AVB CEO Jim Ristow delivers his four-point plan for continued momentum in an uncertain marketplace, including sharing a personal story about how fear can hold people back.

Four-part action plan leverages growth opportunities

By Alan Wolf, YSN

In a stirring kick-off to this week’s Convention, AVB’s CEO, Jim Ristow, presented members with a four-part plan for continued success in today’s challenging marketplace.

And while the steps themselves are simple, the toughest hurdle, he said, sits with members who are hindered by fear. To be sure, the current economy presents challenges aplenty, from higher costs, interest rates and wages to the abundance of inventory and softened consumer demand that can lead to price promotions and tighter margins.

But BrandSource members have faced scary scenarios before, Ristow reminded, as recently as March 2020, when pundits predicted a rout for independent retailers during the pandemic. Instead, BrandSource dealers “flipped the script” and posted cumulative sales gains of better than 50 percent year to date, while attracting new customers and reestablishing their reputation as the go-to destination for in-stock home goods.

BrandSource members face a similar fork in the road today, Ristow said, and must choose for themselves whether to allow fear to dictate inaction and business declines, or to step up to the plate and “own it” by investing in their companies and leveraging the group’s resources.

Facing down fear is no easy task, he acknowledged, citing a long-ago 141-foot bungee jump over a New Zealand river that required a strong push to complete. Like Ristow’s resulting swan dive, members can continue to flourish in the marketplace by taking the plunge and capitalizing on marketplace opportunities. To do so, the CEO offered a simple four-step plan that all members can embrace. The measures include:

  1. Raising fees for your superior but underpriced delivery, installation and haul-away services to marketplace rates, which can boost profits by as much as 5%.
  2. Employing a point-of-sale system (POS) that connects your online, in-store and backroom functions for a smoother consumer experience and more efficient way of doing business.
  3. Having your website audited at the Convention to ensure it’s up to flagship standards with accurate pricing and consumer conveniences like live chat, which attract and keep customers.
  4. Increasing your marketing to match the sales strides you’ve made in recent years and to avoid getting drowned out by box stores.

“We’re at a crossroads,” Ristow said. “After two-and-a-half great years our world, the economy and our industries are changing. The good news is I see opportunity, and it just requires basic table stakes to win. AVB has the solutions but it’s ultimately up to you to ‘own it.’ If you plug in, you will win.”

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.

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