Page 1

December 2016

t fi o r P r o f s Prowes

ouse H io d u A r fo rk o w to s iu gen Jag Rattu puts his sales

The Year in Review

What will Trump, emerging technology mean for retail in 2017?

Perfect, Part 3

Knapp and Schaeffer wrap up quality photo tips

Safety in Spades

Rydeen pushes the envelope in driver, vehicle protection

optimize your senses





Mini Super Wide Viewing 150º view, Programable Normal or Mirror Image, 0.5 lux

Wide Viewing, 120º view, 0.3 Lux

OEM look, Stick On mount super wide, 160º view

Flexible Rubber Surface Mount


RVCLPM (Chrome) RVCLPMB (Black Chrome)

RVC800LPWIRB (Black) RVC800LPWIR (Chrome)

License Plate Camera 120º view

IR License Plate Camera 120º view

On Star ! OE STYLE REARVIEW MIRROR with Built In 4.3” LCD (Manual Dimming)

RVC180B Split Screen 180º Rear/Front Camera


RVC1500 Mini Surface Mount Camera Incredible Low Light !

PROFESSIONAL GRADE 7 PIECE DASH PRY TOOL SET! Easily Remove Trim, Molding, Door Panels and Dashboards !

4.3” LCD Rear View Mirror with OnStar ! Manual Dimming Includes Cable Adaptor Adjustable Parking Lines

W! NEPT700

NEW ! Adjustable Parking Lines


OE STYLE REARVIEW MIRROR with Built In 4.3” LCD (Auto or Manual Dimming)


Auto Dimming !

Rear View Mirror Monitor


Adjustable Parking Lines


WIRELESS CHARGING CRADLE For Samsung Note/S3 and iPhone 4/5


Just drop the phone into the charging cradle for instant charging

Samsung Note 2/3 & Samsung S3/4 Dual USB Power Output

Dual USB Power POD with Mount

12 VDC Input Air Vent Mount

iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S

Surface Mount

Round flush mount

Dual 2.1A / 2.1A Output

Volt Meter



1 amp & 2.1 amp USB output

HDMI / USB Extension




With Wifi Steaming & Built In Multimedia Player •11” WideScreen 16:9 • Built-in IR Multi-Media Player • 2 Audio / Video Inputs • SD Card Reader + USB Input

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• 9” LED backlit High Resolution Digital Panel • Works in all type of Cars • Multimedia DVD Player • Supports 3-In-1 SD Card Slot, USB, DVD • HDMI Input • Dual IR Wireless Headphone Transmitter Built-in • FM Transmitter Built-In • Game Controller • Slim Design • Touch Button Controls




a e R

• Built in Wireless Wifi HD receiver • Built in SD card player • Audio Video inputs • Wireless IR headphone transmitter • Wireless FM transmitter • Led Dome lights • IR Remote control

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. . . dy


Volume 33// Issue 13

Ad Index

12 FEATURES 12 // News Feature: Year in Review

Retailers share how they made adjustments internally to external elements in society, including the 2016 presidential race.

Accele .............................................................. p. 2 & ®3 ADS: iDataStart ................................................ p. 59 Audiofrog .............................................................. p. 19 Cerwin Vega Mobile ........................................ p. 50 CybCar ................................................................. p. 44 Diamond Auto ................................................... p. 53 Elettromedia: Hertz / Audison ................. p. 35 HD Radio .................................................................. p. 7 Harman: Infinity ................................................. p. 15 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 47 Kicker ...................................................................... p. 17 Metra ....................................................................... p. 10 Mito ......................................................................... p. 45 Mobile Electronics ............................................ p. 41 Orca: Focal / Illusion / Mosconi ...................p. 11 Rydeen ................................................................... p. 19 Scosche ................................................................ p. 23 SiriusXM ................................................................ p. 18 Sony .......................................................................... p. 5 Voxx: Advent ...................................................... p. 60

28 // Real World Retail: Audio House

Being situated in a popular wine town in Northern California has its perks, including the ability to tap in to a rock-solid community of very social people. Audio House has made its name with the same social elements that make up its customer base.

36 // Behind the Scenes: Rydeen Mobile Electronics

While OEMs and aftermarket manufacturers jump on the band wagon of the safety category, Rydeen sits atop the mountain proudly, having seen this wave coming from afar. Now the company looks to move forward with fresh products to help push the category ahead in the new year.

42 // Business Feature: 5 Ways To Boost Customer Retention

Tapping into your email list can seem daunting, but retailers and experts explain why you shouldn’t worry. This month’s feature provides the best tips for enhancing perhaps the most effective way to grow your business.

48 // Tech Today: The Perfect Shot, Part 3

Installer of the Year Matt Schaeffer finishes up this tutorial on how to create the best installation images. Joey Knapp ends the piece with a final summation.

42 ARTICLES 20 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs

On the Cover

Napa, Calif. is known for wineries, golf, classy restaurants and now, thanks to Audio House, aftermarket installation work. Using the city’s community-based ethics as its base, owner Jag Rattu believes in treating customers like family and in doing so, has made his shop as important to the city as its other notable elements. Products are also a vital aspect of the business due to how they are a part of the customer experience due to all staff sampling products, thus believing in them for each sale. COVER DESIGN: ROBIN LEBEL

4  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

DEPARTMENTS 6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 9 Stats 10 Helpful Stuff 24 New Products 58 From The President

The Smarter and Safer Way to Drive XAV-AX100 Media receiver with Bluetooth® 6.4” Touch Screen • Android Auto & Apple Carplay Certified • Automatically selects Android Auto or Apple CarPlay • High-Resolution Audio file playback • OEM look and feel • Bluetooth Audio Streaming & Hands Free • Reverse camera input

Solid profit margin through strict MAP policy enforcement.

$499.99 MAP Retail

Sony supports and recommends Mobile Electronics Certified Professional (MECP) certification, contact your Sony representative for more information

CTA Standard Power Output: 20 Watts RMS × 4 at 4 Ohms < 1% THD+N SN Ratio: 80 dBA (reference: 1 Watt into 4 Ohms)

BOOTH 3102 in North Hall

Sony 12V prides itself on well controlled authorized distribution and online marketplace compliance. ©2016 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Android Auto works with devices using Android 5.0 software or higher. Some devices may not yet support Android Auto, see the Google site for the latest list of compatible devices. Android Auto and its logo are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and newer phones. Apple CarPlay and its logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice.

editor’s FORUM A Positive Note I won’t preface the title with “End on …”

If there is anything you improve in your business for 2017, you need to embrace these changes. You need to EMBRACE these changes. YOU NEED TO EMBRACE THESE CHANGES.

because it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of a year of new opportunities.

I’ll leave you with a short story, then share some cool things with you.

Forget December for a second. I want to talk about next year. But to do this, let’s go back a bit to put it in perspective.

In my business, I’ve stopped depositing checks in the bank and instead use my phone to make photo deposits. I keep these checks in a drawer with a huge document clip on one end. Why? Because there’s nothing like seeing a check made out to the business with a dollar amount. Then, when I’m having a slow month and get down a little bit, I pull out the bundle and start flipping through those checks. “These are the companies that trust me to do their work,” I say to myself. And it puts me back in a positive mindset to move forward.

Think about what we’ve survived in the past 10 years. The car no longer being the center of entertainment. Our industry being forced to integrate with devices that—by design—offer subpar sound quality. For the first time, being behind the OEMs in terms of new technology development and having to follow their lead. Having new ideas for driver entertainment come from companies outside our industry and without our input. The gradual devaluation of in-car navigation due to portable options that update in real time. The Internet, both in terms of competition and showrooming. And now, the takeover of the user interface by, of all things, wireless phone makers. Man, it makes the days of just worrying about transshipping seem like vacation. For those of you reading this, we’ve survived. And it wasn’t easy. A lot of retailers and a few brands have gone under. Anyone outside of our group reading this would say that 2017 is going to be bleak. And yet, KnowledgeFest had its best year ever in terms of attendance. More retailers and technicians are seeking education from experts and peers than at any point in our industry. Facebook groups and forums are thriving with professionals helping each other and sharing information. Brands, distributors and reps are more involved in creating custom solutions at the store level. Yes, we have a smaller industry. But it’s an industry that has come together. Is this a “rah-rah” speech? Damn right it is. The year 2017 is going to be a turning point for our industry. Safety and Driver Assistance will be the product category that provides us with new profit opportunities. We have the tools and expertise to leverage the millions of dollars that OEM are spending on advertising the category, and tell our customers that they can have those same features on the car they already own. ATHU (After the Head Unit) sales and technology will continue to develop as processing enables us to provide clean signal from factory head units and amplifiers. The best thing about this is that we have no competition, and it allows us to deliver quality sound using the same products we’ve built our businesses on.

6  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

If you completed last month’s survey, you know that I asked the question: What’s the best thing about your year so far? I want to leave you with some of the answers. When you get down about what 2017 holds for you, come back to this page to find your positive mindset. “We made new records in sales in normally slow months.” “Addition of new services such as paint protection and vehicle wraps.” “Expanded our shop to include a designated metal fabrication room.” “Hitting unexpected growth this year over last.” “Double-digit revenue increase. Some of our biggest audio projects to date.” “Still seeing growth after 6 years continued growth.” “We have been able to increase our average ticket, making more money for less work.” Great staff, repeat customers & referrals.” “We added new categories that have brought new people in the store that would have never come through the doors.” “We have maintained extremely high ratings on all major search sites the entire year.” “We are doing the same gross sales with one less employee.” “Highly increasing marine market.” “We had a pretty stunning tax return quarter.” “Improving our team and being prepared for future growth.” “This is the first year since 2007 where our overall sales have been up the entire year.” “Growth of well-trained and reliable staff, and gain of local market through growing reputation.” “Expanding into new categories and refining operations.”

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 feedback

Sincerely Yours Retailers are thankful for what 2016 brought them, citing members of the industry, including a heartfelt thank you from Brandon Green for two top retailers helping him re-evaluate his business. To: John Kowanetz and John Schwartz From: Brandon Green, The Car Audio Shop, High Ridge, Mo. “Their advice and recommendations have made me reevaluate my business and personal life, giving me a new drive to be better. I now have goals to the moon and am executing plans to accomplish them, making my shop a better place for my clients, my employees and myself.” To: Mitch Schaeffer and 1Sixty8 Media From: Eric M. Carter, Cartronix, Inc., Valparaiso, Ind. “We want to give our Thanks to Mitch Schaffer and his company 1Sixty8 Media and the whole team for making our website very successful and increasing our sales monthly. The team at 1Sixty8 Media is on top of SEO, Web-Site marketing and we see the results.” To: Davis Distribution From: Mobile Sound Solutions LLC, Angola, Ind. “Davis has helped me obtain product lines I am excited to sell. They made a great showing at the spring MERA event in Indianapolis this year. And sales staff and rep are great people and show interest in helping my business grow.” To: Jason Kranitz, Kingpin Car & Marine Audio From: Keith McCumber, SoundsGood Auto, Coquitlam, B.C. “Thanks for his willingness to always improve upon our industry, even though some people kick him around.” To: Charles Brazil of First Coast Auto Creations and Miguel Vega of Titan Motoring From: Erick Markland, Markland Designs,

Atlanta, Ga. “I’d like to compliment Charles Brazil and Miguel Vega. We met at a industry training last year and have become great friends. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Charles & Miguel shops, which are both five hours away from me and have watched both of these guys grown not only as fabricators but as businessmen. Talking with Charles and Miguel and discussing the obstacle and hurdles involved with growth in the 12V industry, but they cross each obstacle with determination and precision. I see even greater things from the both of them and I’m proud to call them friends. I’m glad the 12-volt industry has great people in it that share the same core principles and beliefs as I do and Congratulations guys on making Top 12 for 2016.” To: Andy Wehmeyer, Audifrog From: Ricardo Rangel, Monster by Rangel, Mexico City “Keep on developing amazing products.” To: Andy Wehmeyer, Audiofrog From: Elias Ventura, Safe and Sound Mobile Electronics, Chantilly, Va. “I would like to Thank Andy for taking time to visit the East Coast and conduct a Training on DSP’s. The wealth of information that industry experts like Andy provide are always priceless. Thanks for the support Andy.” To: Carlos Rojas From: High End Car Stereo and Performance, Philadelphia, Pa. “He has exceeded in his abilities of custom work and overall installation He has completed the 1 week course with mobile edge in Arizona Always dependable and a driving force of both our stores.”

