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.”