We service luxury clients in the NYC Metro area and take great pride in the work we do, the level of service that we provide, and the elegance and ease of use of the systems that we program and install. We set ourselves apart on these criteria which, when taken together, are the Client Experience. We also set ourselves apart via the products that we offer.
Over the years we have strategically shifted to products not as widely distributed and not carried by as many dealers. For example, some of our key lines are Paradigm speakers; Anthem AVRs; Crestron control, lighting and shading systems; and Autonomic music servers. The strategy was three-fold: First of all, we would carry premium brands that conveyed the luxury image that we want to portray; secondly, the product could not easily be shopped and finally, by quoting products that are not sold by as many dealers, there would be a point of differentiation.
This strategy took us away from the ‘Me-Too’ brands, as I like to refer to them. The Me-Too brands are the ones sold and quoted by several dealers in a market, making differentiation difficult. We also like to work with companies that are very integrator focused and not as mass-market targeted. That is especially true with speakers, AVRs, and other electronics. We feel that we get better service and attention when the brands’ loyalties are not split between multiple channels.
Now, there are always exceptions to the rule. As I’ve talked about previously, with Crestron now supporting Sonos, we have become a Sonos dealer and have been selling quite a bit of product. Talk about a Me-Too and consumer focused brand! But, sometimes you have to go with what the market demands. Another example is SnapAV, as we recently started buying a lot of our “black-boxes” from them. While it is a Me-Too brand many dealers carry, it is not a name that consumers know, so it doesn’t really impact brand integrity or differentiation.
Lately we’ve seen some brands we have been loyal to go through acquisitions and become part of larger companies, very often acquired by Me-Too brands. In some ways the acquisition is a good thing: more resources, more R&D, more marketing. In other ways, there are detriments: longer waits for tech support; less personalized attention; employees no longer feeling as connected to the brand, management, and the ethos of the larger company. We have seen both happen and, of course, have seen a mix of the good and the bad. We have high hopes for the acquisition of Autonomic by SnapAV, as Snap has many positives that offset the risks—a great company culture; great customer service; dedicated and engaged employees; and an ethos that is all about the integrator.
From a 10,000-foot view, we will continue to support differentiated, selective brands that provide unique solutions, great tech support, and the personalized attention that is critical to our success. While exceptions will need to be made here and there, we feel the benefits of this strategy far outweigh becoming a Me-Too integrator.