8  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 703.598.3733 • ®

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 213.291.7888 • Ted Goslin 800.949.6372 ext. 466 • Creative Layout and Design: Robin LeBel Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

Chris Cook, President 978.867.6759 • Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 703.598.3733 • Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 213.291.7888 • Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • Karin Drake, Events Manager 978.645.6478 • Robin Lebel, Creative Director 978.645.6456 • 1)Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. ISSN# 1523-763X 3) Date of filing: Sept. 1, 2016. 4) Frequency of issue: Monthly. No. of issues published annually: 12) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 7) Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 8) Complete mailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 9) Full names and complete mailing address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Chris Cook, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845; Editor/Managing Editor: Solomon Daniels/Ted Goslin, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845 10) Owner. MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) Known bondholders, mortgages, and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of total amounts of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None. 12) Tax Status: Not applicable. 13) Name of Publication: Mobile Electronics. 14) Issue date for circulation data below: August 2016. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 12,484 Single Issue; 12,826. B1) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6834, Single Issue: 6826. B3) Paid sales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; c. Requested distributed by other classes of mail: Average: 531, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requested circulation; Average 7365. Single issue: 7346. d) Non-requested distribution by mail; Average: 4382 Single issue: 4223. Free distribution through other classes of mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. e) Nonrequested distribution outside the mail; Average: 325. Single issue: 750. f) Total non-requested distribution; Average 4707, Single issue: 4973. g) Total distribution; Average: 12,072. Single issue: 12,319. h) Copies not distributed; h1) Office use, leftovers; Average: 412. Single Issue; 507 j) Total; Average: 12,484. Single issue; 12,826 Percent paid and/or requested circulation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%.

 stats


January - 10% February - 9% March - 1% April - 9% May - 1%


January - 3%

June July - 9%

February - 19% March - 20%

August - 14% September - 17%

April - 13%

October - 25%

May - 14%

June - 11%

July - 10% August - 1% September - 3% October - 6%


We’ve done fairly well–

We’ve done okay–

We haven’t done well–


OEM Autosound Upgrades (summing / processing, amplification, speakers subwoofers)

25.00% 31.25% 34.38% 7.81%

Safety Upgrades (cameras, collision warning, radar, proximity sensors, etc.)

14.06% 31.25% 39.06% 15.63% 0.00%

Security Upgrades (vehicle tracking and recovery systems; appbased convenience)



December - 56% Neither - 29%


31.25% 34.38% 25.00% 1.56%

DID YOU HAVE A G O OD YE AR ? Yes - 72% No - 28%   9

 helpful stuff Book:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*CK December is a great time to take stock of yourself, look in the mirror, and assess where you can do better for next year. Once you get past its in-your-face title, this generation-defining self-help guide, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*CK, shows you how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that you can truly become a better and happier person. According to super-blogger Mark Manson, who takes a counter-intuitive approach to typical self-help books, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, claims that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings have flaws and limitations—and Manson advises readers to get to know theirs and accept them. Once we embrace our flaws and stop avoiding painful truths, we can find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek. According to Manson, a person essentially has only so much bandwidth so there are a limited amount of things that you can actually give a f*ck about. Each person needs to figure out which ones really matter to them. Filled with entertaining stories and irreverent humor, this 224-page book to help you lead a more grounded life belongs on your night table, on your desk, or in someone’s stocking as a gift this holiday season




We all live a multi-screen life these days. If you’re working on a laptop, desktop, or tablet and want to easily access and manage calls, texts, and view notifications from your Android smartphone without touching your phone every few minutes, this app answers the call. It lets you stay focused on the work in front of you but mirrors what is happening on your phone on you’re the screen you’re working on. You can also type with full physical keyboard and control content with a mouse. Basically, you’re controlling your phone from your computer.

10  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Sites To See:

Tackle My Ride Executive produced by Michael Strahan, the new reality show, Tackle My Ride, which made its debut on the NFL Network in November offers an intriguing connection between the worlds of professional football and custom cars! Co-hosted by LaMarr Woodley, a former Pro Bowl linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and James Torrez, a master car builder, and owner of Demented Customs, based in Hobbs, N.M., each 30-minute show follows the story of one super fan in a different NFL team’s city, who is making a difference in their hometown, and gets a vehicle makeover. Viewers get to see the fan’s vehicle enhanced from start to finish. The audio provider for the show is KICKER. The series continues through mid-December, but check out the web site for behind-the-scenes photos, interviews, and more.


Rockin’ Jump & Sky Zone •

From Brentwood, Calif. to Carol Stream. Ill., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and with more than 50 locations to come, this national chain, Rockin’ Jump, is helping folks literally bounce off the walls and blow off some steam. The indoor trampoline park trend has taken off and it’s a great way for you, your employees, or your family to have fun and stay fit this winter. Indoor trampoline parks have been gaining popularity since the first park opened in 2004 in Las Vegas, Nev. Sky Zone is another booming option with more than 100 locations across the country with operations in Torrance, Calif.; Parker, Colo.; Fenton, Mo., to Westlake, Ohio and Lancaster, Pa.

 news feature

12  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Year In Review: A Retailer’s Perspective The retail landscape was steady in 2016, but with a new government and changing technology trends, the stage is set for transformation. WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER   13

 news feature

Nash’s World of Sound, based in Stuart, Fla., and in business for 43 years, had a strong year with back-up cams and carries a range of brands, including Skar, MMatts, Lightning Audio, Pioneer, Powerbass and Blaupunkt.


et’s start with the obvious. An election year typically represents transition and a sense of ambiguity for the country, and most definitely has an impact on the economy. As we voted for a new president in 2016, a man who will usher in a vastly different era, the business outlook for 2017 seems solid, yet uncertain simultaneously. Whether president-elect Donald Trump will actually be able to deliver on his promise to “Make America Great Again” is yet to be seen. The election is just one factor in the forecast for the year ahead. Analysts look at a variety of industry sources to determine how the economy will fare which ultimately affects how consumers feel and impacts how retailers may fare. Wage growth, for example, is expected to be slightly up for next year and is increasing faster than inflation. According to projections by Aon Hewitt, a management consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Ill., base pay will be 3 percent in 2017, up slightly from 2.8 percent in 2016. Jobs are increasing at a moderate pace and more confident consumers, a status

14  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

that has been the sentiment since last summer, suggests that spending levels will hold steady or may even slightly increase for next year which is good news for 12-volt retailers. While most consumers aren’t spending beyond their means, few are holding back from making purchases—also good news for 12-volt retailers. While there weren’t too many bumps in the road this year, many retailers were conservative with their buying and managed inventories more tightly. Retailers have also said they’ve been more proactive when partnering with vendors making sure it’s a good fit and that they are not subjected to unrealistic minimums or inflexible terms.

Retail Overview Throughout the year Mobile Electronics has spoken with both retailers and manufacturers about a variety of topics: partnering with the right mix of vendors, in-store promotions, maximizing store space, training and education for salespeople and installers, driver distraction and safety, the omni-channel shopping

experience, and creating or participating in store, local, or regional events. Stores across the country were asked about their closing thoughts on 2016 and how they plan to accelerate business in 2017. For the most part retailers expressed satisfaction with 2016 and said they would be finishing the year on a positive note. Many had mixed feelings about the election and said it was still too early to tell what impact the new White House administration would have on their businesses. In the heart of the Northeast, Carlos Ramirez, owner of NVS Audio, based in Linden, N.J., said he was pleased with the results of the year. “We’re still doing $5,000 audio systems,” Ramirez said. “But we’re having a horrible remote start season just like we did last year at this time because the weather has been so warm. The difference for me is that I haven’t done my buying yet so that should help. Last year I sat with product until the spring.” NVS Audio, named a Top 12 Retailer of 2016 by Mobile Electronics magazine, is also taking a step in a new direction â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 15

 news feature

A Look Back This timeline presents major events in 2016 that impacted retail: Jan 6—”Star Wars: The Force Awakens” breaks North American box office record, passing the $760.5 million taken in by “Avatar” Jan 6-9—CES takes over Las Vegas and automakers invade once again with a huge presence Jan 30—Blizzard delivers record snow to 80 U.S. states. New York gets 30 inches of snow. Washington gets 28 inches. Feb 1—Alphabet, Google’s parent company surpasses Apple as the world’s most valuable company ($568 billion vs. $535 billion) Feb 9—Super Bowl 50: Denver Broncos defeat Carolina Panthers 24–10, at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif. April 5—San Francisco becomes the first U.S. city to mandate paid parental leave March 1—Forbes Richest List released, and yes, Bill Gates, comes in at No. 1 with $75 billion March 19-20—It’s the 30th Annual Spring Break Nationals at the Ocean Center in lovely Daytona Beach, Fla. March 20—Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since 1928, arriving for a twoday tour May 28—Harambe, a gorilla form Cincinnati Zoo, is shot after dragging about a boy who slipped into the enclosure June 16— Philadelphia is the first U.S. state to pass a tax on sweetened drinks June 23—United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union in their “Brexit” referundum July 6—Pokémon Go, the real-world mobile game by Niantic, is first released July 25—Verizon announces $4.83 billion purchase of Yahoo August 19—Knowledgefest Kicks Off in Dallas with the big crowds and lots of buzz October 13—American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature October 15—MECA United World Finals in Louisville, Ky. Nov 9 – Donald Trump declared the 45th president of the United States November 25—Black Friday remains a key shopping event January 5-9, 2017—The 50th anniversary of CES 16  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Prestige Car Audio & Marine brought in new vendors during 2016 including K40 and Soundskins. by branching out with its first Groupon. The promotion was scheduled to start right before Thanksgiving and was offering 50 percent off remote start installation. The customer pays for the parts. According to Ramirez, it ends up being a $150 discount. While business has been healthy for bigger ticket projects, Ramirez is taking a hands-on approach to entice more cash-strapped customers by redoing the front of his store. “We’ve been struggling to capture that lower-end customer so we’re making it more consumer friendly for those with a lower budget,” he said. “We’re definitely one of the most expensive shops in town, charging $125 an hour while others are charging $70, and we’re doing a lot of more work at the higher end, so we want to be attractive to those with a lower budget.”

