Appliance industry veteran Sam Abdelnour receives a BrandSource Lifetime Achievement Award from AVB’s CEO Jim Ristow and the Executive Leadership Team at the 2018 Convention.

Longtime Whirlpool exec shares expertise in new YSN forum

By Sam Abdelnour, Contributor

Greetings to all of you in the independent retail world.

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I retired from Whirlpool, where I dedicated my entire 40-plus-year career to helping independent dealers like you succeed in an ever-changing marketplace. 

Although I’ve stepped back from the daily grind, I’ve still got my hands (and heart) in retailing, mentoring young executives and staying on top of current trends and events.

I am energized by helping businesses like yours succeed, and to create exceptional experiences for you, your employees and your customers.

While I have stayed in touch with a few of you, I really miss the connection I had with the greater AVB membership — the entrepreneurs who are the heart and soul of the retail world. So when YSN offered me a chance to reconnect via this forum, I jumped at the opportunity. I plan to use this column to share my insights, experience and expertise.  Together we can find solutions to the everyday challenges you face in an increasingly competitive retail landscape.

See: Abdelnour Lauded by BrandSource

To kick off my return as a YSN columnist, I’d like to propose five important strategies for improving your bottom line. I will be going into more detail on each of these topics in the coming weeks. 

Five Strategies for Continued Success

Independent dealers face significant challenges in the ever-changing landscape of a retail. Competing with big-box retailers is one of them, but it is not insurmountable. I believe it is more important to focus on what has proven to work, rather than come up with some elaborate new strategy. To that end, here are five proven strategies that can help you carve out a unique space in the market and build a loyal customer base. 

1. Differentiate Your Business

Stop trying to compete with the big-box retailers. Leverage your expertise! You have specialized knowledge about the products you offer. About two thirds of appliances purchased are sold under duress and you are best positioned to support these customers. Train your staff to be product experts who are able to provide valuable insights and recommendations to customers. This can be a significant differentiator from the often less knowledgeable staff in national chains.

2. Build Strong Supplier Relationships

Be important to someone. If you are carrying a lot of brands, more than likely you are not all that important to any one of them. Developing strong relationships with your three top vendors is crucial. These partnerships can provide you with greater leverage in terms of pricing, availability and marketplace support.

3. Utilize Data and Consumer Insights

What do customers say about shopping your store? Would they recommend you to others? Gaining these kind of insights can help you build repeat business. Invest in data collection and analysis, because understanding your customers and their preferences will help you make informed decisions about floor displays, inventory, pricing and marketing.

4. Adapt to Economic Realities

Offer a range of products that cater to various budgets. Having a selection of both affordable and premium appliances can help you gain a wider audience. Offer financing options and promotions to make your products more accessible to budget-conscious customers. Is there something else you can add to your assortment that your customer values? This can be a win-win — providing value while increasing sales.

5. Learn and Repeat What Works

Continuously assess your performance. What strategies have you employed that have been successful in attracting and retaining customers? Motivational guru Tony Robbins famously said, “Success leaves clues.” Analyze your successes and replicate them. You have attained a level of achievement by employing certain practices and strategies. Foster that success by focusing on what makes your business unique. 

I will delve deeper into each of these five strategies in upcoming columns. In the meantime, tell me more about your business and the challenges you face. I would really like to weigh in.

Sam Abdelnour is a retail industry expert, BrandSource Lifetime Achievement Award winner and longtime Whirlpool executive who dedicated his 40-plus-year career to the appliance industry and to developing the people around him. He now channels his efforts into service and revealing the retail strategies that worked (as well as a few that didn’t). Share your thoughts with Sam at samaabdelnour@gmail.com or pose a topic for a future column. 

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