Watch Episode #88: An Industry Q&A with Eric Joy
A CEO's perspective on how to keep growing in the Home Automation Industry
This week's show features our host Ron Callis interviewing Eric Joy. Recorded live on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 at 12:30 pm EST.
About Eric Joy
He is the Chief Experience Officer of Georgia Home Theater. Eric started in the industry 23 years ago, back when Georgia Home Theater was still Laserdisc Enterprises. After watching the industry evolve, Eric took the opportunity to work on the manufacturing side of the business for two different speaker manufacturers: Bowers & Wilkins and Paradigm. After dedicating 8 plus years of his life to being a road warrior, he decided to return back home to Georgia Home Theater. They are proud members of CEDIA and the HTSA buying group. They have a single 20,000 square foot facility located in Marietta, GA
Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Eric Joy:
- Experience gained working
- Growth and change in the industry
- How Georgia Home Theater host events and manages growth
- How Georgia Home Theater uses social media to extend their brand
Ron: Hey guys, Ron Callis here, One Firefly. We are live. Let me check over here on my Facebook page. It looks like we are actually live. How exciting is that? We are here for episode number 88. I have my guest Eric Joy from Georgia Home Theater. Today is Wednesday, October 2nd. It is just a little bit after 12:30 PM. And thank you all for joining me. It looks like we're just starting to see people sign in here. And as you can see, I'm coming to you from a different location. As you know, if you've been watching the show, I've historically come to you from my home office, but I've just moved into my new house yesterday. I'm actually coming to you from our office here in Davie, Florida. I don't do live feeds from the Davie office very often but here we are. Without further ado, let me go ahead and bring in our, our guest. There we go. The one and only Eric Joy! How are you Eric?
Eric: All right. Doing good. Ron, how are you today?
Ron: I am doing super. You're coming in crystal clear for me. Although I think I'm coming in a little pixelated. Is that right?
Eric: I would agree with that. Yes.
Ron: Well, as long as you're crystal clear, that's all that really matters, right?
Eric: That's all that matters to me.
Ron: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Eric, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. If you could, for our audience, tell us where you're coming to us from.
Eric: You got it. I am at our facility located in Marietta, Georgia. Just a couple miles outside the Atlanta city limits. So Georgia Home Theater, if you're not familiar with us, we're now into our 30th year of business. This company was founded by my father-in-law back in 1989. Initially, as LaserDisc Enterprises, you remember what laserdiscs were? For anybody out there that doesn't, they're basically like album size DVDs and my father-in-law was a huge movie fanatic and was the guy that would buy every major release every week when they came out. And when my wife's family moved to the Atlanta area in 1989 from Colorado, he found himself without a resource to buy these movies. And so, before there was Amazon.com or a worldwide web of any sort, he reached out directly to Pioneer who was a distributor of those, discs and said I got nowhere to buy my movies. Can I get them directly from you? And they said yes, and movies turned into him sourcing laserdisc players for his friends and then it's just ballooned and exploded from them.
Ron: That's crazy. I do remember as a kid going with my dad to Circuit City in Virginia. And there was another store called Best, not Best Buy, but Best. That was the local electronic store and I remember when the laserdisc came out because it was this new game-changer. And of course my dad was always on the front-end of purchasing new technology, so immediately bought the LaserDisc. I don't believe we bought many discs because they were expensive.
Eric: They were extremely expensive. If you were into that technology you did so because video fidelity and audio fidelity mattered to you and this was the best performance in fidelity that you could get at the time. And then here comes the DVD which quickly became commoditized and the internet came along so people weren't coming to our store to buy movies. Although, we were one of the first places in the Southeast that you could purchase and rent DVDs. But all along we had been adding things into our arsenal here, not just selling players and movies, but players and receivers and speakers and the big rear projection televisions that were ridiculously heavy and had to carry them up steps.
Then here comes the first flat-panel televisions. It's just been great over the past 20, almost 25 years for me being involved in the business to see how far things have come and how back in those early days when we had our first 50-inch plasma TV from Pioneer that was 25,000 bucks. It didn't look that great and it wasn't that thin and there was no high definition content to watch, but people bought them because it was a TV that I can hang on the wall like a picture. And now for $25,000, I'm sure we could probably put a great looking 50-inch video display in just about every room of your home, maybe a couple at your neighbor's house. It's changed a lot.
