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HTSA Looks To Boost Sales, Membership

St. Louis —

Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA)
has set its sights on growing group revenue by $100 million
over the next six months.

Richard Glikes, executive director of the 58-member buying
group for specialty A/V dealers, custom installers and system
integrators, announced the new sales goal this month at
HTSA’s annual Fall Pump Up meeting here at the Ritz-Carlton.

Glikes said the $100 million increase would help offset but
not compensate for sales losses over the past two years that
reduced group revenue to less than $400 million.

“We can do it,” he told TWICE. “We have a good strategy
in place.”

The plan includes a new membership drive, an “aggressive”
online attack, a focus on Black Friday, and continued marketing
and public relations efforts.

To grow its ranks the group has created a new associatemember
tier with lower dues and an annual sales requirement
of $2.5 million, half that of current members.

Glikes is looking to add about a dozen “young, smart” system
integrators that would swell the group’s ranks to more than
70 members and lay the groundwork for future growth, he said.

On the Internet front, HTSA is providing new customized
websites to members through an optimized platform featuring
new graphics, readily changeable skins and enhanced
search-engine marketing. The platform, which represents a
six-figure investment, went live last week.

The group has also invested another six-figure sum in e-commerce tools like Google AdWords,
banner ads and keyword searches that
goes into effect next month.

Also on the November agenda is a
Black Friday thrust. Glikes declined to
disclose the details for competitive reasons,
but said a plan is in place. “We’re
trying to make Black Friday an issue,” he

Meanwhile, HTSA will continue to position
itself as “an objective, unbiased
authority” on home technology through
a national and local effort that includes
targeted press releases and how-to
web videos, explained the group’s public
relations counsel, Gregory Matusky
of Gregory FCA. The latter, hosted by
HTSA training director David Berman,
included last summer’s “Ultimate Football
Experience” video, a five-part tutorial
on 3D TV, and an upcoming threepart
series on whole-home control.

The videos are posted on

and YouTube and members were
encouraged to add them to their own
companies’ sites. Matusky also urged
attendees to follow the example of
HTSA member Brian Hudkins, principal
of Gramophone, who has initiated an
aggressive social-networking campaign
that includes blogs, newsletters and
accounts at Twitter, Facebook, Flickr,
Foursquare and Delicious.

Also in the works, reported HTSA
president Leon Shaw, principal of Audio
Advice, is another online platform, tentatively
titled HTSA, which
will allow vendors and members to exchange
and update information on the
fly, including standard price sheets and
lists of new or discontinued products.
Glikes said he intends to share the concept
with the Consumer Electronics Association
(CEA) and CEDIA in the hope
of standardizing the tool industry-wide.

Other highlights of the three-day conclave
were presentations by therapist,
consultant, comedian and keynoter Connie
Podesta on how to identify customers
by four core personality types in
order to close a sale, and a discussion
by member Bob Gullo, president of Electronics
Design Group, on the differences
between “the good old days” of traditional
retailing and today’s infinitely more
complex business of custom installation.

“The traditional retail model is gone,”
he told attendees, ticking off a litany
of departed CE dealers. In today’s Internet-
connected world, custom-install
services are mandatory, but necessitate
an extended sales process; a complicated
implementation that requires
input from electricians, architects and
HVAC contractors; and a larger and
more diverse staff that includes sales
personnel, consultants, engineers and
project managers.

New HTSA suppliers at the fall meeting
included Paradigm, Sandy Gross’s
new GoldenEar Technology homespeaker
company, and GE Money.
Missing from the vendor ranks was former
vendor-of-the-year SpeakerCraft,
which began supplying the Progressive
Retailers Organization (PRO Group)
last spring and announced a wider distribution
policy this month at CEDIA
that includes higher-end mass-market