Adapting to Change

Technology propels itself forward faster and faster.
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Now is the Time to Deliver Every New Technology Option That You Can

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Jeremy Burkhardt (jburkhardt@speakercraft.com) is president of SpeakerCraft in Riverside, California.

Technology propels itself forward faster and faster. It seems like the last five years have been some of the most innovative ever. The efforts of manufacturers to compete for your loyalty accelerates the pace.

I find myself actually enjoying how fast technology has changed and how much easier life has become. What an awesome time to be alive and in business. Music is being consumed and shared at a rate unimagined. Sources from iPods, iPads, Win7, Droid, and so many other digital sources to cloud-based delivery systems are providing people with virtually limitless options.

Whether you want to download old-school Iggy Pop or the Velvet Underground, more music exists at our fingertips than we have time to listen to. Maybe you want to dial in your Pandora channel from the music you grew up listening to or even the Dalai Lama talking about life and happiness; it is all available at the touch of a button.

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The concept of wholehouse audio is now a reality for most everyone. Throw products like Apple TV into the mix, and multi-room audio just became about as plugn- play as a toaster.

The concept of whole-house audio is now a reality for most everyone. Throw Apple AirPlay into the mix, and multi-room audio just became about as plug-n-play as a toaster. I know there are some of you out there shaking in your boots and screaming, “Stop the madness! How will we remain relevant in this wireless, simplistic, consumer-friendly, anyonecan- do-it universe?” Trust me, those same thoughts have cost me many sleepless nights, as well.

But then I realized a simple fact. I don’t mow my own lawn. Although I own a lawnmower and have spent plenty of hours behind it, I choose to allow someone else to do that for me. Just like I allow someone to clean my pool and wash my car. We are in a luxury business and that means our customers value their time more than their money. They pay for numerous services that they could perform for themselves. It’s not a matter of whether they can; it’s that they prefer not to.

You install gear that disappears into the home and works every time, and you are contacted when a problem occurs. Over the holidays I got way into vinyl and listened to hundreds of tracks with my son. He and his buddies were excited to hear how great music could sound. Don’t forget that it’s all about delivering great-sounding systems and educating the next generation about how much better lossless sounds than compressed music. Demo baby.

You are a solution that your clients need, instead of spending their valuable time researching their options and installing the technology themselves. Yes they can, but they won’t. These are the same people who never programmed their VCR. Why, because it was too much drama. The result was an industry revolution represented by the DVR. Now the ability to record the latest episode of Dexter or Sons of Anarchy is a simple point and click. Did this render us impotent and irrelevant? No, in fact it created an even greater demand for quality audio/video systems, because people rediscovered the joy of entertainment that they could experience on their own schedule and not that of a network executive.

You should be reveling in the opportunities created by the $250 multi-zone entertainment system. Just like the iPod revitalized the music business, these new delivery and control options will bring what was once only the property of the wealthy to the masses. And the masses will drive our business forward like never before. Does this mean a shift in our perspective? Of course it does. Maybe instead of installing 20 $75,000 systems a year you will be looking at 200 systems at $10k. Or possibly you have five or six massive systems and 100 small installs to fill in the gaps.

The idea is to be flexible and adapt to the changes that are coming as only you can. When the growing custom market was in its infancy there were plenty of brick-and-mortar retailers who refused to believe it was a viable business model. They stuck to their guns and sat behind the counter waiting for customers and their credit cards as they had always done. They advertised and merchandised their way right out of business. Don’t get caught in the same trap. Now that custom is a major force in the market, many dealers are looking at new technologies as threats instead of opportunities. Now is the time to take advantage of your ability to deliver to the customer every option you can. They are waiting for you. Don’t make them wait too long.

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