Expanded Offerings Present New Opportunities In the Southeast, Nash’s World of Sound, based in Stuart, Fla., had profitable year with its 43-year-old business that handles marine, car audio, and home theater. The shop

offers auto services including fiberglass enclosures, custom door pods, LED lighting, factory speaker replacements, remote start, keyless entry and blind spot detection. “We’re expecting a fantastic year ahead,” said Barbara Blynn, president. “A lot of people have lightened up since the election is over, and since Trump had a chance of winning. Our business had an incredible year. Back-up cameras are a big area for us right now especially with older cars. People keep their cars here in Florida for a long time, but they also want to make sure their vehicles are updated. This is a great way to update an older vehicle plus it gives you peace of mind.” Dustin Daigle, store manager for Prestige Car Audio and Marine in Metairie, La., which has a 9,000 square-foot facility for its installation jobs, and was also named a Top 12 Retailer by Mobile Electronics magazine, said he was pleased with how 2016 progressed and how the year will close out. “It was great for us,” he said. “We had a steady increase in business and that is the direction we expect things to keep going.”


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 news feature Even with the presidential election over, and with many unknowns as to what a Trump administration might bring, Daigle said at least there is a reprieve now. “Everyone is probably just relieved that it’s over, but we’ll need to see what happens from here.”

Vendor Development Where Prestige did make some modifications this year was with its lineup of vendors. Carrying a broad range of brands including JL Audio, Pioneer, Alpine, Focal, Mosconi, Escort, Viper, Compustar, Audiofrog and Llumar, the store brought in two new vendors midyear to the mix—K40 for radar and Soundskins for its unique sound deadening product. K40 has particular appeal to retailers who have an aversion to manufacturers who sell their products online; the company has a staunch policy against it. “One person in the marriage has been

committed to the independent retailer,” said Peggy Finley, K40’s president. “We don’t sell to distributors. We don’t sell on the Internet. We don’t sell direct to consumers.” Out in the heartland of the country, in Rust Belt territory, Sound Check Customs in Lafayette, Ind., also had a solid performance for 2016. “We don’t expect much to change for us from last year to 2017,” said Owner R.P. Patel. “We definitely had a good year with remote start, keyless entry, and our head units.” Patel credited his list of vendors including Arc Audio, American Bass, Memphis Car Audio, and Treo Engineering for the positive results. On the west coast, Musicar Northwest, based in Portland, Ore., another Top 12 Retailer by Mobile Electronics for 2016 (for three years running), continues to take pride in its passion. Music is still at its core. Ken Ward, an owner of the store, and 30-year veteran of the audio and

electronics field, said the shop is an integrator into modern vehicles. Musicar is considered an expert on new BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, Porsches, Land Rovers, Lotuses, Ferraris and Maseratis, in addition to other exotic vehicles most shops wouldn’t typically encounter. The company’s approach is pure: “Car stereo is not that important-- but enjoying music is experiencing art, and that’s very important.” They don’t sell equipment they don’t like. And so far, it’s working quite well. “We started this business in 2010 in the middle of a recession,” said Ward. “We have higher hourly rates than our competitors and we take longer to do what we do. But we’re up over our prior year and sales are up meaningfully for 2016.”

Revising The Model As the industry continues to mature, Ward said he sees the retail channel splitting into two. “There are merchants that

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Contact your local authorized dealer or distributor to get more information about this exciting new product. © 2016 Sirius XM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc. All other marks, channel names and logos are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

18  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

sell boxes and then there are integrators--that don’t move a majority of boxes, do less volume, cut fewer cars, but work with more affluent customers,” he said. “Those shops aren’t moving the $200 CD player.” Looking ahead to 2017, Ward has no idea what’s going to happen. “There is a huge amount of uncertainty especially with what our cost basis is going to look like,” he added. Specifically, one of Ward’s deepest concerns is the potential for a whopping 45 percent tariff across all goods imported from China if the country doesn’t work with the U.S. on better trade terms. Trump’s campaign messaging focused to a large degree on criticizing China’s trade practices. A potential trade war against China has been cited by economists as one the biggest risks ahead creating higher import prices and passing those higher costs onto consumers. As far as inside the shop, Ward said the

retailer was excited about several new hires in 2016 which will help drive business. “We’re going to invest in them and in their training and education,” he said. And, finally, in terms of product, Ward said he is excited to see the new Sony CarPlay and Android Auto offerings. “I hope they deliver on their promise.” While the year ahead in consumer electronics will focus on a number of emerging categories (drones) and established products (smartphones), the vehicle safety and driver awareness industry is moving to forefront which could have long-range positive and profitable impacts.

Categorical Adjustments One issue that has perpetually challenged the car stereo specialist is finding new areas of business to complement the core categories. The connected car, while controversial to a degree, has brought the issue of vehicle safety and driver

awareness to the attention of many. Still, it has not been embraced by the aftermarket in a significant way. For 2017, it will be an important category for 12-volt specialty stores to consider and to carry. “We as an industry have reinvented ourselves, but this time it’s different because the evolution back then was musical formats,” said Bob Goodman, director of sales and marketing for Rydeen Mobile Electronics which specializes in blind spot detection systems and smart mirrors. “If you listen to the pundits and the naysayers, the aftermarket has been doomed since 1980. Well, we have survived. Now it’s about a whole different category. And you can’t sell it as you do entertainment. It’s almost like selling insurance. When consumers look at it, you can see the smile on their face because it’s something that might not be as sexy as sound, but it also protects them and their family.”    19

 retail news

Power In Presence JC Audio of Jackson, Tenn. builds a local presence by attending events and combining this with other marketing techniques. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Jeff Cantrell, President of JC Audio

The company used this 1955 Bel Air build both on social media and at a hosted event to entice more business. 20  Mobile Electronics  December 2016


Who’s Who James Blanchette Hurlbert Toyota Epping, N.H. Years of industry experience: 16 Hobbies: Tinkering with pretty much anything, fishing, spending my winters locked in the shop! What you’re really good at: Diagnostics, prep work, disassembly, coming up with new creative ideas.

Bryan W Gary Mobile Sound Systems Arlington, Texas Years of industry experience: 22 Hobbies: Car audio (of course)! Skeet shooting. What you’re really good at: Training, technical support and inventory control.

Terry Morton Terry’s Car Audio Rutland, Va. Years of industry experience: 20 Hobbies: Family What you’re really good at: Car audio

Andrew Emelander GNC Customs Goshen, Ind. Years of industry experience: 14 Hobbies: Reading, Legos, video games. What you’re really good at: Remote starts, alarms, trouble shooting, creative wiring.   21

 retail news Hosting events like the SPL Shootout, mentioned in this flier, has helped the company boost sales by 22 percent on the year.

Establishing a presence within a community is powerful marketing. According to Jeff Cantrell, President of JC Audio—a shop with one location and four employees—the business takes part in four to five events per year. At an annual car show in March, which was run by a local radio station, JC Audio, which is located in Jackson, Tenn., showcased a 1990 Chevrolet Silverado. The vehicle had a full system, iPad integration and custom install with dash plates, kick panels, full console and rear wall panel. The event was a great success according to Cantrell, and the demo vehicle drew in crowds of all ages. While it’s hard to tell whether an event such as this can improve business, things have never been better. “It’s doing great. For the year, we’re up 22 percent,” Cantrell said. “Best year we’ve had. July was the best month we’ve had in our history—15 years this Black Friday.” The Silverado, as well as other vehicles the shop has worked on, are pictured on JC Audio’s website. The vehicle won an “Under Construction Trophy” at the event in which it was showcased, and the trophy itself provides yet more marketing for JC Audio. “We have the trophy to display. It’s a talking point,” Cantrell said. “Most of these events are marketed, which is why

22  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

we target them because they promote.” When JC Audio gets involved with a local car show, a lot of the promotion is done for them. Cantrell noted they also offer small prizes and engage the crowd’s interest to keep the business top-of-mind. “We do something different just about every time,” he said. “The one before that, we had people sign up for Facebook or like our page, and we had it on a big projector.” Images from the Facebook page were displayed on the screen for all to see. If visitors liked their Facebook page in front of them, “they got a pair of sunglasses or a t-shirt.” When it comes to events, Cantrell stated that attending events is good advertising. “It creates excitement,” he said. “It’s one thing to see a radio and speakers on display, but to see it in a car is a totally different thing. Especially with an event like this where there’s four to five thousand people coming in. That’s more people than we’ll see in a year in our store. Same goes for any car show or event like that.” This year, JC Audio will also be taking part in the Jackson-Madison County Trunk or Treat, an event that will easily draw 10,000 or more people, according to Cantrell. “We’re either going to use our store demo car, a yellow Mustang, or

come up with something else,” he said. “Maybe a customer’s vehicle.” “The next thing we’ve got planned would be in February,” Cantrell said. “We partner with another radio station and do a Black History Month giveaway where they have a game that goes on all month. We give away a free CD player. They call in all month, and at the end of the contest they draw for a name.” At a previous event, JC Audio showcased a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air belonging to a customer. “We had several people inquire about an old car build over this one because it’s a well-known guy and his car stands out,” Cantrell said. “I think we’ve done a couple jobs like building a rear deck because of that one.” Simply helping to spread the word is enough, such as in the case of an elementary school’s field day which JC Audio participated in. “We took the Mustang out and played music for all the kids,” Cantrell said. “Not a huge turn out, just the kids at the school, but good PR.” While the events definitely help to improve business, Cantrell added they don’t rely on that alone. “I really feel like it’s one part of the whole thing,” he said, cautioning against relying on one particular method to market and remain top-of-mind in the community. “I think it’s kind of equal across the board.” 

Both the Coquitlam facility (left) and Burnaby store (right) participate in the giveaway, which has won over new customers at both stores.

Safety First Hoping to increase driver safety awareness in the community, SoundsGood Auto gives away Bluetooth units and teaches people how to use them. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Charity and a focus on helping the community spurred SoundsGood Auto— which has two locations in British Columbia, one in Coquitlam and one in Burnaby—to start a special program for introducing people to Bluetooth. Keith McCumber, owner of SoundsGood, stated that the shop excels when it comes to automotive safety. Other than Bluetooth, they also offer front and rear parking sensors, dash cams, back-up cameras, blind spot detectors and radar detection and protection. They also have 360 Degree Camera Systems and Pre-Emptive Cameras, according to McCumber. “The Bluetooth program started when Ruben, the Burnaby store manager at the time, mentioned that we should give these Bluetooth units away for charity,”

McCumber said. After first selling them at a greatly reduced price and donating the proceeds to The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and failing to garner much interest, they decided to alter the program. “The Bluetooth 4 Life program is simple: Come into one of our facilities to pick one up, learn how to use it and be safe!” McCumber said. The units are Scosche Solar Powered Bluetooth. “These Bluetooth units are completely free. There are no strings attached. The concept seems to attract people to want to buy things from us. It appears this program boosts our ability to build rapport quickly.” The shop’s main objective with the program is to lessen driver distractions. “The most important thing is to help keep people safe from [harming] themselves

and from harming others.” Safety is the priority, while any other positive effect on the business is just an added bonus. The way the program works is simple. “When people come in to get one, we train them on the spot as to how to use them. Training is pretty straight forward,” McCumber explained. “We get them to go into Bluetooth settings. They pair their phones. Once they are paired and operating like they should, we get them to experience Siri or Google Play. Once they learn it, they get excited and want to use the units. Some people want more than just this free portable device, so we sell them an installed version of their choice.” When thinking of the advances in automotive technology, McCumber compared it to the advances of flight. “Many years ago, pilots could fly a plane by themselves. Through progress, they created too many instruments to be able to fly safely by themselves,” he said, adding that car drivers need help now, too. “Humans can only concentrate on so much at one time.” As the number of drivers on the road continues to increase, more risks abound. “SoundsGood prides itself on helping our community, whether it’s by selling safety devices or just giving them away.”    23

 new products

DD Audio VO-W Woofer Series

NOTABLE: DD Audio is re-introducing an improved VO-W woofer series complete with CT compression tweeters. The new VO-W woofers feature cast frames, stronger motors, and larger diameter voice coils for higher power handling, according to the company. Based on high-end PA designs used to fill sold out concert halls with sound, this style of driver should have no problem doing the same in any vehicle, says DD Audio. The company adds that they work well in outside PA style speaker arrays or in a vehicle when the mids and highs need to keep up with DD Audio subwoofers, and uutside of the mobile audio realm, can be used in homemade live sound set ups or replacements for blown PA woofers.

