BrandSource Bi-Monthly Call-ins Keep Members In the Loop
The BrandSource merchandising organization has initiated a bi-monthly schedule of regional call-ins – hour-long sessions hosted by Tom Bennett, BrandSource president – for each of the 14 regions served by the buying group, with an eye to providing members a forum for airing their concerns and successes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides keeping members keyed into pertinent group, government and industry information, the connectivity aspect of the call-ins also helps build morale, says BrandSource, fostering the group’s spirit de corps.
The call-ins program is an addition to the webinars, daily updates and the COVID information clearinghouse already established by BrandSource in its pro-active stance during this period.
By the sharing of experiences during these virtual meetings, BrandSource says, the group’s Senior Leadership Team can work with region presidents and local members to help troubleshoot any dilemmas a dealer may face. Conversely, their ideas, tips and management insights are helping members across the country to navigate the current storm.
BrandSource shared some comments by members as to the value of the call-ins. “There are so many different things on the Internet and in the news that is it hard to know what to believe,” Ronald Rodenbaugh, co-owner of Rodenbaugh’s in Allen, Texas, offered. “Having some backup from the group and advice on how to handle these new and unknown issues gives me some solace. The best practices from the other dealers is a great way to keep ahead in this difficult time.” Valerie Braun, Manager at Quality Appliance in Faribault, Minn., commented: “This is very beneficial as we are not always able to call each other to find out what the other guys are doing. Sharing information and brainstorming is essential!”
On this month’s first series of call-ins, Bennett explained dealers’ emergency financing options under the Small Business Administration’s Disaster and Paycheck Protection Programs. He also detailed the sharp spike in activity on the BrandSource ecommerce sites as more and more customers stay home, demonstrating the need to add sales capabilities to non-transactional websites, which AVB Marketing can implement in seven days, he said. Moreover, Bennett urged members to take full advantage of AVB Marketing’s array of digital tools including live chat, payment gateways and online merchandising, to boost conversions and help build bigger baskets by streamlining the shopping experience. Members were agreed about the power of the ecommerce assets, BrandSource reported. “We’ve had 36 chats so far this afternoon, which have translated into multiple sales,” said Joe Legato, Chief Operating Officer of Bill & Rod’s Appliances & Grills in Livonia, Mich. “It’s exciting to see, and we may need a full-time person online.”
Dealers also discussed such issues as health benefits for furloughed employees and the pros and cons of curbside delivery, and offered up a host of best practices to share with the greater member community. Among them: Installing a Plexiglas shield around the checkout counter to protect customers and staff, and listing showroom safety precautions along with store hours on the front door.
“The call-ins are an important way for members and staff to communicate,” said Dave Meekings, Chief Technology Officer of AVB Inc., who participated in the chats. “They allow members to discuss issues specific to their region; to learn about the latest developments from the group, the industry and government agencies; to ask questions; and to share best practices. Perhaps most important,” added Meekings, “it brings the members together.”