KnowledgeFest Indy: Picking up the Pace! High-traffic show floor and packed classes mark the 4th annualÂ event Â
PLUS: Mobile Solutions: Better Professionals, One Class at a Time Profitability: KnowledgeFest Class Shows 5 Steps to Growth KnowledgeFest: Can We Make it Better?
Laying the Groundwork Lots of staff training and a methodical approach deliver a growth pattern for George Smith and Mobileworks/Tintworks
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Volume 36 // Issue 4
Ad Index Accele Electronics...................................... p. 2 & 3 Alpine..........................................................................p. 7 Businessworx.....................................................p. 35 Firstech...................................................................p. 59 Harman...................................................................p. 27 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 47 JL Audio .....................................................................p. 5 MEA .........................................................................p. 35 Focal..........................................................................p. 13 Rockford Fosgate................................................p. 11 Rocky Mountain Radar ........................ p. 44-45 SiriusXM ................................................................ p. 12 Sony .......................................................................... p. 9 SounDigital ......................................................... p. 37 VAIS Technology................................................p. 33 Voxx Electronics............................................... p. 60
42 FEATURED STORIES 14// What’s Happening: KnowledgeFest Indianapolis At this year’s KnowledgeFest, OEM integration and DSP were main focus points while numerous classes and manufacturer trainings on branding, profitability and more were well-attended.
28// Real World Retail: Mobileworks / Tintworks After many lessons learned, George Smith created strategic plans for his business to protect its future. Mobileworks / Tintworks continues to grow through strong friendships within the industry, while Smith aspires to give back by sharing his knowledge.
38// The Support Team: Mobile Solutions
Bryan Schmitt, president of Mobile Solutions, motivates and inspires by offering training for technicians, fabricators and installers.
42// Strategy and Tactics, Peer Series: Kingpin University Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University shares five steps to increase profitability, including discussing labor and tickets.
48// Tech Today: Two Years of Tech In this anniversary issue, Joey Knapp discusses some of the topics that have been covered over the last two years—including false floors, integrated design and footwell enclosures.
On the Cover
COVER DESIGN: ANA RAMIREZ
George Smith has taken what he’s learned over the years and applied it to Mobileworks / Tintworks. With strategic planning, George and his wife, Kim, safeguard their futures as well as the future of their business. This month, we chose to feature Mobileworks / Tintworks on the cover. Read their story and learn more about how they operate in this issue.
4 Mobile Electronics
54 6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 10 Statistic 12 Helpful Stuff 14 What’s Happening 20 Retail News/ Who’s Who 24 Hot Sellers 28 Real World Retail 38 The Support Team 42 Strategy and Tactics 48 Tech Today 54 Installs 58 From the President
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Campfires and Kumbaya KnowledgeFest was great. But we can all make it better. The first KnowledgeFest was awe-inspiring in that it was the first attempt to make an industry out of a collection of retailers and installers with widely varying knowledge, practices and skill sets. The show floor was a series of tables that created vendor parity while classrooms taught product-agnostic business and technical classes. Today, we’ve been able to keep the focus on learning while letting vendors invest more in their brands through their show floor presence, and the show has grown in both size and value. But it doesn’t mean KnowledgeFest is perfect, or that it has fully realized its potential. I believe KnowledgeFest needs to make another evolutionary step to achieve its mission to better our industry. KnowledgeFest needs a more driven agenda that delivers a cohesive experience rather than a collection of options. In it, everyone gets to experience everything, and attendees learn their industry, not just the products they sell. Here are my thoughts. Beer … and possibly Bingo. The “Beer ‘N’ Biz” segments keep attendees engaged on the show floor while creating a more relaxed atmosphere. But it’s really been the same as the rest of the show floor time ... only with beer. Let’s save the “Biz” for the remaining days and make opening night into a “Welcome to KnowledgeFest” celebration with games or contests. (One thing’s for sure: no one has to bring the music!) Bring back the State of the Industry. It’s important to communicate exactly where we are as an industry, especially compared to the complementary and competitive industries that vie for our customer base. We need a session that combines data from the consumer electronics industry with closer-to-home numbers that reflect specialist sales. This will provide a comprehensive, global outlook that retailers need. Make classes cumulative. We’ve been fortunate to have fantastic instructors who are highly respected in their fields. But with the current structure, many students only attend the popular subjects or end up with differing views based on the experiences of different instructors. We need to move from a single-class model to a course model in which classes are grouped together by subject and each either differs from, or improves upon, the last. Attendees will then select courses rather than classes, and receive certificates for completion.
6 Mobile Electronics April 2018
Add small-group roundtables. Networking is another of the core benefits of KnowledgeFest, and the event should encourage opportunities to expose attendees to new people, ideas and information. Sessions in which groups of eight to 10 people sit together and discuss planned topics allow people to give their opinions and make connections in intimate settings. Emphasize in-store training and marketing. The mostheard complaints of retailers are the lack of qualified personnel and lack of marketing expertise, respectively. Every KnowledgeFest needs standing instruction for owners on how to set up and manage an effective in-store training program that identifies promising candidates and elevates them to the level of team contribution. In addition, a course for owners and managers should cover branding, merchandising, store campaigns, email marketing, advertising and social media. And finally, cater to future owners. Our industry needs to push a path of growth. Installers and managers who become
“KnowledgeFest needs a more driven agenda that delivers a cohesive experience rather than a collection of options. In it, everyone gets to experience everything, and attendees learn their industry, not just the products they sell.” burned out either go to the supply side or leave the industry altogether. We need a dedicated session open to anyone, at any level, who wants to know what it takes to own the store. Whether you agree or disagree with these suggestions, we all look down the same road with a fork that leads to growth through change and innovation, or demise through complacency and obsolescence. The only way we survive as an industry is if we all make an investment beyond our brands and stores, and work to create better professionals. To do this, KnowledgeFest attendees must attain a more global view of the industry that provides for them, as well as their role and opportunities within it.
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LEARN AND GROW
ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 978.645.6457 • firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 978.645.6463 • email@example.com Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.
Published by TM
Those who attended KnowledgeFest in Indianapolis found the classes helpful and engaging. Jon Kowanetz suggests retailers project themselves as businesspeople for the best results, while Chris Bennett stated that the education offered at KnowledgeFest is just what manufacturers—and the industry—really need in order to accomplish their goals. “My favorite part of Indy KnowledgeFest is getting back in touch with the rest of the industry, talking shop, and getting that fire built back up inside of me to go home and do big things.” Aaron Garcia, Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security, Anchorage, Alaska “[The class ‘Branding Your Business and Yourself!’] confirmed for me that we are on the right track. There were many similarities between our organization and the presenter’s.” Anonymous “Over the last few years, so much has happened and the education provided during KnowledgeFest is key to what we need to accomplish as a manufacturer.” Chris Bennett, Director of Sales, AudioControl “Ken [Ward] did an excellent job conveying the information and keeping us engaged. I very much enjoyed his class.” Anonymous “Going to KnowledgeFest and taking some classes from people who are considerably smarter than I am taught me to start being a businessman and not just a technician who happens to be running a business.” Jon Kowanetz, Handcrafted Car Audio, Chandler, Ariz.
8 Mobile Electronics
mobile electronics association
Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • firstname.lastname@example.org Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • email@example.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • email@example.com 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
Exciting new products for every customer. NG MI ! CO AY M IN
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www.sony.com ©2017 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Android Auto workswith devices using Android 5.0 software or higher. Some devices may not yet support Android Auto, see the Google site for the latest list of compatible devices. Android Auto and its logo are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and newer phones. Apple CarPlay and its logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. Features and speciﬁcations are subject to change without notice.
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helpful stuff Book:
Own The Day, Own Your Life aubreymarcus.com/pages/own-the-day Founder and CEO of Onnit, Aubrey Marcus, has a personal and professional mission that rests on one question: How can we get the most out of our body and mind on a daily basis? He answers this in his first book, Own the Day, Own Your Life. According to Marcus, one day of positive choices creates a lifetime of concrete strategies for better living and optimal performance. This motivating read guides you through each moment from when you wake, to how you work and relax, until you retire at the end of the night. With actionable changes, Marcus says you will feel better, perform more efficiently and live happier. These become daily habits that turn into weekly routines and support a lifetime of healthy choices. Whether it’s a workout, diet, or shower temperature (really?) this manual helps you make the most of each day. Said Marcus, “I’m not a neurotic brainiac biohacker. I’m a guy who’s dedicated his life to optimizing the total human experience. This book is designed to give you the map to help you become more capable. Maybe that is to play a sport, have incredible sex, hike a mountain, find mental clarity, connect with your family. Whatever it is, this will make you more capable. That’s why this book is for everyone. That’s why this book is for you.”
Sites To See:
Time is limited for many of us. It’s work, sleep, repeat. But taking a few minutes to recharge and read this motivational blog is worth some time each week. There are tons of short reads on topics like “Stuck In Your Comfort Zone” or “It’s Not About The Goal: Sometimes It’s About the Journey,” or “Mindfulness For Beginners.” Founded in April of 2011 by Australian entrepreneur, coach and author Joel Brown, it is designed to empower and inspire with its motivational videos, interviews, audio and more, with entrepreneurs, life coaches, celebrities and inspirational people from all over the world.
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12 Mobile Electronics April 2018
App: SleepCycle https://www.sleepcycle.com/ It can be jarring to have an alarm go off in the morning even if you have yours set to some funky light jazz tones or new age waterfall sounds on your smartphone. While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night. This app is an intelligent alarm clock that analyzes your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase so that you get up more naturally and feel rested instead of jolted. It uses sound analysis sleep tracking (your phone’s microphone and accelerometer, which detects your phone’s movements) to track your sleep through sound and movement, then wakes you in your lightest sleep phase near to your alarm time.
