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December 2017

Read our 2nd annual Job Satisfaction report-p.12 PLUS:

More Money: 7 must-do tips to increase your value with employers

Tech Team: Top talent & resources help VOXX support clients worldwide

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Volume 34// Issue 11


Tech Today

FEATURES 12 // What’s Happening/Stats: Job Satisfaction 2017

Retailers throughout the industry were asked to participate in a survey that asked questions pertaining to every aspect of job satisfaction, from compensation to relationship management.

32 // Real World Retail: rolling tones.

One man retailer, David Gold, has been in business for over 30 years, pleasing customers all around the east coast with his precision installations. But what’s really worth noting is that Gold operates on a purely mobile basis, taking his act on the road directly to the offices and homes of his customers.

40 // The Support Team: Voxx Electronics

When retailers are in need of help during an installation, they have a few options. One of the best options available for Voxx retailers is the Voxx technical support department, which is filled with some of the best minds in the business.

AAMP Global: PAC .............................................p.35 Accele Electronics...................................... p. 2 & 3 American Bass .................................................. p. 29 AudioControl .........................................................p.17 Businessworx ................................................... p. 47 CES............................................................................p.25 Custom Car Stereo ..........................................p. 47 Elettromedia: audison ................................... p. 51 Escort .......................................................................p.15 Firstech ................................................................. p. 59 Harman: JBL .......................................................... p. 5 HD Radio ................................................................ p. 21 Hybrid Audio Technologies.......................... p. 57 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 27 K40 Electronics .................................................... p.9 Memphis Audio ...................................................p.37 Metra: TurboTouch ........................................... p. 16 Mobile Electronics ............................................. p.31 Orca: Focal ............................................................. p. 11 Rocky Mountain Radar ........................ p. 52-53 Scosche ................................................................. p. 10 SiriusXM ............................................................... p. 43 SounDigital.............................................................p.19 Sony .......................................................................... p. 7 VAIS Technology................................................ p.46 Voxx Electronics............................................... p. 60 Waylens ................................................................ p. 23

44 // Strategy & Tactics: End of Year Sales Tactics

From large to small, retailers have different challenges to overcome throughout the year. One of the biggest is regarding sales promotions as the end of the year approaches. For some, fourth quarter can make or break their year.

48 // Tech Today: All Mixed Up, Part 2

Andy Wehmeyer continues this feature with more discussion on the use upmixers with multi-seat OEM integration. Topics include sound objectives for the build, how the history of sound companies plays into the mix and the main benefits of upmixing.


On the Cover 2017 is officially coming to an end. With it comes an issue packed with as many important topics as we could cram in, including a job satisfaction survey, a Real World Retail centered on mobile retailer rolling tones., a feature on Voxx’s technical support department and a story on end of year sales strategies. The cover is always a challenge, but more so this time with the goal being to get the right amount of stories to grace the front of the book. Hopefully, we succeeded. You be the judge. Happy 2018! COVER DESIGN: Solomon Daniels

4  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

18 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs

DEPARTMENTS 6 Editors Forum 8 Feedback 10 Helpful Stuff 24 Hot Sellers 58 From the President

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editor’s forum


Is Holding You Down? Or are You? If you want more, be worth more. Here’s how. As employees who work for other people, we all want to make more money or have a more fulfilling work experience. The drive and desire are there, but the knowledge to get where we want often isn’t. Unfortunately, our efforts may come from taking bad advice or misunderstanding others’ situations, and we end up stuck in the same place, or worse. That guy posts pictures of his work online all the time and just got a new job, so that must be the answer. That guy threatened to quit and got a raise, so that must be it. It’s easy to vilify ownership for not giving you what you deserve. But you’re only seeing one side of the picture. Step out of your shoes to see the other side, and that will provide the key to moving forward. Owners aren’t loyal to employees. They are loyal to the business—as they should be. A business needs to be healthy in profitability, culture, viability and reputation, and as a result, employees flourish. If the business suffers, it is the owner’s responsibility to do what’s best for the business first—even at the cost of staff. In fact, most industry businesses do poorly because they put personal values ahead of business. Keep that employee because he’s financially troubled, even if he isn’t performing. Keep that employee because you’re scared you won’t find someone else, even though he’s too expensive. That said, good owners respect and provide loyalty within the confines of business health, and will invest in people if they see value. So if you want ownership to value you, then you must meet their definition of value (not yours). First, stop thinking of yourself as an employee and instead look at yourself as an asset. An asset is useful and valuable, and the more value you have, the more opportunity. Second, think of your profession as a career and not a job. In a career, it’s your expertise that earns a living, not an employer. Therefore, being good at what you do should be a personal investment. Now that you’ve got the right frame of mind, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Present well. Your appearance is the visual that sticks with people. It earns trusts and makes the organization look good. Clean, wrinkle-free uniforms or clothing are a must along with proper hygiene. Investment: Iron.

6  Mobile Electronics December 2017

Know your worth. As an installer, you should know how much in labor dollars you produce in a month, or how much in sales you generate as a salesperson. You should be able to provide this information—with backup—to any prospective employer. Keep a running tally so you can also estimate your pay and/or commissions. Investment: Smartphone app. Have your own accessories. Keep a personal set of cables on hand to connect a customer’s smartphone to a head unit on the display board or install bay. As an installer, add a USB cable to connect between a DSP and computer. Speaking of which… Get your own computer and reliable camera. There is no reason not to have your own PC for work. Laptops can be had for as little as $300, and find a non-smartphone camera that has optical zoom for quality build and instructional shots. Both should be considered part of your tool inventory. Investment: $600 or less. Spend on tools, not the toolbox. A $5,000 Snap-On box looks good, but is worthless if it doesn’t have what’s needed to do the job. Invest in your own RTA, oscilloscope, phase tester and other handhelds necessary for working with late-model vehicles. They’ll fit just as well in Craftsman or Husky. Investment: $2,000 or less. Double-check your grammar. Make sure your posts, project descriptions and customer thank-you notes are error-free. (Trust me: typos makle you look stupid.) Get someone else in your store to double-check, or use an app to catch mistakes. Investment: Smartphone app, or lunch. Polish your skills. Do your own research and read up on better customer interaction, team culture, closing tactics or installation and fabrication techniques. Attend high-value shows or training sessions even if it’s out of pocket. Investment: Plane fare, books, vacation days. See the common denominator? A true asset is not limited by what an employer doesn’t provide, and doesn’t make excuses or blame others for poor performance. He or she is self-sufficient, a trait that any owner will instantly value and pay for, since it will result in increased profits. If your objection to this is that you can’t afford it, then you are in the wrong profession. Teachers spend their own money because it results in students learning and engaging more. Companies invest in marketing and tooling to increase business and add capability. You are no different. Don’t depend on employers to make you better. Invest in yourself and create your own value.

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 feedback

End of the Road Angel Santana preaches the word of community as the means for protecting the industry against its many threats while John Haynes believes that raising labor rates is the key to success against the Internet and transshipping.

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 978.645.6457 •

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 978.645.6463 • Ted Goslin 978.645.6466 • Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.

Published by TM

“One of the keys to our Franchisee’s success is our long-time policy of raising labor rates. For some reason, mobile electronics retailers are mired in the same rate structure we had back in the 80’s. Charging the correct amount of labor is what puts profit in the bank.” John Haynes, Al & Ed’s Autosound, Los Angeles, Calif. “We should all be able to talk to one another and share what we have learned through the years and not be afraid of giving great information to the new 12-volt family members. I am always learning something new, so I would not change a thing I do. Have an open mind and heart and you will see how your business will change and prosper.” Angel Santana, Coquis Custom Auto, Palm Bay, Fla. “Training, training, and more training. I recently attended a Kingpin University owner/ management training and realized that as owners, we don’t do enough specialized training to help us improve as business owners. When you are thinking

8  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

about what trainings you and your staff will attend, I suggest you start investing in yourself and get some good business training. Maybe some of us won’t have to be in the bays until we retire.” Sean Davis, Tip Top Customs, Morris, Ill. “The Internet is the retailer’s demon! It is the utter destruction of the retail store. Customers look mainly online at the silly below-retail price and many times look at a below retail cost (wholesale price) and buy from the Net. The prices being provided from the Net are NOT fair and the manufacturers need to be accountable for whomever distributed and sold them the products sold below retail and below standard cost. It’s not fair to the industry. There should be some regulation of Internet business and the sale of product. Manufacturers need to be strict and enforce and if they do not conform and abide by the retail suggested and if not then they should be fined, black balled, etc.” Boomer Jay, Boom Did It Custom Car Audio, Rockford, Ill.

mobile electronics association

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA 1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN# 1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 2017 by the Mobile Electronics 4) Date of filing: Oct. 1, 2017. 5) Frequency of issue: Monthly. 6) No. of issues published annually: 12 7) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 8) Periodical postage paid at Lawrence MA and additional mailing offices. 9) Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 10) Complete mailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) 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 12) Owner: MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 13) Known bondholders, mortgages, and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of total amounts of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None. 14) Tax Status: Not applicable. 15) Name of Publication: Mobile Electronics. 16) Issue date for circulation data below: October 2017. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 10,237 Single Issue; 12,826. b) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6,039, Single Issue: 7,346. c) Paid sales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; d) Requested distributed by other classes of mail: Average: 435, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requested circulation; Average 6039. Single issue: 6024. e) Non-requested distribution by mail; Average: 3,860 Single issue: 4,973. Free distribution through other classes of mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. f) Non-requested distribution outside the mail; Average: 267. Single issue: 750. g) Total non-requested distribution; Average 3860, Single issue: 4,973. h) Total distribution; Average: 9,899. Single issue: 12,319. i) Copies not distributed; h1) Office use, leftovers; Average: 338. Single Issue; 507 j) Total; Average: 10,237. Single issue; 12,826 Percent paid and/or requested circulation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%. 17) POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Mobile Electronics, 85 Flagship Drive Suite F, North Andover MA 01845-9998

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 helpful stuff Book: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery By Scott Kelly Think about how you spent the last 365 days. Then imagine what it would be like to live in outer space for most of that time. That is what Scott Kelly did. Inspired by Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff (published back in 1979), Kelly went on to become a military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, an astronaut, and a U.S. Navy captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission to the ISS. Before retiring from NASA, he earned the record for the most total time spent in space, including 340 consecutive days at the International Space Station, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. In this debut memoir, Kelly shares what it was like navigating such a long-term spaceflight, how it impacted his body, and the effects of being isolated from his family and from the comforts of Earth. This is a great read to inspire goals for 2018.

