Most custom integrators would not say they are in the business of simply installing home electronics, but instead they have a greater purpose… to create sensational experiences for their customers. It’s a higher calling.
For the past four years, Feedback AV has brought that same sense of purpose to the industry at the product level. The Florida-based company, whose parent is Southeast distributor Audio America, gives a portion of its proceeds to Feeding America, a charity that provides meals to the needy. Since 2012, Feedback AV has provided more than 330,000 meals through the charity.
“For the past four years, we have kept the Feedback AV lines as in-house brands for our parent company Audio America. Now we feel like we are ready for primetime,” says Ryan Munder, president. “We have worked out the kinks. We have a great lineup of basic accessories. We are ready to go out on a national level, not only with those accessories, but with designs going forward on getting into more sophisticated products in different categories now that we have refined our efforts.”
Feedback AV offers TV mounts, multimedia cables, screens, wallplates, keystones and multiple varieties of HDMI cables (4K, non-4K, locking, non-locking). Each product is not only made with high quality but also offers integrators incredible margins.
In fact, Feedback AV does not even have suggested retail pricing, so the lines cannot be “price shopped” by end users online. That allows dealers to sell the products for whatever they deem viable.
“Five years ago, consumers were shopping the TVs. Today, they are even shopping the accessories,” says Shane Mullikin, chief product officer at Feedback AV.
One reason the company can guarantee high quality is that it has partnered with some of the top manufacturers in the industry to build the lines on a private-label basis. For example, Screen Innovations makes its screens. Some of the keystones and wallplates are made by Vanco, while some of the HDMI cables are made by Metra Home Theater Group.
“We do not hide who our partners are,” says Mullikin. “We partnered with major manufacturers so we know the quality of the products. We have taken the Internet out of the equation for our dealers and allowed them to make margin on the products.”
Feedback AV is in the midst of setting up relationships with independent reps across the country. The company will also be establishing direct-buying relationships with larger integration companies. The rollout will be throughout the year, with new product categories being added also.
Giving Back via Charity
Beyond the product quality and margin, the charitable backbone of the company is unique.
“It has always been a goal of mine to figure out a way to be successful in business and give back at the same time,” says Munder. “I looked at other industries that were finding ways to give back and I felt like the electronics industry lagged behind the others.”
Munder sees so many companies outside CE with elements of “cause marketing” where a percentage of the proceeds are donated to a charity. Charities like breast cancer awareness have done a great job of making consumers aware that their purchase is donating to the cause, he notes.
“We are hoping to do that same thing in the electronics industry and at the same time inspire others in our industry to become more charitable as well,” he says. As the company goes national, Munder has a goal to donate 1 million meals through Feeding America in 2017.
The message resonates with integrators too.
CE Pro 100 integrator ETC in West Palm Beach, Fla., is onboard. “At ETC we are so lucky and always looking for ways to payback,” says president Bill Maronet. “Our margins are not great so the opportunity that Feedback AV provides is a continual way to give as we go about business as usual. It was a no-brainer for us to commit to purchasing accessories and other products knowing that a percentage of the money we spend goes to charity automatically.”
Michael Brodkey of Audio Video MD in Hollywood, Fla., also supports the effort. “We made the switch to Feedback AV due to the charitable cause, profitability and build quality. I couldn’t be happier with our decision,” he says.
Philip Henann of Cinema Sound Unlimited in Margate, Fla. agrees, noting, “We install Feedback AV products in every job we do. My integrators love the build quality of the Feedback AV line, and from a business owners point of view the profitability and charitable cause is like no other.”
Soliciting Dealer Feedback
One other differentiator for the company is its openness to solicit feedback from integrators and adapt to those requests.
“We regularly hold dealer roundtables all around the nation. We are really trying to solicit feedback from our customers so we can enhance the customer experience and innovate the products,” says Munder. “The response from the industry has been amazing. We have dealers who have been in business for 10, 20 or 30 years and they tell us that they have never been asked by a manufacturer to offer their opinions on product development or share their experience with certain products. Every dealer we speak with has really interesting thoughts, and they can’t believe that we are taking the time to solicit their thoughts on how to deliver the product and experience it the right way, as well as help them grow their businesses.”
For example, one idea that popped up during a recent dealer roundtable was the idea to create an all-in-one TV installation kit in a cardboard briefcase. The kit allows the installer to go from the truck to the location in the home where the TV is being installed knowing that he has everything he needs with him beyond just a mount and cable.
The kit contains, for instance, screen cleaner. As every technician knows, the TV glass gets fingerprints all over it during the installation process. If the technician does not clean it, the customer is going to be upset, but he shouldn’t have to walk all the way down the truck just to get a screen cleaner.
“It’s not rocket science to include a screen cleaner in the box, but it is something that is really meaningful to an installer,” says Munder. The kit will be available for dealers to purchase with the idea of leaving the remaining contents of the kit with the homeowner post-installation.