BrandSource launches HR, omnichannel initiatives at convention

NASHVILLE, August 23, 2021 — AVB/BrandSource is launching two expansive new programs to help the group’s independent dealers maintain their record sales pace and market share gains.

The initiatives, announced at this week’s Convention21 event by AVB CEO Jim Ristow, tackle two of the top constraints to continued sales growth: The labor shortage and the operational divergence between online an in-store shopping.

In a keynote address yesterday, Ristow welcomed back independent appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech dealers to the group’s first on-site show since March 2020, and recounted their outstanding sales performance during what he described as the worst financial and health crisis in a century.

AVB CEO Jim Ristow on stage at Convention21 in Nashville

Despite significant challenges including supply chain disruptions and price increases, BrandSource dealers outpaced the appliance and home furnishings industries by 15 percent — on top of the prior year’s comparable 15 percent gains, he said.

What’s more, members who fully leveraged the digital toolbox of AVB’s in-house marketing and advertising unit enjoyed increases of more than 25 percent, he said, while select vendors count BrandSource as their largest growth account in the country.

Rather than resting on those accomplishments, Ristow said members and AVB need to redouble their efforts to ensure an unprecedented multi-year run.

To that end, AVB is taking on the historically tight labor market with a comprehensive collection of customized employment tools dubbed HRSource. According to COO Dave Meekings, the program’s turnkey solutions will allow BrandSource members to efficiently manage their immediate staffing and longer-term employee needs.

Components of HRSource include the HR Playbook, an invaluable but complimentary guide to recruiting, hiring and retaining retail staff. Developed for the independent retailer and distributed at the show, the workbook provides innovative approaches and practical strategies to steer members through the labor crunch, including ways to attract talent; how to evaluate candidates; interview tips and hiring blunders; and QR codes that connect to a series of assessment scorecards.

A separate QR code brings members to the Handbook-In-a-Box, a fully customizable rulebook for employees that sets a dealer’s HR policy and performance expectations and protects the business from potential liability. Valued at upwards of $5,000, the Handbook-In-a-Box, like the HR Playbook, is free for all members.

Other elements of HRSource include a new partnership with CareerPlug, a national recruiting software company that automates the hiring process for more than 12,000 small businesses, plus newsletters, virtual town halls and seminars that, with guidance from employment expert and AVB staffing consultant Daniel Abramson, will allow members to tap into the membership’s collective experience and wisdom.

 Separately, AVB is addressing the consumer’s preference for an omnichannel shopping experience by launching the Hub, and overarching commerce platform that seamlessly connects members’ online and in-store operations. Coming this October, the Hub bridges the digital divide by integrating a dealer’s POS system, Alta website, LINQ merchandising platform, digital price tags and in-store kiosks into a central interface.

As Chief Marketing Officer John White explained, this will allow store owners, sales staff, support teams, buyers, and, ultimately, customers to readily access the product and service information they need, when they need it. “It’s a CRM solution on steroids,” he said.

Through the Hub, users can find real-time details on:

• Inventory availability

• Promotions and price changes

• Product specs

• Price and feature differences between models

• Open quotes

• Competitor pricing

• Customer profiles 

• Builder channel purchase history for fast, easy reorders.

And that’s just for starters. Going forward, regular rollouts will enhance the Hub with text and mobile integration; delivery enhancements; service integration; back-office support with vendors; and suggestive selling features.

Ristow described the group’s latest MarTech (marketing technology) innovation as “truly game changing,” and anticipates that it will “help revolutionize what we do on the sales floor.”

Ristow recapped the presentation by reminding members to keep pressing the accelerator to retain their recent five-fold share gains and continue their growth track for years to come.

“We need to let the world know … we are not giving the business back,” he said.

BrandSource’s returned to an on-site format this week after leading the way with acclaimed virtual shows last summer and March. The group’s Convention21 event runs through tomorrow (Aug. 24) at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, cite of successful BrandSource Summits in 2018 and 2019.

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