10  Mobile Electronics December 2017

Sites To See:

This site, founded in 2005 as an automated news curation service, has matured into a solid resource for technology and its place in the world. Human editors came on board in 2008 to ultimately provide an edited overview of each day’s essential reports and analysis, all on a single, easyto-read page. The site includes writings from reporters, industry leaders, and observers.

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Finding time to take care of basic chores during the week can be challenging especially if you have a demanding work schedule or if you work non-traditional hours. Grocery shopping—even for just the basics like milk and toilet paper—can fall by the wayside if you just don’t have time. With Peapod, the leading Internet grocer, you can shop 24/7—at home, work, or on your phone. 24/7. Browse its aisles and fill your cart with all the brands you love, fresh produce, and top-drawer deli meats, local specialties, all the basics and a whole lot more. Choose a time that best fits your schedule and your food is delivered. Quick pick-up service is available in some areas too.   11

 what’s happening

Are You Happy at Work? The second annual Mobile Electronics job satisfaction survey was sent to retailers in an effort to identify the biggest areas for professional growth, along with what worked in 2017, to help plan for the year ahead. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

The end of the year brings many tasks for a retail shop. Decisions are made about the success or failure of product lines, promotions used throughout the year, employee growth versus areas for improvement, hiring, firing, profit versus loss on the year and hundreds of other micro issues that can stress out even the most seasoned

12  Mobile Electronics December 2017

business owner. In 12-volt, there are enough categories of product alone to make a person’s head spin. That’s why for the second year in a row, Mobile Electronics magazine sent out a job satisfaction survey to help retailers identify issues they might be having related to employee satisfaction. This was done not only to help take away the stress of finding out

these things themselves, but had the intention of helping take a major category off of their plates when planning for next year. Each portion of the survey was broken into sections that focused on a different topic. The 47-question survey included questions on career development, work engagement, compensation, relationship management and work environment.

Career Development The first topic the survey focused on was career development. The majority of those surveyed in total (46 percent) were owners, while lead installers came in second at 11 percent and the installation managers and regular installation technicians came in tied for third at around five percent. Around 30 percent of those who answered about their satisfaction regarding professional growth

agreed with being satisfied, while around 19 percent disagreed with 23 percent remaining neutral on the topic. The neutrals came in even stronger when asked if they are pleased with career advancement opportunities available to them. Around 35 percent of workers were neutral while around 19 percent both agreed and disagreed with the statement. This statistic shows that the majority of those surveyed

believe career advancement is limited but may likely not be upset about that fact given the popularity of the jobs themselves. The top answer for how involved employees feel in their work was to strongly agree at being very involved. Similar questions about getting excited to go to work and the level of effort employees are willing to give at work each day were resoundingly affirmative.   13

 what’s happening

Compensation is often a sore spot for many Americans these days, with 12-volt retailers split down the middle on whether they feel fairly compensated. For many in the survey, their love of their work keeps them happier than the pay they receive, which includes business owners. “As an owner, shop compensation is a bit different than if you are a tech. Everyone always wants more one way or another but as an owner I am happy

14  Mobile Electronics December 2017

with my salary,” explained one surveyed retailer. “As far as the business as a whole, I mainly just want for the shop to make enough money to pay all of my guys, cover all bills, and make a little bit more each year to invest back into the shop. I don’t ever plan on getting rich owning my shop I just want to be comfortable and not stress over paying each bill or employee.” Training is also a major issue for employees, with nearly a quarter of

those surveyed believing they don’t receive adequate training from their company. One owner said, “We need to do a better job of training people. That’s on me!!” Another added, “I want to go to training to advance my skills but it must be on my time and my money.” In contrast, over 50 percent of respondents believe they do receive proper training, including both in-house and training at industry events.

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 what’s happening

16  Mobile Electronics December 2017

Relationship Management and Work Environment Enjoying one’s job is only part of the requirement for a happy worker. The other side is where you work. When asked about communication, the majority felt that it was good between senior leaders and employees in their company. It was also unanimously agreed that workers can make decisions affecting their work and management recognizes strong job performance from employees. “It’s awesome when you need a helping hand and they are there for you,” wrote one responder. Respect

and trust seem to be in good standing between employees, each other and their supervisors, overall. When it comes to work environment, safety was a concern but the majority felt their work places were very safe. Job security is also overwhelmingly good with around 95 percent of those surveyed feeling secure. The survey concluded with questions on fiscal responsibility, workplace culture and how each person fits in to its business’ larger goals. In total, the survey concluded that the majority of employees are satisfied

with their jobs with only a few areas of improvement needed. Those needs included a desire for professional growth opportunities, more job-related training and better employee benefits like healthcare. With 2018 on the horizon, retailer have the opportunity to make change happen for their employees and themselves based on these data points, along with the collective opinions expressed by the industry daily on blog posts, social media and at industry events. In the words of one anonymous survey taker, “Once again, change is coming.”



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 retail news Owner Dave Clews holds some of the coats donated for his store’s promotion. The store runs a variety of promotions throughout the year, but normally does not need to be as creative during winter months.

Coated with Kindness

Despite unseasonably warm weather and little demand for remote starts, the Remotes for Coats promotion has gone well for 12-Volt Dave’s Audio—and for those needy individuals who will benefit from donations sent to local charities. WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

As winter rolls in for mobile electronics shops in the United States, many are looking to charitable community engagement to bring in business. For David Clews of Pennsylvania-based 12-Volt Dave’s Audio, this means discounting remote start systems in exchange for donations. What inspired Clews to start the Remotes for Coats promotion? “The wonderful world of Facebook,” he said with a laugh. “I follow a group called the Car Audio Syndicate,” he added. From keeping tabs on the group, Clews learned about an incentive that was focused on giving back to the community as the cold weather rolled into the northeastern part of the country. “One of the guys said, ‘It’d be interesting to give back a little bit to our local communities and do Remotes for Coats,’” Clews said. When a customer brings in a new or slightly used coat, $25 is taken off the

18  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

cost of a remote start system. For customers who request an extended range system, there is a $50 discount. The coat goes to a local charity. Clews himself is working with the local Salvation Army. This is also his first year running the promotion. Even though things are getting colder in the northeast, the drive did not go according to plan, resulting in an extension for how long he would host the event. To help promote the event, he booked some local radio airtime, with ad spots running for four days. Unfortunately, weather warmed to 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Pottsville, where Clews is located. “It’s a little hard to generate remote start business when people are still wearing shorts around,” he added. “But I did sell some off, and I will be continuing [the Remotes for Coats promotion] through the month of November.”

Clews hopes to donate 50 coats by the end of the promotion. He also invested in advertising on Facebook, and rerunning another radio ad for the month of November. When asked if the return on investment was worthwhile, Clews said that people still bought into the promotion even with the weather warming up, and some people just plain dropped coats off. “I’d say the promotion was money well spent,” Clews added. Currently, Clews has 20-something coats to drop off for his first delivery. The store also saw a definite uptick in business. “It got me some business I wouldn’t have gotten right at that time. It’s one of those crazy things where the promotion is good, it’s been well-received by those who have taken advantage of it, or heard about it and came in and donated.”   19

 retail news

Customers from near and far attend The Sound Shop’s “Cruise Night” to mingle with fellow car lovers and make new connections.

The Sound Shop’s “Cruise Night” raises awareness of the store’s brand and encourages customer interaction, bringing the business to a whole new level. WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

For a number of businesses, creating and staging an event means both an immediate return on investment and same-day sales. But for North Carolina-based The Sound Shop, staging a cruise both increased customer engagement and opened up new ways of advertising the business. According to owner David Phillips, The Sound Shop’s cruise started as an open house event the first month the shop was open. The event has been held four years in a row, with the fourth iteration being held on November sixth of this year. “The idea was, when we were new, to kind of hype up the shop, you know,” Phillips said. “We were new as far as the shop itself, and obviously I’d been doing installation for almost 12 or 11 years when I first opened the shop. […] We were just trying to hype up the brand, if you will.” The shop, somewhat hidden in an

20  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

industrial park, was the location of the cruise. The event served to draw customers in and let them know the business was there. “The concept is basically to get people to come out. A lot of our customers will come out to show off their cars,” Phillips added. The twist, though, is that the shop does not do any business while the event is being held. “We’re not doing any business while people are there, but we’ll talk to people and set up appointments if people want to do something.” At something like the shop’s cruise, showcasing custom work is much easier in real life than it would be otherwise. While pictures and videos on social media help, the real deal is what draws in and engages customers’ attention. By using Facebook events and advertising, The Sound Shop also increases customer outreach and interest, but there is such a thing as advertising too early. “I guess advertising more than a

month in advance, people forget about it,” Phillips said. “So, I’ll set it up, but we won’t start promoting it until a month before the event actually occurs.” When the day of the cruise arrives, Phillips added, he has friends and family who help out with setting up. Somewhat to his surprise, customers have also offered their assistance. The shop sets up tables, and people start backing their cars in, which ultimately fills the whole parking lot. “We start about an hour in advance, setting everything up,” Phillips said. Even with the extensive planning that goes into the cruise, the event itself always passes relatively quickly. Phillips has a friend set up to play music, along with established space for demonstrations. “We leave the storefront open and have all of our stuff on display,” Phillips noted. “If you want to hear demos, we’ll do that. We’ll have a couple of our cars out there. You’ll hear speakers, like how everything actually sounds in a car.”

