What are your thoughts about and experiences with home based dealerships ?

default -- Tue, 04/17/2012 - 17:24

Hello,
What are your thoughts about and experiences with home based dealerships ?
So that everyone is aware, I do not intent to respond to every reply or maybe even any reply and I will not argue or contend the validity of your feelings or statements or experiences. I am simply interested in what you say about this as a topic of interest.
Should more manufacturers attempt to move their products through home based dealerships or go with other options like:
1. factory direct
2. internet based distributors of numerous brands like Audio Advisor, Music Direct, and Crutchfield
3. brick and mortar retail boutique style stores
4.  big box retailer store chains like Best Buy
5. internet based auction and purchase sites like Audiogon and EBay
6. industry trade shows like CES and Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
7. manufacturer days at authorized dealers where the manufacturer holds demos and seminars
8. other means ?
What do you think are pros and cons of home based dealerships ?
What was your best experience with a home based dealership ? (not just a great price, but something that stood out in an excellent way that really made a positive impression)
What was your worst experience with a home based dealership ? (please do not mention the names of the businesses or the owners or the addresses)
Should home based dealerships have the same sales territory limits as retail store dealerships ?
Should home based dealerships be required to attend and pass some form and amount of factory training to sell a brand ?
Should a brand's regional sales rep. be required to train and visit the home based dealer to verify a safe and acceptable environment and means of doing business in accordance with that brand's policies ? (I have been to a few home based dealerships for some brands and it was obvious that their rep. never came to the store to see it first hand as the dump that it was and for all of the reasons why including the bodily hygiene of the owner and the exposed electrical wiring and so on)
Should a home based dealership be required to display and stock the same amount of a brand's line as a retail store ?
Should a home based dealership be allowed to also function as the importer and/or distributor for a brand or only as an authorized dealer for a brand ?
Should a home based dealership be allowed to get out of their contract with a brand's importer and/or distributor or the company itself if either is found to be undercutting that dealership on price and/or taking sales instead of directing the customer to that dealership even if the price is not being undercut ?

Sam -- Wed, 04/18/2012 - 01:17

Home based is what quite a few have switched to. I have been to at least 3 dealers homes who moved business to home and they used to have a store and shut it down. Now the stuff was in the hallways, living room and 1 or more dedicated or not listening rooms. I think thats the most affordable way for guys who want to stay in buisness. Why pay so much on rent and space and keeping the doors open like this. Infact soon from home it will switch to internet sales in addition to home sales....and its coming. I doubt that that can be stopped even if audio people try as hard as they want. The future/present of shopping is the internet, mobile phones and ipads...etc....thats what people all accross the board are using to buy their stuff. Although there are a few well heeled who like to be pampered and sucked up to all the time...because they have gotton used to it...especially by throwing money at things...for them its not good news. Theyll have to spend money on other things for people to sing their praises. But for audio I think it will be either through home or also factory direct as some people are doing. I also like the fact that certain brands dont mess around with prices, so you can buy with confidence. Ex. Magnepan. you wont get massive discounts and you wont get robbed either. it is what it as.  While others the range/ margin is huge and random. One person will sell you the same product as another with a price difference of thousands of dollars....I don't know how they are able to do this. Thats why so many audiophiles shop around for best deals. If prices are somewhat controlled as far as the range goes then I guess it will standardize things, otherwise people will keep looking for best deals and sellers will keep competing. I also feel that for the next several years the High end audio will focus on the ultra rich and once that market is drained out and the economy gets better then the rest of the tiny audiophile population might get back into it. Otherwise for now thes cars like and home like systems price wise is what we will see and we are seeing everywhere at shows and magazines. Desperate times require different sales tactics. Us oldies might die with our great sounding old gear. while the CEO's and Walstreet guys can by the $300,000+ systems from the bonus checks.

bstew -- Fri, 04/20/2012 - 20:21

I thiink you are going to see a mix of all of the above. There will always be a store front in certain locations (big cities) that can support it. The internet is here to stay so people will have to get on board or get out of the way. I think you will also see manufactors setting up listening locations via audiophiles homes. I mean if I'm a dealer and you purchase a set of my speakers or amps, etc. I could refer people to your home and if they buy you get a commission. If you think about it, most of us will allow someone to come listen to our gear anyway. 
I remember when some dealers starting selling direct and how everyone said it wouldn't work. Times are changing.......

vade@att.net -- Sat, 04/21/2012 - 21:51

To answer your questions:
Should more manufacturers attempt to move their products through home based dealerships or go with other options like:
1. factory direct
a: both

2. internet based distributors of numerous brands like Audio Advisor, Music Direct, and Crutchfield
a: a dealer is a dealer.