Spring is the ideal time to do a serious clean-up and clean-out—at home, in your shop, or in the office. Sometimes there’s so much stuff that it is easier to have a company come and haul it all away. 1-800-GOT-JUNK handles the tough stuff and makes sure your junk is recycled, donated, or disposed of responsibly. Whether it’s old furniture, appliances, electronics or yard waste that you need to have picked up and taken away, this national full-service company can assist. Book a no-obligation appointment online or by phone. The company prices on volume. When they arrive, they provide you with an all-inclusive price and, if you’re good to go, your junk is gone!
Providing a High Level of Service The theme of this year’s Indianapolis KnowledgeFest was OEM integration, branding and profitability, while DSP took the forefront of the discussion as retailers discussed the future of 12-volt. Meanwhile, industry veterans shared advice on how to apply knowledge and lessons learned back at the shop. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
14 Mobile Electronics
Providing a High Level of Service
One of the most valuable things you can do at KnowledgeFest is network. Meeting other mobile electronics professionals and sharing information helps to bring the industry as a whole to the next level.
On the first day of KnowledgeFest, attendees waited for the show floor to open. For newcomers, the crowds and classes, activities and trainings might have seemed overwhelming. There was a lot to do and even more to learn—but those who’ve attended many previous shows advise retailers to take notes, record trainings to listen again later, and don’t try to make too many changes at once upon returning to work. At the Indianapolis Convention Center, crowds spread across the wide hallway while people lined up to check in and get their conference badges. On the event floor, some exhibitors displayed brands that were recently unveiled or set to be released in the next few months. Many attendees had been to the event before. For some, it was a first-time experience. Wes Tyson, owner of Wet Audio & Accessories in Columbus, Ohio
was there for his first KnowledgeFest, as well as to unveil an exciting build on a 2007 Jeep that he and two team members completed in 13 days. Memphis Audio sponsored the project. “As a business owner, KnowledgeFest is a must,” Tyson said. “Just when you think you know everything about the mobile electronics industry, you realize there’s so much more to learn. I will definitely be attending from now on. I’ve met some great people and had a great time.” On the show floor, many reps were available to answer questions and offer information. Chris Bennett, director of sales at AudioControl, noted that the crowds seemed brimming with excitement. “What stood out was how many techs came by the booth four or five times asking better and better integration questions with each visit,” he said.
Retailers socialized and shared information throughout the convention. The energy and atmosphere within meeting rooms and on the show floor was contagious. This year’s Indianapolis event offered many classes and manufacturer trainings from companies such as Illusion Audio, Wet Sounds, Alpine and more— along with the exciting unveiling of a new line of amplifiers from JL Audio.
The Future of the Industry Leaning Heavily into DSP Classes were well-attended as students learned about how to better understand their store numbers, building a sellable business and how to focus on what’s important to clients. A class on essential tests for OEM audio integration, taught by Ken Ward of Educar, explored focus points when integrating with OEM systems. Since OEM integration can prove facebook.com/MobileElectronics
16 Mobile Electronics
Providing a High Level of Service
what’s happening Fostering mutual support and sharing information between retailers and manufacturers is an essential part of running a successful business.
unpredictable, the class helped attendees work through any difficulties to increase profitability in their stores. More emphasis was placed on integration and DSP. At the Town Hall and Keynote event on Saturday evening, a panel of industry professionals agreed that DSP will be an integral part of the future of car audio. VOXX Electronics offered training on installation techniques relating to MECP certification, which proved to be a useful overview, as well, for anyone who needed a refresher course. This review of basic techniques and discussion of modules and Flash Logic ended with a short certification quiz. Among all the new products being showcased on the event floor, Manville Smith of JL Audio made a special announcement to reveal the company’s new line of amplifiers with integrated DSP, once again showing that the industry is leaning more and more in the direction of high-resolution audio.
18 Mobile Electronics
“This is a product that we feel will make a ton of sense to retailers and consumers. It’s a product that will help simplify achieving great audio in the car,” Smith said. “We worked closely with a company called AKM to develop the core DSP technology. […] They worked with our engineers to create a customized triple core DSP that is [central] to this product.” During the Town Hall discussion, Christerfer Pate, of Mobile Toys Inc., and Chris Cope both echoed the belief that “DSP will be the future.”
Progress Through the Experiences of Others A number of workshops were offered that focused on profitability, branding, installation techniques, designing the in-car sound stage and much more. Manufacturer trainings took up the rest of the time, and the show floor then opened to showcase new products and allow business owners, installers and
others to talk with reps. Josh Landau, system design consultant of JML Audio in St. Louis, taught a class on Integrated Radar and Laser defense on Friday morning. “The best thing a student can do is to progress and learn through the experiences of others,” Landau said. “To not make the same mistakes that others have already made. As a community, we want to continue to serve our clients at an even higher level. Going from a student to ultimately becoming a teacher is the goal.” Discussions also touched on how customers are treated in the retail world and why this needs to continue to improve. Customers need to feel important and their needs must be met in a way that fulfills them. As the Internet dominates the retail world, it’s important to keep in mind that clients walk into retail stores because they are looking for help from a real live person. “They see value in a person to person interaction,” said Jon Kowanetz of
Providing a High Level of Service Handcrafted Car Audio in Chandler, Ariz. While customers know they can buy online, they are instead going into a physical location with a purpose—to get assistance from someone they can connect with on a personal level. As these trends continue, Kowanetz added, businesses will need to ensure clients are shown as much respect as possible. Making a personal connection with anyone who comes into the business should always be a prime focus. “That’s one of the things we’re always striving to improve at my store.” Jason Kranitz has been coming to KnowledgeFest since 2007, and stated that he always learns a lot that he can use to improve things at his store. “I feel that the day you stop learning is the day you start to die,” he said. “Now, I don’t get to attend a lot of classes, but just with talking to people, I pick up little items here and there that definitely make an improvement.” With so many workshops and trainings to attend, KnowledgeFest can feel overwhelming. The instinct may be to attempt to apply as many new techniques as possible when returning to work. Instead, retailers advise making small steps in order to ensure that real change takes place.
Focus On Three Main Changes to Implement After KnowledgeFest Because the schedule was packed
with so many classes and trainings, it was hard to decide what to do first. In the halls, friends and colleagues chatted between workshops about what they’d learned. Those who were new to KnowledgeFest might have felt as if they needed to apply as much as they could upon returning to their shops. However, trying to do too much can lead to burnout. It’s better to take small steps. “My first KnowledgeFest, I learned so much and wanted to do so much when I got back to the store that it was almost overwhelming,” Cope said. One of the things he heard at a previous KnowledgeFest is that it’s best to start with just three points to focus on. Whatever these topics may be—whether tips learned in workshops or through trainings—choose three of them to focus on when returning to work. Business owners can make changes as long as they don’t try to do too much at once. Currently, Cope’s store has incorporated a lot more structure on the business end of things, he said. “I went back and had a hundred things I wanted to do—started one, started another one, then got busy, and then forgot about them,” Cope said. Choosing just three things, instead of attempting a whole lot at once, makes it more manageable. Cope added that’s why he comes back to KnowledgeFest every year. “I need another three things to make my business better.”
The lively discussions and demonstrations made for a high-energy show as attendees mingled and chatted with manufacturer representatives.
The industry awards, set to take place in Dallas, were also discussed because the process of nomination and submitting materials is a difficult experience that triggers vulnerability and forces the team to improve on issues they may have never considered before. Kranitz added that working toward this common goal makes the team more unified. “You have to devise a plan. It allows you to be really creative, but it makes you look at your career,” he said. “It makes you look at yourself in the mirror, reflect back on what you’ve done—things possibly you’ve done that were silly that you never should have done, or great things you’ve done. I think the whole process can make you a very complete, whole person.” Another aspect businesses should focus on is image and presentation. “If we’re going to sell to people with suits, throw on a suit and go sell to people at a Mercedes dealership,” Cope advised. “Nobody does it. If you show up in a hoodie, they aren’t going to take you seriously, and if they walk into your store and it looks like [it’s] back in the 80s, you’re probably not going to do too well. That’s what we’re trying to change.” Pate agreed that while the future is bright for the industry, the challenges remain. To keep up, retailers have to be willing to embrace change. The best way to keep up with changes is to attend trainings as much as possible and go to trade shows in order to network and learn, without becoming overwhelmed to the point of losing traction. The key is often balance. “We have to realize there are certain categories that will slowly but surely fade away, but there are alternatives to those categories,” Pate said, underscoring the importance of streamlining the way businesses are managed. “We have to change the way we do our business and approach things differently,” he said, adding, “[we have to] elevate our game as businesspeople and as builders and designers.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics
WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER
Sound Connection Inc. Hosts Fabrication Workshop for Customers, Industry Experts Sound Connection Inc., located in Waite Park, Minnesota, recently hosted a fabrication workshop for 12 attendees of all skill levels, in order to both educate and inform others’ work. Attendees ranged from local folks to people who worked across the border, in Wisconsin. Mike Schwitz, installation manager and fabricator at Sound Connection Inc., said that the workshop was
20 Mobile Electronics April 2018
open to those in the industry and those just curious, namely customers who wanted to learn a couple tricks. “First day, I showed them how to make a box. I went over router stuff, showed them how to seam the side of a box,” Schwitz said. “Guys from other shops got a lot out of that because they hadn’t seen that before.” The workshop also included a quick fiberglass project. “On day two,
everyone got to make a small panel. […] Everybody had a little project to take home.” The workshop ran for eight to 10 hours a day, on a Saturday and Sunday. While such an event hasn’t proven great for customer outreach, it was an added bonus for customers who have treated the shop well. “We gave a little back to them,” Schwitz noted.
