“The demands for custom today are quite a bit different than they were in the early days,” said Craig DeAndrea of Woodbridge Stereo/Video in Woodbridge, N.J., which got its start in custom installation with in-wall speaker systems. “The systems that we need to develop to do custom properly require significant back office work.” A general salesperson accustomed to working the floor isn’t necessarily equipped to oversee the technical details associated with a custom job, he said, which requires a project manager to coordinate and supervise the installation as it progresses. A separate team is dedicated to custom installs at Woodbridge.
Jeffrey Fish, e-commerce manager at Sixth Avenue Electronics, Springfield, N.J., notes that the salespeople in the custom installation department are selling solutions not gadgets. And much of the actual selling takes place in the client’s home, not on the dealer’s show floor. “It’s very rare that you can sell an out-of-the-box solution in the store,” he said. “We have great vignettes and phenomenal displays to show the customer what we’re capable of, but it’s really best to go out to the home to show the customer what can be done in their surroundings.”
And once a dealer has invested in recruiting and training qualified custom A/V personnel, it should focus on retention. “You need to keep the people that you have, so you need to pay them well and treat them well,” said Mike Beck, vice president of operations at Harvey in Lyndhurst, N.J.