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Whats it like working in a hifi Store

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On 18/01/2020 at 10:08 AM, Hydrology said:

I have worked in this industry on both sides of this planet since leaving university in 1994/95.

 

What I have enjoyed/enjoy the most is the relationships and friendships I've made along the way with people who started our interactions as potential clients. 

I've enjoyed the freedom of not being commission-based which (in my opinion) has allowed me to select the products that suit my client's needs. I will also tell clients my personal preferences up front, and why.

 

However working in this industry (and retail in general) is getting harder and harder, and the fun factor and job satisfaction is not what it used to be, so to the OP, by all means if you are interested in getting into the industry, go for it, but don't stick around if you find it frustrating, it "can" burn you out.

 

I'll give you a current example of where this industry can be soul destroying...we have a client who came to the store months ago to listen to a brand we have exclusive here in WA. After getting the specific model in for him to listen to, followed by a lengthy demo and discussion we detailed a price, to which the client was unhappy with (despite this brand being currently cheaper in Australia then most of the bigger markets around the world, and this price being given before we even got the unit in for him to listen to!), and wanted to think about it (usually that's a sign of ringing around/emailing to get a better price). Some weeks later he came back and started up the same conversation with a colleague and wanted another listen. When he was told that we ended up selling this unit to another client he was perturbed as to why we would do such a thing. He then asked if we could get another unit in for him to listen to again (did I mention this "unit" isn't cheap?). We reluctantly agreed but now the customer hits my colleague hard for pricing by coming back with  "confirmed" prices from interstate stores. When the demonstration unit came in, he then wanted to listen to two other units in the range that we didn't have (more expensive).

This back and forth about the 3 units for audition went on for a few weeks, but we refused to budge on our "fair" price. This "client" then began ringing around the various local stores looking to see if they could possibly get access to the brand, even to the point that one store made contact with us about supplying!

Right now this client has a price from the Eastern States that is his reference point (a stupidly cheap price for what the product is and commands) and is doing all he can to buy it cheaper, yet has no concern about the financial cost of us getting in the best part of $50,000 worth of product for him to audition (a second time). Don't get me wrong, we all tend to be self-centred when purchasing goods, after all we want a good price and be looked after. We have done nothing but entertain and help this client out, with ZERO reward for our efforts so far.

 

If this client was so serious about buying this amplifier, it would be better for him to hop on a plane and listen to all three in various stores in Melbourne, buy the one he wants and fly back. Instead we are being treated like a free advice bureau.

 

But, issues like that aside, its still fun. I get to play with some fantastic toys, and love discovering new music thanks to the people who walk through our door. The good days are great, the bad days, well, I go home and hope tomorrow is a great day!!

 

 

 

 

 

Beautifully put Mark.

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22 hours ago, lemarquis said:

I haven't had much recent experience in store as I don't buy much new these days. However, the 2 times I've bought something from CAV here in Melbourne over the last 2 years they have been very relaxed, no pressure and very helpful if there were any issues.  Not sure but it may be that they are not commission based.

I would say you can be pretty sure that CAV don't have their staff on commission. They seem like a very decent bunch to deal with just like the guys at Frank Prowse in Perth.

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Had been reading up on the Spatial open baffle speakers and was in Gosford so thought I'd drop into Mcleans, without having made prior arrangements, thinking I might have a listen. There was no one else in the store, it was midweek, and there they were so I asked Bill if I could have a listen. They weren't connected but looked as though someone else may have had a listen recently as they were, I thought, set up with a listening chair midway between about 2 meters away. Anyone that's been in the store knows it's not the ideal listening environment but this was likely my only chance to have a listen. Well, he took great pains, changing the adjacent amp for another, running his setup tests, tweeking the speaker position multiple times etc. etc. Finally, he pulled out his laptop and asked what I wanted to hear. All this time a mental clock is running in my head( I don't carry a mobile) as I had an hour. About 4 minutes into Herbie Hancock's " Speak Like a Child", the front door opens and my wife announces we're late, we've got to go. After profusely apologizing, I'm out the door. The next time I show my face I'll have a decent bottle of Red in hand. Likely just another day for him.