Brentwood Car Audio Tops Prior Charity Drive For Joe O’Byrne, owner of California-based Brentwood Car Audio, participating in charity drives is a given. But as time has gone on, the donations have continued to increase. During the most recent holiday season Toys for Tots drive, it took seven trips to get all of the donations to the drop-off point, according to O’Byrne, totaling over 3,000 toys and 20 bicycles collected. O’Byrne credits his success to working with corporate accounts and company owners directly; his point of contact attracts more donations from these entities. He went on to add that the location is also in an area that has established charities related to the military and veterans. Brentwood Car Audio is also equipped with the space to house the donations, which helps facilitate the collections process.
Industry Veteran Opens New Business: Elite Sound Innovations For Lee Bartels, owner of Illinois-based Elite Sound Innovations, deciding to recently start his own business was inspired by what the customer deserves. “A lot of places where I’ve worked at in the past, they were never treated as a business. It was just a place you showed up to work,” Bartels said. “I wanted to make sure this was an actual business experience and that customer service was number one, more than anything else.”
Bartels has been in the industry for 15 years. He opened his shop in December of 2017. Maintaining a close relationship with at least one vendor has helped Bartels’ business start smoothly, but he is looking to keep the range of what he carries on the smaller side of town for now. Moving forward, Bartels will focus on developing the business trust that needs to exist. “For now, I just make sure that
any job we do gets done exactly the way that it should be, and getting all the reviews we possibly can, just to get the name out there and get that trust from the community,” Bartels said. Since opening, business has been good, even though things were a bit slow in February. “But other than that, it’s starting to pick up,” he added. “We’re starting to do a couple of small advertisements with local places around us, and so far it’s been pretty good.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 21
400-Vehicle Fleet Work is Part of Fleet Focus for Top Class Installations The evolution of a business can sometimes take unusual twists and turns. For Tomas Keenan, CEO of Top Class Installations, local demand spurred him to shift from a traditional business model to working on fleet vehicles exclusively as a subcontractor. Most recently, Keenan’s shop finished a 400-truck dash camera project for Baldor Foods. “We installed [Rosco Vision Systems’] commercial-grade dash camera, as well as a side camera and a back-up camera,” Keenan said. With the GPS system and Rosco Vision Systems working in conjunction, the company can watch the
22 Mobile Electronics April 2018
video footage from the vehicle remotely. Top Class Installations has also completed a GPS tracking project for the New York City Department of Education, which included working on just over 5,000 vehicles. Keenan noted that for those looking to get into working on fleet vehicles, the market is far from saturated, thanks to the passing of the ELD (electronic logging device) Mandate. Companies are in a rush to comply with the new mandate, as fines for noncompliance will start being issued as of April of this year. Otherwise, companies that have large
fleets—upwards of 50 vehicles—are under pressure from insurance companies to have certain mobile electronics, such as dash cameras, in order for the insurance company to cover them. “It’s definitely a bit of a different mindset than your traditional 12-volt retail customer,” Keenan said. To get into working on fleet vehicles, Keenan recommended establishing a relationship with a manufacturer partner, such as a GPS company. Flexibility, dependability, capturing data effectively and cultivating relationships are key to making fleet vehicle jobs work for a business.
Faces in the Industry Charles Brazil First Coast Auto Creations Jacksonville, Florida Years of industry experience: 16 Hobbies: Family and Firearms What You’re Best At: Finding Solutions
Dan Bowman Hot Rides Inc. Morrisville, Pennsylvania Years of industry experience: 20 Hobbies: Smartphone photography, short road trips, speaking engagements What you’re best at: The art of the add-on sale
Robert Gonzales Sunshades Tint & Sound Austin, Texas Years of industry experience: 24 Hobbies: My motorcycle, bicycle, hot rod, spending time with the family. What you’re best at: Tinting windows, wiring with a flow, phone skills, troubleshooting.
Jackson Car Audio Marks 2017 As Best Year Yet Some years are bound to be better than others, and for Tennessee-based Jackson Car Audio, 2017 turned out to be one of its best years yet. And as many businesses have found, the best years are like stairs—take one step at a time, and one good year can act as a stepping stone toward another, better year. For Jeff Cantrell, president of Jackson Car Audio, the trick to the shop’s biggest year yet was staying consistent while being open to trying some new things. “We focused on social media,” Cantrell said. “We hired a team to just handle that for us. […] Year after year, we’ve been streamlining what we’re doing. Our costs have gone down while we’re maintaining those sales.” Cantrell’s mindset is also one for planning for when it’s slow. “When there are bad times, slow times, [we] don’t let that determine the path of
our business. We try not to change course just because we have a bad month. We just try to be persistent and consistent. “We pick how we do business, how we’re going to advertise, what kind of people we’re going to hire, what types of products we’re going to promote, and we stick with it no matter what.” By maintaining a small, dedicated team, Jackson Car Audio runs smoothly and efficiently, but there are openings for hiring new techs. Moving into 2018, Cantrell plans to focus on jobs that are profitable, as well as making sure the shop keeps up with billable time and efficiency in the bay. “We’re doing that to make sure our sales stay where they need to be, even if profits go down,” Cantrell added. “If we can get someone on staff, we can do better than we did last year.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 23
ďƒŽ hot sellers
IN THE SPOTLIGHT At KnowledgeFest in Indianapolis, vendors revealed exciting new products in various categories, including safety and audio products with enhanced OEM integration and more. WORDS BY: ROSA SOPHIA
24â€‚ Mobile Electronics May 2018
AAMP Global Product / Service: Stinger X Series Audio Interconnects Main Features: Three more series of interconnects are available, as well. These include entry-level interconnects, mid-range and high-end. MSRP: $14 - $90 Ship Date: Now shipping
Alpine Product / Service: Halo 9 and new DSP Main Features: The Halo 9 is a 9-inch universal display that mounts on a single-DIN chassis. It features an adjustable mount display. This product offers Apple CarPlay, HDMI input, Sirius satellite capabilities, sound tuning, adjustable crossover points and more. This is a full-featured product, and very unique in that it has a 9-inch display on a universal mount. MSRP: $900.00 - $1,100.00 Ship Date: Now shipping
Crimestopper Safety & Security Product / Service: BSD-200 Microwave Blind Spot Detection Main Features: With small sensors and mounting brackets, along with alignment templates, this system is very easy for installers to set up. Features include simplistic installation, an OEM look with flush mount indicators and a complete kit with everything the installer will need. MSRP: $599.95 Ship Date: Now shipping
K40 Electronics Product / Service: RL360di Main Features: The RL360di is a new product that is integration ready and custom installed. K40 offers the world’s first integrated radar protection system and has worked with ADS and KENWOOD on this particular release. The company is also working on additional OEM integration with NAV-TV, which means that information will be able to populate on an OEM screen, as opposed to an aftermarket screen. This product integrates with ADS Maestro and displays on select JVC and KENWOOD
head units. Alerts from radar sources are visible on the main screen in the car, as well as being able to manipulate features and options from that screen. This new system was launched a month prior to KnowledgeFest Indianapolis. Ship Date: Now shipping
iDataLink Maestro Product / Service: FTR1 Dash Kit Main Features: The FTR1 was designed for 2015 F-150 and up, and 2017 and up Super Duty. For radio replacement, this product comes with a dash piece, a pocket with USB pass-through, and a T-harness. All you need to do is add the Maestro RR. MSRP: $199 Ship Date: Now shipping
No Limits Enterprises Product / Service: Radenso Radar Detection
Main Features: Radenso RCM with AL-priority integration was announced at SEMA, and it began shipping in January. Not only is it the top-rated radar solution, it’s also integrated with the number one rated laser jamming solution, which is the AL-priority. TNow,
rather than having separate systems, radar detection and laser jamming are integrated to make for easier installation, one point of control, and one display for the customer. Seamless and smooth integration is offered. The most popular package includes front and rear radar antennas for directional alerts and 360-degree protection with front laser. The fully loaded system adds rear protection. MSRP: à la carte—package cost, $3,000 - $3,500 Ship Date: Now shipping
Rydeen Product / Service: BSS1 LPB License Plate Bar
Main Features: This kit will install easily on the tag or license plate, either top or bottom. The product offers a solution for vehicles that have hard-to-remove bumpers or a metal bumper that the system cannot penetrate. It works well for vehicles such as pickup trucks or commercial vans. The radar system will pick up cars coming on the approach. MSRP: $599 Ship Date: Now shipping facebook.com/MobileElectronics 25
ďƒŽ hot sellers Scosche Product / Service: MagicMount Pro Main Features: Mount your phone or device easily in your vehicle and position it however desired. MagicMount Pro has a sleek design that is both attractive and durable to keep the device from slipping when driving on bumpier roads. MSRP: $25 - $40 Ship Date: Now shipping
SoundSkins Product / Service: SoundSkins Visions Main Features: SoundSkins is offering a line of cameras that come in three styles: flush mount, OEM style or bracket mount. They can be changed between horizontal and vertical view. The cameras are also waterproof. MSRP: $125 Ship Date: Now shipping
Waylens Inc. Product / Service: Automotive security cameras
Main Features: High-performance cameras collect data from the car that is overlaid onto the video. The camera runs like a dash cam and will record while driving. There are two versions: The Wi-Fi version is released as of April 2018, and the 4G Connected will come out in June. The 4G version offers phone notifications if there is an incident. The driver is able to access the information no matter where they are or how far away they are from the vehicle. MSRP: $299 for Wi-Fi version $399, plus small monthly fee for 4G connection Shipping Date: April 2018 and June 2018
ZAPCO Product / Service: Z Series Class AB Audiophile Amplifiers, Z-APs Main Features: This is the evolution of the Z-series amp line. There are no built-in crossovers. The op-amps are swappable, and the trim plate on the front panel is removable so that dealers can put their own custom shop name on to the plate when they do a build. MSRP: $699 for 2-channel, up to $1,399 for 6-channel Shipping Date: Now shipping
26â€‚ Mobile Electronics May 2018
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105DB • WATERPROOF • WIRELESS REMOTE CAMERA MOUNT • BLUETOOTH • MAPLIGHT facebook.com/MobileElectronics 27
real world RETAIL
28â€‚ Mobile Electronics April 2018
After applying lessons learned, George Smith of Mobileworks / Tintworks / Central Coast Rhino Linings of Santa Maria, Calif. created strategic plans to safeguard his business and future. Now, he and his wife, Kim, continue to foster strong relationships in the industry that benefit the wellbeing of all. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
facebook.com/MobileElectronics â€‚ 29
real world RETAIL
FAST FACTS MOBILEWORKS / TINTWORKS www.mobileworksofsantamaria.com
Location: Santa Maria, Calif. Number of Stores: 1 Address: 310 #A West Betteravia, Santa Maria, Calif. 93455 Facility Square Footage: 5800 Store Type: Specialty Retail Number of Employees: 7
KEY STAFF: Kim and George Smith, owners and operators, sales 2 car stereo specialists 1 Rhino Lining specialist 3 window tint specialists 1 repair technician
Main Types of Work, Broken Down By Percentage: Car audio – 19 % Security remote start – 5 % General assessors/aftermarket automotive – 16 % Window Tint – 25 % Wrap/Paint Protection Film – 10% LED – 2 % Radar Detectors – 2 % Safety – 12 % Rhino Linings – 10 %
very day, changes in the industry seem to come faster and faster. Perspectives and approaches change, too, but a few basic foundations remain the same as shop owners work hard to stand apart from the rest. George Smith has been in the industry since 1984 when he first began learning car stereo installation. In 1991, he moved to Sacramento and started working for Paradyme Car Audio, where he learned a lot from a Top 12 installer—Paul Sonoda—and store owner and IASCA Board member Terry Soohoo, both of whom inspired him with their experience and knowledge. “It was a privilege […] to be working along with these guys,” he said.
