Although Linley Dew grew up in the appliance sales and service business, he still wondered sometimes, as a second-generation co-owner, how his store was performing compared to others of a similar size. Especially when it came to service.
“Before I was in any kind of networking group, I felt like I was on an island for my business,” recalls Dew, whose parents founded the family-owned appliance and HVAC business Dew’s in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1947. “There was no one I could talk to. But once I started reaching out to other independent retailers, I found a network that I could share things with, and I didn’t feel so alone. They kept me from going down rabbit holes and helped me stay on the right track to make my business successful.”
Now a veteran of several industry networking groups, Dew’s positive experiences have led him to a new role – as ambassador for one of Nationwide Marketing Group’s new performance groups designed exclusively for servicing dealers.
The groups, which launched in August, each feature eight to 10 non-competing retailers and are broken down according to how many technicians each has in the field. Currently, two groups exist, with a third also in planning stages. Dew’s group, which meets monthly via video conferencing, focuses on retailers with one to five technicians and sports members from across the United States.
“It’s really like a family,” Dew says of the bond that’s created in a performance group. “It’s real. Your group members are there to talk through problems with you, offer advice and keep you from making some of the same mistakes they did. You learn about how others are working in the business, and because you’re not in the same marketplace, you can give that information freely because you know you’re not competing against them. And the group is beneficial for everyone. I’ve been working in this business all my life. But I can still learn something from a member who’s only been around for a few years because we all have different experiences. It’s just one of the best things you can do for your business.”
Beth Grayson agrees. As president of the three-location Home Appliance Sales and Service located in Northern Ohio, Grayson serves as an ambassador for one of Nationwide Marketing Group’s six-plus-technicians performance groups.
“One of our most recent meetings focused on hiring and where to find techs,” Grayson says of her group, which meets virtually twice each month. “What we came up with at our store, which I shared with my group members, is an apprenticeship program that grooms and grows our own technicians. Whether we’re moving people from in-house into the program or bringing in talented people from outside, we’ve been able to find some really good technicians with great soft skills who are ready and eager to learn.”
Stories like that underscore the need for dedicated service performance groups, says Ron Romero, executive director of Nationwide’s West Region group of dealers and the third-generation owner of Schaefer’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“These groups are an extension of our efforts to better support and strengthen Nationwide’s program offering for servicing members,” says Romero, who spearheads the service performance group initiative. “Not only do they create ways for members to communicate amongst themselves to create more efficient and profitable service organizations, but it also allows us to offer customized support, such as exclusive vendor training sessions and networking opportunities at our biannual PrimeTime conference.”