Their slogan is, "Audio, video and a boatload of know-how." The audio and video refers to Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc.'s mid- to high-end electronics. The know-how refers to the retailer's knowledge of its product.
"A lot of consumers don't have time to research the merchandise," says Sandy Bloomberg, chairman and CEO of the Canton, Mass.-based company. "It is a confusing category. Our sales people go through a five-and-a-half-week training program. We don't believe any other retailers do that."
The Tweeter Home Entertainment Group consists of five retail brands - Tweeter Etc., Bryn Mawr Stereo & Video, HiFi Buys, Home Entertainment and Dow Stereo/Video - each located in a different region of the country. There are 71 stores in total.
Although the retailer's merchandise line excludes entry-level products, it claims to compete with Circuit City and Best Buy. To stay competitive in the home electronics category, Tweeter focuses its energy in two places: customer service and price competitiveness.
"We are extremely customer-driven," Bloomberg says. "You can have the greatest store in the world, the greatest advertising and the greatest product. But if you go into a store and the sales person makes you angry, that's it."
Consumers shopping for electronics often go to two, three or four stores before making a selection, says Tim Hughes of Dallas-based United Commercial Realty (UCR), the exclusive leasing agent for Tweeter's Home Entertainment stores in Texas, and a member of The Chain Links Network. When shoppers encounter good customer service, he says, they are more likely to stay at that store.
"Tweeter knows all about the product it is selling," Hughes says. "Their sales people are confident. Their service is far above anyone I know in that area of retail right now."
In addition to offering highly trained sales associates, Tweeter strives to have the lowest prices. The company's Automatic Price Protection means that if a product is advertised for a lower price somewhere else within 30 days of purchase, Tweeter will automatically send a check for the difference to the customer. The company has sent out almost 100,000 checks to consumers.
Tweeter's first store opened in Boston in 1972. Since then, the company has acquired its four other brands, located in the mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, Texas and San Diego. While each of the five regional brands has a different name, Tweeter plans for its new stores and relocated stores to look similar.
With an average size of 10,000 to 12,000 sq. ft., the stores have brightly colored interiors. Ideally,the company would like to find 9,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. stores with a 3,000 sq. ft. mezzanine for stock. Tweeter's expansion strategy involves not only new stores but also relocations.
"We plan to open between 20 and 25 stores, new and relocated, in the next 15 months," Bloomberg says. Some of the stores are being relocated because the company needs larger spaces.
Most of the company's expansion will be focused in Atlanta, with HiFi Buys, and in Houston and Dallas, with its Home Entertainment brand.
The most efficient expansion plan, Bloomberg says, is to open new units in an existing market. This strategy is beneficial to Tweeter because with one distribution center in each of its five regions, its stores are all within 250 miles of a distribution center.
"If Circuit City and Best Buy are there, we also need to be there," Bloomberg says, adding that Tweeter is looking for end-cap or freestanding sites in neighborhood, power or specialty centers. The retailer looks for co-tenants that attract a highly educated customer and high-income demographic.
Contact: Sandy Bloomberg, chairman & CEO, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc., 10 Pequot Way, Canton, MA 02021; (781) 830-3000.