SAN DIEGO –
Bob Hana of The Home Technology
Specialists Association (HTSA) hosted his first
meeting as managing director earlier this month,
here, under the theme “Focused Energy.”
Hana, who has run HTSA
since last October, stressed in
his “State of the Union” comments
the need for the buying
group of 63 custom installers
and specialists and about $400
million in sales to emphasize integrated
marketing to create
more leads and business opportunities.
He also outlined several new
approaches for his group and
its main suppliers to work together using all the tools
of the web, and conduct old-fashioned networking
with builders, designers and architects, as well as
the importance of print ads and promotions.
In this one-on-one interview with TWICE, Hana,
who spent years on the manufacturing side of the
business with NEC and Runco, discussed his role
with HTSA, the group’s plans and industry issues:
What’s been your basic philosophy at
HTSA since joining last fall?
Sales and marketing, that is what it’s all about. That is what [our members] do. Our goal is
selling and getting clients and it doesn’t take long if
you are serious about it. Our philosophy is just normal,
common sense … and we are serious about it.
We want vendors to look at HTSA and say, “This is a
no-brainer. We have to sell to this group.”
What have you learned since you have
come over to retail again after your years as a vendor
Everyone’s now my buddy! [laughing] Seriously,
while there has always been plenty of talk about vendors
and installers wanting to become partners, the
relationship is dysfunctional a lot of the time. At large
vendors, internally they have their own issues. Their
own sales department doesn’t communicate with marketing
or service. And when they deal with our members,
there are issues. We have to break the barriers
down between us and work together to market and sell
products and services.
What’s the big challenge your members
have in reaching new types of customers?
In computer audio, for instance, everyone listens
to music more than ever. We have to convince
new customers to really listen to the experience they
are getting. It can be improved, whether you are listening
in a dorm room or to a $2,000 system. The job of
the integrator is to demonstrate the differences and
attract new customers, especially the 18- to 25-yearolds
to get them back enjoying [high-quality audio] as
Is that one of your goals with HTSA’s outreach
That is part of it. Many consumers are intimidated
to come into our members’ showrooms, especially
the 18- to 25-year-old group. We must do [web] outreach with them to show them the products and
services we provide … such as integration and service.
We have to break down the intimidation factor.
Do you need to carry new and different
We really have all the categories, but we have
to go after the same consumers in different ways. For
instance, doctors, as a group, don’t know what we do.
Some of our members tell us that they have sold every
celebrity and every athlete in their areas.
There are plenty of consumers in middle America
who have the money to spend on new or improved systems.
We have to go after them with our marketing and
outreach plans and find them.
In your presentation you didn’t mention
individual categories or the importance of selling
We are selling an experience. No offense, but as
we told our vendors, we are not selling brands. As our
[members said in the meeting] we are the brands. In
this case, the vendors have to sell the brands to us …
and we can sell the experience.
With the brands we carry we understand they have
“good, better, best” product. Vendors need to promote
at the 20,000-foot level [for consumers]. But for us, they
need to train, support and promote to give our members’
salespeople the best chance to make the sale.
Are you emphasizing online marketing and
use of social networks in HTSA’s strategy to combat
online retailers like Amazon?
attracts the price-conscious
consumer, so it is not the main reason [for this strategy].
Members don’t like it when customers call up and
say, “I just bought this at Amazon.” It is aggravating,
but we tell them it is an opportunity because they are
calling because they can’t put it together.
They should take the calls and say, “Installation is
a service I provide,” and when our members do that,
they might find that the pieces the consumer bought
can’t possibly operate together, so they may have a
potential hardware sale.
What is HTSA’s view of unilateral pricing
UPP, if it is executed as designed, the sales
discussion becomes one of product quality, service
and support, instead of just price, then we win. It is
The car industry learned that it had to set its unit
production accordingly and be willing to leave a few
unit sales on the side for the sake of profitability. The
airline industry cut the number of flights to make sure
each flight is full, and cut excess inventory.
We think that if CE production is aligned properly by
vendors, this will work.