3. brick and mortar retail boutique style stores
a: What brick and mortar stores? Few are left.

4. big box retailer store chains like Best Buy
a: Look at what Best Buy did to Magnolia. They brought it down to Best Buy level.

5. internet based auction and purchase sites like Audiogon and EBay
a: Auctions are not suitable to dealers, but purchasing sites could work.

6. industry trade shows like CES and Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
a: RMAF is not an industry trade show. Shows are poor places for retail sales of things other than records and accessories.
 
7. manufacturer days at authorized dealers where the manufacturer holds demos and seminars
a: Sure--that's why they have manufacturers' days.
 
8. other means ?
a: Such as?
What do you think are pros and cons of home based dealerships?
Pros: dealer is usually very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and may be able to swing a discount.
Con: dealer won't be able to maintain a stock of larger items and may not be able to service something that breaks.

What was your best experience with a home based dealership ? (not just a great price, but something that stood out in an excellent way that really made a positive impression)
a: Good advice, home trial, good selling price on high-end CD player. Then the dealer helped me get the player upgraded.

What was your worst experience with a home based dealership ? (please do not mention the names of the businesses or the owners or the addresses)
a: Dealer became an alcoholic, would not return phone calls or keep posted office hours.

Should home based dealerships have the same sales territory limits as retail store dealerships ?
a: Why not? Unlike Internet dealers, they should be limited to geographic restrictions.

Should home based dealerships be required to attend and pass some form and amount of factory training to sell a brand ?
a: Are sales personnel at brick and mortar stores required to pass factory training? Let the manufacturer decide who he wants as a dealer.
 
Should a brand's regional sales rep. be required to train and visit the home based dealer to verify a safe and acceptable environment and means of doing business in accordance with that brand's policies ? (I have been to a few home based dealerships for some brands and it was obvious that their rep. never came to the store to see it first hand as the dump that it was and for all of the reasons why including the bodily hygiene of the owner and the exposed electrical wiring and so on)
a: That should be up to the manufacturer.

Should a home based dealership be required to display and stock the same amount of a brand's line as a retail store ?
a: Too expensive.

Should a home based dealership be allowed to also function as the importer and/or distributor for a brand or only as an authorized dealer for a brand ?
a: Allowed by whom? Their is no regulation of the hifi industry.
 
Should a home based dealership be allowed to get out of their contract with a brand's importer and/or distributor or the company itself if either is found to be undercutting that dealership on price and/or taking sales instead of directing the customer to that dealership even if the price is not being undercut ?
a: Depends on the contract. If the contract says the importer won't sell direct at lower prices, the dealer should be able to sever the relation with the importer if the contract is violated.
 
Vade Forrester

sales@audiodoct... -- Sun, 04/22/2012 - 22:47

Dear Two Channel Man,
Here is a different perspective, from a rather unsual home based dealer, www.audiodoctor.com, it all depends on  what the home based dealer is.
In my opinion there are really just two kinds of home based dealerships:
A: Hobbist/part time dealer with limited display stock, and a few lines of gear,  usually populated by either really inexpenisve or really expensive.gear.
B Unconventional brick and mortar: ie regular store run out of a home.
My shop Audio Doctor, is run out of a home but unlike most home based dealers, is a full function brick and mortar dealership, with a wide and diversified product mix. We have four sound rooms, eight listening areas, over 60 lines of gear on display and we do systems from $1,500.00-$250,000.00. My shop is setup like any conventional dealership, the only difference is that the store is located in a house in a residential neighborhood.
There are several dealerships throughout the country that are run like mine.
Personally I abhor the other type of dealer, the hobbist dealer, is usally a commited audiophile with a full time job who sweet talks some disperate manufactuer into giving him or her a line of rare esoteric gear that the hobbist is fixated on, very rarely will these dealership endure or grow into a full range dealer. The issue with these types of dealerships is that they are way too limited.