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“Working for them was like getting my college degree in car stereo.” Off to a great start, Smith’s talent and dedication was clear, while his future choices were informed by lessons learned and mistakes made. Currently, the business has nine employees including Smith and his wife, Kim, and the average staff tenure is around four to five years.
The Steady Climb: A Career Built on Hard Work and Determination During the summer between eighth and ninth grade, Smith worked at a stereo shop, but his parents told him that once school started, he had to be home by seven. “We lived in downtown Santa Barbara. I had to be on the bus at 5:45 to get home by seven,”
he said. “I would get out of school, ride the bus down to the stereo shop and I would work.” At first, he was organizing parts and putting away dash kits. “Little by little, I was learning it all. By the time I was a senior graduating high school, I had a career and was making good money.” At a mere 23 years old, Smith earned a place in the industry as a Top 100 Installer. He’d already taken part in IASCA events and won with the help of Paul and Terry. The work was a constant hustle, Smith said. While doing installs in the back, the front doorbell would ring so many times he often had to stop his installation and go out to the front to assist or make a sale to a customer.
Man with a Plan He remained there for four years before returning to the last shop he’d worked at in Santa Barbara. Six months later, the owner purchased another store in Santa Maria and Smith and his family moved there to help rebuild a business that had been going under. “I took everything I learned from Paradyme and I applied it at this new store,” Smith said. “The way we merchandised the store, the way we stacked the inventory to the pricing, to doing parking lot sales and event sales. I took what I learned there and applied it.” After revitalizing the business, income went up with each year. “We did about $400,000 [the first year]. The second, we did $650. The third, I bought out a competitor and moved the location and I did about a million dollars at that store,” he said. Then he helped open a second store in San Luis Obispo.
Evolving in Business: Inspiration and Drive Passed Down from Father to Son Beginning with the support and encouragement of his parents, Smith’s achievements as a store manager continued to be bolstered by his father, who had seen him working long hours for other people, growing a business and treating that business as if it had been his own. His dad wanted to know when he’d start doing something for himself, instead of others. “I’m a workaholic by nature. That’s a trait of my dad,” Smith said. “It’s in our blood.” Three weeks after his father died, he went all-in and bought a retail store on the main corner of town. “My drive and inspiration is all my dad,” he added, and he was certainly proud of his son. “He always liked to brag about what I could do, how I could fix things,” Smith said. “I was young and I had people calling me from fifty miles away to have me come fix their car or do an installation on their vehicle.” In the early part of 1996, Smith started working with local car dealerships. “I created relationships with the owners of the dealerships,” as well
Mobileworks / Tintworks is comprised of nine employees, including Kim and George Smith. Kim answers the phone, helps out in the sales department, and also handles bookkeeping. Part of the business’s mission is to excel collectively so that employees are not only successful at work, but in their personal lives, too.
as the salespeople and others working within the company. “I created this foundation of good people, like an army, who were always calling me. I was doing mobile work out of my truck traveling to dealerships. That’s where I got my business name Mobileworks.” As he visited different dealerships, people got to know him. He worked out of his truck and garage until outgrowing it and finally acquiring an adequate space for his business when he moved into the back of Best Buy
Auto Sales, a small car dealership. Smith did a trade with the man who owned the business. “I would fix the cars he needed fixed. If he had a window switch that didn’t work, or we had a car that didn’t have a radio, I did the labor for free, while he gave me a place to set up shop. It was a fair trade,” Smith said. “I didn’t have to pay any rent and he didn’t have to pay any labor. If he needed parts, like a stereo, I would sell it to him 10 percent over cost to cover shipping and facebook.com/MobileElectronics 31
real world RETAIL
A focus at Mobileworks is: “How can we help the customer win?” Rather than worry about the competition, Smith focuses on his own clients as well as being available to help anyone else within the industry who may need assistance or advice.
I made a few dollars. It was a gentleman’s handshake.” In 2010, one of the stereo shops on the main corner in town had closed. Smith said it was vacant for six or seven months. “All my friends told me, ‘You need to buy that place.” When Smith’s father passed away in 2011, it was time for him to make a change. After three or four months, he finally asked about it. “I bought all the inventory,” he said. “All the fixtures in the store for $23,000. Signed a lease and fixed up the place, new paint, new carpet—I changed the name of the store to deal with my own business name and reputation.” Two years later, however, the landlord was approached about selling the property. Smith moved the business. Everything comes full circle—the shop where Mobileworks is now located is actually directly across the street from where he had moved to operate the store that had been going
32 Mobile Electronics April 2018
out of business in 1996. “It’s no longer there,” he said. But when he moved his store, he already knew what to expect, so there was nothing to be concerned about. “I wasn’t afraid to move in [to the facility] I’m in now, because I knew the track record of what I had in 1996 and four years earlier,” he said. After learning as much as he could—from both good experiences and bad—he took that knowledge and applied it to his current location. In the shop, there’s a workbench that his father once used. “I use it as part of my toolbox and he sits there every day and works with me every day. He watches over my shop.” Sometimes he leaves a cold Budweiser on the bench for his father, though Smith himself doesn’t drink. “Anyone who knows me says, ‘George, when did you start drinking?’ I never have. They want to know why there’s a beer on top of my tool box,”
he said. “I’ll say, that’s for my dad. He’s having a cold one.”
Mutual Support: Creating a Network of Positive Relationships Smith held barbeque events and cruise nights at the old location, which attracted a lot of attention. He continues to do so at the new location, and also takes part in events around his coastal community. In 2013, Mobileworks began doing window tinting, as well. “I went to SEMA one year and I met the western regional for 3M,” he said. “Having the relationships with the car dealers is a big plus and offering additional services made it simpler to use Mobileworks. Some people think you never get paid by dealerships. That’s more of a myth. You have to stay on top of the dealerships and send them statements, and then they send you a check.” Smith pressed the fact that a lot of people who work at dealerships will
Man with a Plan refer jobs to a mobile electronics shop as long as you take the time to build that relationship. A good majority of his business comes from these referrals. “Listen to the customer [and] what they are trying to do,” he said, adding that the customer interview involves asking a lot of questions about their vehicle and how the client uses it. This helps with understanding the customer’s needs. “If you drive into our facility, as you park, you’re looking into our garage as soon as you get out of your car. There’s no clutter. The first part of the presentation, there’s a sign straight in front of you that says ‘Welcome to Mobileworks / Tintworks, Top 12 Mobile Electronics retailer of the year,” Smith said. Customers are then greeted again once they enter the store. “It’s a different atmosphere than most shops. I can walk outside, I can still see what’s going on in the showroom, I can still see what’s going on in the bay, but we can look at their car and talk about their car.”