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 retail news


Who’s Who

“We’re not doing any business while people are there, but we’ll talk to people and set up appointments if people want to do something.” David Phillips, Owner, The Sound Shop

Customers have also been known to demo their existing builds to potential buyers, Phillips said, going on to add that loyal customers sell his work “way better than I ever could.” Even though the event serves to attract customers, there is no direct return on investment, according to Phillips, but there is a definite increase in local engagement. “As far as numbers, it fluctuates throughout the night. […] Consistently there’s anywhere from 20 to 30 vehicles. Anywhere throughout the course of the night, we’ll see 75 to 100 cars.” The car presence at the cruise tends to be incredibly diverse, according to Phillips, which encourages customers to look at builds and merchandise they might not look at otherwise. The cruise has also helped build brand awareness, with customers returning to ask when the next event is going to be. “We used to do a spring and a fall. The fall one was close to our anniversary, and our spring one was just, ‘okay, we’ll do it in the spring, too.’ But it got to the point where we didn’t have time to do it [in the spring], if I’m being completely honest,” Phillips said. While the shop may not see a direct return on investment the day of the event, several jobs that have come to the shop were due to the prior year’s cruise. Phillips did note that the shop might have gotten the sale without the cruise, but having the space and community engagement brought things to another level.

22  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

Bryan Turvaville 806 Autoworks Amarillo, Texas Years of industry experience: 15 Hobbies: Spending time with my family, church, car audio, shooting What you’re really good at: Finding solutions to problems. Josh Mertzig RPM Speed & Custom Sheboygan, Wisc. Years of industry experience: 26 Hobbies: Golden tee golf, drumming, travel What you’re really good at: Remote car starters Lucas Tucker Tucker’s Tint & Tunes Effingham, Ill. Years of industry experience: 10 Hobbies: Family What you’re really good at: Mobile electronics sales and installation Angel Santana Coquis Custom Auto Palm Bay, Fla. Years of industry experience: 37 Hobbies: Family time What you’re really good at: Listening and have a great heart

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 hot sellers

As the year comes to a close, Rommel Miranda sees customer education as the path to profits while Mark D’Elia closes sales by promising zero percent financing. Editor’s Note: In the November 2017 issue of Mobile Electronics, two products listed in the Hot Sellers section had their product images switched by mistake. These images were for the Alpine iLX-207 7-inch Mech-less Multimedia Receiver and NAV-TV M650-GM Audio/Video Interface. We apologize for the error.

1.MMATS SM-10 Shallow Mount Subwoofer Submitted by: Rommel Miranda, Car Audio, Radio and Security, Charleston, S.C. Main Selling Features: “They love how they sound in a small enclosure.” Primary Objection: Learning curve. How to Overcome: “Some customers haven’t heard of them so you have to educate them. Give them a brochure as well as a demo.”

24  Mobile Electronics December 2017

2. Kenwood DDX9904S Double-DIN Monitor Receiver with Bluetooth & HD Radio

3. Sony XAV-AX100 6.4inch Digital Multimedia Receiver with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Submitted by: Mark D’Elia, SoundFX, West Warwick, R.I. Main Selling Features: “Apple CarPlay and great sound quality.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Offer zero percent financing.”

Submitted by: Mark D’Elia, SoundFX, West Warwick, R.I. Main Selling Features: “When I demonstrate the voice control and ease of use.” Primary Objection: Missing feature(s). How to Overcome: Show the customer its best features and ease of use.

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 hot sellers

4. Compustar FT7200S-CONT Remote start controller brain Submitted by: Sondralee Orengia Main Selling Features: “The quality of our installation and the lifetime warranty on the remote start brain. Also, that we have sold Compustar since 2000.” Primary Objection: Quality and warranty. How to Overcome: “By explaining our installation warranty and the quality of Compustar’s products.”

26  Mobile Electronics December 2017

5. Alpine Electronics MRV-M500 Mono V-Power Digital Amplifier

6. Sony XAV-AX100 Multimedia Head Unit with Apple CarPlay

Submitted by: Bill Sommers, Sommer Sound Systems, Panama City, Fla. Main Selling Features: “Output power.” Primary Objection: None. How to Overcome: Demonstrating its capabilities.

Submitted by: Mike Bartells, Extreme Audio, Inc., Mechanicsville, Va. Main Selling Features: “The piece is a very easy step up for those clients just initially looking for a regular radio. Once you plug your phone in to show Apple CarPlay, the familiarity of the Apple interface immediately hooks them.” Primary Objection: “Lack of CD and satellite radio.” How to Overcome: “In some cases we are forced to change to a different product. Thankfully they are addressing that with the new 200 series hitting shelves now.”














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 hot sellers

7. BEULER SPA300 USB 8. AudioControl LC-6.1200 to RCA Video Mirroring High-Power Multi-Channel Adapter Amplifier with Accubass Submitted by: Angel Santana, Coquis Custom Auto, Palm Bay, Fla. Main Selling Features: “How easy it is to learn and use. Very great add-on piece.” Primary Objection: Price, size/ color/style, compatibility, learning curve. How to Overcome: “Mix it in with another product.”

28  Mobile Electronics December 2017

Main Selling Features: “Six-channel amplifier with eight active speaker-level inputs, with Acubass & GTO (of course we break it down to our customers).” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Easy, sell what the customer originally came in the door for. Better sound, upgrades, etc. The cost of good wire and labor is not cheap but is well worth the expense. One of my tech’s favorite sayings is ‘I am too poor to buy cheap.”

9. Illusion Audio C3CX 3-inch Coincidence Driver Main Selling Features: “We show that it’s a great driver with awesome sound quality and flexible installation ability.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We show them examples of some installations as well as letting them audition our demo cars.”

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 hot sellers

10. Sony XAV-AX100 Multimedia Head Unit with Apple CarPlay

11. JL Audio C1-650 6.5-inch 2-way Component Speaker System

Submitted by: Luke Farley, Lynx Customs, Ltd., Centennial, Co. Main Selling Features: “The simplicity of the app interface always works great for demos. We have a cord coming out of the display with both the iPhone and Android connection. We literally ask customers to plug their phone in, and once they do, the apps immediately pop up on the stereo screen. When a customer can see how easy it is to integrate the phone and the interface that they already know, it makes for an easy sale!” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “Show off the simplicity of the product to customers during demos.”

Submitted by: Ben Larson, Sound Connection, Inc., Waite Park, Minn. Main Selling Features: “The brand is well known to most customers.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Remind the customers of the features and the shop expertise in installing only quality products.”

30  Mobile Electronics December 2017

12. Powerbass XL-1200 Power Sports Sound Bar Main Selling Features: “How great they sound.” Primary Objection: Learning curve. How to Overcome: “Get my hands on the product.”   31

real world retail

32  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

Solo retailer, David Gold, has wanted nothing more than to service his customers well with his 12-volt mobile retail service, rolling tones. His new dream is to share his 32 years of experience to ensure the next generation can learn about his unique style. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN


t takes everything to be an entrepreneur. Those who give all they have are likely to be more successful than those who hold back. What’s even more true is what entrepreneurs have to know in order to be successful. With new technology coming out daily, an entrepreneur not only needs to know their own business, but how to manage finances, develop business relationships, learn new software and adapt to emerging technology. David Gold has done that while creating his own methods for doing business, as is required of his mobile 12-volt operation, rolling tones. Currently transitioning from New England to North Carolina, Gold has been installing electronics in vehicles since 1974, first as a hobby, having found a knack for it as the son of an architect and fashion designer, and grandson of a mechanical engineer. “Engineering is in my blood,” Gold said. “My dad left when I was 13 and I was responsible for maintaining the family car. I’ve always enjoyed working on cars.” After high school, Gold attended East Coast Aero Tech and attained his FAA Airframe & Powerplant cerfitication in 1979. He then worked as a traditional auto mechanic for two years at a SAAB and Alfa-Romeo dealership then joined the Marine Corps and worked on heavy jets. The experience taught him techniques he uses to this day, including discipline, the importance of personal appearance and using his technical expertise to find the best products to sell to customers. “As the sole person in my business, I do everything. I do a lot of professional reading and I attend any training that comes along,” Gold said. “Part of my job is to test new products before I approve them for installation.”   33

real world retail


Rolling Tones

Location: Charlotte, N.C. Number of Stores: N/A Facility Square Footage: N/A Store Type: Mobile Number of Employees: 1