I appreciate that for guys like us, that we're adults and as new technology comes along, we can decide whether we want to integrate and adapt that technology into our lifestyle. What is scary to me is that a child being born down at the hospital today, you know, the appreciation for what technology can do won't be there. We just expect everything to be awesome when we shout out a command and it happens. Cars will probably never run out of gas. You know, nobody will get lost. It's instant communication. I think we were born at the right time, Ron.
Ron: I concur. We've got some shout-outs happening here on Facebook Live. I'm going to put a couple of these up on the screen. First of all Mario, hey Mario. He says I need to shave. Mario, I just moved into my new house yesterday and I was up late, so just work with me, man. I'll shave next time, I promise. We are also now launching this content as a podcast, so if you listen to me, then you don't have to look at my unshaven face. We have Angel who says, "Welcome, Eric Joy." We have Liz, she says, "Congratulations on 30 years." Which is pretty awesome. And then Mario jumps in and he says "What a great story, Eric" Eric, I have so much I want to talk to you about and there are so many facets to what I think you personally and what your company are doing that really is a role model, or it could be a role model, for so many in our industry. But before I get there, I'd like to go just into your personal background. You're the Chief Experience Officer, and I want to jump into what that even means. I love the title, but before we go there, can you just take me through how you got here?
Eric: Yeah, sure. Again, I had no intention of being in the consumer electronics industry. I just kind of fell into it. But I enjoyed it. Primarily because I love music more than I love food. I grew up with a father who was in radio his whole working career. So being a child of the '70s, during the summer I would go to work with my dad at the radio station and music is more important than just about anything in the world. So here's a way I found a job that was really intended to be something that I could do until I figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I guess at this point, I still haven't figured out what I want to, when I grow up.
Ron: Who says you have to grow up? Do we really have to grow up?
Eric: Hopefully, we don't. And that's what's great about this industry, is that it is a fun industry. I've enjoyed it thoroughly. And thankfully when I started working here in my early twenties I had some people that were great mentors to me. One actually still works here. I've been working with my buddy, Travis, for the past 20-something years and we're best of friends, and we're music comrades and for him to show me the ropes and teach me why a speaker works and why an amplifier works. Our business was growing for all of these years and then, unfortunately, which, probably a lot, I'd say everybody in the industry, we get to the years 2008, '09 to '10, the economy fell apart. Pretty bad. We were seeing my network of peers around the country forced to shut their doors. The housing industry collapse just really did a number on what we do.
At that time we went from what was about a 7,500 square foot showroom to immediately what we were going to try to stay healthy get through this thing and the facility downsized to about a 2,100 square foot facility. All of the fun things that I enjoyed about the business were going to be going away. I felt very fortunate that I had an opportunity from a great mentor and friend of mine, Doug Henderson who at the time was the president of Bowers and Wilkins Loudspeakers. Currently, he's the president of JL Audio. He invited me to come be a part of his team and I said, you know what, I'm going to give it a go. I'm going to see what it's like working on the manufacturer side for one of my favorite products of all time. And if I can't be successful there, then, surely because I'm working for a family business, they have to take me back. I'm family!
I did that for about eight years and had a great time. What it allowed me to do was see the best facilities around the country. It allowed me to see the worst facilities around the country. Learning best business practices and seeing terrible business practices from integrators all over this country. So when I decided that, you know what, I'm tired of being a road warrior, I want to get off the road and be a better family man, be better friends to my friends here. I've learned a lot. I'm going to take that back, go back to Georgia Home Theater, which at the time we had just bought our current facility, which is a 20,000 square foot building, and bring back all of the great things that I saw and let's not do the things that I'm seeing that isn't working.
Our facility is a work in progress and I'm sure it will continue to be one. Just taking our time and trying to add great experiences. That's where the CEO, Chief Experience Officer comes into play. We sell some incredible things and I know that a lot of salespeople don't need a facility, don't need a showroom. I know that everybody's not going out and pitching to their customers a smart mirror or pitching to their customers, you know, the biggest, baddest over the top outdoor audio system, and they're just things that we can incorporate into our facility that helps upsell every time we get somebody to our facilities. We make sure everybody gets, treated with respect and gets shown a good time and given a tour. It's all about creating the experience here. I want, as soon as they get home that night, they're telling their significant other, if they didn't come with them, telling their friends the next day at work, "Holy smokes, man, this place was absolutely incredible. You got to go check this place out."
