A hologram tech support agent appears with the just tap of a finger.
That was definitely the most entertaining idea to come out of the Azione Unlimited Fall Conference in Austin, October 8-10, although there were many other compelling concepts proffered by dealers and vendors alike in the interest of helping each other do more business. I was particularly struck by just how much business was conducted there—manufacturers that signed multiple new dealers and dealers solving real problems.
Dealers meeting and greeting as the Azione Fall Conference kicked off.
The three-day conference included presentations by this year’s CEDIA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Frank White; consultant Robert Heiblim of Blue Salve; and David Daniels, CEO of Xssentials, an Aspen based integrator. The three speakers covered a wide range of timely topics, including CE business structural organization, the integration company of the future, the Internet of Things, the need for service contracts, and an exploration of the middle market.
While there was an abundance of useful insight and illuminating statistics shared by the presenters, I think the most valuable part of the buying group conference was the intimate personal time shared between dealers and vendors. The roundtable sessions were a great example. The one that I participated in asked each group to discuss: “What can we do to make it easier to do business together?”
David Daniels, CEO, Xssentials, presented on how to explore home automation in the middle market.
The aforementioned hologram tech support agent was one such result of the table I worked with. When it came time to share what each group had come up with, there were definite themes repeated across the room: the ease that SnapAV’s portal provides dealers with to order parts efficiently and in a timely fashion and how critical streamlined ordering is to a job’s success; tiered levels of support, so more advanced dealers can be fast-tracked to a support agent; as well as structured training programs.
One suggestion that dealers made was for manufacturers to make themselves available to the end-user in the event of a major issue. This helps ensure that the customer realizes any issue is being addressed with the utmost concern, helping save face for the dealer too. The dealers said that very few manufacturers do this right now, so it’s a small effort that could go a long way.
My group discussed ways to manage client expectations, especially in regards to shipping times. When faced with a client that expects instant gratification, dealers can manage these expectations as part of the initial systems design. Another strategy recommended was to schedule jobs out in a thoughtful way to avoid running into impractical client demands.
Communication with the end user was another major snag expressed by dealers. Specifically, this involved the need to readily communicate important information to the end user in an honest and open way. The example used was dealing with the issues related to the recent iOS 8 update. Many professionals recommended that clients defer updating their systems and devices to the new software release, but not every client received this information. The moral was that not communicating effectively could make a problem so much worse.
For me, the best part of attending the Azione Unlimited Fall Conference was the time I spent getting to know dealers better—hearing their concerns and what types of projects they’re working on. There were so many interesting story topics that came up through the one-on-one conversations I had, the presentations, and the roundtable discussions. I’m looking forward to pursuing many of these timely subjects further in the coming months, as well as continuing the conversations started.
Lindsey Adler is associate editor for Residential Systems and Systems Contractor News.