At this week’s Azione Unlimited virtual summit, named “Expedient Exposition,” the buying group unveiled its two key initiatives for 2021 that hit some of the biggest pain points for its members — hiring staff and getting in front of architects and interior designers. Richard Glikes, president of Azione Unlimited, also presented an overview on how group members were faring in this extremely different world we are operating in — and the outlook is very good.
“This is the best year ever, and it isn’t going to stop in this calendar year,” said Glikes. “Housing starts are at historic highs, renovations are booming, and home offices are not slowing down, and we are directly tied to this market. Azione Unlimited is already up 32 percent for the first three months of 2021 — and that’s based on pre-pandemic levels. It’s just an amazing time for integrators.”
In the eyes of AU, even though business is great, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better, which is what led to the creation of the two initiatives, the germs of which Glikes said were birthed out of his late-night thoughts about the current pains of CI dealers.
Initiative #1: SmartHomeHire
The first issue tackled is not a new one for the integration industry — lack of staff has been an ongoing problem — and AU has partnered with Wisconsin-based web developer Blue Door Consulting to tackle it through a new site called SmartHomeHire.
SmartHomeHire is designed to increase awareness of the opportunities in the custom installation world to those who don’t know it exists. According to Glikes, it is designed to glorify the industry in a way that shows more than tells. It will have detailed areas that describe careers in sales, systems design, installation, and project management, and will feature videos of AU members in those roles spreading their enthusiasm for the industry.
The site is promised to be heavily marketed by AU and will incorporate current SEO techniques to draw in those job seekers looking for the right fit. Additionally, AU plans an outreach to vo-tech schools that, to Glikes amazement, currently have no options for those looking for careers in AV installation.
For AU members, they will exclusively be able to post job listings on the site for a fraction of what headhunters would charge to fill a position. While most headhunters charge 20 percent of salary, SmartHomeHire charges $1000 for a job listing that will run for 90 days. If no one is hired, dealers get their money back. If they find more than one candidate in a category, the price doesn’t change. However, the site is not designed to be a profit center — all money earned from job listings will be put back into the marketing of SmartHomeHire.
“We incubated an idea, had excellent dynamics from the AU team, and partnered with a talented resource to implement our vision for SmartHomeHire,” said Glikes. “The initial reaction from our dealers has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic — they’re enamored.”
SmartHomeHire will launch on May 6.
Related: Staffing Up!
Initiative #2: Azione Architects Designers Alliance
The second item that kept Glikes from his pillow was working with other trades — more specific, architects and designers. While integrators know that getting in early on projects through these trades is key, it has still been difficult to establish close relationships that guarantee a seat at the table from the beginning.
The answer to that problem, according to AU, is its new AADA, or Azione Architects Designers Alliance. The goal of AADA is to build a stronger community between the professions, where they can share ideas, build personal relationships, change each other’s perceptions, and generate more business.
“AADA operates on two levels: creating a community and creating more business,” said Glikes. “People like to do business with their friends, and we’re creating friendships between architects, designers, and Azione members. That outcome is positive. We’re also going to be the ‘answer man’ for architects and designers and reward them for being part of the team.”
The hub of AADA will be digital, but will branch into several in-person learning opportunities for members. On the digital front, there will be a live directory of AADA professionals and a Digital Dream Book of smart home solutions that can be used to inform not only architects and designers, but also clients. AADA will also include a rolling 90-day calendar of exclusive events, including CEUs and lunch and learns.
To broaden the community, a private messaging area will be included that will allow AADA members to connect quickly. Additionally, the AADA’s Alliance Affinity program will offer another way to connect with architects and interior designers by encouraging those members to meet in integrator showrooms. It will also encourage Azione Unlimited dealers to create specialized programs for the community at their discretion.
AADA is expected to launch in the middle of July.
Next Stop: Nashville
As with any organization that values in-person experiences for education and networking, Azione Unlimited has just wrapped what it hopes will be its final virtual summit, and is planning on meeting with members for real in Nashville, TN, on September 22 through 24 for its next event.
For more information, visit https://www.azioneunlimited.com.