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28 minutes ago, djmt said:

... we've got to go. After profusely apologizing, I'm out the door. The next time I show my face I'll have a decent bottle of Red in hand. Likely just another day for him.

Yes, but due to the excellent customer service it will probably be the first place you return to when you are in a purchasing situation, and the first place you will probably recommend to others wanting to buy some audio gear.

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The old saying of a man who turns his hobby into his job never works another day, or something like that for me is pure BS.

I used to ride and race motorcycles for fun, in fact I lived for it, it was my passion, the thing I enjoyed most and got the greatest buzz from doing much more than anything else in life.

 

An opportunity came up to become involved in motorcycle race event promotion. I took that opportunity and my hobby quickly became my business, not a bad business by the way but it meant I had no time for my hobby and I quickly lost the desire to even ride a motorcycle as my life was consumed with actually running race meetings. I got to the point I hated the sight of motorcycles and eventually the last place I wanted to spend time was at a motorcycle race meeting or even riding a motorcycle.

 

So I took up other hobbies to replace motorcycles, first was serious of road 4x4 driving and bush camping, then many years later hi-fi. 

 

If the opportunity to get involved in Hi-fi as a business popped up now, given my past experience, I would politely decline, in fact I would run for the hills.

 

cheers,

Terry

 

Edited by TerryO

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2 hours ago, TerryO said:

The old saying of a man who turns his hobby into his job never works another day, or something like that for me is pure BS.

I used to ride and race motorcycles for fun, in fact I lived for it, it was my passion, the thing I enjoyed most and got the greatest buzz from doing much more than anything else in life.

 

An opportunity came up to become involved in motorcycle race event promotion. I took that opportunity and my hobby quickly became my business, not a bad business by the way but it meant I had no time for my hobby and I quickly lost the desire to even ride a motorcycle as my life was consumed with actually running race meetings. I got to the point I hated the sight of motorcycles and eventually the last place I wanted to spend time was at a motorcycle race meeting or even riding a motorcycle.

 

So I took up other hobbies to replace motorcycles, first was serious of road 4x4 driving and bush camping, then many years later hi-fi. 

 

If the opportunity to get involved in Hi-fi as a business popped up now, given my past experience, I would politely decline, in fact I would run for the hills.

 

cheers,

Terry

 

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. - James Baldwin

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Being HIFI salesman must be irritating sometimes.   

Maybe shops should introduce some payments for auditioning. 

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1 minute ago, Irek said:

 

Maybe shops should introduce some payments for auditioning. 

 

Maybe.  Works in other businesses. For example,  I prefer to pay a small fee for wine tasting. It removes the feeling of obligation to buy something.

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At Hardly Normal: forgettable but can depend a lot on the proprietor assigned the store. Generally though, the focus was solidly on turnover and not letting a customer walk out the door if it can be helped. Taking a seat was frowned upon by everyone.

 

At Indies: can also vary. One I worked at started out fun until the owner floated the company for additional capital and focus became very sales/performance focused and staff not reaching ever increasing monthly targets were "managed". Another I worked at had the best culture ever - relaxed, fun, consultative, hardworking - I miss that place.

 

Names with held to protect the guilty.

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16 hours ago, Irek said:

Being HIFI salesman must be irritating sometimes.   

Maybe shops should introduce some payments for auditioning. 

Oft-discussed but never seriously considered. It just wouldn’t work.

 

Part of being a salesperson is numbers. Accepting that you’ll need to do X number of demos/door knocks/presentations/calls that go nowhere in order to get to the deal you can close. You build it into everything you do. 
 

Smart prospectors attach a dollar value to every “no." E.g. If I need to make 100 calls to get one lead that results in a $1000 commission then every "no" is worth $10. Instead of getting emotionally bruised at the constant rejection, you mentally thank the person for the $10 and move on.

 

Learning how to sell is easy. What separates mediocre salespeople from great ones is the ability to handle the constant rejection in a healthy way. It’s part persistence, part detachment, part reframing and part hard liquor. 