KEY STAFF David Gold Owner/ Installation Technician

34  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

In 1985, Gold left the Marine Corps and began working in car audio. He knew in order to succeed, he would need to learn from professionals who had been doing it for many years. “So I set out to work for two years each at three different shops,” he added. During that time, Gold met Alan Cath and Marc Cedrone of Beaconwood Acoustics in Watertown, Mass. These men became his mentors, teaching him a great deal about business and proper installation techniques. “Al Cath demanded a neat, clean and picky manner, which had a huge impact. Our work had to pass the ‘Al Cath Test,’ a rigorous inspection,” Gold said. “I used to watch Japanese painters in the hangar in the Marines. They had a saying: ‘God lives in the details.’ Attention to detail became my mantra.” Thanks to his aviation background, Gold claims to have a very fastidious technique, which helps set him apart from other shops. Working on expensive expensive aircraft taught him how to focus while surrounded by extreme levels of complexity. “I learned in a high pressure retail environment that you’ve got to troubleshoot and solve the problem that day,” he added. Gold soon went off on his own and began operating his own mobile

operation, rolling tones., in 1993. He specializes in high-end work, installing about 18 categories, including blind spot assist, stereo installation, Bluetooth, GPS, K40 radar and rearview cameras. Thought mostly mobile, Gold does have a private, by-appointment facility in Charlotte, N.C. for multi-day jobs, such as acoustic treatments. “I also do classic ‘deck and four’ type work (a new radio and four new speakers),” Gold said. “I no longer do super high-end sound systems where I keep the car for weeks. There are many talented shops in that space. My bread and butter are K40 radar systems, remote starters, heated seats and about 15 other categories.” A Personal Touch “I read an article that said the majority of wealthy people in America are underserved. And my brother taught me years ago, raise your prices 10 percent per year and let the bottom customers fall out the bottom. I’ve focused on the high-end clients more and more,” Gold said. His focus on high-end customers allows him to do two things at once: charge more per installation and fill a need that his niche service fills— concierge service.

Keeping a clean and professional appearance with all wiring work has helped Gold land further jobs from impressed customers.

“There are not enough skilled trades people to provide all of the services that these wealthy families demand. I get very little pushback on pricing. The usual response I get is ‘When can you do it?’” This focused client base helps Gold choose to let go of less-desired work by handing it off to trusted local shops he has relationships with. “For example, when I get a call for a Toyota Camry, I may do it or I may refer them to another shop. The good thing about the erosion of the installer base is less competition and more demand. You can charge more and put a stop to the race to the bottom mentality, which we all know is a disturbing trend in our industry.” His sales techniques are critical to maintaining his customer base and being so selective with his work. “Concurrent with my installation business there was a period of time for about 12 years when I was selling high-end new and used automobiles. I have received

a lot of sales training thanks to that experience,” Gold said. “If you were to follow me around for a day or a week, you would find that my sales technique is based on listening carefully and once again, seeing things from the customer’s point of view. Sometimes it takes a while to uncover the real motivation for why they want something installed in their car, and my customers and I go through this discovery process together.” Choosing the right vendor partners is another part of the service he offers. The customer has to trust the quality of the products being installed. That’s why Gold chose K40, which he says has the lowest return and failure rates in the industry. Equally so, Gold is respected by K40 due to his professionalism and focus on customer service. “David Gold is a pleasure to work with. He is eager to grow his business using best practices with his



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real world retail “My clientele is increasing in demographic stature, and if you know how to deal with high net worth families, it is very rewarding because you are providing them with a valuable service that is hard to find.” David Gold, Owner, rolling tones.

integrity and reputation being foremost on his mind. His number one concern is always delivering the best customer experience and satisfaction,” said Lynette Tomlinson, head of social media marketing for K40 Electronics. “Rolling tones is a relatively new dealer for K40, although I have known of him since 2001. He has focused on growing his own business for about four years now with K40 and has increased his sales each and every year.” As a mobile installation specialist, Gold has developed special techniques, clothing choices and tool storage systems just for on-the-road installations. As of this writing, he is having a new facility built in Charlotte, N.C. that has a tentative completion date of April 2, 2018. “I have special techniques for hot and cold weather, which plays into my productivity. I’m not gonna be a hero and do an install in a snow storm. But

I will travel far for the right vehicle and client. I’m a very moral and ethical person in terms of not stepping on some other installer’s territory. I can go from Maine to Florida, all mobile.” A recent customer of Gold’s, who asked not to be named, can attest to Gold’s willingness to go the extra mile, both literally and figuratively, for his customers. “I have a late model Mercedes E-Class. He had a full tool kit with him. It was way more than I was expecting. All of these pieces, including ramps to put the car up on, were all in this vehicle. He said ‘You could use a van’ but this install didn’t require more than he could fit in the car,” the customer said. “He had all boxes and tools neatly in the vehicle and set up all boxes and a modular system with drop cloths to protect the vehicle, then used seat covers for interior protection. He was very professional

for being in the driveway. It made it very easy to have someone just come to me and do the job.” The customer found Gold through word-of-mouth and checked him out online to get an idea of what he offered. “I didn’t have the time to go to a shop and was looking for a qualified person who could do it at my house instead. This company had the facility and from what I was able to look at, had the reputation for doing this type of work,” he added. “He installed a K40 RL 360i radar detector system with three LDO laser jammers. He then installed a remote starter from iDatastart and a Drone Mobile from Firstech for starting and stopping the car from an app on my phone.” Once Gold finished the job, he removed all traces that he had even been there, with no debris left in the driveway. Then he gave a complete demonstration of all products to

Discount Marketing “I do not have periodic marketing plans. It is handled on a day-to-day basis. Using my sales techniques and my ability to develop rapport, I occasionally offer them a discount.

36  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

“For example, if I am performing two installations of two different systems in one vehicle on the same day, I sometimes offer a six percent discount off the grand total. I am still making plenty of money, and they appreciate a break.

“As far as having goals set for a campaign, I don’t do any long-range planning. I have a general feel for how much money I need to make every quarter, and I am constantly pushing myself to exceed those informal goals.”

ensure he was comfortable with how to use it all, which is standard practice, according to Gold. The price for such a service varies, but falls within a general range based on location and products installed. “I charge $185 for an on-site service visit, which includes up to the first two hours of installation or removal time. Other shops think that’s a bit low! This includes testing and troubleshooting time and making repairs,” Gold said. “I mark up equipment anywhere from 25 to 100 percent, depending on the situation. I have a stated hourly rate of $150 per hour. If the customer lives far away from my shop I also charge travel time to include mileage and expenses.” Who You Gonna Call? The company attracts clients largely through word-of-mouth, but Gold uses his people skills to develop relationships with dealerships as well. “Forty percent of my business


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real world retail

David Gold has little need for traditional marketing but has benefitted greatly from attending car shows, which helps him interact with potential clients. comes from dealerships now. I only need a handful. I’ve got one or two dealerships that I like. Part of my business has always been that I have to be cognizant of not taking on too much work. I don’t want to hire an installer and train them. It would take years for them to get to the level these cars need. With a retail store, you can’t easily limit the number of

Having a military background taught David Gold the importance of both bringing the right tools for each job and how to present that tooling in a professional manner to clients. your customers. I can be more selective. High-end cars are my passion.” The rolling tones Facebook page and new website offers online visitors a chance to learn about the company, but Gold’s strongest method for generating new business is face-to-face interactions. This is why he added car shows to his marketing strategy. “I set up an outdoor booth at a

Ferrari car show in North Carolina. A customer came to the show because he heard I was going,” Gold said. “This led to a full K40 radar system installation inhis 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet.” Gold’s move to Charlotte, aside from being a demographic fit for his highend clientele, was also chosen due to it being 27 percent lower in cost

Headrest Bust “There is only one case where I engaged in a marketing idea which turned out to be a bust. A new livery service started up in downtown Boston. The owners approached me to install a rear seat entertainment system in their new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which was purchased specifically to be used in this black car service.

38  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

“The arrangement was that I would install the system, which replaces the existing headrests, and they would put a splash screen with my company logo and contact information which the customers would see during the first minute of the drive.

“They had a graphics house create an excellent splash screen, and the rest of the arrangement was that I would not charge them for this system. It was expected that I would get enough business that would more than pay for the system, which I was charging about $1900 for wholesale. You can probably guess the rest of this story—I never got one installation from this arrangement.”

Eye in the Sky

“K40 Electronics is definitely my top vendor, and it’s where I focus most of my energy. I have been installing their products since the company opened in 1982. “It’s at the point now where I would rather spend an afternoon creating photos with arrows and text describing one of my latest K40 radar and laser installations rather than go out and make $300 installing a Bluetooth hands-free phone system or satellite radio.

of living than New England. “I call it jewel of the Southeast. it’s a beautiful town, the demographics are excellent,” he said. “My clientele is increasing in demographic stature, and if you know how to deal with high net worth families, it is very rewarding because you are providing them with a valuable service that is hard to find.” On the Road Again To provide another level of service to the industry, other than selling and installing quality electronics, Gold has added the title of KnowledgeFest instructor to his resume, having taught a class at the 2017 event in Dallas. A lover of continuous training himself, Gold believes in passing on what he’s learned, especially given the unique nature of his work practices. “I was honored to be chosen as an

“The reason I would rather work on my gallery photos and other behind the scenes K40 support is because I know that my time spent doing these things, while not making money that day, will pay off in the long run. The company has a photo gallery on its website and it’s important to make sure that every installation gets put up on the gallery so the customers can see how it would look in their vehicle. “Another reason for gravitating towards doing radar and laser system installations is because of the extremely low failure rate and return rate of the K40 product. Frankly, it has been a blessing to me and quite a relief to realize that the systems simply don’t fail. 

instructor at KnowledgeFest 2017. I will be teaching an improved class at KnowledgeFest in Indianapolis in the spring of 2018,” Gold said. “I got a lot of good feedback considering that it was my public debut as an instructor. I promise that my next one will be more streamlined with more content that installers can use to improve their mobile installation practices.” Gold attends trainings frequently to improve his knowledge of emerging technology and other techniques. “I’m a huge believer in trainings. I believe that an installer should go to all possible training sessions and workshops. I go to all the remote start trainings, even if they’re twice a year,” he said. “It’s also a chance to network with other installers, I love the camaraderie of going to KnowledgeFest or the smaller trainings to hob-knob with other installers.”

