Respected Control Brand Recommits to U.S. Custom Channel
“In line with our renewed focus on the CEDIA channel, we want to make sure dealers get the best local support possible.” —Rudy Musschebroeck, Marketing Manager, Pronto
To quote one of the great orators of our time, “Don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years…” Though Philips Pronto has been much respected in the North American custom channel for many years, its connection had always felt a bit tenuous, because its U.S. operations were embedded in a larger Philips North America organization that made focusing on the channel more difficult. In the course of the past year, however, the company has reorganized its Pronto business into a true integrated organization with a fully dedicated U.S. sales staff and support team that allows it to focus entirely on custom installation. Now, with manufacturing, product development, logistics, and marketing all under one roof, Pronto can better ensure that its North American installers are getting the products, technology, and support that they need. In a recent interview, Pronto marketing manager Rudy Musschebroeck explained his brand’s new structure and product plans.
What inspired the change in the way Pronto is handled in North America?
The success of our custom dealer network in Europe convinced us to bring that same business model here. Having a well-built distributor network and a large educated dealer base led to our success in Europe, and today we are thrilled to bring that same approach to the U.S. and deliver our dealers a product that they know and trust, backed with the support they require. Our product development is driven by thoughts and feedback of our dealers. By working hand-in-hand with the people who install these products every day, we can be sure we are bringing the right products to market that will help them be profitable.
Philips Pronto’s TSU Series consists of two wand-style control panels (TSU9300 and TSU9400) for home theater control and two tablet-style panels (TSU9600 and TSU9800, not pictured) for total home control.
What are you doing specifically to better support your dealers in the CEDIA channel?
First and foremost we have reviewed our distribution channels, making sure the partners we work with have the same dedication toward the custom installation channel. Those that do not follow the same thought process as Pronto are being replaced with distributors who support the dealers in the custom channel. Next, we have strengthened our tech support, including a new dedicated Pronto support line. The new support line, open six days a week, provides dealers with a highly trained staff available to answer all questions regarding Pronto products. We fully believe that the key to successfully installing this product is having proper education, and are in the process of revamping our training program. Pronto is currently offering more online training opportunities with our monthly webinar series. In the coming months, we will be expanding our training program further with live regional trainings across the country. Education and training is a priority to us, making sure we have a well-educated dealer base that can bring the best Pronto experience to their customers. Pronto’s certification process is designed with that in mind, offering three distinct levels of certification to dealers. Certified dealers get access to our 2-way ProntoScript modules and have the possibility to get listed on our website, among other benefits.
You also are preparing to add several manufacturers reps for the first time. Why the change in philosophy?
In line with our renewed focus on the CEDIA channel, we want to make sure dealers get the best local support possible. We believe the representatives we have appointed will play a key role in establishing a close relationship with our dealers, offering them the right levels of information, support, and education. The addition of these elite manufacturers’ reps (see sidebox) has allowed us to open a direct channel to our dealers without affecting the current partnerships we have with our distributors.
You’ve been busy developing two-way communication for Sonos and iPort. What sorts of plans do you have for expanding the capability with other companies?
During the past three years we have been focusing on the top custom install products and brands for our ProntoScript program, and most are now covered. The Sonos integration was definitely a challenge, but the response has been overwhelming. We are now concentrating on the next-generation AV and lighting products that are IP-controlled. We are in the process of streamlining our existing module base of more than 160 modules to really make them plug and play and keep up with latest developments of all of our partners. We are also pleased to see that our open platform approach is bearing its fruits. We see more and more independent third parties developing applications.