Scosche® iPad® Dash Mounting Solutions

24  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

NOTABLE: Scosche Industries has announced a new Dash Mount for iP Quickly and easily installed in a matter of seconds without the need fo the Dash Mount for iPad® provides a custom, quality fit, low profile des says Scosche. The company added that the sturdy, scratch-free moun sures the user’s iPad remains safely and securely mounted to the dash open access to the iPad’s ports and the power button. Users simply re the iPad to gain full access to the factory stereo beneath.

ZENS Wireless Power Banks NOTABLE: ZENS has introduced new wireless power banks that allow users to re-charge their phones, tablets or cameras on the go. The unique feature of the ZENS back-up batteries is that they can be charged wirelessly using any ZENS or other brand wireless charger, according to the company. An extra-long USB cable (60 cm) may be used to hook-up the Power Pack to fast-charge a mobile device. In addition, this cable also serves to charge the Power Pack the traditional – wired - way. They are available in black and grey.

Pad®. or tools, sign, nt enh with emove

Wet Sounds Stx Micro-1 And Micro-4 Class D Amplifiers

NOTABLE: The NEW STX Micro-1 and Micro-4 Compact chassis Class D Amplifiers by Wet Sounds are its latest products designed for the power sports enthusiast. The amplifiers are designed with a completely sealed die cast aluminum chassis for maximum protection against water and dirt intrusion, according to the company. Both STX models are outfitted with 3.5mm signal input connections to work with the company’s Bluetooth controllers (BTVCC) or direct connection to most smart phone’s headphone output. Retail price on the STX Micro 1 is $299.99 and the STX Micro 4 is $324.99.   25

 new products

MTX Amplified Subwoofer Enclosure For Can-Am Maverick and Commander

NOTABLE: MTX Audio has announced a new amplified subwoofer enclosure for Can-Am Maverick and Commander models. Building from its ThunderForm vehicle specific subwoofer enclosures, MTX Audio says it applied the same expertise to these UTV specific subwoofer enclosures. The rotationally molded polyethylene enclosures are weather resistant and durable and include 10-inch weather resistant 250-watt RMS subwoofers and 250-watt Class D onboard amplifiers.

Alpine Electronics In-Cooler Entertainment System

NOTABLE: The new PWD-CB1 Alpine In-Cooler Entertainment (ICE) system is now shipping. The Alpine ICE features an Alpine sound system installed in a Grizzly™ Cooler and uses a design that does not sacrifice storage capacity or cooling capability, according to the company. The 180-watt Alpine sound system consists of a 2-way, 5.25-inch component waterproof speaker system with 4x10-inch bass radiators and a compact audio amplifier. The Bluetooth® wireless connection provides audio streaming and pairs to a portable device in seconds through the illuminated control panel. The PWD-CB1 system is available for $1,500.

26  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Fortin 3X Lock Remote Start Solution for Volkswagen

NOTABLE: Fortin has announced its new TB-VW “no key required” 3X LOCK remote starter solution for Volkswagen. This TB-VW was designed to work in conjunction with EVO-ONE and EVO-ALL platforms to offer a secure, cost effective solution, says Fortin. In addition, RF Kits and compatible smartphone/telematic devises can also be connected directly to the EVO-ALL and EVO-ONE modules to extend the operating range if desired.

Omega R&D Excalibur 70 Series Remote Start Systems

NOTABLE: Omega is now shipping its new EXCALIBUR 70-Series models. The 70-Series is said by Omega to be its most advanced Remote-Start line ever. With 70-Series, Omega says it is first in adding a built-in accelerometer, and all “3D” models are equipped with a 3D accelerometer built into the window-mount antenna for manual transmission starting, without the complicated exit routine. All 70 Series models now come standard with Cold Temperature start and Low-Battery Voltage start.   27

real world retail

By using positivity to overcome internal conflicts and making an impact on the community with strong customer relationships, Audio House has built itself into a formidable enterprise. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

Shop employees, left to right - Juan Flores, Cesar Cantera, Michael De La Cruise Cynthia Rattu, Jag Rattu, Emanuel Alcazar, Luis Vega, Elias Morales, Brittany Sandau.

Having natural talent is seen by many to be a blessing. Some people have athletic prowess and capabilities that far surpass their peers. Some with high IQs exceed expectations in fields like math and science. Others, like Jag Rattu, naturally excel at sales. But if you ask him, it takes much more to make his

28  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

business—Audio House in Napa, Calif.—a profitable enterprise. “When we started, it was just me and two other installers. They worked their butts off,” Rattu said. “The store was open six days a week. I worked every day, all the time to get the store running. Getting inventory in the computer took forever.

There was a lot of stuff I had to deal with.” Since opening his store in July of 2006, Rattu has found ways to increase revenue and grow his customer base. By using his gift for gab and years of 12-volt industry knowledge as a base, Rattu won over customers with his welcoming,



Location: Napa, Calif. Number of Stores: 1 Address: 645 Soscol Ave, Napa, CA 94559 Facility Square Footage: 4,800 Store Type: Traditional Number of Employees: 10


Jag Rattu - Owner/Sales Cynthia Rattu - Book Keeper Emanual Alcazar - Manager/ Senior Tech Cesar Cantera - Senior Tech Luis Vega - Senior Tech Dustin Marshall - Junior Tech Jose Hurtado - Junior Tech Juan Flores - Senior Tinter non-pressured approach to each sale, and by reaching out to local businesses to build a community eager for new technology. “We had to advertise and get our name out there,” Rattu said. “Now we’re doing 10 to 15 cars a day. Every year we add something else.”

Today, 30 percent of the shop’s business is window tinting with the other 70 percent spread amongst all mobile electronics categories, primarily car audio. “All those Carplay stereos from Alpine and Kenwood are the hottest things right now. Selling like

Elias Morales - Junior Tinter Saira Eusebio - Back Office Brittany Sandau - Front Desk   29

real world retail

Since the cornerstone of Audio House’s sales pitch is presentation, the entrance is designed to be as welcoming as possible, as seen here. hotcakes. JL Audio stealth boxes were previously really hot,” Rattu said. “When I was younger we used to build a lot of boxes. We still do custom work, but there are so many applications for enclosures nowadays.” When custom enclosures were the norm back in the 1990s, Rattu was still in school, graduating high school in 1997. While he wasn’t an installer, Rattu always had a passion for quality sound systems and good music. He would carry those two elements with him after high school once he got his first job at a local car audio shop. “I didn’t know any brands. I knew cars, loved music, but didn’t know too much about car audio,” Rattu said. “The first thing I did was introduce myself to installers and started asking questions. The OG salesman took me under their wing. I was so blessed.” After working at Monet Car Audio for a year, Rattu was promoted to store

30  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

manager when the manager got sick. After running the store for a week, Rattu brought up the sales numbers significantly and caught the attention of the general manager who offered him a fulltime position at another of the company’s chain stores. He dropped out of college and continued his path as a manager. After a few years of managing a store and reading management books, Rattu realized he wanted to become a business owner, so he went back to school and earned a business degree. During that time, he changed shops and moved across the bay to work full time for Auto Haus, a four-store chain. Eventually, he bought one of the company’s stores and renamed it Audio House. The building is comprised of 4,800 total square feet. The installation facility consists of a six-car garage in back, a twocar garage on the side of the building for window tinting and a fabrication room with a variety of tools and templates for

custom work. The showroom is traditional, with product and displays filling all space, which is deliberate given Rattu’s philosophy for a customer’s first impression. “My goal is, when a customer walks in the store, they want to buy something here. There are no empty holes,” Rattu said. “I want to make sure my customers can hear this stuff. At the same time, they can see it. If you can’t see it, how are you going to buy it.”

The Right Moves With 10 full-time employees, a shop located on the main street of Napa, Calif. and over 20,000 passersby per day able to clearly see their sign from the street, the shop benefits mostly from wordof-mouth. Customer retention is also critical, but made easy thanks to Rattu’s affable sales style. “We always want our customers to walk away feeling satisfied and educated.

Never ‘sold’ or confused. Our shop is unique in the sense that it’s like the old ‘Cheers’ theme song: ‘it’s a place ‘where everybody knows your name,’” Rattu said. “Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in this small community. We’ve sponsored a swim team, jog-a-thon, Napa High Baseball and put in lights and a sound system for the little league stadium. I did it because I love baseball, love seeing the kids play. I love this community.” Being a long-time San Francisco Giants fan—with memorabilia scattered throughout the shop—also helped him relate to customers. Some even have surprising connections to the team. “Some reps from Alpine, who are Japanese businessmen, came into my shop. They saw my Giants stuff, I start talking to them,” Rattu said. “The Giants signed this guy at the time named Nori Aaoki who used to play for a team in Japan. A short time later, he sends me a rookie jersey from a Japanese team he was on.” Rattu believes treating customers as friends generates return business for life, and has taken this idea as far as it can go. “My nieces and nephews have sent me so much business. All young, high school and early 20s. That’s another reason we treat our customers like family, because a lot of them are sent by family members,” Rattu said. The shop got the attention of local youth by attending local car shows and providing youth a place to hang out, both at their booth and shop later on. In return, both the youth and community at large helped the shop when it needed help the most. Rattu also uses social media to connect with customers, extending the word-ofmouth concept in a modern way. “We work really hard to stay relevant on social media. We have worked hard to protect our reputation on Facebook, Instagram and Yelp,” Rattu said. That reputation

extended beyond just being seen as another local business to the shop’s customer base. At his previous location, Rattu had a five-year lease with an option for another five and to buy when it expired. But the owners decided to sell to another buyer, forcing Rattu to move. During the move, the community rallied around the shop and offered to help move equipment and furniture for free. “Two customers brought me big trucks to use. Another offered to help move things for free. I offered to pay but they wouldn’t accept. I gave them pizza and we just hung out. They like to hang out,” Rattu said. “I’m about making a customer for life, not just moving boxes. I tell customers that it isn’t about this sale, it’s about the following sale. I wanna be your guy. You have a haircut guy, don’t you? A guy that

