Hats off to Dean Miller and his team at Lenbrook for taking the
initiative to develop a dealer program that goes well beyond the
typical signage and endcaps. Called the Digital Music Experience
Centers (see our cover story on page 54 for more), the program is a
tight collaboration between Lenbrook and some of its best dealers to
create an area on their sales floors that highlights and demonstrates
full solutions that maximize consumers' digital music listening
experience. In a nutshell, that is done by educating the consumer
about high-resolution downloads, storage options, quality playback and
The program stands out for a number of reasons. One of the most
important is that it was developed in coordination with dealers, whose
input and feedback guided the program to fruition. The importance of
that type of collaboration can't be overstated. One of the most
consistent complaints dealers, retailers and resellers have in any
industry is that their vendor "partners" fail to solicit their input
and feedback when it comes to program and product development. Too
often, the result of that disconnect between the front office and the
front lines are programs with little dealer relevance or a products
the consumer doesn't want or can't use.
The problems have gotten worse in the last four years or so as many
vendors have neglected the independent CE dealer for the sake of
volume and a quick sale. Too many of them still do, so it's heartening
to see a vendor like Lenbrook (a distribution management and brand
development company that oversees NAD Electronics and PSB
Loudspeakers) undertake the increasingly rare practice of actually
working with its dealer partners to create a program designed to do
more than sell a single product at a cut-rate price.
Given the anti-vendor sentiment shared by many independent retailers
today, you'd think more companies would be following Lenbrook's lead.
It's in their best interest, especially as more CE retailers shrink
their TV offerings and devote more space to the demonstration and sale
of multi-vendor, connected solutions.
Dave Wexler of The Little Guys, the first dealer to implement
Lenbrook's program, echoes what many dealers have been telling us.
"Who the independent dealers pick as their partners is so critical
because it's going to determine our survival. If we deal with vendors
that care about us and need us, the future is good," he says. "The big
guys don't really care about us. They only care about how many boxes
they sell. If we rely on them, we're in trouble."
Lenbrook understands this and has made a noble effort in trying to
help independent dealers overcome the challenges they face today.
"We're not trying to sell [the dealer] anything," Miller told us, "but
we are trying to offer them some new direction for their businesses."
That's a direction worth going in.