“K40 is my second family. I have met most of the people in the company and someday on one of my road trips I would like to stop in to their headquarters in Elgin, Ill. to pay them a personal visit and check out their facility. “Their support is fantastic. From the owner on down, they all love and support the installing dealers, and they know that they would be nowhere without us. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Of course, all of this is for one purpose only: to support the customer. I view K40 as a company that is driven by engineering and testing, and although you may not see splashy headlines about their engineering advancements, they are continually making small changes.”

In the coming years, Gold hopes to continue fine-tuning his processes while adhering to his company philosophy: “It’s All About the Customer Experience.” “Everything counts. What you eat in the morning, how you dress; even how you make a protein shake for lunch,” Gold said. Regardless of what’s happening in the industry, Gold believes that nothing can stop the 12-volt industry from remaining profitable for anyone who puts the work in. “Focus on the high end. Know that the wealthy families are underserved in America,” he said. “Have very high moral and ethical standards at all times, go to all trainings, respond immediately to the customer, be enthusiastic and happy, and love what you do.”   39

 The Support Team

The Chosen Ones The Voxx Electronics technical support department is stacked with allstar talent, including director Ed Catapano, who hand-picked his team from some of the best technical minds in the business.


With countless mobile and personal electronics from overhead monitors to speakers, to remote starters, Voxx carries just about anything you can imagine. It is fitting that its technical support is also expansive. The department is vastly different from when Edward Catapano first joined Audiovox 20 years ago, interestingly in tech support before eventually becoming director of technical services. “The biggest change is you must be more technologically advanced today,” he said. “Back then every car was similar to one another. If you knew how to put a radio in Car A, that radio could be installed and wired into Car B. Today, every car is different. Everything works off the vehicle’s computer

40  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

and every car is advanced so you really have to think about what you touch and what you’re doing. You need modules to decipher that information for you.” When the module is installed— for example, between a remote start and the car—the module does a lot of the work for you, Catapano explained, adding that it’s much more difficult to do an install nowadays. Advanced cars, tougher installs, and more complex products are precisely why Voxx has coordinated a comprehensive effort to manage issues for consumers, installers and dealers. All tech support functions funnel through Catapano’s department of 12 employees. Everyone sits around him in the call center at the corporate offices in Hauppauge, N.Y. Catapano’s hand-picked team

of techs, he said, is ready for just about anything. Catapano himself is MECP Master certified, along with three of his techs. The rest of the team is MECP Advanced. “I could bet the farm that I have one of the best teams in the business,” he said. “They can take their hat and turn it when a consumer calls and then they can turn the hat one more time when an installer calls and needs help with something. These techs have installed products all of their lives, so I have almost 300 years of experience in my department.” On any given day, there are a couple of dozen phone numbers that pump calls into the center. There is one for consumers and other numbers dedicated to dealers. “If we get a call and it’s computer related—maybe an installer

is trying to flash software into a unit— my guys will take over the computer and not only show the caller how to do it, but will do the work and train the installer on the phone at the same time,” Catapano said. “This method lets a person learn what to do for the future. If we just tell them how to fix something, great. If we do it for them, great. But if we can do the work, show them, and also teach them at the same time, then they keep that knowledge forever.” The tech support team is also crosstrained. When calls come in, they can bounce to anyone. “Everyone here can do everything,” Catapano said. Some techs are more adept at certain types of calls, so priorities can be set on those calls so they’re directed to certain people on the team. “Technician A may be good at a particular type of call, so when that call comes in, I might set his priority for that type of call higher than for everyone else. “ Unbox, Dissect And Discuss With so many products that the techs might potentially have to answer questions about, it is essential to keep everybody up to date with the intricacies of new items and also revisit the mainstays. Catapano does this with hands-on trainings. “I take everyone in the conference room and we physically

The Voxx R&D facility is used for in-house trainings and R&D work on products and vehicles. unbox a product,” he said. “I give out the installation and owner’s manuals to each person. We’ll sit around the table and talk about the product, rip it apart, go through the installation and owner’s manuals, and everyone marks them up with their own feedback.” Catapano takes it the next step and puts techs on his team in cars to have them actually install products. “Every day, I pull one of my guys off the phone, and we do this in a round-robin fashion,” Catapano said. “My technician will sit inside of

The tech lab is used during calls to help troubleshoot problems as they come in to customers.

a person’s car and install a product. Every day, we do another installation, even though it is common practice or mundane if we do similar things over and over again. My technicians have to be as smart and up to date as the people we talk to, so they can’t just sit on the phone and not experience what these other people are experiencing.” The team also spends lots of time in the company’s research and development center. “This is where we do those installs that we work on every day,” Catapano said, adding that techs are able to use a car lift and benches. They do their work in a nice, clean atmosphere, according to Catapano. Each installer can offer comments on what was encountered during an install. Additionally, products are sometimes given to a company employee for evaluation, and feedback is then given to the support team, as well. A major benefit of all this knowledge, according to Catapano, who spent many years at Voxx in the engineering department assisting with product design, is that it can be shared with those who are developing new products. “I have told our product management and our senior upper management that I want to be part of the development process. As new products are being developed, my team has   41

 The Support Team

CarLinkBT Long Range for Smartphone remote start and security the knowledge and experience on products we currently have so they can offer their insights and be part of discussions across the development area.” It isn’t just about the phones in tech support. Installers gravitate to forums on social media platforms, so Voxx offers that option as well. “We have a Facebook forum for technicians,” Catapano said. “We have 1,000 people or so on there. If someone wants to throw their question out to the forum, anyone can answer it.” The forum is a popular support feature, but it has pros and cons. “The good thing is that we handle it. We answer the question,” Catapano said. “The bad part is that other people can answer, but possibly not correctly. When people on the forum see that one of the administrators has answered the question, they take our word as gospel in a sense. We also try to keep the tone very positive. We’re not here to reprimand. It’s about growing someone.” With the sheer volume of calls,

and the wide variety of issues to be resolved, there are bound to be situations that aren’t always addressed perfectly. “It happens everyday,” Catapano said. “I am part of the team, so I not only listen in on my technicians’ calls—and help them, as well—but if I hear something that I think can be handled differently, I will tell them to try a different approach. I try to train people on the fly. And I take calls myself so that I know what my team is experiencing.” Catapano believes it can be a thankless job considering not all successful calls get a thank you. “You have to be okay knowing you did the job. You solved a person’s problem. That is thanks in itself.” A Numbers Game When Catapano first took over technical services, he didn’t have a lot of detail on what types of calls were most prevalent. “We knew that we got X-amount of calls, but we didn’t have a grasp of what types of calls those were,” he said.

Voxx’s Code Alarm 2017 “5 Series” Security and remote start line-up.

42  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

Currently, a procedure is in place so that every call has to be labeled, stated Catapano. In order to assist, they have to know what type of product is being discussed, whether it’s a remote start, radio or navigation product. Whatever kind of call it is, Catapano is more concerned with how thoroughly it is handled, not so much how many calls the techs are completing. “I don’t want a person calling back,” he said. “I want a call solved right out of the gate. Instead of a tech saying, ‘Can you try this and give us a call and tell us what happens?’ I want our tech to say, ‘Try this and we’ll hold on for you while you work on it.’ I want them to know that we are fully vested in them and that we want them— the installers—to succeed.” Even though quality is the top priority on a call, it is still necessary to know how long a call typically takes for resolution. “I want to know how much time we’re spending on the phone with each caller, but I tell my guys that when you work with quality over quantity, if the quality is there and your methods become second nature (and you master that end of it), your call times will get shorter on their own,” Catapano said. “I started watching call times and I can see that the call times are getting lower and the amount of calls is getting greater.” Keeping It Warm And Fuzzy The whole business of call times brings up another sensitive area—wait times. “That is the worst part of anyone calling—just waiting for the call to be answered,” Catapano said. To make things more palatable, there is now a callback feature. “You can stay on hold as long as you want, but now there is an option to leave a callback number and we will call you back in the order that you were waiting.” This way, the installer can continue working without having to hold on to the phone while they wait for a response. If someone figures out the answer while on hold and hangs up, or just gets tired of waiting and gets off the phone, Catapano makes sure that person is reached regardless. “We call back every single person who hung

up without waiting. We ask if there is anything else we can do to help them. We ask if they are okay and if they have what they need. I’m not sure how many other companies do that kind of thing.” It doesn’t stop there. “It might seem sappy, but another thing we do is give out gifts to people who either had a negative experience with the product or with some of the support factors,” Catapano said. “We might even give out a gift on a positive note. Maybe we got back on good footing with someone after a long period of time.” These types of gestures make the customer feel better and serve as a token of brand retention. The gift bag, all of which is branded with Voxx, includes a multi-tool with pliers and a flashlight on it, a multi-screwdriver with different tips for fixing items like eyeglasses, and a tape measure. “It makes someone say, ‘You didn’t need to do this. You solved my problem,’ but for us it is our next step of service to make people feel great,”

Catapano said. We’ll even give Voxx t-shirts out to people who have given us wiring information or who have gone above and beyond. We do all of this stuff because we want people to understand they’re not just buying a box, they’re getting a whole package from us. They’re part of the Voxx family. We’ve been around a long time and it’s not by accident that we got so big and that we’re great at what we do. We have worked hard at this and now it’s time to reward the people who have stood with us all along.”

repair out-of-warranty goods for people,” he said. “If your radio breaks after it’s out of warranty, you don’t need to just throw it in the garbage. Some companies have no repair department. After a year, if your product goes bad, you’re buying another one. We will give you an opportunity at a repair cost to fix it instead of throwing it in the garbage and having to start all over.” In addition to the busy call center, Catapano’s technicians also handle all the field trainings. “If a customer— one of our dealers—wants a training or warrants the need for a training, we will basically send out one of our guys,” Catapano said. “We’ll send him wherever he has to go to train that account. My guys are not phone technicians. Their titles are actually field application technicians. They not only work in the office, they not only do installs, but they go out into the field to do trainings as well. They do trade shows, exterior trainings, and support for sales.”

