We know why we want people to shop local, and yet we sometimes forget to remind the public of the grand benefits. We get lost in the day-to-day of running a business and forget to remind the world of the importance of supporting local merchants. Here are 10 reasons one should shop with you, their local AV integrator.
1. Money stays local: According to the 3/50 Project (www.the350project.net) “For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.” It is a feel-good reason to shop local, and an economical one.
2. The difference between reviews and integrators: Sure someone out there online says one brand or model was better than another. If they are not integrators, they do not see these products every day. They do not know how it handles in the field; we do. We, as integrators, more than anyone else, know what works, and that is the reason we sell the products we do.
3. Test drive before you buy: No one (in their right mind) buys a car online, so why would someone ever want to purchase a speaker or a TV via the web? This baffles me, especially if he or she has not experienced the device before. Visiting one's local AV integrator allows customers to experience “solutions” before they buy.
4. Technology Partner: Who does one call when the screen is black? I get this call at least once a week when the cable box goes down. One can call Amazon or Best Buy (good luck with that) or the cable company, where they read answers out of a book only to tell you it is not their fault. Or they call us, and we have them reboot their set-top box, and the issue is fixed within minutes. What was that worth?
5. We can program a remote: Such a silly thing, but there are so many people out in the wide world using two or more remotes. Buy your TV from a custom integrator, and they will program your cable box remote to work your TV. That’s minutes of time to save on annoyance every single day.
6. We live for this stuff: Sure, one can do a quick Google search and learn a few things about AV technology, but we are in the thick of it, every day. We attend trade shows and classes and webinars. We take tests and get to put fancy letters after our names. Our only goal is to help the consumer.
7. We know what works together: Some products work better together than others, and custom integrators know what the big box stores do not. We know what products have discreet codes to make one's life less stressful. No online review will tell you that.
8. We know what technology will survive: I raised my hand at the release of 3D and asked the room (filled with mostly men) if there were lighter, smaller glasses for women. They chuckled. You see how that went.
9. We know magic: Yes, we know how to wave a wand and make Netflix appear. Well, really, we just know that if you have an iPhone, then you should have an AppleTV. Sure, we deal with Netflix every day, but having it easily accessible for our clients is pure magic. Do not forget the little things; although we are immersed in the great world of tech, most people are not. You may not make a profit on these little things, but you will surely get repeat business.
10. We can help you with a long-term plan: Maybe one only desires music in two rooms but knows he or she is adding a back patio next year. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an AV plan? Only one's local AV integrator can help with this.
Now don’t forget good karma. Shop local yourself. Practice what you preach. Nothing is more painful than a business begging the public to shop local when its management buys all things online themselves (you know who you are). Sure, there will be times that something is not available locally and the World Wide Web will be there for you, but, as a rule, try.
People have been burned by the cheapest price, and everyone has an online horror story. Remind the public every time you can of the benefits that come (free of charge) by just walking into your local AV shop.
How do you convince the public to shop locally?
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.