‘You have six months to get this paid off. I care about the sale, but I care about you more. I want to make sure you can pay it off,’” Rattu said. “I’ve been there. I have a sit-down talk with every kid who wants credit. If they are having issues, I have them call me and maybe I can do something for them. Everybody appreciates that.” His customers aren’t the only ones who get star treatment. All employees at Auto House receive regular meals every Friday, industry/product training and occasional bonuses. Of course, being treated like a star doesn’t come without the cost of behaving like one. And that requires tracking by management. “We have a labor number assigned to every employee. When there’s a job, their number will go on that job,” Rattu said. “We check every installer’s profitability. I’ll check how many hours got billed by every guy. If one guy’s numbers weren’t as high as the others, we have a talk. The guys understand that and take pride in being profitable.” Employees are paid hourly wages. Window tinters are paid on commission, but with good reason. “Tinting is a little different. It’s easier to track the tint jobs than to track all five installers,” Rattu said. “I thought it was a thing of the past for installers. At a lot of my friends’ shops, nobody pays commission. I’ll give a bonus for a good month. As far as the rest of the crew, they like a year-end bonus.” Departments help out across the shop as needed, mainly for cleaning duties, which include dusting every other day, polishing the wood floors, taking out garbage and cleaning the shop’s brand new bathroom. “We get so many compliments on the bathroom,” Rattu said proudly. “So many women have said it’s the best mechanic’s bathroom they’ve ever been in.” Comparisons to other stores and businesses are always in Rattu’s head as he

“My goal is, when a customer walks in the store, they want to buy something here. There are no empty holes. I want to make sure my customers can hear this stuff. At the same time, they can see it. If you can’t see it, how are you going to buy it?” - Jag Rattu, Owner, Audio House

changes your oil? I wanna be your tint or car audio guy. They really like it when I tell them that.”

People Matter To help his younger customers, Rattu offers financing options, with advice for no extra charge. “We offer financing through three different companies: great, good and bad credit options. There are a lot of youngsters in their early 20s who want to get approved. I tell them,   31

real world retail shapes employee culture. Luckily for him, he chose wisely with his staff when hiring, a fact that was highlighted the most at a time of great loss for the shop. “Brittany Sandau, who works at the front desk, has one other cool responsibility: inventory control. We just assigned her to do that in the last couple of months when we lost an employee. That’s one of the best things that’s happened to us,” Rattu said. “Brittany has stepped up so much. Manny [Alcazar] is our shop manager now. He can do any job. Before, he was just a regular installer.” Despite any concerns Rattu had at losing a key staff member, they were soon alleviated thanks to the DIY (Do It Yourself ) culture he helped to cultivate amongst his staff. That culture translates further into an eagerness to improve and learn by all employees. “With Brittany, it was a little bit of a learning curve. It was partly talking to her every day. When she did something right, I told her. When she did something wrong, I told her and we worked on it,” Rattu said. “We also send our guys to training. I sent Manny to Mobile Solutions bit One training recently. He learned more about how to tune and process bit One processors. That’s the hottest thing we’ve been selling.”

Words To Live By Selling product for Rattu is about more than features. He encourages staff to use the products they sell so they can believe in what they’re selling to customers. It makes it easier to sell product that way, since it will essentially sell itself at that point. “For me, I sell a ton of K40 radar detectors. When the Giants went to playoffs in 2010, 2012 and 2014, I had to drive quickly to the stadium. That radar detector saved my ass so many times. They pay your ticket if you get one. Just that sentence alone can close the deal,” Rattu said. “Brittany is our number one sales person for Ultra Performance by Solar Guard. I tinted her front two windows. That little bit of tinting gave her so much incentive to pitch the product because she believes in it and believes everybody should have it.” Given the number of options available to customers, Rattu believes it’s the store’s duty to inform the public about their options. “If we don’t tell our customer about it, who will? We need to educate customers to get the full value of products. Our customers believe in us, trust us and we have to guide them the right way.”

That trust extends beyond the showroom and into the install bay where technicians customize vehicles of all kinds that include boats, off-road vehicles, high-end vehicles and motorcycles. “We started to get known for working on Harleys. There’s a group of bikers we do work for with 80-something bikes,” Rattu said. “We also do breathalyzers for the State of California. There are a few different brands we’re authorized to install. We will go on the road to calibrate and install. We also go on road to do tinting, flat glass and industrial tint.” The shop also performs expeditor work through local dealerships. To seal the deal with the trust message, installers make the effort to leave vehicles in better shape than when they came in by vacuuming interiors, soldering wires, cleaning battery terminals and washing vehicles before clients pick them up. Customer complaints are rare and product returns are even rarer. In the event of defective products, the shop offers warranties. “We sell three- and five-year warranties. All of us have systems in our cars and will test product before selling it,” Rattu said. “I rely on my reps to tell me how products are. If something breaks, I’ll let them know. One way or another,

Bad Words

Jag Rattu gives the details of a marketing campaign that didn’t go as he’d hoped. Unsuccessful Marketing Campaign - “Print Media.” Initial Goals - “To establish a new customer base.” How You Planned - “Not very well. I don’t think we had a real plan. Just wanted to get our name out there.” Major Components of the Plan - “Advertising in local papers.” What You Would Have Done Differently - “Not do it.” 32  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

The shop enjoys strong word-of-mouth thanks to its central location on a high-traffic street in Napa. our customer will get taken care of. I take so much pride in that.” Apart from product quality, Rattu believes there is another reason customers return product. “When a customer comes back to return something, it’s not because they want their money back, it’s because you didn’t do your job and ask the right questions. The customer just wants to be right and be happy,” he added.

A Winning Philosophy Having just moved to a new facility last year, Rattu is excited for the new possibilities—especially given how difficult the task was. “That was a huge accomplishment. The physical part of moving product, getting the computer hooked up and having all schedules lining up. The mental aspect took a toll on all of us,” Rattu said. “We’re trying to get back into the groove of selling and trying to make everything look cool. We have been affected positively with the sales by

doing more business. Sales are 15 percent higher than last year.” On top of the move, losing three key staff members could have been disastrous, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “There were a lot of games being played. Losing them was the best thing that has ever happened,” Rattu said. “There’s no more negativity in our shop. This is the best staff I’ve had in a long time. Everybody’s goal is to make the customer happy and deliver great product.” Once the staff issue was resolved, the shop needed to handle scheduling. Thankfully, the shop’s program keeps clear track of all work, showing categories for types of work like window tint and electronics, then shows the hours and number of cars for each in rows and columns. This has allowed Rattu to see how long each category takes and bill hourly labor rates more accurately. While the system is generally spot-on, delays still occur due to issues with vehicles or product installation that can’t be foreseen.

This has allowed Rattu to make the decision on convincing customers to leave their vehicles for the full day, just in case extra time is needed. “I learned this from Eddie Kay. I picked him up from the airport once. The best thing I did was ask if the customer should leave their car all day. He told me to try to keep the cars most of the day. You never know what will happen,” Rattu said. “When you get the car done sooner, call the customer. You just under-promised and over-delivered.” Waiting is not encouraged at the shop, but rides are provided to those who need them using the company’s Escalade. Customers are taken anywhere they wish to go locally and are encouraged to experience the town first-hand. “More people visit Napa Valley than Disneyland every year. My friend owns a restaurant in Napa. We’ll send them business,” Rattu said. “I’ll buy them dinner if we have to keep their car longer.”   33

real world retail


The shop’s install bay performs a wide variety of work, including custom fabrication, window tinting, car audio and breathalyzer installs.


“Social media is a pretty big beast. It took some time to figure out how to make it work for us. Consistency is key. Social media presence takes time. You definitely cannot come into town and expect to have a huge following. It’s like an old train—it takes time to build steam. “We have a pretty narrow marketing strategy. We have learned over the years that you have to learn what works for your type of business and fine tune it. We are never opposed to trying new methods, but we are quick to cut something loose if it does not feel right or does not work. “Our number one goal is to stay in front of our client base and be sure that we are the ones when they think of for their car accessories/window tint needs. “We did not really start with a plan. It has evolved over the years. Opportunities came our way and we went with what felt right. We have exceeded our goal. We have amazing customers and always work hard to give back. “If we could have done it differently we would have hired an in-house specialist for multimedia. Multimedia needs to be kept up to date by someone that knows our industry. An outside marketing firm does not know our client base or their needs.”

Window tinting has become one of the company’s top sellers thanks largely to the staff selling products they believe in.

Employees Brittany Sandau (left) and Emanuel Alcazar (right) await customers at the front desk. 34  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Reliable Partnerships

Key Vendors - “Alpine, Kenwood and AAMP Global. Window tint has also become a substantial part of our business. Our rep at Solar Guard has been great in educating our staff on the different technologies within the industry. It’s made a huge impact on the quality of work we are able to offer.” Type of Relationship You Have With Their Sales Rep(s) and Principals - “The relationship with the vendors is what helps sell the products. If my rep takes the time to educate my staff and helps with inventory goals...we both win.” Top Selling Products Over The Past Six Months And What Customers Like About Them - “Apple CarPlay is huge. Integration into factory stereos has been very hot. Ultra Performance window film is also popular.” New Products You Are Most Excited About - “We are excited about the low voltage amps for electric vehicles.”

Treating customers with such love and generosity has been the cornerstone for the business, according to Rattu. Although he admits not everyone responds well to the treatment, he maintains that for him and his staff, it’s the only method that works for them. “We treat our customers like family, not like strangers or just a customer/salesman relationship,” Rattu said. Since his philosophy is infectious to both his customers and staff, Rattu believes it should be adopted by the industry at large to help 12-volt overcome even the toughest of obstacles. “Always believe in yourself and know you can overcome anything if you work hard and don’t give up,” he said. “If you can have that positive attitude, it can bring positive things into your life. You have to stay positive or this business will eat you alive. Our industry is strong. We’ve overcome a lot. The dealers, car manufacturers want to be like us, sell our stuff in their cars. They copy us and want to do what we do. But we’re always smarter than them. Our industry is strong. We need to stick together and make it better.”    35

 behind the scenes

The group works closely together so sales, order desk and technical are all on the same page.

Ahead of the Game By jumping onto a product category well before the competition, Rydeen Mobile Electronics is emerging as a leader in the safety market, much to the elation of its customers. WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER

As the mobile electronics industry evolves, 12-volt manufacturers and retailers are constantly addressing the product categories that are most effective, those that are underperforming, and most importantly, the ones which represent where the business is headed. None of that is lost on Bob Goodman, Director of Sales and Marketing, for Torrance, Calif.-based Rydeen Mobile Electronics, an aftermarket manufacturer that counts vehicle safety and convenience products among its core Bob Goodman, Director of Sales and competencies. Marketing, Rydeen Mobile Electronics “One of the challenges the 12-volt

36  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

industry is facing is that we’re getting away from speakers and amplifiers, something we’ve been doing for 40-plus years,” Goodman said. “These days, the challenges of driver safety are becoming far more critical. If you make a mistake on the road or while driving, you could lose lives. If someone’s radio doesn’t work correctly, no one dies. It’s important that we get this right the first time—not the second time.” Goodman, who considers himself an ambassador of sorts for the vehicle safety category, is trying to get the word out about its importance—not just to retailers, but to the industry as a whole. He may have more of a chance to do that, now that he’s been recently elected to the Vehicle Technology Division board of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Its key initiatives are to raise consumer awareness of automotive technologies and installation, and to serve as a leading voice on safe driving and vehicle-related legislative and regulatory issues. “The challenge for us as a manufac

-turer is to create awareness within the category,” Goodman said. “The 12-volt retailers have not globally embraced this category, but they are starting to get it.” In 2015, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Safety Council. According to the Council’s annual report on unintentional injuries, the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road included alcohol (30.8 percent), speeding (30 percent), and distracted driving (26 percent). All of the new technology in vehicles is causing more driver distraction behind the wheel than ever before, but part of it stems from the fact that 53 percent of drivers believe if manufacturers have loaded all this entertainment into their cars, then it must be safe. Enhancing car security systems for occupants as well as pedestrians has become a greater priority for automakers worldwide. It also presents tremendous potential for aftermarket manufacturers. “We have shored up our resources and we’re adding new products that will get traction with consumers,” Goodman said.