Ron: All right, I want to dive deeper into that but we've got Chris Campbell, he says "Evening from the UK." He's checking out the show and then we have Robert, our man from CEDIA. He says "The beauty of our industry is we don't have to grow up."
Eric: I've known Rob for about 10 years. He has not grown up at least in the 10 years that I've known him for sure.
Ron: No, I agree. I think his family would agree, too. Rob, thanks for watching the show. In terms of unifying or moving that concept of delivering an exceptional experience regardless of whether the person buys something. Offline you said creating ambassadors for your brand by ultimately delivering just great customer experience, a great education, a great training, a great demo. How do you take that past you, Eric, the practitioner of this skill? How do you move this across your organization? You have a large team and you have a large facility.
Eric: We have an extremely large facility and we do have a good size team. You're not gonna probably get the same consistency with every person as they would guide you through. But I just want to make sure that every person has the opportunity. For example, our last staff meeting was last Friday morning because I like to see constant change. I like to see things fresh. Our industry is always changing. Every manufacturer is always updating with new products, new speakers, new receivers, new things. That because we're so busy, I know what's going on in every nook and cranny of this building. But I can't expect everybody else to notice everything that I'm doing. So periodically we'll say, "Alright guys, let's go take a tour of the store." All right, let's start here. And here's how I approach introducing this space to a customer and then going from room to room to room and hopefully you know, I'm certainly not saying I'm the best presenter or give, you know, the best out there.
A lot of the things that I use in my repertoire, I learned from folks that I work with on the manufacturing side. Things that I learned from other dealers. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. When somebody shows you a great idea, use it, and figure out how to make it your own. If it doesn't feel genuine or does it feel like it's your own, then don't use it. Because what we're looking for is authenticity. I want the customers to feel that you are being genuine when you're talking to them. And so you will find, cause we all have different personalities and different tastes. This particular thing resonates with me for a specific reason. This might resonate with you more for a specific reason, but the key is to see what resonates with the client and then drive that. Right? Boom. We've just set the hook right here. They love this particular thing. We'll spend as much time there. I don't have to give you a tour of the entire facility, but if needed, you know, here's, here's the plan to move and flow through in a great way.
I love it when people are pulling out their phones to take pictures of things in our home. For example, invisible speakers, right? Not in-wall speakers, but the truly invisible category. People are blown away that that wall or sheetrock is making noise. I've seen people take a picture of a sheetrock wall. It makes no sense, but we have a handful of things in our facility that we don't expect to sell very often. Are you familiar with Hidden Vision?
Ron: No, I don't know that name.
Eric: When you see them at CEDIA, what they have, it's like picture frames that when they're triggered open up to reveal, and at the trade show, it's primarily guns is what they're doing. We have a thing, we don't keep a gun in the store, but it's just a, it's a framed picture. And then a Control4 trigger and the picture goes up and down, drops a tray. So we explained to them it could be where you want to keep that emergency cash or your passport or your watch collection. Very few people that have seen anything like that. We don't sell a lot of them, but it's something that stands out in their minds and the smart mirror. We don't sell a lot of smart mirrors, but it's something that they've never seen before and we're trying to let them know that there's no need for you to go anywhere else. We can do everything.
Ron: Now Georgia Home Theater and you, I know this because you're a customer of One Firefly, so I know this and I shared this with you offline and you had agreed I can say this publicly. Here in 2019, it looks like you're going to have another banner year, another record year of growth, specifically revenue growth. How are you doing this year after year? I'm asking you that question from the perspective that watching and listening to the show whether live or in a recording afterward, are your peers. These are other people from around the industry in various capacities.
I think that you have, you and the leadership team at Georgia Home Theater, have a perspective that is lending you towards continued growth and you're thinking about how to grow. Can you kinda talk to the audience? What do you think you're doing or some of the things you're doing right that is enabling that growth?
Eric: Absolutely. So, you know, every company wants to grow its business. I think a key thing is -- and I'm sorry, I've got to plug my power cord into my laptop.
Ron: Yeah. Otherwise, we're gonna lose you and we don't want that.