Twochannelman (not verified) -- Mon, 04/23/2012 - 17:22

This is progressing slowly, but nicely. Again, it is not my intent to respond or engage in any conversations based on responses. My main interest in this is simply to hear what people have to say.

Ejcj -- Thu, 05/31/2012 - 15:15

 What are your thoughts about and experiences with home based dealerships ?
When I was in graduate school I did some business (as a consumer) with a home based business in my college town.  In some ways it was a godsend because the town simply did not have much in the way of high end audio.  Because of it I was able to introduce my house mate to high end audio and he has been forever changed by the exposure (in a good way) .  The dealer had some product I had not heard of before but that sounded great.  
On the other side of the coin, the in home dealer either was not generating enough sales, was a poor business person in general, or simply never had enough capital to actually run that business or all of the above.  It turned out that he was robbing peter to pay paul.  I put some money down on a pair of speakers and then he could not get a new pair of them in.  It turned out that his credit line had dried up and the distributer wanted his money (a reasonable expectation) before he would send any more product.  When I went to get my money back of course it was also gone.  All ended up ok as I was able to get the distributer to send me a demo pair for the money I had payed.  After that the guy went bankrupt and everyone had to stand in line to get paid.  Clearly this is a cautionary tale and could also happen at a store based dealership.
I have recently purchase a subwoofer from HSU research (factory direct) and I have purchased gear in the past from Audio advisor and both experiences are fine if the product is something that does not need a great deal of support and explanation like a sub or cables.  of if the user is experienced than other electronics work ok with that model as well. However, I am not one who thinks that stores are going to all go away due to the internet.  I do think that most stores should also look to tap into the internet as a sales tool which might require some modification of the way distributers or manufacturers do regional sales agreements.  The internet clearly does not synergize well with a regional model of territory.  
I also think that brick and morter stores are going to have to change their behavior and attitudes with respect to customer treatment.  Their added value is the customer relationship and when they mess that up they destroy their added value.  I am originally from Chicago and I can tell you stories about personal mistreatment when both racial and economic assumptions are made.  
I don't like big box stores for quality audio.  

Should more manufacturers attempt to move their products through home based dealerships or go with other options like:
1. factory direct
2. internet based distributors of numerous brands like Audio Advisor, Music Direct, and Crutchfield
3. brick and mortar retail boutique style stores
4.  big box retailer store chains like Best Buy
5. internet based auction and purchase sites like Audiogon and EBay
6. industry trade shows like CES and Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
7. manufacturer days at authorized dealers where the manufacturer holds demos and seminars
8. other means ?
What do you think are pros and cons of home based dealerships ?
What was your best experience with a home based dealership ? (not just a great price, but something that stood out in an excellent way that really made a positive impression)
What was your worst experience with a home based dealership ? (please do not mention the names of the businesses or the owners or the addresses)
Should home based dealerships have the same sales territory limits as retail store dealerships ?
Should home based dealerships be required to attend and pass some form and amount of factory training to sell a brand ?
Should a brand's regional sales rep. be required to train and visit the home based dealer to verify a safe and acceptable environment and means of doing business in accordance with that brand's policies ? (I have been to a few home based dealerships for some brands and it was obvious that their rep. never came to the store to see it first hand as the dump that it was and for all of the reasons why including the bodily hygiene of the owner and the exposed electrical wiring and so on)
Should a home based dealership be required to display and stock the same amount of a brand's line as a retail store ?
Should a home based dealership be allowed to also function as the importer and/or distributor for a brand or only as an authorized dealer for a brand ?
Should a home based dealership be allowed to get out of their contract with a brand's importer and/or distributor or the company itself if either is found to be undercutting that dealership on price and/or taking sales instead of directing the customer to that dealership even if the price is not being undercut ?

 The Big Blueberry

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