ORLANDO, FLA. –
Jim Ristow, executive VP of Home
Entertainment Source, said he is “cautiously optimistic”
about business in 2012 thanks to such positives
as an improving economy and changes in vendors’
pricing and online sales policies.
The sentiment was echoed by HES president David
Pidgeon, CEO of Dallas-based Starpower, who
told TWICE that unilateral pricing, should the policies
stick, will help move showroom discussions past TVmodel
price points and free up sales staff to attach
other products and services.
He also urged fellow dealers to add profitable categories
like leather furniture, audio, and accessories to
their mix, and to find new methods to drive business.
Ford dealers, for example, were able to sell extended
warranties to 25 percent of customers who had initially
refused them by merely asking that they sign a decline
statement, he told attendees.
One dealer who benefitted from a new product line
is Jeff Tracy, second-generation principal of Tracy’s
Appliances, who found added success in mattresses.
The 62-year-old company seamlessly added the
category through BrandSource’s Sleep Source turnkey
bedding program, he said, and Tracy is now looking
to add recliners to his fledgling furniture mix.
While business is still challenging – “You can’t take
your eye off the ball,” he told TWICE – he’s proud that
he has never laid-off an employee in his 40 years with
the store, and added that his participation in educational
programs with The North American Retail Dealers
Association (NARDA) has paid off.
Vance Pflanz, principal of Pflanz Electronics, said
business is “pretty good overall” following “an O.K.
holiday season, a good January, and a great first two
weeks of February,” although sales have since slackened
again. But Pflanz is able to smooth out the valleys
of his retail business with custom installs and “quite a
bit of commercial work.”
He’s also somewhat insulated by a higher-end customer
that gravitates to top-of-the-line gear such as Sony’s 4K
projector. “Nothing has excited people as much,” he said.
Audio, particularly soundbars, is also “extremely
strong” as customers look to supplement the sound
of their flat panels’ speakers, and replacement sales
of HDTVs remain steady as older tier-three models fail.
“Business is always challenging,” Pflanz said. “Dealers
need to diversify.”