Family-owned store focuses on customer service
Founded by Larry Stick in 1975, Billiard Factory now consists of 15 stores including the Bee Cave store located at 12812 Shops Parkway, Ste. 200. The home entertainment store has since been handed down to Stick's sons Tony and Ryan, who continue the company's commitment to customer service.
"I come from a customer service background," Billiard Factory Regional Manager Bob Cohen said. "That's all I know. We want to take care of the customer. That's what we want to do."
Customer service is easy to do well if everything is going right. A true test of the quality of customer service is when things are not going well, he said.
It is the quality of customer service along with a location in a popular shopping center that has resulted in business increasing 30 percent through July compared with last year, Cohen said.
"Being in a shopping center that is at near capacity, if not full capacity, definitely helps," Cohen said. "The amount of building and the level of income around here certainly helps our business. I have a store full of wants; I have very little needs in here."
The affluent nature of the area is what brought Billiard Factory to Bee Cave six years ago, but the store carries items that are affordable to everyone, Cohen said.
"We have tables that range from $1,300 to $19,000," Cohen said. "We can make everyone happy if they decide they want a pool table."
The store also sells a variety of other gaming needs—including air hockey, foosball, shuffleboard, table tennis and pinball—and non-gaming items such as bar stools, bars, paintings and accessories.
Cohen attributes much of the business' recent success to the savvy nature of Austin residents. Austin has an intelligent population that does its homework before a big purchase, he said. With the stock market rising and interest rates down, the market conditions are right for Austin residents to make that purchase, he said.
Cohen, who has been with the store for nearly two years, sees a lot of similarities between a billiards store and a furniture store, where he worked previously.
"In many ways [the stores] are similar. You are selling a product," Cohen said. "Obviously the product is different, but there is a design element that is very important. We do a lot of work with designers that come in for their client."
Some people could not care less about the design aspects of their pool tables, Cohen said. But there are those who take into consideration a pool table's felt color, wood and a number of other factors, he said.
Another aspect Cohen enjoys about Billiard Factory is that it is a family-operated company.
"It's a great family-owned company," Cohen said. "You have a lot of input and access. They are willing to hear your ideas. I love working for a small, family-owned company."
The family-owned company listens to those ideas and uses its customer service to attract a lot of repeat business, Cohen said.
"I was speaking with a customer the other day who told me he had been waiting to make his purchase for a while," Cohen said. "But he told me, 'If we are going to go broke, we are going to go broke with nice toys.'"
Made in Texas
Billiard Factory carries a number of products that are made in Texas, including Champion Shuffleboard products.
Champion Shuffleboard manufactures nearly all of its products at its Richland Hills, Texas, plant.
In 2011, Champion Shuffleboard acquired Connelly Billiards Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer of custom billiards tables based out of Arizona, and is likely to move production of the tables to Texas, according to the company's website.
Connelly Billiards joins Tornado, a company which specializes in foosball tables, and Valley-Dynamo, which makes coin-operated pool tables along with air hockey tables, as companies purchased by Kelye Stites, owner of Champion Shuffleboard. The majority of the products are now produced in Richland Hills.