Blind Sight At the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show held last month, Rydeen showcased four new products—three of which represented new product categories for the company. One of the key introductions, according to Goodman, is the BSS1, the Blind Spot Detection System, with an MSRP of $599. “We have been selling side cameras as a solution for the blind spot issue, but we came up with an alternative in terms of sensors,” he said. For the most part, Goodman explained, vendors use ultrasonic sensors for these types of blind spot devices that are similar to what is used for parking sensors. It has been the only alternative, until recently. “Now we’re starting to see more microwave radar systems, which are far more accurate and easier to install for the 12-volt specialty retailer,” Goodman said. Rydeen’s new system employs microwave technology to warn drivers of any vehicles within their blind zones and, Goodman added, is more accurate than competitors’   37

 behind the scenes systems employing ultrasonic sensors. The two compact microwave sensors mount behind the bumper, eliminating drilling into the bumper of the vehicle. Alerts are displayed with mini LED icons on each A pillar and a buzzer mounted behind or under the dashboard. With installation being less complicated, it may open up more opportunities for the category. “In talking to installers and retailers over the last two to three years, blind spot detection is one of those things that the OE has offered on higher-end vehicles and parts of technology packages,” Goodman said. “The consumer is aware of it and has asked about it, yet many retailers we’ve spoken to have shied away from it because it required drilling into the vehicle. First of all, that can be time consuming, but the other issue was, if the consumer didn’t like the result, if their expectations and what the product actually delivered were not in sync, then they had an issue that there were holes in their vehicle that had to be addressed.”

Safe Passage One of the best ways to spread the driver safety message is by going directly to the retailers, to get them excited and invested in the category. “I visit the regional shops—and we sell to many of the higher-end places—and they still have not created enough of an awareness,” Goodman said. “Then you talk to the retailers on the lower end of totem pole and their response is that no one asks for it.” Goodman, who also goes to distributor shows in addition to his store visits, knows retailers are still attracted to amps and speakers. “The reality is, that isn’t where the business is going to be,” he said. When Goodman talks to Rydeen’s retailers, he underscores the importance of store presentation. “The real estate— meaning the wall space in a retailer’s store—is very valuable,” he said. “If you continue to use it to display kits, wire harnesses and adapters, it isn’t going to help you. Put up a safety area. It’s really simple. Show people what it’s about. Consumers don’t know that most of this stuff even exists in the aftermarket. They

38  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

MN450S: New for Rydeen is the MN450S SmartMirror, a 3-in 1 solution that has a 4.3-inch TFT capacitive touch screen with fully functioning dash cam, onboard navigation, and a rear camera input. know it was available in the new car they wanted, but they didn’t buy it because the package was too expensive. But when they go to get their window tinting, they can easily add these kinds of products.” The first thing Goodman does when he visits a retailer with one of his reps is carry in a display. “We are very proactive when it comes to this,” he said. “We have a countertop display that demonstrates our cameras and monitors, and now our parking sensor kits. The best demonstration is in the vehicle, but short of that, this works.” Goodman’s display typically showcases the company’s navigation mirror. “It has a simulation mode once you plug it into the wall,” he said. It takes just five seconds to do the demo. When it’s in simulation mode, and with the navigation system’s text-to-speech as it’s determining a route, it states directions aloud, such as, “Turn left on route 202.” It calls attention to the display, and then if there’s a customer at the point of sale or in the waiting room, they will be drawn to it and will start asking questions. After the demo, Goodman will turn to the retailer and ask where the safety area is. “He might look at me quizzically or point to something like a mirror in the bottom of a showcase,” Goodman said. “Then I will ask if he sells many safety items. The answer is likely no. And then I tell him we’re going to put him in the safety business.” Rydeen also has programs for retail

-ers who have a dedicated vehicle at their store all the time. “If a retailer has an SUV and wants to demonstrate our 360 system, we will give them special pricing on that particular unit,” Goodman said. “That way the retailer can take someone in the car to demonstrate it.”

Smart Choices With many retailers lagging behind in the category, it only makes it more challenging for consumers to get excited about it, too. “We thought we would get more interest with dash cams,” Goodman said. “When we started selling them four or five years ago, I thought it was going to be the hottest thing, but I don’t think it has caught on. It will eventually, but I thought it would happen quicker.” No matter what products a retailer is willing to consider in terms of vehicle safety and driver awareness, Goodman’s goal is to make Rydeen Mobile Electronics a one stop shop for all 12-volt safety products. “Anything related to the category—not just cameras and mirror monitors—is what we want to offer,” Goodman said. Rydeen’s new navigation product is one that Goodman is excited to have in the

mix. The MN450S SmartMirror, $499 MSRP, is a three-inone solution. The OE-styled mirror has a 4.3-inch TFT capacitive touch screen with fully functioning dash cam, onboard navigation and a rear camera input. The DVR has a built in G-Sensor to initiate event recording with a supplied 8GB Micro SD Card. “You don’t have to replace a head unit,” Goodman said, in regard to one of the mirror’s biggest selling points. “You don’t have to install another camera somewhere so it gives you

CM-APL: The CM-APL is the latest in Rydeen’s lineup of MINy Cameras. It features Dynamic Trajectory Lines (active parking lines) for intelligent guidance while parking.   39

 behind the scenes

BSS1: This Blind Spot Detection System, the BSS1, employs microwave technology to warn drivers of any vehicles in their blind zones. Its two compact microwave sensors mount behind the bumper, eliminating the need for drilling into the bumper of the vehicle. two cameras—front and rear—and a DVR just for the front camera, and built-in navigation. Those people who don’t want to spend $3,000 at the dealership to buy a leather package that also included navigation now have a solution that is easily installed.” Another sought-after feature, now available from Rydeen, is active parking lines on backup cameras. Also known as "trajectory lines," the feature has been available as original equipment on some higher-end vehicles and assists the driver by guiding the vehicle into a parking spot. "The difference between ours and others is the use of 'white' LED's that aid in color distinction and eliminate colors being washed out in dark environments, particularly when it's raining," Goodman explained. The CM-APL will be available in January with an MSRP of $169.

Short And Sweet There is no doubt that social media and an Internet presence are imperative to any business marketing strategy today. However, Goodman doesn’t discount the fact that the 12-volt world is still built on relationships. “It is much like an election,” he said. “It’s campaigning. You’re going out in the field and shaking hands and kissing

40  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

babies like they used to do. This business is still built on personal relationships. You have to get your story out.” Part of that is making sure the website is updated and that the company is engaging with social networks. “You would think that with social media it would be easier, but it’s more difficult. Millennials live in a world of instant gratification, so the message has to be quick. Then they move on. Whereas we used to sit and read, that doesn’t happen much anymore. Now it’s about text messaging as the form of communication. Not even emails. Today, no one has time.” For shows, Rydeen hits the majors like CES, SEMA, and this year exhibited for the first time at KnowledgeFest even though the company has attended the show before. “I was at one of the first KnowledgeFests when it was just a small meeting in Arizona during a dust storm," Goodman said. "That was back in the mid-1990s when I was with AuraSound and we were one of the first members.”

Protected By Law Looking ahead, there are many factors that could push the driver safety products to the forefront. For one, all new cars must include a backup camera by May

2018. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that regulation has now been finalized after many years of back and forth discussions.“The 12-volt specialty retailer could increase their business because consumers will experience a back-up camera or safety device for the first time and realize they want one in their other car,” Goodman said. “Once you get used to having it, consumers want it everywhere. Rental car companies will want them because then consumers are used to it.” Next year, is the tipping point for safety, according to Goodman. “For 2017, this will be an important category for everyone involved in our industry,” he said. “It’s like putting on your seatbelt when you get in the car. We’re providing products that are like additional seatbelts or shoulder harnesses.” Those in the industry who adapt and flourish, Goodman added, are the ones who are still standing and will remain so. “There are retailers doing better today than ever before because they have embraced new technologies,” he said. “They have taken their stores, and made it a more pleasurable experience for the consumer—and an educational one.” 


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 business feature

5 Ways To Boost


Retailers and experts discuss one of the most vital components to improving your business. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

There are plenty of marketing campaigns and techniques designed to attract new customers. But once those customers arrive, make their purchase and leave, how can they be enticed to return? A first impression is the beginning of everything and the first step in customer retention. Upon entering a store, everything that’s seen is compiled in the mind to create the customer’s first impression— shop presentation, initial interaction with sales staff, whether the customer’s needs are anticipated and more. Marcel Newell, founder of retail design company, AVIDWORX, noted the importance of the first impression as well as “putting forward a professional appearance and backing it up with friendly and professional customer service. You need to win that customer’s trust to make the first sale,” he said. After that, their trust has to be retained, so by the time the customer leaves the store, they have enjoyed their experience and have fond memories. Boosting customer retention means considering a number of different factors and applying logical techniques that keep customers coming back.

learned that relates to customer retention is authenticity. Honesty and integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do, do your best work, and always be pushing the limits,” he said. How the shop looks—whether it’s clut tered or clean, for example—will stick in the customer’s mind. The first impression is the basis for everything that follows. “If anything goes wrong, and it sometimes will when you’re dealing with cars and technology, a happy customer is a lot more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and a fair chance to make things right,” Newell said. “In fact, most studies show that it’s not the mistakes that matter to customers, it’s the way you handle them.” With more than a few buying options to choose from, it’s important to make the customer want to come back by giving them a positive shopping experience, according to Newell. Interactions with customers give salespeople a chance to showcase the benefits of other products. “They may not buy today, but you’ll have given the customer something to think about and a reason to come back.”

