I recently talked to two ProSource members, Patrick Mulligan of Pacific Audio and Communications, and Phill Murray of ListenUp, about vendors, customers and working in the time of the “new normal”.
Maureen Jenson: How have your vendor communications changed and how supportive are the vendors during this difficult time?
Patrick Mulligan: As we are located in Hawaii – our 30th anniversary is Jan 2021 – we are used to vendor communications via online or by phone for decades now. So, if anyone was prepared for COVID in terms of physical separation from vendors, it’s US dealers in Hawaii. Most vendors are offering some type of online tech or sales training by Zoom, Microsoft teams or other. A few have taken it a step farther and created Slack channels which is nice as we then get nearly daily updates on those threads and it’s always available to look at, comment or just review.
ProSource even took it a step farther and they created a slack channel with all their vendors on it so we have one place to go and view our vendors who are a part of ProSource which for us is about ¾ of their portfolio. A combination of webinars, conferences and slack channels have been working well for us but another issue with being In Hawaii is the time schedules that some of the vendors put on. Since we are 3 hrs behind west coast and 6 from east, sometimes these webinars are at 3-4 a.m. for us and that is just not feasible, so we do miss about ½ of the trainings. But luckily most are recorded so we can review them on our time but we miss out on the networking and live Q&A. ProSource has been a remarkable resource during this trying time, and during this trying time Josh.ai and Crestron have really stepped up if we have a tech issue and needed support.
Phil Murray, ListenUp: Yes, lots of Zoom calls, Microsoft Team Meetings, and Google Hangout calls. It really has been amazing how well the calls have worked. We’re probably doing 2-3 calls a day with vendors. But we had our first vendor actually fly in to see us last week and it was so nice to actually have that in-person experience and go to dinner — outside of course. I would say most of the vendors have done a good job with maintaining communications via video calls. We also do all of our meetings internally on Google Hangouts. Everyone uses the phrase, “the new normal” but video calls have really become the new normal.
Maureen Jenson: Reports all summer have been about supply chain disruptions, what are your findings?
Patrick Mulligan: Yes, we have seen a few vendors with supply chain issues, Integra being one of them, they are BO until 2021 at this point so we had to switch it up some and, in our case, moved to Marantz. We are seeing delays in shipping as well. Things that used to take 2 weeks by boat are now taking 3 weeks, some other items we used to get in 3-4 days are taking a few days longer. We have had to order items earlier then we used to, just to make sure we will have them in time.
Phil Murray: Yes, some of our suppliers are having major supply chain issues. We’ve seen a huge increase in our e-comm business, but it has been constrained by supply issues.
Stay tuned next week, when we discuss business effected by supply chain disruptions, the changing face of business and what customers want now! Part 2 here.