PARA Conference to Emphasize Upscale Retailing

PARA, the Professional Audio-Video Retailers Association, is bringing its annual management conference to the Hyatt Regency in Hilton Head, South Carolina, this week. The five-day event, running April 22-27, will focus on improving retail strategies. Representatives from more than 600 retailers, suppliers, and industry publications are expected.

Last year's conference in San Diego focused on improving profits, with apparent success. (See related story on high-end sales in 1997.) "Last year we outlined basic strategies for doubling your profits in two years, and we did a survey of dealers showing that many of them did double their profits," said PARA executive director Debra Smith.

This year's program will include four day-long workshops intended to aid retailers in their quest for more customers and better customer service. Participants will concentrate on attracting more customers to their stores, upgrading their product lines, improving their technical knowledge, closing more higher-ticket system sales, and restructuring their businesses for custom installation. Custom-install workshops will include managing installers' time and productivity, bidding procedures, and expense control.

Other workshops will focus on the effective use of TV and radio advertising, and on finding alternative, low-cost ways to expand the customer base. Another will emphasize basic strategies for creating effective web sites.

A seminar on dealing with wealthy clients will attract plenty of interest. PARA will host a seminar on understanding the $100,000 home-theater systems customer. Attendees will hear from dealers who successfully sell to the wealthy: how and where these consumers like to shop, how they want to be treated, and how salespeople can reach them.

Dealers will also be given help in using PARA's web site, especially its searchable product database. The database of manufacturer-member products is expected to be completed sometime this summer.

PARA members should enjoy this yearÆs conference. Late April is a glorious time in Hilton Head.