Fit For The Field While Catapano’s department handles technical service support, they also work hand in hand with customer service. That department addresses calls when an end-user needs an installation manual or a spare part. Someone might call to simply buy an extra remote control. Catapano’s team also works directly with the repair service team. “They





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 strategy & tactics

Best Laid Plans

The larger the business, the more there is to do, but proper yearly planning and strategic sales tactics can prepare a shop for the final year-end push. Businesses such as Sound Warehouse and Extreme Audio share their approaches to attracting clients and bringing in revenue during seasonal promotions.


No matter the season, strategy and attention to detail is essential in planning and goal setting. Pablo Picasso—born in 1881—is well-known for his paintings, but he was also a stage designer, poet, playwright, and sculptor. Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” A well thought-out plan, regardless of life position, is necessary to ensure success. In the 12-volt industry, passion and perseverance combine to form an unstoppable determination to succeed. In each season, strategic promotions are laid out to best attract new customers and bring back previous clients. End-of-year sales tactics can help make up for any losses in the previous year. Sound Warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah has three store locations and has been open for 38 years. Owner Dean Magnesen has tried many different

44  Mobile Electronics December 2017

avenues in marketing and advertising. “Luckily, our plan is based on a lot of previous years, so we kind of look at our sales volume from year to year that each campaign brings us,” Magnesen said. “If it doesn’t bring us enough business or lets us down, then we switch campaigns.” Planned in Advance, Tweaked Along the Way Extreme Audio is a two-store franchise with locations in Mechanicsville, Va. and Midlothian, where fall and winter sales can depend greatly on the weather. In the beginning of November, the company starts promoting for the holiday season, according to owner Mike Bartells. “We aren’t in a cold climate, so it can greatly depend on the weather to some extent. It’s been colder for a couple days, it’ll be 80 tomorrow,” Bartells said, noting how the unusual weather can affect sales of remote starts. “We can market remote starts as much as we want, but until someone goes out and gets into their car in the cold, it’s not something they think

about. No matter how we try to do early sales, unless it’s something dramatic like Groupon, you don’t get the results until the weather breaks.” For Sound Warehouse, advertising campaigns are planned out for an entire year. Everything is carefully organized. “We do what one radio station manager told me we should do: relentless advertising,” Magnesen said. On the evening of the 18th, a Black Friday ad campaign begins. On the 22nd, the business has a three-day sale, followed by an “everyone deserves a second chance” sale with Black Friday deals on the 27th of the month. “Two weeks for Black Friday,” Magnesen said, adding that by December fourth, the business is focused on leveraging Christmas sales. From November into December, advertising is aired on five or six local radio stations. “We will be on cable TV with multiple channels, alternative newspapers, and digital. It’s hard to say what works best. We get customers coming in and saying they saw it on our website, on our e-blast—I almost think it’s kind of split between digital, radio,

Dean Magnesen and his wife Jennie, who run Sound Warehouse, utilize their many years of experience and help from M.E.S.A. to have a well-planned marketing strategy that hits all major holidays in different ways.

cable and print.” Magnesen hypothesizes that this split is about 25 percent in each category. “We are very fortunate we have been in the market so long and in radio.” The way in which Sound Warehouse utilizes radio advertising is very efficient, and they are in a good geographic area for radio, according to Magnesen. The business has found what works and what doesn’t, and in the course of a year, Sound Warehouse will run as many as 15 different advertising campaigns. “Some will be seasonal,” Magnesen said, referencing the “Max Your Tax” promotions set up by MESA. “And some we just pick a good time to do them.” Although plans are made carefully for each part of the year, the campaigns are always tweaked along the way for effectiveness. “If the numbers are disappointing, we change it,” Magnesen said. “We will sit down somewhere in December and lay out next year. I will know our ad campaign for all of next year. We do it campaign by campaign. Sometimes we have one in a month or three in a 30 day period. It’s a lot of work, but once we’ve done it a lot, you can kind of repeat it a little bit.” Facing and Overcoming Challenges In the mountainous area of Pottsville, Penn., 12-Volt Dave’s Car Audio—a

single location retailer—has the good fortune of being the only mobile electronics place around. Owner Dave Clews noted the weather has also impacted his business, much as it has for Extreme Audio in Virginia. “Under typical weather conditions, in mid-September we start promoting remote starts,” Clews explained. “But we’re averaging 20-plus degrees above normal temperatures right now.” The unseasonable warmth means less people are thinking about remote starts for their vehicles. However, despite the decrease in remote starts, Clews said the business will be ready when the time comes. The shop has been at the same location for 16 years, and Clews himself has been in the industry for over 30 years. “If you wait for when you have to scrape the ice off your car windshield, you’re going to wait to get into my shop,” he warned. If customers don’t get into the shop early enough, when colder temperatures hit in November and December, the shop will be so busy that clients will have to wait two or more weeks to get their vehicles in. “[Business isn’t] where it should be, but it’s not bad if I weigh it against the temperatures,” Clews added. For a business with more than one location, a main challenge is always staffing. “Typically it’s just a manpower sort of thing,” said Bartells of Extreme

Audio. With only one store—such as in the case of 12-Volt Dave’s—an owner can always fall back on themselves. But with more than one location, “You can’t be in two places at once,” Bartells added. “You have to make sure you have a good staff.” Despite best intentions, all businesses come up against difficulties. Promotions are no different. “The main focus is try not to repeat the mistake,” Magnesen said. “We try to keep the stores current with product and up to date and keep everything centered around our campaign so everyone knows what we are doing.” For Sound Warehouse’s three locations, communication can sometimes be a challenge. For stores that are considering expanding into more than one location, it’s advisable that modes and frequency of communication be considered by management. Magnesen said things happen: Someone might forget to open their email, for example, or they might have a personal issue to deal with. “It always gives us something to work on,” he added. Other challenges include keeping track of inventory and getting product to each of the stores. However, Magnesen stated that the stores themselves are in geographically good areas, so they are able to streamline their advertising. “We can run a radio ad and share it between the three stores,” he said. “Whatever the disadvantages are [when it comes to having multiple locations], I think they are made up by being able to buy heavier volume and advertise between three stores.” Executing the Plan Although Clews widens his focus to increase spending on advertising and stay visible, he doesn’t use any other specific tactic for seasonal planning. A business’s approach to staying visible depends on many things, including location. When it’s time to begin executing a plan, retailers should stay vigilant, as it may become necessary to tweak certain aspects of an advertising campaign or try something new if it doesn’t work as well as anticipated.   45

 strategy & tactics “We promote everything,” Magnesen of Sound Warehouse said. “Package systems primarily. We do a lot with either straight woofers in boxes or straight woofers in boxes with amplifiers. We are going to push in-dash multimedia very heavily, some NAV very heavily, and some basic in dash decks. Everything.” When it comes to Black Friday promotions, Magnesen stated that the most effective thing the business can do is have strong prices. “We have to compete. And we do,” he said. The business is now entering the time of year when remote starts will be pushed heavily, as well. “So far, we haven’t had that cold weather. We need some below freezing, we need windshield scraping, but we haven’t gotten cold yet, just very brisk. Once people have to scrape the windshield, and we get snow on the ground, then it starts going.” At 12-Volt Dave’s, mid-November sees the increase of promotions for Extreme Audio, which has two Black Friday as the business carries out its advertising plans. “On Small locations, works hard to promote Business Saturday, I’ll have a live radio remote broadcast from my shop. sales throughout the year, as well as That always seems to work some,” Clews said regarding another avenue of the different work it can do, as seen exposure. “I’m in a small town area. There’re still a lot of radio listeners. I here with a golf cart, motorcycle try to keep up with all the trends.” Some have said Clews is lucky to be in a and boat (bottom) and blog post on small town where he can corner the market. “It has its benefits, but I don’t remote starts (top). have the numbers that someone in a much bigger area has.”