Method 1: Shop Presentation

Method 2: Forge Connections

Upon entering the shop, the visitor formulates a first impression based on what they see and whether or not they are greeted in a friendly manner. Jon Kowanetz of Handcrafted Car Audio in Chandler, Ariz. has been in the industry for 19 years. He stressed the importance of authenticity and being genuine with customers. “I think the biggest thing I’ve

Ensuring the customer knows how much you care is an essential aspect of boosting customer retention. Newell recommends checking in with customers who’ve made purchases. Ask them how things are going and whether they’re enjoying the product. Also inquire about their shopping experience. Was it

42  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

positive? Do they feel any aspect of their experience could’ve been better? “Post-sale, you absolutely need to keep in touch,” Newell advised, stating that an initial email should be sent to thank the customer, along with any information regarding warranties. Included in that first email should be an invitation to take a survey. “The survey is another way to intercept unhappy customers before they do anything else that could hurt your reputation, as well as a good way to recognize the efforts of your staff,” he explained. “After that first email, you need to send them regular emails from your store, at least once a month. Let them know about upcoming sales and promotions, new products, and the advantages of the other technology and products that you sell.” If something negative occurs, it’s important to see what can be done to fix the issue. “We do recommend calling back customers, especially the bigger ticket customers that have more invested financially and emotionally in your products and installations,” Newell said. And if there’s a problem, fix it right away. “Customers are more loyal to the business that go the extra mile to fix things than they are to the businesses that don’t make mistakes.” Anything that needs to be rectified should be taken care of as soon as possible. Due to the many outlets for sharing concerns and reviews on the Internet, it doesn’t take much for a customer to post and share their disappointments. “They have Yelp, they have Google, and they â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 43

 business feature can have a huge amount of influence on others,” Newell said of unsatisfied consumers. “It takes years to build a good reputation, but a few unhappy customers can destroy it overnight.” Kowanetz advised shops to do what they can to stay in front of people and keep them coming back. “We’ll do car, bike, and truck shows and invite all our past customers to check out our work,” he said. “We have special deals on those days and manufacturer demos. We find the bulk of our clients are enthusiasts, so they’re not getting it because they need it, but because they enjoy it. They like being kept in the loop on new things and we keep them part of the community and coming to our events.” Collect customers’ email addresses and send them a newsletter. Hosting an event can be a great way to thank customers and encourage them to come back to take part in vehicle demos or for a chance to win a prize. When a shop is able to

successfully demonstrate how much they care, the customer forms a happy memory and is more likely to return. Newell also advised owners and managers to ensure employees are consistent when picking up the phone. “Use a standard greeting like, ‘Thanks for choosing King Audio, the leader in mobile electronics. This is Marcel speaking, how can I help you today?’ It makes your customer interactions more professional.” This also sets the stage for positioning the brand, another essential aspect of customer retention.

Method 3: Position The Brand Retaining customers means keeping the brand top-of-mind, and this means ensuring it’s in front of the customer as much as possible. According to Newell, brand positioning has everything to do with the identity of the business, how it compares to others and what makes the business different.

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“A big part of that concept is creating a recognizable brand identity, which means getting your name and logo in front of your customers—and potential customers—as often as possible,” Newell explained. Handcrafted Car Audio shares what’s going on at the shop via Facebook Live, though Kowanetz stated that it takes time to build a good following. Those who tune in receive an inside look and often choose to be notified when Handcrafted goes live again. “They know and they start watching. We’re getting good engagement.” A unique approach to keeping customers updated can set a business apart from the rest. Kowanetz said Handcrafted also uses Facebook Live for other purposes when it comes to informing customers. “We find that people like the whole ‘this is happening right here, right now.’ We’ll use that to do more educational types of things, too, not just what’s going on at the shop, but ‘this is the benefit of this type of product,’” Kowanetz added. “We are active on Facebook, Instagram, email, that type of thing, staying in front of people.” Newell stressed that retailers should find ways to ensure their brand is easily recognized. “[Use] emails, stickers, giveaways, better signage, and so on. If a customer works for a local business with a Facebook [page], follow their page so they will follow you in return,” he suggested. “Recognition is retention. That’s why people go back to the same restaurants and stores over and over again. They become comfortable with a brand and stick with it.”

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For some, it’s undecided whether free gifts can actually be a boon to business. After all, it’s difficult to track whether something like a free t-shirt or a pen with a retailer’s name on it can actually aid in attracting and retaining customers. However, Keith Price of Custom Cars Unlimited in Salem, Va. stated that he feels rewarding his customers is an important aspect of customer retention. Price opened Custom Cars Unlimited in January of 2004 and has been in the industry since 1998.

Price stated that he gives away promo items regularly. “We have always done pens and key chains and still have these on the counter next to the register,” he said. “Of course, the intention is to give these items to paying customers, but we don't mind if a client’s friend, ride, or children grab them. We also offer these items to the ‘just looking’ customers.” Custom Cars Unlimited has an 80 to 85 percent customer return rate, according to Price. “My belief is it's good to reward your customer with something,” he said, adding that a small reward can also be taken a step further. “One year, we did very cheap small ice scrapers and said to bring back the ice scraper for 10 percent off remote starts. To my surprise, people would bring them in as we wanted, then ask to keep it. These were cheap and really non-functional for the purpose, but customers would keep them.” Newell agreed that small gifts can be useful. “I would have several gift items to give the customers based on how much they spent,” he said, advising retailers to choose items that customers would likely use often. “Pens and bottle openers probably get used more than golf balls, but you know your market best. If you’re going to give them a keychain, make sure it does something useful as well—it has a light, a bottle opener, a floatie for boaters, that king of thing. And everybody can use good t-shirts and hats.” Stickers are also important when it comes to keeping the brand top-of-mind.

On its website, Custom Cars Unlimited outlines the very practices it uses to retain customers, including treating each job like their own vehicle and explaining the importance of professionalism and customer service to their operation.

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 business feature

Handcrafted Car Audio uses the Internet to address customer retention in different ways. The shop uses Facebook Live to discuss new products, services and builds (left) while offering seasonal promotions on its website (right).

“Every customer should get a sticker to give to their kids, and everything you sell should have your sticker on it as well,” Newell explained. “For example, a small sticker for the back of a remote that has your logo and a number they can call for service will be seen hundreds of times. For gift ideas, we recommend looking around at sites like AliExpress. Getting a bunch of wallet multi-tools with your logo costs less than you think, and adds to the overall value of the transaction.” Essentially, when a retailer shows a customer how thankful they are for their business, the gesture can go a long way. Kowanetz stated that giving a gift to customers certainly aids in customer retention—as long as the customer’s needs have first been satisfied. Kowanetz stressed that if the customer wasn’t satisfied, the gift would be meaningless. If they’re not happy, “the t-shirt doesn’t mean anything. It’ll be something they work on their car with, you know,” he said. If the customer is happy, however, then the gift will be yet another fond memory of the shop. “You’ve already nailed everything else, been honest, and created a good relationship and they’re happy and now they get a free t-shirt. It’s like icing on the cake,” Kowanetz said. “Every time they see that shirt, they’ll remember that experience. We do stickers and stuff, too. Same idea.” “We have four different t-shirt designs, three that people can buy, one we give

46  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

away with our logo.” Kowanetz added that Handcrafted Car Audio’s vendors are very helpful whenever they do a show. “They give us all kinds of product to raffle off. We do it for a charity. We did one in October.” Proceeds went to a local charity that gives away food and clothing. Custom Cars Unlimited also offers license plate frames as free gifts. “Just recently, we have been doing silicon bracelets, which seem very popular as we get multi-colors, and many customers request us to notify them when we reorder,” Price said. “Presently, we have been selling t-shirts. In fact, we have been selling more than we intended on our last two t-shirt orders, as we use them for our employee uniforms.” Price hopes that these items, which feature their company logo, will generate conversation when customers wear or utilize them. In terms of rewarding customers with free gifts, Kowanetz added, “I feel it’s like a cherry on top.”

Method 5: Anticipating Needs Once the customer has made a purchase, keeping in touch and anticipating what they may need next is essential to ensuring they return. Newell advises retailers to always consider the changing market as it relates to the needs of customers. “For example, half a million electric cars were sold in the U.S. last year, and it will probably be closer to 750,000 this

year,” Newell said. “How are you serving that market? Do your customers know that your aftermarket speakers are more energy efficient? Are you selling things like dash mount kits and window tint for vehicles that can’t be equipped with much in the way of aftermarket technology?” If a retailer shows how much they care by keeping in touch and sharing knowledge, customers will reciprocate and support that store. “Long-term, it’s all about creating a relationship, something that continues long after the person drives off your lot,” Newell said. “You need to be proactive, and pick up the phone sometimes. You need to send those monthly emails. You need to provide support for the life of every product and install. You especially need to take care of your relationships with your commercial clients like car dealerships so they will continue to send you work.” Kowanetz agreed, stressing that authenticity is essential, or “people will see right through you. You can’t focus on the money. You have to focus on the craft and passion behind why you do what you do. That’s what attracts long-term customers,” Kowanetz added. “I think short-term customers are attracted to low prices and typical salesmen-type tactics. The ones who are looking for a long-term relationship are looking for honesty and integrity.” 



































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 tech today

48  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

The Perfect Shot, Part 3 With an introduction by Joey Knapp, Matt Schaeffer discusses how to use the program Adobe Lightroom to finalize images in post-production. WORDS BY JOEY KNAPP AND MATT SCHAEFFER


his is the final article in the three-part series on refining your photography skills and using those to better market the work you or your facility does. So far, we have looked at photography basics, different elements of composition and now we are going to delve into post-processing. As the name would imply, post-processing is processing we do after we have taken the photograph. Using some of the tips and tricks Matt is about to share, you can quickly and easily turn around a photograph that you thought wasn’t going to be usable. Time is our most valuable commodity. I am sure some would see this article and

feel it would be just another thing to do in a day that already doesn’t have enough hours. If you use a DSLR camera to take pictures, the RAW format allows you more freedom when shooting. Exposure and lighting are not as critical, because they can be edited, so you are free to focus on composition. You can save a little bit of time when taking the photographs, so then you can use some of that time for editing. The net result is that you have some great looking photographs. I think it is important to stress once more the importance of good photographs for facility promotion. As Bing likes to say when I am working at Simplicity In Sound, “Pictures is money.” And

it’s true. The better your photographs, the more they will appeal to potential and existing clients, and the more they will want you working on their vehicle. The photographs you take are the first and sometimes only impression you will make on clients who do not physically visit your facility. Think about that. You could have the most high-tech fabrication room, with a sales floor containing the best interactive displays, but what does that do for the client who is first researching your store on the Internet? If you cannot show compelling photographs of the masterpieces you create, what will drive the client to visit your facility? One more point on photographs and   49

 tech today sales, and then we’ll move on to see what Matt is going to teach us. Good photographs are also a wonderful tool for stepping up clients. Imagine two scenarios. The first is a shop that does excellent work, but doesn’t see the need for documenting their builds. They are too busy building awesome things to worry about taking photos. A potential client hears good things about the shop and decides to look them up online. They only find an outdated website and some Yelp reviews. The Yelp reviews seem good, so they decide to visit the shop. The potential client enters the shop only knowing that they heard the work is good. The second scenario is a shop that does excellent work and documents their builds. They schedule time to share them on Facebook, Instagram and also in galleries and build logs on their website. The same potential client hears good things about this shop and decides to look them up online. The client sees some work they

would love to have done on their vehicle. In fact, they see work they didn’t even think about having done, but are really interested in. Through the photographs and social media interactions, they start to form a connection with the shop before visiting. When the client enters the second shop, they already know the level of work they can expect. They are comfortable trusting them with their car. And they have seen things above and beyond what they thought possible, and they want it! Of course, it doesn’t always pan out that way, but I have personally seen it a number of times. From the minimal investment in time and money can come great returns. Now let’s see what Matt has to share on the topic of post-production and using Adobe Lightroom to make the most of our photographs.