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2 hours ago, RankStranger said:

Oft-discussed but never seriously considered. It just wouldn’t work.

 

Part of being a salesperson is numbers. Accepting that you’ll need to do X number of demos/door knocks/presentations/calls that go nowhere in order to get to the deal you can close. You build it into everything you do. 
 

Smart prospectors attach a dollar value to every “no." E.g. If I need to make 100 calls to get one lead that results in a $1000 commission then every "no" is worth $10. Instead of getting emotionally bruised at the constant rejection, you mentally thank the person for the $10 and move on.

 

Learning how to sell is easy. What separates mediocre salespeople from great ones is the ability to handle the constant rejection in a healthy way. It’s part persistence, part detachment, part reframing and part hard liquor. 

What if customer doesn't want to be time waster. Shell we say a customer wants to audition 3 different systems in a 5 different shops. I think shops should have an option "paid auditioning". I would be happy to pay at least $50/30min

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18 minutes ago, Irek said:

What if customer doesn't want to be time waster. Shell we say a customer wants to audition 3 different systems in a 5 different shops. I think shops should have an option "paid auditioning". I would be happy to pay at least $50/30min

Then you’re a saint :D 

 

Seriously, though, sales people get paid by the hour to do demos and faff about for time-wasters. If they can convert a time-waster into a sale - or just get a genuine buyer - they are rewarded with a bonus. If people had to pay for auditions, my best guess is that they wouldn’t show up. They’d either audition at a competitor or just cross it off the list. Then there would be no opportunity to convert and no chance of a bonus.

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Guest rondine

Until you have worked in retail you will have no idea of the low lifes that inhabit this planet.

 

As an old boss of mine used to say “this town is full of ar**holes and most of them have been in here”.

 

ron

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40 minutes ago, rondine said:

Until you have worked in retail you will have no idea of the low lifes that inhabit this planet.

 

As an old boss of mine used to say “this town is full of ar**holes and most of them have been in here”.

 

ron

 

I put it a little more generously.    You just have no idea of the average human condition until you work in retail.  You find out that the average level of social "fitness",  let alone intelligence, is so far below what you had previously  assumed, that it is actually very depressing.   

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

I put it a little more generously.    You just have no idea of the average human condition until you work in retail.  You find out that the average level of social "fitness",  let alone intelligence, is so far below what you had previously  assumed, that it is actually very depressing.   

I’d even take it a step further and say that most people are beset by challenges that are beyond their capacity to deal with. Some carry their burdens with a lot less grace than others. 
 

PS If you thought you saw people at their worst in retail, you should try real estate :D 

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Just now, RankStranger said:

Some carry their burdens with a lot less grace than others. 

 

Well said.  May I borrow this turn of phrase please? :) 

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29 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

Well said.  May I borrow this turn of phrase please? :) 

Be my guest 😊

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Unrelated to audio but related to retail.. and the flotsam and jetsam of life.. As a Uni student I worked night shift at Food Plus (owned by BP, like a 7-11 but with petrol). After 11pm the petrol pumps were switched to pre pay. The amount of times I'd be there for 5 minutes having the following conversation:

 

Pre pay?? But I don't know how much..

 

Let's see.. how big is your tank? how much does it cost to fill it?

 

Umm dunno..

 

OK how much do you usually put in?

 

Ummm..

 

OK how much cash do you have?

 

Ummm

 

OK let's try 20 bucks.. is that OK?

 

Ummm..

 

Let's try 10 bucks alright?

 

You get the picture. 

 

I suspect most of these people weren't demoing gear in Hi Fi stores so count yourselves lucky :)

Edited by lemarquis

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If the intention is to get a job in hifi because it's a hobby, or there exists an interest, my recommendation would be NOT to do it. The realities of the job will likely, sooner or later, for most people, degrade the enthusiasm. 

I think, like some kind of National Service, EVERYONE should do 1 year in retail.

Provided you're not so mentally deficient, or obstinately unwilling to learn and change, it can teach you about how NOT to be a prat. 