Eric: Now, one of the things that I saw, and this was witnessing firsthand the just disastrous things that were happening in 2008, '09, and '10 when it was so hard to do business, I think one of the problems there was through the mid-2000s, it was just to make it rain. People are throwing money like crazy to do over the top home theaters in their homes. And we thought it was never going to end and there was an attitude of grow, grow, grow. I'm gonna be the big guy in this market and I'm going to do whatever I have to do to just grow. Not with any kind of preparation that the faucet can turn off as it did for Georgia Home Theater in 2009. It turned off quick. It did. It was interesting. I knew people that were going out of business shut their doors having hard times in 2008. At the time, 2008 was our biggest revenue year ever. And we foolishly were thinking, you know what? Maybe we're immune to this thing, right?
Ron: Because you had booked all those sales in 2007.
Eric: We were lucky that, yeah, we had a great pipeline of business and everybody followed through with their projects, but it was really like February of 2009 that it was like running into a brick wall and then there's the, oh crap, what do we do now? You know it was ugly. We downsized the business you know, it was just a really tough time and I hated to see friends and acquaintances in the industry that lost their business and lost their jobs. Now as we are looking in things are, and we are growing there's a commitment that it's going to be manageable growth, right? We're always going to be prepared so that if something happens next month, we're good. We're not going to be in a bad financial situation. We're going to make sure that we are set up to survive another possible scenario like what happened before.
One of the things that I specifically am challenging the leadership and the sales team here is thinking about how do we do manageable growth. I really got thinking about this when I first started traveling, working for a speaker manufacturer. I was talking with a dealer down in Florida, probably not too far from where you're at, Ron. And they said, "I want to tell you my goals for this year. I want to do 25% more jobs this year than I did last year." And I was thinking, man, that sounds crazy, right? That sounds hard. That doesn't sound like manageable growth to do 25% more jobs. That means I need 25% more vehicles, more employees, the headaches have the payroll, insurance and all, all of this other stuff.
And just immediately thought, how about challenge yourself to do 20 to 25% more business with the exact same number of jobs? Are we capitalizing on our existing customers? And so that's our thing and I'll drive it, several times through the year is are we maximizing every sale and doing it in a way not just that it feels like to the client that I'm going to nickel and dime you just for the sake of getting, squeezing every bit of money I can out of you. But just thinking about how can I present this to the client so that there is a true value proposition and you want to spend this money with me. Let me show you the justification of why you should spend more money with me.
Ron: Yeah, can you give me an example? Let's say a home theater and let's say you would, prior to the deployment of this strategy, you sell home theater A and now let's say post this kind of fresh take on taking better care of the customer. What would be different in home theater B? Like what would you sell differently or offer that customer different?
Eric: So a couple of things. And I think a lot of this for everybody should be going back and taking a look at. While we were always looking at the emerging categories of new technology, let's master the things that we have been selling for the past couple of decades. And so when I first got back here to Georgia home theater I took a look at our JL audio subwoofer business and I realized that we're not selling nearly enough subwoofers or good enough subwoofers. We were selling a lot with them, but I'm taking a look at the quantity and where the focus of where we were selling or the lesser expensive, the lesser performance. And we're averaging one per home theater system. So our approach is every home theater system is gonna get proposed a minimum of two subwoofers. Two were better than one, and I can easily explain to the client why two are better than one.
We're not going to pitch eight-inch subwoofers into the job. We're going to start with a 10 or higher. We're gonna leave ourselves some wiggle room to go back if necessary. There is a performance advantage to having multiple subwoofers in the system and to get the customer's to realize that they should buy it. Well, we did it in our surround sound rooms here at the store. You know, you can't say, "Hey Ron, I want you to buy two subwoofers in your system". And then you say, "Well, Eric, you guys only use one in yours, right?" You have to show that you believe in what you're doing here.
So we're on track to this year, probably quadruple our business in this one category with just this one manufacturer from what we did in 2017, which was a great year. We're just taking it to that next level. And then another one that gets overlooked is you know, while there's always the possibility that somebody can come back and add another subwoofer or upgrade their subwoofers, I think we all should be very conscious of the thing that we offer to our clients that is the least likely thing to ever get upgraded is an architectural speaker. And when we are dealing with customers and you know, I've got to cut some budget or cut something here for some reason, almost everybody says, well, the in-wall speakers, the NCLA speakers, that's the easiest place for me to cut. But we should all keep in mind, customers will upgrade the projector, maybe eventually over time as that projector dies, surround sound receivers die. Or here's the new HD and my platform technology TVs get bigger in 4K or in 8K or you know, all of these things are gonna get customers coming back.
