ProSource president and CEO Dave Workman kicked off the organization’s 2017 Summit, being held this week at the Orlando World Center Marriott, by declaring that “a group is no better than the sum of its parts.”
Between a growing membership of successful integrators, increasing array of influential vendor partners and strong commitment to dealer education as shown during the conference, it’s all adding up to an impressive sum these days.
Workman noted that ProSource brought on a record 58 new dealer members in 2016 to increase the group’s total to 540. Among those, he cited seven “elevations” of members whose growth earned them new status in ProSource’s three tiers — PRO, Power and CI — with four of the seven reaching PRO status by surpassing $10 million in annual sales.
Overall, Workman pointed out that ProSource’s membership includes representation of half of the CE Pro 100, our annual list of the highest-revenue integrators; as well as a laundry list of top volume dealers for manufacturers such as Control4 and Elan; and numerous 2016 award winners (like Elite Media Solutions and Logic Integration) as tapped by CEDIA, CTA, Electronic House and others.
“The list goes on and on, and I can’t think of a list that comes close to this so congratulate yourselves,” Workman told attendees. “We have a more stringent vetting process for members in this group than we have ever had before, and as a result the quality we’re bringing into this organization has been raised substantially.”
Workman says the new members to ProSource in 2016 represented $100 million in volume, and he mentioned a growth strategy that anticipated 40 to 50 more members in areas of the country the group sees as under-penetrated. He showed a heat map of member representation in the U.S. that illustrated how even the seemingly saturated areas like the West Coast overall could be better served from Washington down to Arizona as ProSource eyes raising total membership to 750 to 800 dealers as part of a five-year outlook.
Greater Dealer Engagement in 2017
ProSource is seeking to engage and empower its members more in 2017 after a busy 2016, as Workman detailed last year’s successes and this year’s plans. Additionally, he mentioned that next year’s Summit will move from Orlando to Nashville, Tenn.
The past year saw the group roll out a new portal for members and public website; EFT implementation for faster and more secure member payments; form a research committee to delve into the Internet of Things; and develop a recurring revenue model to share with dealers, with the help of industry veteran Jim Carroll, principal of Connected Home Advisory.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Workman, who added that the group announced a first quarter dues abatement for membership. “We’re reducing out-of-pocket costs while at the same time improving member benefits we bring back to you.”
For 2017, two key initiatives will demonstrate ProSource’s committee approach to operational success, Workman said. The group is adding a marketing committee, which will focus on digital marketing endeavors and be “an end-to-end solution with the support of our vendor partners,” beginning with 15 beta dealers and 120-day proof-of-concept test before national rollout. It will also incorporate the recurring revenue model education, deployment of Salesforce software, analytics implementation and tech support to reduce truck rolls.
“That’s going to be a critical function, to deliver a robust system that hopefully will deliver increased profitability for you to allow you to differentiate yourself further from the competition in your market,” Workman said.
The other key move is establishment of a membership committee, by which ProSource hopes to solicit feedback on “what we’re doing wrong, what we could be doing right.”
It’s a natural extension of what Workman said was greater member communications stemming from a core responsibility of ProSource’s district management, which he says has been “a huge success for us in touching the dealer base and huge for one-on-one [meetings] than ever before.”
ProSource named two new district managers during the Summit, as Samantha Summerville takes over the South Central region and Rick Huggins leads the West Coast region.
ProSource also recognized its 2017 Dealer of the Year Awards during the Summit:
- North Central Region – Tom Priola, Primetime Audio/Video
- North East Region – Dave Gilbert, Hi-Fi Sales
- South East Region – Guy Ross, Synergy
- Mid West Region – Kirby Gaboury, Audio ETC
- South Central Region – Shawn Hansson, Logic Integration
- PRO Member Dealer of the Year – Crutchfield
Audio Big Part of Manufacturer Push
One technology category in which ProSource expects to provide its members a big boost is in audio. During the Summit, one education highlight was the “Sell More Stereo” session led by Deborah Smith (read her white paper detailing this class).
Other lively education sessions during the Summit included a panel discussion on voice control moderated by Carroll featuring Alex Capecelatro, founder/CEO, Josh.ai; Martin Plaehn, president/CEO, Control4; Dan Quigley, principal technical product manager, Amazon Alexa; and Dan Pye, corporate technology group, Harman; as well as an expert presentation on reducing drama and wastefulness in business operations by Navigate Management Consulting partner Brad Malone (stay tuned for more on those).
Regarding audio opportunities, Workman noted that among the new vendor partners ProSource welcomed in the past year, the list included Autonomic Controls, Focal, Naim and Bose.
“That last name is probably a surprise to you, because Bose had never done a group deal with anybody, but guess what, we’re the first ever,” Workman said.
The long list of other audio vendors already working with ProSource include Anthem, AudioQuest, Boston Acoustics, Cambridge Audio, Definitive Technology, Denon, Harman, Integra, JBL Synthesis, Klipsch, Leon, Lexicon, Marantz, Mark Levinson, MartinLogan, Niles, Origin Acoustics, Paradigm, Polk, Revel, Sony, Soundcast, SpeakerCraft, Sunfire, SVS, Thorens, Tributaries, Yamaha and ZVOX.
“We are ‘the’ audio group; it’s been our top category the last three years,” he continued, “but it has not grown in the CI channel. This is a category we can address and will address. We need a high-profit product to take up some of those dollars, and I can’t think of a better one than audio.”
Workman acknowledged the ubiquitous industry presence of Sonos, but argued that “Sonos is not the answer, period.” He encouraged dealers to keep their options open as well as keeping in mind that Millennials love audio “and they will become the fastest growing segment of this business.”
Workman said the group’s relationship with its audio vendors can spur new growth in the category, though selling audio is certainly a learned skill (as dealers could see in Smith’s session).
“We’d love to see nothing more than the caliber and quality you represent be the pinnacle of audio in your respective markets,” he said. “There is no other group that has this selection of audio vendors doing business with a single group. We can own the mid, upper mid and absolute upper premium in audio space.”
Introduction of ‘Dream Team’ as Resource
Before keynoter, famed college football coach and Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier, took the stage during the buying group conference, AVB/BrandSource (of which ProSource is the specialty retail division) CEO Jim Ristow addressed the entire crowd and further emphasized the opportunities at hand as well as unveiling additional resources to members.
So before talk of championship football teams, Ristow introduced players on what’s been dubbed the “Dream Team” to help AVB dealers.
“How do we make our members better business people?” Ristow asked. As group members may deal with common challenges, one way AVB is answering this question is to have them access experts in various areas for consultation.
Likening them to college professors and high school teachers who could be considered subject matter experts in whichever courses they taught, the team AVB assembled addresses specific areas in which those member pain points may occur.
“We’re going to apply these experts to your businesses, so you have the resources,” Ristow said.
Comprising the team and joining Ristow on stage (pictured below, left to right) were: Daniel Abramson, a staffing industry expert to help with hiring and recruiting; Bob Baird, merchandising specialist; David Romano, financial benchmarking; the aforementioned Carroll, retail technology; Joe Higgins, company culture; and Jeff Caldwell, strategic planning.