Reviews and Referrals Make a Difference “We’re always asking, ‘How did you hear about us?’ It’s constantly Yelp and Google. Some of them will say Facebook, but it’s always Yelp and Google, and our reviews. “[They might say] ‘Well, you did my friend’s car, or you did my sister’s car, or a relative’s car…’ We’re always finding out. A lot of it’s referrals. A lot of it’s Google or Yelp. And a lot of it’s dealerships. “You’ve got to know how to measure it and see your marketing efforts. “When you come in [and] we’re going to do a window tint on your car or install a stereo, on the work order, on the very top line, it says, ‘Email address.” Collecting information and learning to be a smarter retailer and staying in contact with your customer is part of
best practices. Email addresses and emailing a customer costs little but your effort. “Just started using Businessworx and we have people’s email [addresses]. In the program, I can email select ads I want to send to these customers, and it goes out once a month or twice a month depending on what I select. “We’re now working on getting more data entered in so we can start utilizing [Businessworx for email more often]. “You’ve got to look at your dollar in advertising—how much you’re spending and how much you’re getting in return. We have Google ads that run, and we have our Facebook ads we run. We spend smart with each per month between these two a month.”
real world RETAIL Diversifying into different services, such as paint protection film, gives Mobileworks the option to offer add-ons to customers.
Negative Marketing Experience Little to No Return on Investment “Around here, we have some print advertising that’s a weekly circulation of around 55,000 handouts. The flyers are put up in front of convenience stores and supermarkets. You’d think it’d be effective, but it doesn’t gain traction anymore in my area. “You can do it for two or three weeks. You get nothing from it. Meanwhile, you’ve spent a thousand dollars profit and poor results. I have tried at reinventing the wheel but it has snowballed and it doesn’t do anything. We know that’s not working. “It’s not effective enough that I’ve got to keep spending my money there. I wouldn’t do it again. Dollar for dollar, is it returning? No. Learn the lesson and move forward.”
34 Mobile Electronics April 2018
Smith attributes much of his success to friendliness, which encourages customers to open up. While Mobileworks does have competition in the area, he chooses not to think about it. Instead, he’s always willing to help others in the industry. “I care about my customer. If I do an excellent job, I have earned your referrals and your friends,” Smith said. If shops concern themselves too much with the competition, “you start training your mind to worry and think like they do. I don’t care what they do.” Mobileworks focuses on their own business while also building healthy relationships within the industry. “I need to focus on the customer,” he added. Recently, Smith and his wife went to Del Ellis for additional training. “My wife and I did a whole three-day weekend of phone skills training. How do you get people into the store without giving them a price on the phone?” This is difficult since customers want to be able to call and get the cheapest price in town.
Smith has gained a lot of knowledge from the training offered by others in the industry, including Ellis, as well as Jason Kranitz of Kingpin Car and Marine Audio. He also befriended Kevin Cornutt of Stereo King when they met at KnowledgeFest in Dallas. “We’ve got a brotherhood in the industry of friends with great connections,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to speak up and call somebody and share the knowledge and give them information if they need it.” In 1996, Smith started building relationships in the industry, and he hasn’t stopped since. “The people know you. They know your history. So don’t be afraid to ask others for help.”
Best Practice: Diversify and Have a Procedure for Everything In the past, when Smith opened another location, he made the mistake of not having procedures and policies set in place. Now, he ensures that everything’s covered. Along with stereo and tint, the shop also offers Rhino Linings
Man with a Plan
Key Vendor Truck Hero
“Truck hero is a nationwide company offering
tonneau covers, running boards, bed rugs and weatherized floor mats [and more]. It’s the lifestyle. When I moved to this location, I started selling more accessories. It’s the accessories that count. We’re going on our fifth year here. My wife and I will be going on a cruise next year just for providing a product and selling the brands. We’re not doing anything extra, but we are selling awesome products and they are rewarding us for it [with a cruise]. “With shrinking margins, I started to look
and truck accessories. The business is strategically named. Tony Robbins once said, “If a business doesn’t have an exit plan, then you’re not set up the right way.” With this in mind, Smith used three different names for his business so that each business could be sold either
at what else I could sell in accessories and help more customers. If you can grow your business and think [more in terms of] accessories, you’re going to make more money. At the same time, I am looking at my customer and saying, ‘How can I sell him more products?’ “Other key vendors include Hertz, Audison, Compustar and Rockford Fosgate. I’ve loved Rockford Fosgate products since 1985. One of my first sales reps, Brad Crawford, taught me passive crossovers. Still, to this day, he’s my best sales rep. He still works the business. He doesn’t do car audio anymore. He does home audio. But when he passes through town, he’ll come over and say hello.”
separately or as one, if he ever decides to retire and sell. Rhino Linings—spray-on truck beds—has been a very lucrative endeavor. “We started about a year ago,” he said. The diversification allows Mobileworks to have various income branches. “There’s no franchising fee,” he said
of Rhino Linings. “They need applicators that are certified in training and purchase the right equipment.” Instead, Rhino Linings makes money when he purchases literature, brochures and spray-on chemicals. In the past year, cross-training within the company has been a largely impactful accomplishment, along with having a Top 50 Installer on the team and winning Top 12 Retailer of the Year. “The year before, we were sitting at the table at KnowledgeFest with Kevin Cornutt,” Smith said, adding that Cornutt and his team won runner-up. “I was videotaping him as he went up on stage to receive his award. My wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know what? We’re going to be up there. We’re going to be in the Top 12 next year.’” Then, they sat down and looked at the business, what they were doing and where they wanted to be. “We set out to make some real goals.” A lot of hard work was involved in
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Always Build Policies and Procedures “I was living in Santa Barbara. When you look at a town, you have to look geographically at how many people are there and what the income ratio is—what people are making. And then you have to look at how many stores are providing these services. There weren’t many stereo shops there [in Customers are made to feel comfortable as they open about their needs and wants for their car or truck.
Santa Barbara] or window tint shops. “I had a new technician in the window tint business. What inspired me to open a new store was to really make it more of a window tint shop offering car stereo. I would dedicate my time going back and forth between the two. I was trying to do both stores. “Part of the trouble is that finding that key personnel—the right people you can trust—is the biggest problem. The other thing is, if anyone is doing multiple stores, or a second store or third store, make the first store run completely off the hook … and doing great. “And then, at the same time, you’ve got [to have] all policies and procedures in place for all of the employees. Everything everyday has to be in some kind of policy and procedure so they know what to do and how to turn to the best practices and how to make the right call, the right judgment, how to handle a customer and do what’s right. “That’s what I didn’t have in place, and that’s what I’ve learned. “It wasn’t so much marketing. People were finding us. It was [a lack] in policies and procedures.” that made me close the store.
36 Mobile Electronics April 2018
reaching the Top 12, but Smith said the main thing was applying the principals learned at previous trainings. “You can go to KnowledgeFest and you get a lot, but you can only apply so much. When I go to the trainings, I am audio taping or video recording it so I can go back and listen to the presentations,” Smith said. “Each time I listen, I gain more than I did before. So, it’s taking each of those things and reapplying it. That’s what Kim and I have done. It’s moved us forward and made us better.” In the coming year, Smith intends to get a better handle on their point-ofsale system, utilize Businessworx to a higher degree in order to view analytics and sales volume, and ultimately grow the business. “We would love to grow our business so we can be a part of the MESA group,” Smith said, adding that he wants to be “able to buy smarter and wiser and become even more profitable.” Over the next few years, he hopes to see his employees excel on a personal level as well. “All of them are learning
and growing,” he said, adding, “When you care about them, they care about you.” Smith said he can see himself perhaps teaching at KnowledgeFest and sharing what he’s learned. “I’ve thought about offering trainings within 150 miles of my area, here on the central coast to help other business owners,” Smith said. “I want to give back a lot more and help. A lot have helped me. If you share your knowledge, you better everybody. When you can do that, I don’t think you have to worry.” There’s enough business for everyone—enough that no one should be concerned about losing business if they assist other store owners. “When everyone’s better, everyone wins. But if we’re all racing for zero, then we all become losers. It’s the friendships we make [that are important]. You’ve got to create the awareness to gain traction.” Go where the people are, he said. “Don’t wait for business to come to you. Go get it.”
Man with a Plan
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The Support Team
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Getting dealers out of their shops and easing installers out of their old habits is the calling card of Mobile Solutions, which offers support, motivation, and inspiration to all. 38 Mobile Electronics April 2018
WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER
Being on top of your game today, whether you’re a dealer, manufacturer or installer, requires a readiness to accept the old, manage the present and prepare for the future. Many folks—and everyone is guilty of it at some point—get stuck in a rut and just rely on doing things the same old way they always have. But eventually people want to make a change, and that is how Bryan Schmitt, president and lead trainer of Tempe, Ariz.-based Mobile Solutions, makes his living. He gets individuals to leave their offices, shops and install bays to figure out how to do things smarter. Through his educational company, Schmitt has created tools and training sessions—signature four-day boot camps—so that his students, who are
technicians, fabricators and retailers, can leave with a level of professionalism and a sense of pride they may not have had before. While Mobile Solutions offers a range of classes, the foundation is the all-important Boot Camp. “We have a Master Tech Boot Camp which supports installers and technicians,” Schmitt said. “We show the latest trending techniques on how to use test equipment to verify the signal and diagnose, but the most important thing we offer is a process. A lot of guys say, ‘Oh, you do it like this,’ or ‘Oh, I do it like that.’ What we have is a stepby-step process that works with any equipment from any manufacturer.” One of the key benefits to the Mobile Solutions classes is that it requires someone to leave his or her install bay or shop. “We used to do on-site training where I would go out to the dealer and have a group of guys take the classes there,” Schmitt said. “But as trainings have become more popular, and since we have people coming from all over the country and the world to take them, it just made more sense to have a dedicated training center and for everyone to be centralized here in Tempe.” The bigger benefit to people coming out to the Mobile Solutions campus is that there are no distractions. “It might be easier for someone to step away when the training is at their own site rather than at ours,” Schmitt said. “We have done surveys on this and found that we have 100 percent focus from our students because the phone’s not ringing. They’re in a different environment and essentially they are a captive audience.” Students at the January Master Tech Boot Camp, in fact, were part of a unique subwoofer challenge which divided its “all-star” techs into two teams. Each team had specific design criteria and a certain time frame, which was the biggest constraint. They had four days, from Saturday to Tuesday, to work together and stay on budget. “We had never done anything like this before,” Schmitt said. “It was
Classes are kept to a maximum of 25 so that all students can see and participate without any obstructions or issues. Boot Camp is considered the foundational course and is necessary for taking specialty classes on OEM integration or door panels.
a first, which made it exciting. We wanted to try something that was out of the box thinking. Not only did it turn out to be a fun class, but we actually built some amazing tower speakers using the theory, science and fabrication techniques that backed it up,” he added. These two sets of completed tower speakers were ultimately revealed at the Mobile Solutions booth at last February’s KnowledgeFest held in Long Beach, Calif. What’s more, one pair starred in the listening room for a dealer reception hosted by Orca Design & Manufacturing, which supplied the drivers for the enclosures. Mobile Solutions will again show the towers in its exhibit at the upcoming KnowledgeFest event at the Dallas
Convention Center, August 17-19.