Matt Schaeffer’s Post-Production Tips Post-processing is an unavoidable, inseparable part of professional photography today. Think of life before DSP (Digital Sound Processors). The automobile is one of the worst atmospheres to reproduce a song as it was recorded. We have many challenges in order to get the best out of the equipment we are installing. With the help of a DSP, we can quickly obtain a center image with time alignment and contain that nasty reflection

50  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

that otherwise would be audible because of OEM driver placement. This becomes a part of our daily routine when upgrading audio systems to quickly get to the finish line. In the photography world, that DSP would be Adobe Lightroom. Before we get started explaining what Adobe Lightroom is, you need to be familiar with the RAW file format. In our field of mobile electronics, most of us are familiar with MP3 and WAV. As we know, MP3 is a lossy format which means part of the music is eliminated to reduce the file size to a more compact state. Moving forward, let’s associate MP3 files to JPEG photo files. A WAV file, however, is an uncompressed or lossless format. With WAV files, you are essentially getting a raw bit stream representation of the audio signal in digital format. Knowing this, let’s associate WAV with RAW file format. A RAW file is basically a digital negative of your photo. A RAW file is information gathered from your camera’s image sensor before any digital adjustment. It is good to note that RAW files are not images. In fact, they are descriptions. These files need to be decoded by specific software to be viewed as a photograph. They carry a lot more information inside them and are more adjustable than JPEG images. The added information means more resolution and a ton more dynamic range. In a RAW file, there is more color information and detail hidden in light and dark areas of an image. This is great because now, things like exposure, highlights and shadows are highly adjustable without clipping your image. We will get back into this a little bit later in the article. (It is worth it to note that RAW is not an actual file extension. This means there are no “RAW” files, per se. Many manufacturers use different file extensions. Adobe uses “.dng,” Canon uses “.cr2” and Nikon uses “.nef.” DNG is universal and can store any other format inside of it.) Adobe Lightroom is a program that can decode the information stored within the file so you can view it as an image. In addition, it allows you to manipulate the information stored within it and save it as a graphical image file such as a JPEG. Lightroom becomes your one stop

point. I then used a gradient filter, which is a filter that will go from 100 percent to zero percent in an even form. I decreased the exposure on the filter to darken the vehicles in the background. I then used a small radial filter, which is much like the gradient but in the form of a circle, and increased the exposure a bit around the laser diffusers. Now the focus is off the background and on my chosen focal point. Total editing time was about a minute from start to finish.

This photograph was taken outside my shop on a sunny day. The first image shows the original picture that was taken. My first thought when seeing the photo is that I instantly notice the other vehicles in the background. I want my clients to focus on the front end of the Porsche and the laser diffusers we installed in the bumper. The first thing I did was decease the highlights to remove the extreme glare off the hood. I then increased the shadows a bit so I could see more detail in the shadowed areas of the front bumper. I increased my whites and decreased my blacks until the clipping

program for photography. Lightroom lets you organize, post-process, print and share your photos, all in a single program. It uses non-destructive editing, which simply means you can create thousands of “tweaks” to the same photo without ever touching the original file. Let’s say you shoot 100 photos of a car outside on a cloudy day. Lightroom will give you the ability to make a full edit to one photo, then copy and paste those setting to all of your photos. This makes the editing process quick and painless. One of the first things I do when importing photos to Lightroom is to copyright each photo. This way, if someone decides to use one of my images, there is no doubt that I am the owner of the photo. This information gets written into the metadata of the photo. Metadata is essentially an index of information that is attached to the file. Other useful information that typically resides in the metadata of each photograph includes camera make and model, lens information, exposure information, and keywords

for Internet searches. Properly tagging each one of your photos with appropriate keywords will ensure you get the most exposure when you post online. Once we have imported our photos, I always start by leveling and cropping my image for a nice composition. Lightroom gives you some very easy tools for leveling out your photo. You are able to draw a line anywhere on your image (for example, the horizon line) to level the plane of view. Lightroom also gives you the ability to choose an image size that best suits your use. If you want to process a photo for Instagram, choose 1x1 from the drop down menu. Some of the preset aspect ratios that come included are Facebook cover photo, YouTube video thumbnail and video (16x9) for time lapse. Let’s now discuss the heart of Lightroom, the Develop module. Adobe decided to name it the “Develop” module because we are doing just that, developing a digital image. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, we are only able to adjust what is present in the photo. Let’s face it:

We do not have the time to set up each shot and get the perfect lighting scenario. For me, if I can even remember to grab my camera to get a build pic, I am setting up my camera in manual mode and quickly taking the shot. It is unrealistic to expect us to set up soft light boxes and dial our flash in for each quick shot. No longer do you have to take a photo and say to yourself, “That was overexposed,” or “I don’t like the glare coming off the car in this photo, let me stand somewhere else.” This is why Lightroom is very imperative to us. It can address all these issues, making it a time saver. If we are shooting in RAW as discussed earlier in this article, there is an abundance of information in each photo. This is very important when adjusting the lighting in your image. We have a lot of adjustability without clipping our image. This can be viewed in Lightroom’s histogram. I like to think of a histogram as a RTA for photographs. A histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values of your image. It   51

 tech today TIP 2

I took this photo of a very colorful bird. However, it was so far away that there was no flash to light up the front of the bird. If I were to lengthen the shutter speed of the camera, I could’ve captured the bird’s colors, but my background would have been over-exposed. In the original, it was well in focus, but the bird was very dark due to the exposure of the background. Once I took the shot and saw the image preview, I knew Lightroom could put the colors back in. The first thing I did when I got it into Lightroom was to find a better composition. I often shoot safe so I can work with the composition later in post-processing. Much like in other edits where I am not actively using a flash, in this edit I increased my shadows and decreased my highlights to bring out the color of the bird. I raised the exposure a bit and dialed back the mid-tones. Total editing time was about 30 seconds from start to finish.

TIP 3 This was one of my favorite shots I took on my last vacation at Disney’s Epcot. It was shot directly across from the World Showcase Lagoon looking at the Epcot Ball framed under the structure from Japan. In the case of this photograph, a portion of my subject matter was well-exposed (Epcot Ball), but the structure was very underexposed. In this image, you see both the original (left) and the edit (right). Once we decrease our highlights and increase our shadows and raise the exposure a few stops, the photograph really comes to life. I added some clarity (mid-tones) to the photo to bring out the detail in the clouds, pebbles and detail on the wood. This is a great example that shows the colors and details embedded in the photo. We just needed the help of Lightroom to bring it out. Total editing time was about a minute from start to finish.

52  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Most of my exterior vehicle photographs are pretty much developed the same way. I decrease the highlights, add clarity (midtones), and include a small vignette. By adding clarity, you see more depth in the paint. In the case of this Jeep Wrangler, you notice more detail. It becomes more clear that the body of this Wrangler is Rhino Lined, a detail that could be missed in the original photo. Whenever I have an even background, I tend to use a small vignette. This puts the focus clearly on your subject matter, the car.

shows the amount of tones of a particular brightness found in your photograph ranging from black to white. As you move to the right of the histogram, tones get lighter. The center of the histogram represents the mid-tones, which are neither dark nor light. Shadows can be viewed on the left side and highlights on the right. Histograms usually display the information for your primary colors (RGB). Typically, a “good” histogram would render most tones in the middle of the graph, and few tones would reside at the edges. A “bad” histogram would have many tones at the very edge of the graph, which would point to either underexposure to the point of shadow clipping, or overexposure to the point of highlight clipping, or possibly both in the same image. Now that we have an understanding of how to read a histogram, we can develop our photo. Going into this step, I always have a vision of how I want my photo to look. I want to tell a story and have a focal point. When we are showing clients our build pictures, we want them to focus on the product we made, not the background. There are many techniques you will find with using the software to achieve this.

Joey Knapp’s Final Thoughts Much like fabrication in our field, photography is an art. If you give a camera to 100 different people in the same location and tell them to take a photo, you will have 100 very different photographs. Everything is open to interpretation. When I import my photos into Adobe Lightroom, I try to complete the story of my photograph. Much like making it standard to use that DSP to get the most out of your mobile audio system, take the plunge into Adobe Lightroom to get the most out of your camera. You just might find your new passion.    53

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54  Mobile Electronics  December 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 55

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56  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

Bentley Bravado SUBMITTED BY LUKE FARLEY, LYNX CUSTOMS, DENVER, CO. Farley and his team at Lynx welcomed a customer referral that brought in this 2005 Bentley GT. The installation included a Rockford sound system with two subwoofers, a Grom BT/USB adapter to OEM stereo, Window Tint and Avery Black Chrome Vinyl Wrap. To complete the installation, the team had to disassemble the door and remove the glass. â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 57

Finding the Next Great Idea Take time to discover the next thing you can do to provide a better customer experience. Leading others is the privilege and responsibility you have earned as owner of your business. As the leader of your enterprise it is incumbent on you to have and convey your vision with conviction. That means you must own it! Your vision is not just a catchy phrase you jotted down to fulfill your business plan. It is what you reach for each day to make you and your business better than the day before. Looking back on past failure and/or success should only serve as a learning experience to make you better today. With your vision set and clearly communicated, it is time to discover the very next thing you must do to provide a greater experience for those fortunate enough to patronize your business. To be productive in producing the next level for your customers, it’s time to step out of your store and look at things from a fresh prospective. Take a field trip to other successful retail establishments with the expressed purpose of looking for one idea that you can bring back to make your business better. Pick a few service-related categories and start your search on the Internet. Search using keywords that should identify a business, then look at the consumer ratings and comments. Pick the ones that stand out and pay them a visit. It would be a good idea to bring something with you to take notes. You may also want to bring or create some type of customer comment card to rank your experience. With your list in hand, go and visit your selections. Take note of your experience starting with what you found via your search for them on the Internet. Make sure to review the social experience they provide as well. Start your visit with what you find when you arrive. Look around in the parking lot as you pull in. Is the business easy to find and clearly identifiable? Is the parking area welcoming? Does the store appear inviting and safe to you as a consumer? Next, the fun part. Open the door and await your greeting. Stop for a moment and document your first impression. Now move on to the rest of the experience. Don’t attempt to lead anyone, just let them lead you so you can take in 58  Mobile Electronics  December 2016

the experience they provide. Take note of your surroundings. Is there anything you found innovative? Once you complete this part, if appropriate, ask to speak to the owner or manager. If available, this opportunity will allow you to ask what they feel their key or keys to success are, and what contributing factors the difference may be between them and their competitors. Also, if you are able, take a few minutes and watch how they handle others customers. I have learned a lot by simply listening and observing other businesses in action. Write down your final thoughts and specifically one thing you may want to consider adding to your business. Repeat this process with as many businesses as your schedule allows. With each experience, write down the best idea that you gleaned. When you finish this project, take your list of great ideas and select one of them that you feel could be most beneficial to your business. Write it down and build a plan to implement. Your plan should include some background so others will be able to understand. Make sure that you communicate the result you believe this idea should produce. Also, try and find a way to measure the results. While this is in no way a groundbreaking exercise, it will allow you to understand others’ successes and/or failures. Your take-away should focus on what you can do to improve your already successful business. As an entrepreneur, one of your goals should always be continuous improvement. Thinking outside the box can give you an edge that your competitors may never find. It is what sets you apart from all the others and provides a better opportunity to make your business outshine everyone. If you get a chance to use these tips, please take a moment and let me know the results.

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