Once that speaker is cut into the wall or in the ceiling, it's done. It's out of sight, out of mind. So would that specific category you sell better sell the best ones that you can today. Because I challenge anybody out there listening. Tell me the last time somebody came in and said, I want to upgrade all of my in-ceiling speakers around the house. And not saying that it never happens, it just your odds of getting struck by lightning or getting bit by a shark are better.
Ron: Right? It's at the bottom of a long list. Yeah. Interesting. Believe it or not, we were already 30 minutes in and we've only covered a couple of the things I want us to talk about. I want to jump into another quick topic. You guys have a stunning facility. I know this because I've seen pictures and videos. I have not yet been there. I'm going to make the trip to come and see you guys and tour the facility.
Eric: We're throwing you a birthday party next year, Ron.
Ron: Alright. Birthday party, Georgia Home Theater. I'm there and all my friends are invited. Can you tell me how you guys use events and the types of events? Is there a diverse portfolio of events and how are you really trying to maximize this space?
Eric: Well we are fortunate that we do have the space that we have. I know that there are a lot of places out there that have a great facility. Sometimes maybe we've just gotten lazy and haven't kept the place up or kept the place refreshed. But in today's world, a great facility is fewer than there were 10, 15 years ago. So if you have that place, do everything that you can to maximize that return on the investment that you have in the facility.
I like to do them because number one, they're fun, right? I enjoy it. I enjoy giving our clientele the reason to come out, hang out with us. And then I'm also, you know what, Ron, you're an existing customer of our business. I want you to come and check out this great event, but do me a favor, man. I want you to bring your boss. I want you to bring your neighbor. I want you to bring your brother in law, bring me fresh business. That's the great thing about events, not just bringing your existing customer base. We want them. But I want them to bring a friend and we've done things that are just really on a more social and fun basis. Like, we've had a few concerts here at our store. Which are a ton of fun.
Ron: Tell me about that. What does that mean? You're holding concerts at your store? Like, these are our boutique events?
Eric: Well, when this got started a friend/customer of ours, Reggie and his wife had been doing a backyard concert at their home every summer. And as its popularity grew, you know, my backyard and my neighborhood can't handle the parking. And he's told me, he said, I've got to go find a place where we can have our party this year cause we're gonna have live music and have all of our friends. I was like, I said, no way man. You're not going to find a facility anywhere. Cause I gotta huge facility right here and you're telling me you're getting 40 to 60 people in your backyard that love music. I want them in my store. Right. I want them in our place. Our first concert was an acoustic duo. It was a great evening. We had a ton of fun. The next thing that we did, are you familiar with who Steve Winwood is?
Ron: Yes, of course.
Eric: Well, we didn't have Steve Winwood, but we had his daughter, Lilly Winwood who was a friend of a friend. She came down and played a bunch of her own songs and played a couple of her dad's, you know, classic rock tunes. But each one of these performances was having the artists play through our systems through McIntosh amps, through our big Klipschorn heritage speakers. So we're keeping our gear involved in the musical performance. And then you know, one of my favorite groups out there, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, if you're not familiar with who Derek Trucks is, he's probably the greatest living slide guitar player on planet earth. And so we had a couple of members of his band here and it was really about a musical Q&A. We talked with them about what it's like being a musician and really just you know, just a fun evening. So we've had things like that. We've had dedicated events for Control4 certified showroom, the #C4Yourself day. We've had events where we have multiple audio manufacturers here. We've had two weddings in our facility.
Ron: How do you, how do you manage the logistics around these? Do you do that yourself? Do you have members of your staff? Do you handle the, you hire a logistics company or events? Some people listening are probably saying that sounds great, but my goodness, my day's full enough.
Eric: Well, it is a lot. I'm very lucky that I've got my stepdaughter puts in a few hours every week to help out with things like that. So to create an invitation or do these things usually the catering and what we would do for catering would be extremely light. You know, finger foods. We're not trying to feed anybody a three-course meal, but we use a gentleman who was a client of Georgia Home Theater. For him supporting our business, we're going to support his business. And it really is not a big financial expense thing to do these. It really is just the time to come up with the idea and put it together and hope that people show up.
