When It Comes To The Lines You Sell, Sometimes Less Is More
As electronic systems contractors, we all make a variety of decisions every day that we hope are the right ones for running our businesses. I believe that there are few choices more fundamental to our success than those we make about the products we choose to sell. By focusing on developing and implementing the right overall product strategy, you can and will achieve a wide range of benefits.
Let’s look at how standardizing on a select few brands can result in big improvements throughout your organization. For simplicity, we will examine a single product category—in this case, flat-panel displays (FPD).
By choosing one brand of FPD, there is only one set of model numbers with which to become familiar. This means that there is a finite set of models that you need to enter and update pricing for
By targeting a few select models, your installation team will know them well. in your proposal software. It also means that those responsible for ordering, receiving, and processing payments for these FPDs quickly become familiar with and easily recognize the select model numbers, prices, and other information relevant to what they do every day.
Any of the larger manufacturers of FPDs (Sony, Pioneer, LG, Samsung, etc.) have a wide enough range of products to accommodate virtually any installation requirement, so choosing to represent and sell only one should not pose any significant challenges. The great thing is that with only one brand to focus on, your sales people should have no trouble becoming very familiar with specific models, features, and pricing, which allows them to quickly and confidently suggest the best display for a given application.
Whether you draw up simple diagrams with paper and pencil or use more sophisticated software, such as AutoCAD or Visio, one brand of FPD means that the folks responsible for system design can quickly become familiar with the inputs and outputs on a given model and are able to replicate their documentation much more easily and with greater accuracy.
One brand of PFD means one set of control commands to learn. There can be small variations between models but some manufacturers, like Sony, have had very standardized IR command structures for years. This means that your team learns and stores the required IR commands once, not over and over with every new brand or model added. If you
sell automation solutions like AMX or Crestron, then you need only build the software control modules once. And once you know they work, you can use them over and over. You decrease time spent capturing IR codes, building control modules, and testing functions, because you already know they work.
By standardizing on a few select models of FPD your installation team learns to know them inside out. They know which bracket they need, what hardware is required, and what hole pattern is present on a given model. They learn exactly how the wires need to be dressed, which side the power connection is on, and how much space they need behind the set for AV connections, all of which helps them both during pre-wire and at trim out.
If you only sell a few models of FPD, you can potentially keep one of each on the shelf for immediate use as a warranty replacement. Having a replacement set to deliver the same day that you receive a service call creates a fantastic customer experience and gives your team both an immediate solution and much more time to get the client’s set repaired. And, of course, because it is the same video display as the one you are removing, the bracket, connections, and system programming all work, too.
By establishing a focused and tightly controlled product strategy you can provide real and tangible benefits throughout your organization.
Richard Millson (richard. firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of Vancouver-based Millson Multimedia.