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 exec?
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 customers.
Is that one of your goals with HTSA’s outreach programs?
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 categories?
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 program (UPP)?
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 that simple.
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.