How Regional Dealers Beat 2012’s Toughest Challenges

Falling profits, paying for healthcare, hiring good employees top the list

We recently spoke with several regional CE and appliance dealers about a number of issues for our annual roundtable that will appear in the December issue of Dealerscope. In this section, we asked them about the biggest challenge they had to overcome this year and how did they do it? Here’s what they had to say.

Jeff Clemens, Electronics Sales Manager, Grand Appliance and TV, Zion, Ill.: The biggest challenge we face as an organization has been and continues to be dealing with growth. We’ve been fortunate to have increased sales steadily over the past several years, and2012 was no different. In 2012, we’ve opened two new stores and enjoyed double-digit sales growth. This has challenged us in a number of ways, but in sum it has significantly impacted our ability to maintain the high-touch, customer-focused approach our customers have come to expect from us.

To overcome these challenges, we made major investments in human resources and technology. With regard to human resources, we’ve hired more than 25 employees in sales, delivery and customer service to deal with more deliveries, inventory and store traffic, and to allow for better communication with customers before, during and after the sale. In addition, we’ve empowered employees at virtually every level to make important decisions quickly rather than forcing a customer to go through multiple levels in order to get information, advice or solutions.

With regard to technology, we’ve launched a completely new, much more functional and informative web site for our customers. In addition, we implemented new logistical technologies to make the process of receiving, pulling and delivering merchandise as efficient and transparent as possible. For example, our new truck-routing solution allows our salespeople and customer service personnel to monitor our trucks in real time and get instant notifications of delivery status to keep our customersinformed of their delivery status, and also to pro-actively deal with any issues that might occur during a day’s deliveries.

Terry Oates, President, King’s Great Buys Plus, Evansville, Ind.: The biggest challenge is margin degradation, particularly the way vendors choose to go to marketplace with IRs (instant rebates) and whatnot. You look at your margins on the front side, and there really isn’t any profit in it until you get the money on the back side, and they don’t pay quickly; you’re in a losing proposition. But for the most part, most vendors pay their bills pretty quickly, so it’s not as big an issue as it once was. But if you’re looking at a statement just based on what the surface margin is, there’s no money in it. Therein lies the challenge.

Editor in chief of Dealerscope
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