I mean, we did something as simple as just two weeks ago. Eric Clapton had his crossroads guitar festival. We live-streamed it as it was happening in Dallas, Texas. We invited friends and clients to come. We're going to have it on every TV here. We're going to be listening all around our property. It was a great mix of friends, clients, and just watched the entire Clapton performance and had some beers and bourbon and wine and nibbled on some food. And it's a great time.
Ron: All right, so let's tell the audience about your bourbon collection.
Eric: In my office, I've got a bar with I think currently 32 or 33 bottles on it. And it's a great conversation piece. Whether anybody takes a sip or not, they like to come over because a collection of anything, especially when you have all of these interesting glass bottles visually it's striking. And so there's a window that looks right into my office. Here's the collection and people want to come over and take a look and kinda check off. Yep. I've had that. I've had that. I've had that. Ooh, I've never seen that before. Ron, go ahead. Would you like to take a taste?
Everybody that comes to visit our facility gets offered at minimum a bottle of water, Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke. We usually keep our fridge full of, you know, half a dozen different local Atlanta craft brewery beers. We've got a wine fridge, so we got some red wine. We got a Chardonnay. Rose. So what do you want Ron? A water Coke. Sprite. Diet Coke. Bourbon, beer, wine. And people appreciate the offer regardless of if it's 10:30 in the morning or you know, 5:30 in the afternoon. But I will once somebody accepts that offer they really just loosen up. They become relaxed and it's not because they're now drunk. It's just like before they even had gotten or cracked the beer or tasted the bourbon there's just now we've got a level of,
Ron: There's a social contract. When you offer someone a drink and they accept that drink, it just takes the relationship to the next step.
Eric: It absolutely does. So it's salvaged some sales when things have gone not quite the best way. And then it's great for upselling as well. So it's a lot of fun. And what's great is after we started it clients and manufacturers, when they come to the store, very often, quite regularly, people come in and say, I noticed you didn't have a bottle of this, so they're bringing it so it's, you know, a lot of people say, man, you spent a lot of money on bourbon. No, it just arrives.
Ron: Yeah. At some point, it becomes its own little monster. It has momentum. You know, I was thinking that when I come to see you, I know what I'm going to bring. But then I actually, it's counterintuitive cause I wouldn't know what to bring. You probably already have all the cool stuff.
Eric: Very rarely or I don't think I've ever had anybody bring a bottle on their first visit. Yeah. The second time around, it's like wow, people are bringing all this stuff. I got to bring something man.
Ron: Yeah. I got to bring something. All right. I wanted to touch on one more topic then I'm gonna cut you loose so you can get your normally scheduled programming. And this has, this is a bit self-serving, but I think it's interesting because you and Kenny and the leadership team, I think were maybe impressed or surprised or you can express your own emotion. You guys have ramped up your activity in terms of social media as a brand and there were questions about whether you should do that, what the impact of that would be. It is admittedly hard to track exactly what being socially active as a brand or a business, specifically a localized smaller business. You know, you're not Coca-Cola. Can you kind of just give your thoughts and opinions on what that's meant for your business?
Eric: Sure. Well, I definitely would attribute and you know, along with the other things that we're doing to grow our business, partnering with yourself and one Firefly and I'll have to give Jordan Littman a high five.
Ron: He's listening. We know he's listening!
Eric: He has been awesome. Everybody that we've dealt with has been fantastic. And so you know, One Firefly for us is a part of Georgia Home Theater, right? I really don't think of you guys as your own entity. You are in an arm of Georgia Home Theater. The way our installation team and our sales team and anything else is One Firefly to me is Georgia Home Theater. Because we have, with the website, with the blogging that we're doing, you know, Jordan and I will be on a phone call this afternoon to talk about what we want to hit over the next couple of months. And when we first started with you, our blogging went from three blogs a month to currently we're doing nine and which is a lot. Jordan and I sometimes scratching our heads thinking, all right, what are we gonna come up with next? We're seeing the amount of leads coming in directed to our website because, the live chat and reading those chat transcripts, it's more and more and more, week after week after week and month after month.
