales pace and market share gains. The initiatives tackle two of the top constraints to continued sales growth: The labor shortage and the operational divergence between online and in-store shopping.
In a keynote address on August 22, Ristow welcomed back independent appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech dealers to the group’s first on-site show since March 2020, and recounted their outstanding sales performance during what he described as the worst financial and health crisis in a century.
Rather than resting on those accomplishments, Ristow said members and AVB need to redouble their efforts to ensure an unprecedented multi-year run.
AVB is taking on the historically tight labor market with a comprehensive collection of customized employment tools dubbed HRSource. According to COO Dave Meekings, the program’s turnkey solutions will allow BrandSource members to efficiently manage their immediate staffing and longer-term employee needs.
Components of HRSource include the HR Playbook, an invaluable but complimentary guide to recruiting, hiring and retaining retail staff. Developed for the independent retailer and distributed at the show, the workbook provides innovative approaches and practical strategies to steer members through the labor crunch, including ways to attract talent; how to evaluate candidates; interview tips and hiring blunders; and QR codes that connect to a series of assessment scorecards.
A separate QR code brings members to the Handbook-In-a-Box, a fully customizable rulebook for employees that sets a dealer’s HR policy and performance expectations and protects the business from potential liability. Valued at upwards of $5,000, the Handbook-In-a-Box, like the HR Playbook, is free for all members.
Other elements of HRSource include a new partnership with CareerPlug, a national recruiting software company that automates the hiring process for more than 12,000 small businesses, plus newsletters, virtual town halls and seminars that, with guidance from employment expert and AVB staffing consultant Daniel Abramson, will allow members to tap into the membership’s collective experience and wisdom.
Hub & Hub Source
Separately, AVB is addressing the consumer’s preference for an omnichannel shopping experience by launching the Hub, and overarching commerce platform that seamlessly connects members’ online and in-store operations. Coming this October, the Hub bridges the digital divide by integrating a dealer’s POS system, Alta website, LINQ merchandising platform, digital price tags and in-store kiosks into a central interface.
Chief Marketing Officer John White explained Hub will allow store owners, sales staff, support teams, buyers, and, ultimately, customers to readily access the product and service information they need, when they need it. “It’s a CRM solution on steroids,” he said.
Through the Hub, users can find real-time details on:
- Inventory availability
- Promotions and price changes
- Product specs
- Price and feature differences between models
- Open quotes
- Competitor pricing
- Customer profiles
- Builder channel purchase history for fast, easy reorders.
“You want to use this technology [Hub] to figure out ways not to waste a customer’s time,” White told TWICE in an interview. “I’m a texter. Why? Because you can truly multitask. But that might not be a customer’s preference. Maybe they prefer chat, it might be phone, it might be driving in to see product in person. We had to figure out a way to make it the best for everybody, because everyone has a set of preferences, and those preferences are changing fast.”
Going forward, regular rollouts will enhance the Hub with text and mobile integration; delivery enhancements; service integration; back-office support with vendors; and suggestive selling features.
“Really what it boils down to is this,” Ristow said in an interview with TWICE, “the customer wants to shop how they want, where they want, when they want. We need to have the cleanest, most intuitive system that allows them to buy at any one of those touchpoints, and they can start and finish at any of those touchpoints. It [Hub] revolutionizes the sales experience.”
Starting with Convention, the Hub is being offered to members in three price tiers: The Standard plan, which allows up to three users, for $199 per month; the Commerce option, which costs $99 per month for three users plus $30 per additional user; and the Custom plan, which accommodates an expanded number of users and is priced based on individual dealer requirements.