Showroom business conditions was one of a plethora of topics brought up during the best practices roundtable session earlier this week at the ASA Northeast Summit held at Live! Casino-Hotel in the Philadelphia Stadium District.

More than 100 attendees, broken into tables of eight and featuring a mix of ASA Northeast distributor, manufacturer and manufacturers rep members at each table, spent the 75-minute session talking about current challenges and best practices as it relates to anything from the supply chain to how to deal with continually rising fuel costs.

Within the context of talking about the future business climate, one table observed showrooms are “staying busy, but single order values are declining.” “The $5-$15,000 showroom order will be the sweet spot moving forward,” the table captain wrote in his summary of table activity. “Large-dollar orders have tapered off.”

That same table noted Q1 of 2023 “appears to be strong, especially in the commercial market, but to plan for slower business in 2023.”

On the topic of inventory, one table made the observation that just-in-time delivery is “dead,” and “the manufacturer that gets it right, wins.”

One table got into the discussion of the future of outside sales. “Outside sales will remain a significant and relevant part of the business. Wholesalers will need to find ways to broaden the expertise of their sales staff through additional training or mentoring, including working more closely with manufacturers and reps on joint sales calls.”

Other takeaways on this topic included finding ways to encourage sales staff to look for opportunities for which they do not have personal expertise. “Bring in others in their organization or manufacturers or reps to support the effort,” and that reps and manufacturers are spending more time creating product demand with engineers and specifiers, including spending more time on the commercial side. “Strong inside sales support is critical in making outside sales staff successful,” one table wrote.

One commonality on the pain-point front continues to be the labor situation, as one table put it “people and retaining them.” And as another company noted they have “a shortage of applicants.” Yet another table confirmed this. “Staffing is the No. 1 issue.”

ASA Northeast Summit attendees also heard from ASA Chief Economist Dr. Chris Kuehl who talked about the supply chain and beyond. Keynote speaker Beth Z, Your Nerdy Best Friend, showed attendees various tech tricks to improve efficiency both at work and at home, including the use of an email subscription manager and an app that will help remember peoples’ names.

ASA Northeast Summit attendees also enjoyed a night out at the Philadelphia Phillies baseball game in the ASA Northeast suite, and vendors hosted two networking sessions, punctuated by a grand-prize drawing hour where donated prizes were raffled off.

The location of the 2023 ASA Northeast Summit will be announced in the near future.