From the visibility of the blogging aspect that has been fantastic. Then just on my own, certainly not a social media expert, but I took it upon myself to create our Instagram page. Over a year we've gone from zero followers to just under a thousand or so. And granted, the majority of the people following our Instagram and things like that are industry people. They're working for other dealers, they're working for manufacturers, or they're existing customers. I know for a fact and that we have had people, cause we tried to do a really good job at "Why are you here? Why did you come see us today?" We want to find out how you heard about us.
I was actually shocked the first time I heard somebody say, "Well, I saw this Instagram, which drove me to click on your website link on your Instagram page, which showed me that, wow, here's where you are and I decided to come out and see you." And that has happened a handful of times. And I think just by nature it can be frustrating to not see immediate results of doing activities. You have to understand to do social media, to do an Instagram page, to keep your Facebook going, to tweet something, which we don't, you know, Twitter is not anything we're big into, but it effectively costs us $0 to be Instagramming. And the rewards, if you're patient, they will pay off as long as your content I think is compelling. I don't think you need to overdo it. But you know, I think when people are investigating a company and see that you haven't updated something for two or three years it's like, you know, come on, what's going on over there?
Ron: It goes back, Eric, to where we started when we said what we do. You know, sometimes it doesn't feel like work. It feels like we're kids and we're playing our industry. We do really cool stuff and we're in really cool places and if we show that to the world, some people are going to think that's pretty cool.
Eric: Yeah. People have no idea what's possible out there. And we can't fault them for not buying cool things if we're not showing them cool things.
Ron: That's right! They don't know what they, you know, to channel my Donny Rumsfeld back in 03 when he said, you know, there's the, known knowns and there's the unknown unknowns. They don't know what they don't know.
Eric: Yeah. And you can't fault somebody for not knowing. And, you know, we have to remind our installation teams and our sales guys that when you're talking about something and the client isn't comprehending or understands what that is yeah, we can't make them feel stupid. That's our opportunity to be the hero and educate them, get them excited, because yeah, I mean the industry is confusing enough for us that work in it. You know, it's such a constantly changing thing. We can't expect that our clientele knows what's going on or that these are possibilities. So we have to, we have to be patient, show 'em a great experience and then have them get out that black American express or that big old checkbook and write that check.
Ron: That's right. Yup. Well, Eric, as the only chief experience officer that I am aware of in our industry and if you are a chief experience officer and I'm not aware of you, then drop it into the message below. But you are the chief experience officer for our industry and certainly for Georgia Home Theater. And it has been my pleasure to have you on episode 88 of Automation Unplugged.
Eric: Awesome. Ron, thank you so much.
Ron: Awesome. Great to have you on Eric. And folks, there you have it. If you are watching live and or watching the recording and you care about the image, I apologize for the pixel pixelization I think that's the word. But if you're listening, hopefully, the audio quality is good. And that was just a spectacular interview with Eric. Not necessarily me as the interviewer, but Eric as a guest, he's a, he's a rock star and Georgia Home Theater is, is lucky to have him and everyone that is their client is lucky to have him. A couple of updates. I just want to mention to our audience all of our shows have historically been available on video and thus video and audio. We are right now at One Firefly transcribing all of our shows all of the interviews into text. And those are going to be over the next few months added to our website. So if you want to be able to read the interviews and then have a detailed list of show notes from all of our awesome guests and the conversations definitely be sure to check out our website, onefirefly.com and go over to learn. You can drop down to the Automation Unplugged section. So check that out. And I know I've been teasing this for six months. We're now ready to drop here over the next week or two, the actual conversion of these shows into a podcast. So stay tuned. I think episode 87 is actually going to be the first one that's made available. And our guests here, Eric joy is gonna as episode 88 will be number two made available on the podcast and that'll be available in all your normal channels, wherever you download your podcasts from. So on that note hope you have a fantastic rest of your week. Have a great Wednesday and I will see you guys next time on the next show. Thanks so much, everybody!
With experience in both the manufacturer and Integrator side of the industry, Eric Joy has been a key component in helping Georgia Home Theater grow consistently throughout the years.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.
Resources and links from the interview:
- Georgia Home Theater 20,000-square-foot Marietta showroom
- Hidden Vision for protecting valuables
- Educating clients with equipment like JL Audio and McIntosh to create the ultimate listening experience
- Turning their showroom into a Control4 Certified Showroom for #C4Yourself Day