46  Mobile Electronics December 2017

To help generate business during the holidays, Sound Warehouse of Utah pushes promotions like its Giving Thanks sale. The business doesn’t run many specials around Christmas, however, because they are already busy and limited on staff. “If we did do discounts, it would create issues in taking care of regular customers who are paying full price already,” Bartells added. “The type of customer we attract during our normal means is the same type of customer [at both stores]. I think a lot of that is our marketing. That attracts a certain

type of client—medium to high-end. We aren’t a niche location. We do a lot of traditional retail. Our clients are more concerned with the customer service aspect.” Staying Relevant A shop in any area, regardless of how much or how little competition exists nearby, should focus on being a positive source of information for potential clients. “Maintaining a good reputation

and still being around is important,” Clews said. To execute successful end of year sales tactics, Magnesen advised business owners to have a plan. “That way, you’ve got the support materials in the way of marketing.” If the shop is running a sale on amps, Sound Warehouse has to be prepared with the merchandise. “We make sure all our price tags and banners and signs match. We also do a lot of off-site promo where we set up with staff and tents and demo cars.” The business does about 12 of these shows per year. “That’s where we harvest email addresses and get time with people,” creating the kind of visibility that keeps the brand top-of-mind. Spending any downtime perfecting policies and procedures is also important. “Make sure that even on the slow days, you’re operating as if it’s a busy day so that you’re prepared for when it does get busy,” Bartells said. “It shouldn’t be something you’re trying to figure out at the last second.”

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 tech today

All Mixed Up

Andy Wehmeyer concludes the series on upmixers with expanded ideas on the process and how to maximize sound output with this unique concept. 48  Mobile Electronics December 2017

the recording space will extend past the boundaries of the car. Second, upmixers are designed to work on regular stereo recordings— multi-channel content is not required nor is it supported by upmixers. An upmixer converts a two-channel recording into more channels to enhance imaging and spatial performance. The confusion surrounding the second point is well-founded and exacerbated by the habitual use of “surround sound.” To elucidate, I offer a brief history. There are two basic kinds of surround sound available in the consumer electronics market. For this discussion, we’re going to ignore the recent additions of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. At the beginning of surround sound, movies were played back over 70mm tape at the theater. That 70mm tape included six audio tracks and the remixer—the person who designed the sound for the movie—could place sounds discretely in each of those six tracks. The content on those six tracks changed over time from five front channels and a surround channel to the 5.1 channel configuration that’s common today. Dolby Labs didn’t invent this technology, but they refined it. The Dolby version was called 6-Track Dolby Stereo, and it was first used in the movie “Logan’s Run” in 1976.



n last month’s article, David MacKinnon gave us a primer on upmixers and he wrote about two different types of upmixers—matrix and non-matrix. Before we get started here, I want to clear up a couple of misconceptions about upmixing. First, the objectives for systems that include upmixers are the same as the objectives for high end stereo systems: There should be a wide stage with a stable center image; instruments and vocals should be placed across the front stage as the recording engineer intended; and ideally, the sense of

The objectives for car audio should be the same as those for high-end home audio. The objective of the technology was to enhance the movie watching experience by increasing realism and to provide a similar experience for moviegoers seated in different positions. No matter where you sit in the theater, when someone on

screen is talking, the dialogue should be anchored at the screen. Other sounds, like planes flying overhead or the sounds of being chased through the woods by an axe-wielding murderer are more realistic when they can be presented in 3-D with some sounds coming from behind you, some from the sides, and some from the front. All of these sounds were and are designed by the remixer for playback over a surround system in the theater.

The VCR needed to use encoding because it only had two audio tracks. Playback of 70mm film at home wasn’t practical. The equipment was big and expensive. Movies at home were most often played back on VHS tapes. There are only two tracks on a VHS tape rather than the six tracks on 70mm. A solution was needed to provide enhanced realism for movies at home. This was the beginning of upmixing. An upmixer would allow a surround recording to be designed for two tracks that would play back in full surround over a speaker system set up in someone’s living room or home theater. Dolby Surround debuted in 1982 and was designed specifically for the purpose of putting a surround encoded movie soundtrack on the two channels available on VHS and Betamax tapes. Encoding the signal onto the two tracks was straightforward. The rear surround (in the original Dolby Surround there was only one rear channel and no center channel) was encoded by placing sounds for the rear in the two channels with the polarity of one channel of the rear signal reversed. The Dolby Surround decoder extracted the   49

 tech today out-of-phase information and sent it to the rear speaker or speakers. High-end audiophiles hated Dolby Surround when they used it for music listening because it caused some frequency response coloration and unwanted phase effects when it was used on many stereo music recordings. What happened in the rear speakers wasn’t designed in the recording, like it was for movies, so audio purists wrote it off as a gimmick and maligned the technology. Five years later, in 1987, Dolby Labs debuted Dolby Pro Logic. Pro Logic included a center channel intended to improve the performance for listeners

on the stage just right of center, the rear speakers and the left front speaker would be attenuated and the level of the center and the front right speaker would be increased. In 2000, Dolby Labs purchased an invention from Jim Fosgate that became Dolby Pro Logic II. Dolby PL II improved the performance of rear surrounds by extracting separate left and right rear channels. This was intended to combat the recent inclusion among consumer audio companies of DSP algorithms designed to mimic the acoustics of a church, a hall, a stadium or a jazz club. Additionally, Dolby PL II included

The work of Jim Fosgate was focused around creating more realistic sound. in more than one listening position. The signal for the center speaker was recorded exactly the same in the left and the right channels and included the same encoded rear surround channel. Pro Logic also included automatic gain controls for all of the speakers that would increase and decrease the channel levels to direct the sound toward the front, rear, enter right or left. The processor would compute a steering angle and the level controls were adjusted rapidly to enhance channel separation—to improve the front stage width despite the summed center channel signal. For example, if the steering angle computer identified a sound intended to come from a point

50  Mobile Electronics December 2017

a music mode which provided some optimized channel delays and user controls for adjustment of the front sound stage. This was intended to appeal to audiophiles. Alternate algorithms began to pop up from other audio companies—DTS, SRS and Harman all developed some variant of this matrix processor and other processor types designed to improve spaciousness and believability and to improve the performance of front stage imaging for more than one listening position. None of this should be confused for or conflated with discrete surround, which places sounds in individual tracks or streams on a multi-channel

recording medium, like a 70 or 35mm tape or on a DVD. Discrete surround is different, despite being marketed under the same brand names. Dolby Digital (discrete surround) and Dolby PL II (upmixer) are as different as Coke and Sprite, despite coming from the same company. Main Benefits For cars, the main benefits of upmixing make sense and are intended to outperform traditional stereo systems for a couple of obvious reasons. First, no listener is seated in the sweet spot—directly in between the two front speakers. In a typical stereo system, the center image depends on a precise frequency response, level and phase match between the front left and right speakers for good performance in only one seat. A similar image in the other seat isn’t possible using EQ and delay. The center speaker and the upmixer’s front signal steering eliminates this problem because the center image is placed in a speaker located in the center of the dash. Second, the car is too small to reproduce a believable sense of space contained in the recording. Think about this: Why do many of the audiophile labels, like Mapleshade, record musical events in a residential living room? Because audiophiles listen to systems in similar rooms. Two speakers in a room the size of the original recording space are sufficient to reproduce a live two-track recording made in a similar space. Cars are too small to reproduce this effectively and for recordings designed to sound like they were made in an even larger space, a believable reproduction isn’t possible. Rear speakers and the right processing can enhance this performance, too. Late reflections and ambient signals can be placed in the rear speakers in a way that enhances the performance rather than detracting from it as simple stereo rear speakers often do. Correctly processed rear channel signals help rather than hurt the performance of the system. Upmixing is a tool designed to


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Once you have found the Educar Facebook page, look to the left to find the link marked “Files.” enhance the performance of stereo recordings and it’s especially well-suited to car audio. While there aren’t many upmixing options currently available in the aftermarket, many premium OE systems already include this technology. Bose Centerpoint is an upmixer. Harman’s Logic7 and QLS are upmixers. DTS Neural is an upmixer. If you’re working on an expensive car with a premium branded audio system and it has a center speaker, it probably includes an upmixer. Not all upmixers are created equal. Of course, Dolby PL II was originally intended for movies, but it works well for music in cars. Some listeners complain about the signal sent to rear speakers in upmixers originally intended for movies. Consequently, there are several new upmixers that treat rear speakers differently; these often have fewer artifacts and sound more like stereo with a bit of additional stage depth and width. That’s totally in keeping with our objectives for better performance in the aftermarket. Proper Imaging As David mentioned in last month’s article, there’s a document in the files section of the Educar Integration forum on Facebook. It’s called “Instructions for Upmixer Test Disc and Upmixer Tuning New Link.” Download that document. In

the document, there’s a link for some audio tracks that go with the instructions. With these tools and a little practice, you’ll be able to quickly figure out what you’re working with using an objective process that’s designed to provide a useful evaluation of the factory installed system. “This system sucks” is not a useful evaluation. In the aftermarket, most of us agree that the center image should be in the center of the dash. There are a few people who believe that the center should be in front of the driver. This same disagreement exists among people who build OE audio systems. Some of them believe there should be a center image directly in front of the driver and a symmetrical image in front of the passenger. If you listen to a factory system and you hear an image in front of the driver and a symmetrical image in front of the passenger, this isn’t a mistake. It’s also not a disaster and it’s easy to improve. In OE systems that include an upmixer, there may be a defeat command in the factory radio. Be careful. It may not do what you think it should. In many cases, turning off “surround” may reduce the level of the rear speakers or it may change the signal that’s sent to the rear speakers to reduce the ambient effect. The upmixer’s processing

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Engaging the client by having them test the system with you is a great way to educate them and to determine their expectations.