Booked Out Like the Best Italian Restaurants One of the biggest challenges for installers and dealers today is keeping up with OEM integration—and it is a huge way that Mobile Solutions offers its support to the industry. “Technology is just coming at us so fast,” Schmitt said. “We’re trying to add value to these cars and technicians are trying to keep up with the technology. Still a lot of guys are doing things the old school way, and with old school thinking. They need to have a computer, they need to have software, and they need to have test tools.” Right alongside that OEM integration challenge is another critical one: facebook.com/MobileElectronics 39
The Support Team
Part of the Mobile Solutions business model is keeping the shop clean, neat and organized. Outfitted in white and gray finishes, it sets a great example for all students coming through. Learning new skills is a huge takeaway for students, but so is the opportunity to collaborate with other technicians.
creating value for customers. “To personalize a car, a technician needs to know how to integrate with fabrication, custom panels, and to make any changes or upgrades that look stock or OEM,” Schmitt said. “That takes expertise, tuning and training. If a dealer can do those things right, they become invaluable to the customer. That dealer may not be the cheapest in town, but they’re always busy. They’re always booked out like that great Italian place on a Friday that is just busy for hours.” Schmitt said that during his programs, he tries to instill in his students that their expertise and good service will go a long way. “A dealer will have core clients who are willing to pay a premium price because they see the
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value in the work,” he said. “The alternative is to be one of the guys who isn’t that busy and who just has to take what they can get. We’re finding that true specialists are seeking us out. They want to get to the next level by mastering the latest techniques and tricks so they have more of an arsenal and more things to offer their customers. Getting out of your own four walls helps. Getting perspective and getting new ideas and collaborating with other techs and other people is magic. Collaborating with other students who are faced with the same challenges is incredibly valuable. We see a whole community of people supporting this.” There are several new courses that will
be available in the upcoming months based on feedback from students. One of those is a tuning class which will be offered in the fall of 2018. “It’s about making the car sound good,” Schmitt said. “We will have experts come in who are really talented at this. It is a whole craft—it is a talent in itself to make cars sound good. So we will have a class on tuning, and how to make cars sound better with a method that can be used repeatedly. We will show a proven process where installers can follow a stepby-step process every single time.” A second offering—scheduled for Spring 2019—is based on cosmetics. “We have guys asking for a course that deals with hot rods and UTVs—Can Am and Polaris-type vehicles,” Schmitt said. “It’s a
big category and involves building audio and involves lots of fabrication. In the power sports market, there is a demand for this as well.” If the new classes are anything like the current ones being offered, they are bound to fill up quickly. Schmitt said some classes sell out three months in advance. “We can handle 25 students— and I won’t say just guys because we do get some girls who come through—and that is the max size we want,” Schmitt said. “If you’re working on smaller stuff or if you’re working on a vehicle, it is hard for everyone to see what is going on very clearly if you have 30 or 40 people in the room. We have cameras so people can see. But 25 is our number.” If these new courses sound interesting, it’s time to plan. Before taking some of the more specialized classes, the boot camp has to be taken first. “It is a core essential part of the program,” Schmitt said. “You’re learning box building and basic things like that. After that, participants can take a door panel class or take this new hot rod class, or an OEM integration class—those more expanded classes. We are trying to get them to take Boot Camp, a 101 course, if you will, so they’re prepared to go to the next level. It can slow everyone down in some of the specialty classes when the guys are all at different levels.”
We Love Everybody One of the major advantages to the support that Mobile Solutions offers to its participants is a broad perspective. Unlike a typical manufacturer training class, which is focused specifically on a vendor’s products, and how their products are to be installed correctly, these courses reach across a vast range of options from the industry’s companies. “What we offer in our programs is more comprehensive—it features techniques that are more advanced that can be applied to anyone’s products,” Schmitt said, who also noted that he does work closely with many manufacturers to handle their trainings. “Our programs feature products from across the board—we love everybody and we want to talk about everyone’s product
Products used in the courses are from vendors. Schmitt loves everybody and wants to talk about everyone’s product in the best light.
in the best light.” Perhaps the best sign that all of this is working is the number of repeat customers, Schmitt said. “They come back because they get it,” he said. “If you’re open to learning, then you can do more things, make more money and tackle more projects the smart way, not the hard way. Guys have to be open to training. Just because you’ve been doing it forever doesn’t make you the best at it. Times are changing and guys need to be up to date on the latest trends and technologies. They get set in their ways and don’t see the value in flying somewhere to get an education. Yet every other industry in the world requires certifications. If you’re a hairdresser, you go to formal trainings and conventions. It should be the same for us. That’s why it is so positive that KnowledgeFest is gaining in popularity because it shows there is a genuine interest.” For installers who do want to go to the next level, Schmitt said, the proper training is needed. “They have to get perspectives from those who have done it differently or better, and have the proven track record of taking people to the next level,” he said. “We have a great success story. The last eight Mobile Electronics Installer-of-the-Year winners have come out of our camp. Every one of those guys
is a student of ours who sat in our chairs. We are proud of that.” Above all, Schmitt said he hopes to keep raising the bar for everyone. Sometimes it isn’t even the class training that is most impactful, but just connecting with other techs and seeing the training facility that ultimately kicks someone into high gear. “We have guys come out here who are basically ready to go out of business and don’t know what to do,” Schmitt said. “They come to class and when they go home they are ready to start fresh. We are real big on keeping things clean and organized. So when they see our shop, it is white, it is clean, it is organized. And I talk about this. It is part of our business model. Well, these guys go home and literally fill up a dumpster, paint their walls white, get new cabinets and make it look like a dealership. Now a customer walks into their bay and jaws drop. They hand over their keys and say ‘Call me when it’s done,’ versus ‘Well, the guys down the street are cheaper. Can you beat their price?’ It is a whole different math equation. We want our guys to go to the next level, but we also want our entire industry to be more professional. That is the biggest thing. We want people in our industry to be educated, professional and do good work. Teaching that is our our program.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 41
ďƒŽ strategy & tactics
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Five Steps to Increase Profitability
Five Steps to Increase Profitability When it comes to communicating with the customer, selling products and charging properly for labor, some businesses may struggle. Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University offers five steps that shop owners can implement today to help increase revenue. WORDS BY JASON KRANITZ
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strategy & tactics The American dream is to work hard, make money, and have fun doing it. Your 12-volt business can make all those dreams come true, but you need to know how to build a profitable ticket in order to succeed. With my experience training at other shops, at KnowledgeFest, and at my in-house classes at Kingpin University, we have developed some techniques that will add dollars to your bottom line. 1. Talking time instead of dollars By now, we’ve all heard we must start billing out by time instead of guessing a dollar amount. But do you truly understand why? Your client understands time and can justify a cost easier when associating it with a dollar amount. On Saturday morning you don’t get ready to go to the local hardware store to pick up some supplies and tell your spouse, “I’m headed to the hardware store and will be back in $125.00.” We don’t talk that way. It makes no sense, but we do it
in our stores! Stop. Yes, you can have a few items in the store that are priced flat rate. But you need to analyze it and make sure—using the laws of averages—that the task can be completed in the flat-rate time by the average tech. Not your senior guy or the quick guy in the bay, but the average tech! 2. Labor is 100 percent profit Crack is illegal and this statement should be, too. This is an urban myth that started around 2002. The costs associated with labor include: tech pay, payroll taxes, paid vacation, healthcare, 401(k), damages, low job efficiency and more. When you finally net it down, you are typically around 26 to 35 percent profit depending on the pay of the tech. That said, why do we sell with our wallets and kindness and discount labor? You can’t be shopped on it. The Internet cannot install the item. Crutchfield can sell you everything but the labor. STOP DISCOUNTING LABOR!