 

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If I were a hi-fi salesman and if I had a policy of unrestricted demo (with a smile) with no obligation to buy provided I was not sitting idle doing nothing, would I be selling a lot more products than otherwise?

 

Just wondering myself, as a customer, taking into account of my desire to trial-listen to a few products of interest and the fact that I often found myself desisting from even contacting a shop, not buying much at all in the end over many years.

 

Also, would such a policy eventually result in less demand for demo, as there would be much more real product knowledge shared freely online for a prospective customer?

 

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I was in the industry from 1982 to 2015.

Started off as a part time tech/Salesman, got sick of the tech side of things and just did sales.

Best time for me was 82 through to 95. After that I got sick of the industry and lack of "Magical" sparkle in it.

Two stores. Seven years in one and 26 in the other.

Everything from Midi systems and Portables in the 80's. (Best years.) to $500,000 systems in the latter part of my conviction.

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On 18/01/2020 at 11:38 AM, Hydrology said:

I have worked in this industry on both sides of this planet since leaving university in 1994/95.

 

What I have enjoyed/enjoy the most is the relationships and friendships I've made along the way with people who started our interactions as potential clients. 

I've enjoyed the freedom of not being commission-based which (in my opinion) has allowed me to select the products that suit my client's needs. I will also tell clients my personal preferences up front, and why.

 

However working in this industry (and retail in general) is getting harder and harder, and the fun factor and job satisfaction is not what it used to be, so to the OP, by all means if you are interested in getting into the industry, go for it, but don't stick around if you find it frustrating, it "can" burn you out.

 

I'll give you a current example of where this industry can be soul destroying...we have a client who came to the store months ago to listen to a brand we have exclusive here in WA. After getting the specific model in for him to listen to, followed by a lengthy demo and discussion we detailed a price, to which the client was unhappy with (despite this brand being currently cheaper in Australia then most of the bigger markets around the world, and this price being given before we even got the unit in for him to listen to!), and wanted to think about it (usually that's a sign of ringing around/emailing to get a better price). Some weeks later he came back and started up the same conversation with a colleague and wanted another listen. When he was told that we ended up selling this unit to another client he was perturbed as to why we would do such a thing. He then asked if we could get another unit in for him to listen to again (did I mention this "unit" isn't cheap?). We reluctantly agreed but now the customer hits my colleague hard for pricing by coming back with  "confirmed" prices from interstate stores. When the demonstration unit came in, he then wanted to listen to two other units in the range that we didn't have (more expensive).

This back and forth about the 3 units for audition went on for a few weeks, but we refused to budge on our "fair" price. This "client" then began ringing around the various local stores looking to see if they could possibly get access to the brand, even to the point that one store made contact with us about supplying!

Right now this client has a price from the Eastern States that is his reference point (a stupidly cheap price for what the product is and commands) and is doing all he can to buy it cheaper, yet has no concern about the financial cost of us getting in the best part of $50,000 worth of product for him to audition (a second time). Don't get me wrong, we all tend to be self-centred when purchasing goods, after all we want a good price and be looked after. We have done nothing but entertain and help this client out, with ZERO reward for our efforts so far.

 

If this client was so serious about buying this amplifier, it would be better for him to hop on a plane and listen to all three in various stores in Melbourne, buy the one he wants and fly back. Instead we are being treated like a free advice bureau.

 

But, issues like that aside, its still fun. I get to play with some fantastic toys, and love discovering new music thanks to the people who walk through our door. The good days are great, the bad days, well, I go home and hope tomorrow is a great day!!

I had a friend who worked at Frank Prowse quite some years ago now.  I was impressed at both the depth of knowledge there and the lengths gone to to ensure the right advice and system for each client.  Nothing seemed too much effort.  I can't imagine how a store could go to such lengths now and remain profitable with the consumer behaviour that you've touched on.  I also think that for the majority of customers the mild extra they may pay compared with finding an internet store would be more than offset by the increase in performance they'll get by happily paying for that advice, demoing, and after-sales care.

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