Retail Podcast 306: Andy Heck on Selling Diverse Product Lines In Retail

Andy Heck on Selling Diverse Product Lines In Retail

Bob Phibbs interviewed Andy Heck, President of Alpin Haus, about the key to selling diverse products in retail, ensuring employees are knowledgable about products and knowing more than your customer.

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Tell me something good about retail

Andy Heck on Selling Diverse Product Lines In Retail


The Key To Selling Diverse Product  Lines In Retail

If it is outdoor fun you are after, Alpin Haus has got it.

With five locations in Upstate New York, they sell RVs, skis, snowboards, golf carts, pools, hot tubs, grilling equipment, boats, and more (they even have a sixth location that’s a fitness center).

 Sure, all these products are connected by their outdoorsy and active nature, but as you can probably imagine, there are a lot of differences between these products.  

So how can Alpin Haus be the go-to for so many different product categories?

Well, there is no better person to help us answer that question than the one who is running the show. That is why I have Andy Heck, President of Alpin Haus, on this episode of Tell Me Something Good About Retail. In it, we dive into some of the insights that he has gained working with this company for almost 30 years. 

So… what is the key to selling a diversified product list?

It all starts with knowing more than your customer.

Know More Than Your Customer

This is paramount for almost every retailer, but especially so for the specialty retailer like Alpin Haus. Almost all of their products require special knowledge that the layman often does not know.

However, with the internet today, there is so much information and so many different products, customers can often challenge your own knowledge of the product.

 And as Andy says, “If [the customer is] educating you, something is wrong.” 

Andy emphasizes the importance of being the expert. That the customers are often coming in because there is so much information online that they can’t make sense of it all. When they walk into your store, they are looking to you to help them.

 You must make the complex, simple. You need to know about all the different products. What are their advantages and disadvantages? What specific reasons would a customer have to choose one product over the other?

 This is not only for what your store carries either. Because customers will come in asking about products you don’t have. If you can’t say, “Well, we don’t have that product, but we do have this comparable one,” you are not doing you or the customer any favors.

But with Alpin Haus’s diverse product line, this can be a lot of information for any one employee to have, let alone all their employees.

How Does Alpin Haus Ensure Employees Are More Knowledgeable Than The Customer?

Specialized training. 

In 2003, Alpin Haus built a training room focused on perfecting the customer experience. It is here where they give their employees the knowledge they need to serve their customers.

 However, their diverse product lines make it hard for every employee to know everything about all of their products. So when they train employees, they train them for a specific specialty or division.  

This dedication to developing specialized and informed employees is how Alpin Haus has been able to successfully sell diverse product lines.

 On top of this, Andy has also attributed this ability to develop these employees, to the company's ability to constantly adapt and stay ahead of the curve.

So there are multiple reasons to take employee training and development seriously. Your capability to successfully interact with your customers is retail’s advantage over digital. Use it! 

If you are interested in Alpin Haus, check out Also, make sure you check out the rest of the episode, where Andy and I dive deeper into the beginnings of Alpin Haus, the RV market, lessons learned from the Great Recession, and more!

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