Attitudes: Time to Adapt and Transition
Manufacturers that want to play can make sure specialty dealers get at least a few chances to be the first to roll out products that fit their models especially well; have early and full access to lines that create complete solutions; and maybe even give retailers the opportunity to contribute their input into the feature set and designs of next-gen product lines. A few manufacturers do a good job at some of those things, but most could do a better job at all of them.
When we asked Saul Robbins, the founder of HiFi House and one of this year's Hall of Fame Inductees (p. 64), what he missed most about the business, he was quick to say the close vendor relationships and involvement he used to experience but had faded by the time he retired in the late 1980s.
"Akio Morita [the founder of Sony] always felt that the independent was the best way to sell new products. He was the smartest guy because of the way he felt about dealers. That was the key to their success," Robbins said. "When the bean counters took over [in general] it changed the picture dramatically. All they wanted were the big-box guys with the numbers."