3. The ticket Let’s look at how a computer is marketed. The computer is the hardware. Little to no margin. They are basically giving it away in order to sell you the software. The software has the initial cost of development, but then it’s all profit from that point going forward. Understanding this helps us understand the concept that we need to implement into our tickets. • Always start with the parts first (software) • Then labor • Then equipment (hardware) This way, we will not forget about the most profitable items: the parts. This also allows for easy product changes (hardware) without forgetting about the parts or labor needed. Both the salespeople and the technician can be involved in this. We call it the hand-off. We want our technicians to be involved in sales, but
special intro pricing for new dealers! - HUGE margins (50% margins on first order) - Low return rates (< 3%) - Free Shipping...always - Amazing Warranty & Return Service - Never any backorders it’s own display case - ships in it
Interested dealers contact us now: email@example.com (915) 587-0307
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Five Steps to Increase Profitability we don’t want them to spend too much time on it. It’s very important that they stay in the back and keep working, but we also need them to be part of the sale because there’re some crucial aspects they will need. The number one reason I want to get the techs involved is to make sure they can bill out the labor properly. The way it works is, the salesperson comes out and talks to the tech in the bay and gives them a pre-game plan. That pre-game plan is, “This is what this client is looking for.” They do the introductions with the client. Everyone walks out to the car and goes over a few things. This allows the technician to throw out other ideas, possibly an upgrade, or a different product that might work better so we can build up that ticket. Once we do that, we come back inside. As this salesperson is typing up all the products on the list, the technician is behind us billing out the timeframe.
Billing out the timeframe depends on how long it’s going to take. He does a quick estimate on a piece of paper, shakes the client’s hand, and says, “I’m looking forward to working on your project,” and then goes back to work. I want that technician from start to finish to be in and out in five minutes. This allows the timeframe to be converted over to labor dollars, and then the client is presented with that dollar amount. The technician can get additional parts written down on that labor bill that the salesperson might forget about. It’s kind of like checks and balances to make sure everything gets on that ticket that we need. Maybe you worked in a busier shop and you’ve heard all the objections. You don’t have time to do that. Say you have five or ten technicians in a busy shop. How many things are you quoting today? Is it five, is it ten? Take ten for an easy number. That’s a pretty high amount
when you have five guys in the bay. But it can happen. And that’s ten minutes that each technician is going to be out there. It doesn’t take too much away from them. Where it becomes a problem is if the tech wants to hang out. They need to understand that they need to get in and get out. Five or ten minutes max with that customer and get back to work. We call that the hand-off, from salesperson to technician. 4. Selling channels of amplifications We all know that we have these things called peak power, RMS power, or continuous power. Peak (or max) power is just a marketing term. Thank you, manufacturers, for this bright idea! Not only do you confuse the consumer, but you make the retailer have to justify math on a daily basis. The RMS or continuous power helps techs and salespeople figure out amplifier power needed for a speaker to perform at optimal rate. These are the only numbers that matter.
if your customers drive something like this
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strategy & tactics
Now, if we look at our example, you can see that we have tech sheets from a very good brand. The 6-inch component set is 150 watts of continuous power. However, if we look at the 6-inch driver by itself, it can handle 125 watts. That means the tweeter can only handle two watts of continuous power right? Wrong! It can handle 90 watts of continuous power—half of peak verified by a measuring tool. Most good brands will net out this way. Why does the set have a lower continuous power reading? Here it is in simple terms, and the way you should sell it: the x-over is consuming a large percentage of the power. Now, I know some manufacturer’s engineer is going to argue, using terms no one understands, that it’s technically wrong. However, it is a simple concept with basic math that a client understands. This manufacturer also sells the items à la carte. That means I don’t have to waste money and we can move the funds over to the amplifier for a louder and cleaner sound!
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When you start doing more active systems this way, you start using amplifier combos like dual 4 channels and 5 channels with a 2-channel. We stop talking about mono amps and items like class D power, or high output deck power, etc. Our language moves over to, “I need this many channels of amplification for six speakers,” or nine speakers, or, “I also need this much power on these channels to match the speaker performance.” This is all basic language your client understands. Stop using shop talk with crazy terms they don’t comprehend. How many of us complain about pricing online or what the shop down the road charges for the same brand? Selling channels of amplifications can help solve that problem. How? Buying your speakers à la carte. See, most things that have side effects contain items like vomiting, diarrhea, pain and death. The side effect of buying your speakers à la carte is a positive thing! It’s hard to price match.
5. We don’t do custom work because it’s not profitable! Hmm. Is it because we have several shops in our industry that do this type of work as charity, or are you just not bidding out the job correctly? The solution is very easy. You just have to follow a few steps: 1. Everything is billed via .25 hours (15 minutes). 2. Build the job step by step and write down time for each step. 3. Make sure fab time is its own SKU. 4. Do not include the install time of amps, speakers, processors, etc. with the fab time. 5. Add up the hours and multiply by your shop rate. Now that it’s written down step by step, we have a road map that any tech can follow. This will help eliminate overbuilding the project, and will keep the tech on task in terms of time spent on the project. That’s it! Five easy steps to make more money. Until next time, may your tickets be big and profitable.
Five Steps to Increase Profitability CHNICAL
P P ORT NTENT CO
F T N GS HI
facebook.com/MobileElectronics 47 www.InstallerNet.com • 800-444-1644
TWO YEARS OF TECH
For the anniversary of the Tech Today feature, Joey Knapp takes a look back at some of the topics that have been covered over the last two years—including foot well enclosures, false floors, integrated design and metalwork. WORDS BY JOEY KNAPP
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Two Years of Tech
In the last issue of Tech Today, we took a look at an audio system upgrade that integrated an aftermarket system while retaining the factory upmixer. I was hoping this article would share the conclusion of the work on my shop. Unfortunately—or fortunately—I have been in California more than Florida over the past few months. So, I will continue to leave everyone on the edge of their seats, anxiously awaiting the finished article about the completion of my fabrication room. It has come to my attention that I just passed a two-year work anniversary with Mobile Electronics magazine. It must be true—time DOES fly when you are having fun! To celebrate my anniversary, we are going to take a look back over some of the articles
from the past few years.
(no digital issue available) The first article we will look at is my first submission to Mobile Electronics magazine. This article was written before I was the official manager for the Tech Today section. To write this article, I enlisted the help of my buddy Tom Miller. The article was entitled “Integrated Design.” Tom and I shared our views on how to cosmetically integrate mobile electronics gear with vehicle interiors: “The very first step in creating an Integrated Design is the evaluation of the existing design elements. We want to create continuity between the existing design elements and those we will be adding. A well-designed
interior will have several design cues that you can pick up on. Pay attention to the type of trim on the door panels, the stitching on the seats, the various textures of the center console, the brightwork and more. Pay attention to the lines of the interior and the shapes that are repeated throughout. There is always repetition in the original design. That’s because repetition (or similarity) is one of the design tenets that all designers study. Find those repeated lines and shapes and you’ll be able to draw off them for your design. If the belt line on the door is really aggressive and sweeping, you can apply that to a trunk piece to create movement and tie it all together. If the dashboard is angular and rugged, you can keep that in mind when you’re building facebook.com/MobileElectronics 49
tech today door pods. What you’re trying to do here is match the overall feel or mood of the interior.”
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/16me_febmarch I love working with metal. In this piece, we looked at some of the metal projects I have worked on. I showed the
value in investing in the tools for metalworking, and the flexibility that metalworking can bring to installations: “This article is intended to help those of you who aren’t familiar with metalwork to get a cursory look at metal, what it’s like to work with it, and the practical applications for it in the field of mobile electronics. It is very important to note that I am not
a ‘metal master.’ I am a guy who has learned what he needs to know about metalworking so that it can be successfully used to make things. Many of you might have seen the welding meme floating around the Internet with the little boy [on it]. It reads, ‘My dad says using a grinder to make a weld look good makes you a ‘grinder,’ not a welder.” That could be an accurate description for me. I have some welds that look great, and some that aren’t as attractive. I make sure all of them are suitable for the project’s needs, though. It seems that the majority of the things that are welded in our field have something attached to them, so even pretty welds would need to be ground down most of the time.”
PASSENGER FOOTWELL ENCLOSURES PART 2 https://issuu.com/ mobileelectronics/ docs/16me_may_fb308de8332f32 At Simplicity in Sound, we do a number of footwell enclosures. It seems like that’s a great location for a subwoofer in a car. Every one we have built sounded very impressive. The enclosure for this BMW 135i worked out great. I was able to use some of the OEM carpet to help blend the design into the floor. “The most space—and time—efficient method of fabrication I have found is to fiberglass the back side of the enclosure, and use a wood baffle for the front. The first step of the fabrication process is to tape up the area that will be fiberglassed. I normally use two-inch Green 3M autobody tape. Tesa also sells a wide, green protective tape that is supposed to be a faster way to protect surfaces for fiberglassing. I have not had a chance to work with that yet, however. Tape up the area that will be fiberglassed thoroughly. Make sure the tape overlaps at least ¼-inch to 3/8-inch to keep the area sealed. This is not the time to try to cut corners by skimping on tape. One leak through the tape can be disastrous.
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Two Years of Tech Take your time. Make sure everything in the immediate area is completely covered.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT FALSE FLOORS PART 1
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/16me_june Speaking of Simplicity in Sound, if you have seen any of the installations Bing has built, you have seen a false floor build. Bing is the master of fitting an unbelievable amount of gear in a tiny spare tire well: “The finished floor should not look out of place. In my opinion, a false floor is only effective if it looks as if it belongs in the vehicle. Since we are dealing with a generally flat surface, height is about the only thing that can make a false floor look out of sorts. If possible, I always try to keep the new floor at exactly the same height as the old floor. On vehicles in which this is not possible, I try to limit the floor rise to about three to four inches. The absolute maximum should be the threshold of the trunk or hatch opening, and under no circumstances should the new floor be above that limit. I usually only approach this limit on cars with a very short distance between the trunk opening and the stock floor, while utilizing tall products or trying to retain the spare tire, but overall, it is my opinion that the closer you adhere to OEM height, the more stealthy and integrated it will appear. Here are two examples of the same vehicle, one featuring OEM floor height, and the other with a new floor raised to the hatch opening threshold.”
