Retail Roundtable: Regionals Have Their Say
Sasicki: We entered the mattress business two years ago, along with the HVAC [heating, ventilating and air-conditioning] business. Abt is working with our current customer base in offering more full home service. That allows us to keep on answering our customers’ needs. We sell whole-house generators now. More people have finished basements and they have larger investments into it, so it’s an insurance policy. Adding these new categories is bringing more people into the store, but it provided another opportunity for us to service existing customers’ needs.
Lavine: We implemented a sales training program here at the store in the last couple of years. Percy’s had such a program in the past, but we put more emphasis on it now: How to talk to customers, how to answer the phone, how to give better customer service.
McMaster: We’ve just reemphasized the need to build margin and profitability into the proposals and allocate product mix to maximize margins and also the performance. So what does that mean? Looking at a proposal before it’s presented [to a customer] and making sure we’re at good overall gross margins, holding our line on discounting, and also changing the mix of a system, whereas if you have a $20,000 system, with that same $20,000 you could go with maybe a less-expensive television and better-quality speakers and better-quality amplifiers, and still have a very good video system, but increase overall performance and still have a budget of $20,000. And increase your margins. So, the customer wins and the company wins by just changing the mix towards higher-profit items.