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More Than Met the Eye

As this year’s CEDIA EXPO was approaching, the SpeakerCraft team was looking for ways to make our dealers trade show experience more valuable. We began to discuss the successes of years past and an idea evolved.

Speakercraft Got Down To Serious Business At Cedia Expo 2008

Editor’s Note: It wasn’t too hard to convince SpeakerCraft president Jeremy Burkhardt to write about himself this month,but we didn’t want it to look like he was simply tooting his own horn. The fact is that SpeakerCraft’s decision to feature business training at its CEDIA EXPO booth instead of product pitches was the most innovative and daring idea that most of us have ever observed on a trade show floor.People who aren’t SpeakerCraft dealers probably missed the point of the booth because they were too easily distracted by scantily clad dancers and an exotic booth design. Had you looked past all of that, however, you might have learned a little something about running your business the right way.

As this year’s CEDIA EXPO was approaching, the SpeakerCraft team was looking for ways to make our dealers trade show experience more valuable. We began to discuss the successes of years past and an idea evolved. What if we were to turn the show aroun and focus on the actual business needs of the dealers and give them information that would prompt an internal evaluation of their companies? We could concentrate our efforts on areas that had been brought to our attention by dealers at our seminars and educational events across the globe. The result was a series of mini-seminars held in the booth during the show.

SpeakerCraft outlined six business topics and had talking points printed on 4 x 7 cards that its staff and reps could carry in their back pockets for casual training sessions throughout CEDIA EXPO. The concept was simple. We outlined six business topics and had talking points printed on 4 x 7 cards that our staff and reps could carry in their back pockets. When a dealer came to the booth, the discussion would begin by asking them to “pick a card.” With the outline as a guide, the dealer would be presented with ideas, suggestions, and information on whichever subject they had chosen. Once the formal discussion was complete we covered whatever other items were applicable to the particular dealer and sent them back into the show.

Rewarding results
The result of this effort was incredible. What we expected to be five-minute presentations expanded into longer sessions as the dealers asked more questions and invited more input for their specific situation. Often a dealer would request to select another topic due to the success of the first presentation. We had also intended to give out the specific card on the topic we had presented as a takeaway for the dealer but almost every one of the dealers requested the entire set so they could review every subject. This gave the dealers great material to take back and share with their staff.

The topics were varied and offered enough leeway to allow for the individual styles of the various presenters. The subjects included “Creating a Formal Referral Process”, “Improving Customer Service”, “Sales Strategies”, “Marketing Tactics”, “Generating New Business from Existing Customers”, and “Finding and Keeping the Best Employees.” The discussions commonly moved beyond the topics themselves and got dealers thinking about many other elements of their business. The goal was to get dealers talking about how they could grow and improve.

Matching our agenda
Helping dealers get better at what they do has been a constant effort at SpeakerCraft. We absolutely practice what we preach. Through continuous research and study we are constantly looking for ways to grow and improve. Every time we meet with our dealers in the field we make an effort to share something we have recently read or heard that can improve their position in the market or increase their efficiency and profitability.

It is our belief that if you focus on what you do and insist on doing it better every day the financial reward will take care of itself. When money becomes a byproduct instead of the focus of your efforts the job becomes more exciting and the result is greater satisfaction and enjoyment. The effect on a dealer’s attitude is so positive that it affects the entire team, which results in even more success, and the thing starts to snowball. Soon everyone in the company can hardly wait to get to work and begin the process all over again. When your team members are coming to you with ideas about how to improve the company, it is a great indication that you are becoming a better leader.

We realize this will appear unrealistic to some. “After all they call it work for a reason. It’s not supposed to be fun,” people often say. We totally disagree with this notion. We have seen businesses transform because they learned something from one of our events that changed their perspective and sent them in a completely different direction. Don’t get us wrong; we don’t take credit for the change. That is solely a result of the dealer’s willingness to do what is necessary and persist until it happens. We will, however, take a bit of credit for being the inspiration. We see it as our job to do more than just provide great products. We also need to offer ideas that will help our dealers in all aspects of their business

Continuing education
As we finish this year and move into 2009, we will continue our educational efforts at shows, regional meetings, and factory events. There is so much to share, and we have only scratched the surface. We are currently creating curriculum for the coming year and are planning an aggressive travel schedule that will allow us to meet with more people and affect more change in the lives of our dealers. All we ask is that dealers keep an open mind and remember our theme from the show: “Imagine What We Can Do Together.”

Education by adults is a varied and well-studied concept, our attention spans are small, and we want sound bites. Help your staff learn daily by using phrases, fast-paced input, and easily read items that help them to grow. You are the leader in your business. Create an atmospher where everyone wants to learn, and you will and you will obsolete your current company in favor of a new, improved and vibrant entity that will make your competition pale in comparison.

Jeremy Burhardt ([email protected]) is president of SpeakerCraft is Riverside, California.