In order to grow our business we need to start with the obvious. Everyone of our operations can certainly increase their sales at least 40% by doing a more effective job of selling more of the goods and services we already have to the customers we already have. We need to look at our business through this lens every day and every moment. It’s essential.
If we are going to continuously grow our business we must identify everything we have available to sell, then make it accessible, desirable, and consumable. Next, we need to identify all of our customers, get to know them better, make them accessible, and then connect with them [this is where the rubber meets the road]. We facilitate this connection by building a better conduit between all we have to offer and all of our customers. This is really the key to growing our business. It’s organic.
1. Sell more of what we have to the customers we have.
a. Identify everything we have available to sell. I have no idea of the entire scope of our remarkable offerings, I doubt anyone actually does. The products, programs, and services we now offer are as diverse as they are outstanding. Before we get started working on any strategy to increase sales we have to begin with identifying ALL of the goods and services we currently have available to sell. Out of sight, out of mind.
b. Make all that we offer accessible to everyone at the Advantage. Once we identify everything we have to offer, we need to make it accessible to everyone at the Advantage. If we can’t identify and access it, we can’t sell it. This access must be available for everyone from the first day they arrive at the Advantage and continue on [even as they become more and more focused on a specific division and less likely to be exposed to the rest of the company]. It’s easy to become myopic and miss opportunities. Keep everything in sight and accessible.
c. Merchandise it all for customer access. After we’ve identify and provide access to our eclectic mix of offerings, everything needs to be offered, packaged, and presented in a way that is attractive to our customers. This is the special sauce, this is the Advantage ‘Magic.’ We are here to satisfy particular needs. Our customers need to know that we have what they need, but, more importantly, we need to fire their imagination with all that is possible. Along with our personal performance, one of the things we can control is the quality of our customer’s access, so let’s make certain that they have the best access possible.
d. Make it consumable. Our range of offerings is nothing short of incredible, but it is just too much to present or grasp all at once. We need to make it all consumable in one bite – maximum exposure in the minimum amount of time and space. The most consumable venue is obviously a little flier. Do you think we can get everything we have to offer in one little flier? It’s a challenge, but it is essential. I’m certain we can do it. From a simple flier we move into other more voluminous venues; each providing a larger format for more information and depth. So we graduate from a flier to a brochure, then a catalog, then a website, and finally to the actual displays in a store. Each venue presents an opportunity for maximum exposure of all that we have to offer [as well as defining specific offerings].
e. Identify all of our customers. We have customers everywhere. In fact everyone we touch is a customer or potential customer. We need to build, organize, and profile our customer lists. We need to know our customers better. It is essential.
f. Make all of our customers accessible to everyone at the Advantage. Once again, if we can’t identify and access them, we can’t sell them. We need to share all our resources, including our customers.
g. Connect with our customers. We need a better conduit to our customers. Every point of contact needs to be improved.
2. Find more customers for what we already have to sell. We always start with word-of-mouth referrals, because we know nothing is more critical to our success. Until our customers refer us, we haven’t completed the sale. In addition to referrals, we must seek out new customers through a comprehensive marketing program.
3. Find more to sell to the customers we already have. We’re actually pretty good at this, especially at TW&Co. This is what makes buying fun. It’s the hunt. Fortunately, the internet allows us to access and deliver an even broader array of goods and services for our customers at minimal cost.
4. Diversify. The future is uncertain and the end is always near, let it roll. Everything wears out – every fad, every product. Everything that is new today is old tomorrow. Sooner or later we have to be ready to move on. Diversification will lay the foundation for future growth. We should always be on the lookout for new opportunities that provide us with access to different product, services, markets, suppliers, partners, and customers.
I have done business with your original company for many years. My wife and I just purchased a new TV, receiver, speakers, etc. from you (Mike Galas, great young employee of yours). We first met Mike on the day of the recent blizzard. I’ve always been curious about something in your business – maybe you can take the time to answer – after spending around an hour with us on Wehrle Dr., your people had no way to contact us to see if we had any questions or if we were thinking about coming back in. Believe me, I am thrilled at the low pressure sales approach and there was never any question in my mind about who were were buying this stuff from, but how come your people don’t try to get contact info? Just curious because I’m also in a sales type business.
Unfortunately, our attentiveness to the local market has waned over the years, and we now find the old Stereo Advantage retail dynamic in a malaise that I doubt it will ever recover from. It use to really aggravate me, but it appears to be their fate. Fortunately [and by design], our consumer electronics business has successfully migrated to national service, system architecture, and system installation.
Although all of the final numbers are not yet tabulated, it is likely that 2013 was our best year ever in consumer electronics. Our national wholesale and fulfillment program in our iFul division had another great year, but it was the unprecedented growth in our Lifetime Service Centers, especially our California center, that pushed us over the top.
Nevertheless, our product and service at the new Stereo Advantage Smart Center at our Wehrle Dr facility remains the preeminent resource for consumer electronics in WNY. The real trouble comes in our dormant selling motion. We just don’t pay any attention to retail advertising or marketing. In the past, we did a great job with our Gusto Ad and customer call-back programs, but now we simply service the customers that access us directly. It is a shame, but the fact of the matter is that the retailing of consumer electronics is not exactly a profitable venture anymore, and, accordingly, the energy to grow our business has found more fertile ground.
For me, personally, I have been out of Stereo Advantage Retail since 1992. Back then, ‘we was kings.’ Audio Al, Butch, Dej, and I remember those days fondly, but, frankly, the future is too exciting for us to give those days much thought.
Tonight I’ll be working on the opportunities our remarkable FedRAMP IaaS ATO afford us. The June, 2014 deadline is almost here, and the Federal mandate for FedRAMP ATO will compel every cloud service provider to utilize a FedRAMP authorized IaaS as a portal for their SaaS, and we are currently only one of two fully authorized portals [and the other, CGI, just got blamed for screwing up Obamacare].
These are exciting times at the Advantage. Giancarlo’s, TW&Co, LTS, Advantage Technology Integrators, iFul, Autonomic Resources, Consilium Business Exchange, Grivani, Bogavia, FedDROP, FedDataCrunch, ARC Secure Cloud, and the Pure+Fresh Pantry all have my attention tonight, and I could use a 36 hour day.
Thanks for your business and comments. I will pass your comments along to the leadership team at the Stereo Advantage in the hope that a young gun will come along and take the Stereo Advantage for a new ride to glory. Maybe Mike Galas is the man for the job?
Stay in touch.