Through good times and bad, the BrandSource merchandising organization has always been a family, and its core strength has been its unity.
Now, as members face an unprecedented business climate, that bond is no different and the buying group is meeting the challenge together.
Besides webinars, daily updates and a COVID information clearinghouse, BrandSource is keeping its members keyed into pertinent group, government and industry information through its bi-monthly schedule of Region Call-Ins. The roughly hour-long sessions, led by BrandSource President Tom Bennett and held for each of the 14 regions, also provide a forum for members to discuss their concerns and successes amid the health crisis, further fostering the group’s esprit de corps.
By sharing their experiences during these virtual meetings, the group’s Senior Leadership Team can work with region presidents and local members to help troubleshoot any dilemmas a dealer may face. Conversely, their ideas, tips and management insights are helping members across the country to navigate the current storm.
The value of the Call-Ins was underscored by Ronald Rodenbaugh, co-owner of Rodenbaugh’s in Allen, Texas. “There are so many different things on the Internet and in the news that is it hard to know what to believe,” he said. “Having some backup from the group and advice on how to handle these new and unknown issues gives me some solace. The best practices from the other dealers is a great way to keep ahead in this difficult time.”
Added Valerie Braun, Manager at Quality Appliance in Faribault, Minn., “Thank you all for putting together the phone conference. This is very beneficial as we are not always able to call each other to find out what the other guys are doing. Sharing information and brainstorming is essential!”
On this month’s first series of call-ins, Bennett explained dealers’ emergency financing options under the Small Business Administration’s Disaster and Paycheck Protection Programs. He also detailed the sharp spike in activity on BrandSource e-commerce sites as more and more customers stay home. The consumer’s pronounced pivot to digital dramatically demonstrates the need to add sales capabilities to non-transactional websites, which AVB Marketing can implement in seven days, he said.
Moreover, he urged members to take full advantage of AVB Marketing’s vast array of digital tools including live chat, payment gateways and online merchandising, which will boost conversions and help build bigger baskets by streamlining the shopping experience.
Members agreed about the power of the e-commerce assets. “We’ve had 36 chats so far this afternoon, which have translated into multiple sales,” said Joe Legato, Chief Operating Officer of Bill & Rod’s Appliances & Grills in Livonia, Mich in a statement. “It’s exciting to see, and we may need a full-time person online.”
Dealers also discussed such issues as health benefits for furloughed employees and the pros and cons of curbside delivery, and offered up a host of best practices to share with the greater member community. Among them: Installing a plexiglass shield around the checkout counter to protect customers and staff, and listing showroom safety precautions along with store hours on the front door.
“The Call-Ins are an important way for members and staff to communicate,” said Dave Meekings, Chief Technology Officer of AVB Inc.in a statement, who participated in the chats. “They allow members to discuss issues specific to their region; to learn about the latest developments from the group, the industry and government agencies; to ask questions; and to share best practices.”
“Perhaps most important,” added Meekings, “it brings the members together.”
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