for the front, along with the center speaker, is used to provide an image for the passenger and the driver at the same time and that feature may not be defeated. If it isn’t completely defeated, then the center speaker should be retained—without it and without the center signal, some of the music may be missing

from the left and the right channels. If the factory system includes an upmixer and there’s no adapter or integration device that can intercept the signal before the amplifier, then I suggest keeping the upmixer. I also suggest asking your customer to help you with the evaluation using the test disc. That process may help

to educate him about the system in his car and help you determine what he likes and dislikes about the system. He may want you to keep the upmixer once he knows he has it. Keeping it Factory If you decide to keep it, the upgrade process is different than what you’re used to doing when you build a highend two-channel system. The basic rules are the same—upgrade the front speakers and the sub. In an upmixed system, the center speaker should be upgraded along with the front left and right. Install new front speakers, add an amplifier and a DSP that will allow you to pass all the front channels through, without summing. For this upgrade, we just want to be able to apply better equalization and more power. Don’t sum anything, unless you must change the front speaker configuration. It’s likely that the factory crossovers are at useable frequencies and if they are, there’s no

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reason to change them. Also, don’t use any delay in the DSP that you add. The front signal steering is intended to replace delay as a solution for imaging. Adding delay will just screw things up. In an upmixed system, front imaging is adjusted using channel level, not delays. Once the new speakers, amps and a DSP are installed, equalize the front left, front right and the center separately. When you EQ the driver’s side speakers, put the microphone in the driver’s seat. Also, put the mic in the driver’s seat when you EQ the center speaker. Finally, when you EQ the passenger’s side speakers, put the mic in the passenger’s seat. To adjust and fine tune the image, use the seven drum beats track on the old IASCA CD or the left to right imaging tracks on the upmixer test disc (available via link in the document mentioned above) or the imaging test tracks on the Audiofrog tuning CD. Start in the driver’s seat and listen for the image to move across the dash

evenly. Turn the center channel up until the center image is in the center and becomes as loud as the left and right. You can set the position of the center left and center right images by increasing or decreasing the level of the center channel and the front left and right. More center will move the

The Educar Facebook page contains a wealth of knowledge on integration and tuning. left center and right center toward the center and less center will move those images outward. Once you get it right in the driver’s seat, move to the

passenger’s seat and repeat. When the center and the front speakers are set at the right level, the image will be similar in the driver’s side and passenger’s seat. If your customer insists on spending more money and wants to upgrade the sides and or rear, use the same process for those. Replace the speakers, add amps and DSP. Adjust the level of the rear speakers until the front stage seems deeper and wider. At the point at which you can hear the rear speakers distinctly, turn them down a little. They should add ambience, stage width and depth, but you shouldn’t hear their locations. If you want to try this, join the Educar Integration and Acoustics group on Facebook and look in the files section for the document. Or, if Facebook isn’t your idea of fun, send me an email: I’ll send you the document and the link for the audio files. Happy tuning!

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They need the protection of The Judge by   53

 installs

Submitted by Brandon Green, The Car Audio Shop, High Ridge, Mo. As an MECP Master Certified technician, Green used his expertise to make this 2014 Bentley Flying Spur installation “loud and fun,” in preparation for the St. Louis European Auto Show, which is held at the beginning of June every year. With only a couple weeks to get the car built for the show, there was limited time to get all the product to the shop, some of which had to come directly from Italy. The team began by dismantling the vehicle and prepping all doors and interior surfaces with SoundSkins Pro and then began testing signals. The non-Naim audio system gave them four fullrange variable outputs directly out of the deck and allowed them to bypass the factory amp without any other issues. The speakers were all placed in factory locations with foam rings and some HPDE baffles as needed; the dash tweeters proved to be the most challenging and took six hours of work. Parts installed included an Arc Audio PS8 DSP and PSC, Audio Development T100 tweeters and W600 mid bass for the front stage, Audio Development Q15CG HT coaxials for the rear doors, three Audio Development Vipera F12 subwoofers, Sinfoni Allegro, Presto and Grave amplifiers throughout the vehicle and a large stack of Stinger 9000 Series Interconnects.

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Submitted by Mike Schwitz, Sound Connection, Inc., Waite Park, Minn. PHOTOS BY ALEXIS SCHWITZ

Installer Mike Schwitz keeps busy creating custom builds for others, but wanted to make sure he turned his attention towards home for once. “All too often as installers and fabricators we have trouble finding the time to do anything in our own or significant others vehicles,” Schwitz said. “My wife has numerous systems over the years, but my skills have progressed and I wanted to make this one extra special.” His wife’s 2004 Volkswagen Golf was outfitted with a new Alpine CDA-9887 single-DIN receiver, Arc Audio XDi 805 mini 5-channel amplifier, Hertz HSK 165 6.5-inch 2-way hi-energy component speakers in the front stage and a pair of JL Audio 8W3v3-4 subwoofer drivers were chosen for the mounting depth and performance. To make the new speakers fit, cast acrylic adapters were fabricated. The adapters and speakers were mounted with threaded inserts, machine hardware and F.A.S.T. rings. Since the tweeters didn’t fit behind the factory grills in the sail panels, custom sails had to be fabricated. The vehicle, nicknamed “Slug,” competed at Slamology and took home two first-place trophies and a 2nd place.

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Closed for Business There are many things to consider when deciding whether to close up shop for good or continue the good fight. This is a topic, that at some time, every business owner will face. Should you continue trying to grow your business, or should you close up shop and find something else to do? Over the years I’ve had this conversation with many business owners. Usually during times of financial struggles and/or times that staffing, product changes or market forces cause them to rethink their business strategy. It is a tough conversation for any entrepreneur that takes pride in their success. However, just because you take the time to contemplate the viability of your business, does not mean that you are somehow struggling. When contemplating your future, it is a good practice to phone a friend, or speak with others in the mobile electronics community. They may have faced and overcome some of the same issues you’re confronting.

Identifying the Issues The first step is to identify the why. What made you stop and consider? Was it just a bad day or a series of events that led you to pause and review? Regardless, spend the time to step away from the problem and take simple steps to identify what went wrong. A common issue is a steady decline of customers. This leads to reduced income, expenses that quickly become out of balance and stress on both you and your team. One way to avoid this issue creeping up on you is to have a system to track your business performance. Knowing your year-over-year performance as well as your expectations for the current period will go a long way. This allows you to build key performance indicators (KPI’s) to monitor or measure your business. Next, look at the obvious. Is there a product category or specific product that has less demand and/or profit? Is there a competitor that is running a promotion or prodding you to join the race to zero? Once you identify the contributing factors, look in the mirror. Make sure you are not part of the problem. If you have lost the passion for what you do, then it may be time to move on or replace yourself with someone that has the passion to succeed. Don’t be reluctant to let someone else drive for a while. It may be the break you need to re-focus.

Reviewing the Opportunities If Plan A is not working, what is your Plan B? You must be able to answer the question “Are you selling things that people want at a price that they can afford and find value? Are you getting the word out? Does your community know who you are and what you can do for them?” Marketing is more than a Facebook page. Marketing should be executing a preconceived plan to get the word out. If you can identify that you are still able to maintain and/or grow your 58  Mobile Electronics  December 2017

business, then you owe it to yourself and your team to make it happen. During your review, take the time to look at each category of your business to determine its performance. Also Chris Cook, President take some time to look at new categories that you may have been avoiding or just didn’t make the commitment to when you started. The safety category comes to mind. Again, look for the obvious. Are you focusing your efforts on categories that are known to be in decline in both sales and profit? If so, are there other areas you could focus that could bring increase to your business? If so, create a plan to make it happen. Get advice from others that are doing well and apply it to your business.

Moving On or Moving Forward By now you should have enough information to at the least make an informed decision. Is it time to close the doors, sell your business or put someone else in the leadership position? Don’t make light of this decision. If you’re deep in the throes of an issue that has taken all your collective energy, it may be better to make this decision when you are in a better state of mind. Step away for a few days so you can make an informed decision. If the information you have gathered during your identification and review motivates you to move forward, then take a few days away to create a plan.

Taking Action You have identified the issues, reviewed current and new opportunities and know if you are moving on or moving forward. If you are moving on, do it gracefully and do your best not to let emotion play a part in your next steps. Don’t take it as a personal failure. Look at it as an opportunity to do something better. Make an inventory of lessons learned. If you are moving forward, then a plan of action is your top priority. No one knows your business better than you. Put your plan in place and act, moving forward to a new level of success. If you have the opportunity, make plans to participate in an upcoming KnowledgeFest event. These events are designed to educate, inform and empower you to reach the next level. The education workshops are taught by those that have been where you have been and learned to overcome and grow their businesses to the next level.

VOXX is delivering more choices in device connectivity, more capability to enhance entertainment and more value than ever before. Our NEW Overhead and Headrest systems incorporate certified HDMI/MHL inputs, giving the user direct connection to any HDMI/MHL enabled device: smart phones, tablets, even Smart-TV devices such as Roku, Chromecast and Amazon FireTV Smart Sticks. VOXX Mobile Video products make your entertainment possibilities endless, delivering high-definition content and the best quality in sound. VOXX Mobile Video Systems offer the latest technology enhancements, giving users optimized features and functionality that fits into a more convenient lifestyle.

“Tops and Trends has had great success with Voxx mobile video products. Car Dealerships may tell you the mobile video category is stagnant due to handheld mobile devices, however we disagree. Mobile video preload programs work when sales staff are properly educated, vehicles properly displayed and customers encouraged to view a demonstration. We find consumers are excited about SmartTV and web streaming functionality that allows for expanded in vehicle viewing options that were previously unavailable. The relatively low increase in monthly payment makes this an easy up sell.” - Joey Johnson

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Mobile Electronics Magazine - December 2017  

Mobile Electronics Magazine - December 2017 The Industry's #1 Resource