Executives at Starpower, a high-end specialty A/V retailer that emphasizes its custom installation services, are claiming that its business is "up 70 percent for the year" at a time when many of the industry's traditional retailing powerhouses are struggling to even keep afloat in today's tumultuous CE marketplace.
TWICE has named the company the Best Specialty A/V Retailer in its 2007 Excellence in Retailing Awards.
David and Daniel Pidgeon, the brothers who founded Starpower in 1995 and who act respectively as the company's president/CEO and chief financial officer, credit a trinity of components for the company's success, namely:
- its ability to cultivate its reputation as a high-end "luxury brand;"
- its "dedication to customer service;" and
- the fact that "65 percent of our business is repeat and referral business."
Though all three of the company's brick-and-mortar locations are in Texas, the retailer claims clientele from coast to coast, including many celebrities and professional athletes. These high-profile customers, said the Pidgeons, have done a great deal to help Starpower cement its reputation as a luxury brand.
In order to meet the needs of its long-distance customer base, the brothers told TWICE that the retailer "has at least two [installation] crews on the road at all times." At the time of the interview, they said they had teams working on projects in North Carolina and Denver as well as Beverly Hills, Calif.
When TWICE spoke with the Starpower team last year, the company boasted an average ticket price of about $15,000. This year, however, the brothers say the average is around $7,500. According to the Pidgeons, industrywide issues like price compression have lowered the average transaction price on the retailer's existing sales.
While lower prices might be considered a storm cloud by some retailers, it hasn't blocked Starpower's shine. The silver lining, according to the Pidgeons, is that the lower prices have provided an opportunity for the retailer to widen its reach and cater to more "middle-class" customers in addition to its traditional high-end clients.
Granted, maintaining the aura of exclusivity may prove difficult as more customers of varied economic levels gain access to Starpower as prices continue to fall, but the Pidgeons assured TWICE they're aware of this looming possibility and that they are working actively to avoid such a fate.
"It will continue to be a challenge, and we don't take it lightly," said David.
The brothers explained that many of the traditionally high-end products carried by the retailer have been affected by recent falling prices, but Starpower responded by "reformatting" its floor assortment to assure that the needs of its traditionally higher-end customers would continue to be met.
In addition to maintaining a fresh product assortment, the brothers expect their business will keep growing because of the company's continued commitment to providing exemplary service through programs like its V.I.P. service, which it started last year to provide 24-hour call-in service and other perks to its highest-paying clients.
"Just because you lower the price doesn't mean you need to lower the customer service level," said Daniel.