Azione Unlimited President Richard Glikes has seen enough ups and downs in the AV business to know not to get too comfortable during a peak period. During last week’s spring conference for the smart home buying group in New Orleans, Glikes expressed his concern that the AV business is riding high now because of the slow pace of construction and project completion due to supply chain hiccups, following a COVID-19 boom in home investments.
While Glikes believes that 2022 will remain strong for the industry, 2023 might be a different story unless dealers plan ahead now.
That’s how Glikes always operates. Over many years of Azione events, he’s always the one warning dealers to be prepared for the next downturn. “What goes up, must come down” seems to be Glikes’ mantra.
Glikes, however, is not a gloom and doom prognostication with no answers. He and his team typically offer their members something proactive to do about these concerns, including practical and actionable conference programming, small group sessions, and manufacturer training. Such was the case in New Orleans during the Spring 2022 event.
A well-choreographed program was presented in bite-size chunks from business process veterans such as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Jason Sayen; former Cloud9 Smart COO Chris Smith (he now runs TheCoTeam, a coaching consultancy); Stacy McKibbin, CEO of Consilio, which is a “peak performance executive company;” Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai; and Ron Callis, CEO of One Firefly. Each presentation seemed to add another layer over what the prior speaker had emphasized, with each speaker either echoing or enhancing the other’s message. It was excellent programming.
The key messages involved the importance of a a custom integration business having a written process for every role, especially for new employees. Too many companies, it was said more than once, rely on employee “shadowing” after a new hire, which can be inconsistent at best. Another useful lesson was how to use a profit formula calculation tool to grow your business by 61% year over year and ways to empower your staff to make your company more efficient.
Capecelatro did a great job presenting the top factors affecting business right now, including COVID-19’s effect on the home office trend and related challenges of network privacy for individuals and corporations, as well as supply chain hiccups and chip shortages. He also discussed tech trends, such as how the crypto space is leading to NFT investments and a growing need for a way to display million-dollar digital artwork in homes. Capecelatro posited that “everything is service these days” and that unfortunately most integrators have yet to establish an effective service model.
Ron Callis did what he does best by banging the drum for better custom integrator websites and the need to focus on digital marketing while times are still good. “When the economy gets weird, customers do weird things with their money,” he said, pointing out that internet search is now going where reviews are posted, so it’s important to show up in those areas now, while business is good.
There was a lot more than that covered at the Azione spring event, but those are the high points that led to even more insightful small group discussions and informal conversations during amazing New Orleans dinners and cocktail receptions throughout the city. If everyone heeds Richard Glikes’ advice to use the good times to prepare for the inevitable downturn, everyone will weather a future storm. The fear, Glikes and others expressed at the conference, is that too many business owners are too busy now to do what it takes to get their businesses ready.