THE PERFECT SHOT
https://issuu.com/ mobileelectronics/ docs/16me_october_for_digital_only KnowledgeFest 2016 marked the first time I was asked to present in front of my peers. I was excited about the experience, as it checked off a box for something I had always wanted to
do. Together with Dave MacKinnon and Matt Schaeffer, we shared our collective tips, tricks and hints for automotive related photography: “This year held a little more excitement for me. With the exception of sitting in on a training with Ken Ward once, I have never presented at KnowledgeFest. Earlier this year, I was approached by David MacKinnon about presenting a session on photography. In addition to my job at Simplicity in Sound, I also work for 1sixty8 media. At 1sixty8 media, one of our premium products is the build post. One of my duties is to select the
photos that the clients supply for use in their build posts. As a result, I see hundreds of build photos per month. The majority of the photos I see could look much better, with just a little bit of work. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some tips on making car-related photographs better. As David and I worked on how to split up the session, Matt Schaeffer and I were also having a discussion about some photography-related topics. In the discussion, KnowledgeFest came up. I told Matt that David and I had submitted to teach a session this year on photography. facebook.com/MobileElectronics 51
Surprisingly, Matt was planning a photography session, too. We decided to combine our sessions.”
THE SHOWCASE BUILD PART 1 https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/17me_january This build was special to me because it was my first SEMA-specific build. The owner of the Porsche has a surf wear company and was going to use the car to promote his VAST brand of clothing. A unique surfboard holder was integrated into the passenger’s side of the car: “Surprisingly, about two weeks later, I got a call from Bing. He told me we would be working on an older Porsche that was slated for the RWB conversion. The car belonged to a client of ours who owned a surf wear company called VAST. The car would be used
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to promote the VAST culture, and its first appearance would be at the 2016 SEMA show. What I found out was that a vehicle being built for SEMA meant everything would take twice as long, and be rushed twice as much. Because the car was being used as a promotional tool, parts of our build would be documented by a videography team.”
DSP TUNING PART 4
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/17me_september One of my favorite series so far has been the series on tuning. It started with Ken Ward sharing his philosophies of OEM integration and wrapped up with Andy Wehmeyer getting into the nitty-gritty of knob turning: “In the interest of speed and predictability, I favor objective processes that don’t require us to use our ears and make a thousand subjective analyses
and an endless series of adjustments. There’s a place for subjective analysis, but that’s after all objective measures have been exhausted.”
ALL MIXED UP
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/17me_november In putting together the elements for the tuning article, I realized one more technology needed to be addressed, that of the upmixer. Automotive manufacturers have begun using upmixers in cars to provide a uniform audio experience to all the vehicle passengers. I had my friend and fellow 1sixty8 media co-worker David MacKinnon share some basics on upmixers in automobiles: “I know you are frustrated that I keep saying factory audio systems sound great. Stay with me, and I’ll explain. There are several criteria used to determine the quality of a
Two Years of Tech
sound system. The simplest and most critical criteria are tonality and placement. Equalization makes it easy to get a system sounding good from the standpoint and frequency response and overall level balance, even with speakers of modest quality. The expectation for a vehicle manufacturer is that everyone in the vehicle should be able to enjoy his or her music equally. This means that both the driver and passenger should experience good instrument and performer placement across the soundstage. OEMs are great at this. The aftermarket is not.”
THE JEEP AND THE IPAD
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/17me_january_8853cc19fa8b2b I first saw the photos of this Jeep installation on some social media sites and thought it looked stunning. I was excited to learn the steps
that went into building this Jeep iPad mount. After chatting with Josh Gobble, he enthusiastically agreed to share with us what goes into building a mount like this one: “Earlier this summer, I received an inquiry from a client who was interested in integrating an iPad mini into his Jeep Wrangler. He did a lot of research as to what method of mounting would work best for him. He couldn’t decide on an existing mount available for purchase. Offroading is something he frequently likes to do and most of the mounts on the market now solely rely on magnets to hold the tablet securely in place or are just plain ugly. He stumbled upon a video I made of an iPad install I did a couple years ago, and called me to see what I could come up with. I was able to make a mount where the iPad housing opens and closes to dock and remove the iPad without the risk of riding over
bumpy terrain and losing it out of the window. I assured him that those magnets are a great solution, but we both preferred a more permanent and secure mount. When the Jeep arrived in the shop, I noticed a couple issues. One, the iPad would have to be slightly higher than the actual trim bezel as it comes OEM, otherwise serious modification would have to be done to move the climate controls to a lower position, and ultimately rebuild the entire bezel.”
RISK AND REWARD
https://issuu.com/mobileelectronics/ docs/17me_february_digital_issue I can’t talk about favorite articles without looking at the one that is closest to my heart—the expansion of my shop, Pinnacle Autosound. This first article discussed the decisions that led to our move to the new location and some of the challenges along the way: facebook.com/MobileElectronics 53
MOSAIC MASTERPIECE SUBMITTED BY: MATT SCHAEFFER, SOUND FX HOME THEATER & CAR AUDIO, LEWES, DEL.
This beautiful Chevrolet Callaway Camaro ZL1, built by the crew at Sound FX, is a stunning example of design integration. From the start of the build, the goal was to produce a product that was congruous with the factory styling. However, not all of the focus was to simply match the factory spec. The audio had to far surpass even the finest of factory offerings. The build started with plenty of SoundSkins Pro to quiet the interior and reduce resonances that could be generated by the new gear. This gear is an impressive list of top-shelf speakers and electronics. The audio signal starts with a NAV-TV M650-GM interface that extrapolates a clean signal from the factory radio. This, along with the output of a Mosconi AMAS2, was fed into a Mosconi 8to12 Aersospace processor. From there the signal travels to two Mosconi Zero4 amplifiers and a Zero1 amplifier. The two 4-channel amplifiers actively power a Focal Utopia No.7 kit in the front and a Focal Integration coaxial set in the rear. The Zero1 amplifier powers a pair of Focal Utopia 21wx subwoofers.
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The fabrication materials used in this build were confined to only the best, Baltic birch, Acrylic and PVC. The choice of materials was made to ensure this build lasts the life of the car. In the front, the 3-inch and 1-inch were installed in custom A-Pillars wrapped in OEM vinyl. While the pillars look great, the real eye candy is in the trunk. The fabrication team at Sound FX, led by Matt Schaeffer, did an incredible job of creating a visual and aural masterpiece. Countless layers and finishes were used to develop a captivating design that keeps the viewer discovering more and more detail the longer they look. Creative lighting helps to draw the eye of the viewer and highlight the various aspects of the build.
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TOTALLY TRICK TRUNK BUILD SUBMITTED BY: CHARLES BRAZIL, FIRST COAST AUTO CREATIONS, JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
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This Jacksonville client was looking for a facility that could breathe new life into the trunk of his Monte Carlo. After looking through Instagram a bit, some of the builds from First Coast Auto Creations caught the client’s eye. The client stopped by to talk with the owner, Charles Brazil, to get a feel for what they could do with his trunk. Impressed by the potential ideas, the appointment was booked. The team was tasked with installing a full range of gear from JL
Audio. The door interiors of the car were getting C2 coaxes in 6.5 and 6by 9-inch sizes. The speakers were powered by a JL Audio 450/4 amplifier. The trunk is where the magic happened. Three JL Audio 10w6v3’s along with a 500/1 amplifier and a 1000/1 amplifier were planned for the build. Along with the normal First Coast Auto Creations crew, Atlanta fabrication wiz Erick Markland was also in on the trunk build. The design for the build was a
clean, symmetrical layout. All three amplifiers were in the floor of the trunk under a false floor panel. The two larger amplifers were displayed under unique cutouts in the floor. The cutout perimeter was highlighted with a painted silver trim ring. In the center of the cutout resides a First Coast Auto Creations logo badge. A mixture of vinyl carpet and painted accents combine to create a visually stunning trunk.
from the President
Increasing Profit Through Strategic Purchasing Understand what you sell and why you sell it by taking a closer look at SKU rationalization. Your primary objective as a retailer is to sell products and services at a profit, allowing you to reinvest to grow your business. Your customer doesn’t want to hear that you don’t have what they want in stock. Your salesperson may lose the sale and your technician may not have work to perform. How do you know which products to keep in stock and what to order? What is a an SKU? The acronym SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit and is often used to identify the product, product type and manufacturer. That says a lot. How can you can create a focused plan to increase profitability through strategic product purchasing? If you are not getting more people through the door, you must strategically plan profitability before the sale. And that requires that you know what to stock and how best to buy and display it. This is what SKU rationalization is all about.
Predictors – Know your Top Vehicles Start by doing an analysis of the top ten or twelve vehicles that enter your facility. If you have this data in your system, that’s great news. If not, get started today. Two lists come to mind—one, the vehicles for the sales you close, and two, those that you don’t. Tracking what you don’t close will give you a handle on missed opportunities. Knowing the vehicles allows you to plan better for reoccurring vehicle-specific SKUs. For example, if 20 percent of the vehicles that enter your shop are similar, then you will need a certain amount of vehicle-specific product every week or every month. This allows you to take some of the mystery out of these purchases and helps you communicate with your vendor regarding a forecast for future purchases.
Know Your History – Product Selection by Sales Volume Regardless of how you track your inventory, you should have a full understanding of just how much inventory you have. The measurements to track are the number of weeks on hand for any given SKU and the total dollar amount available. Your inventory levels should be determined by your actual sales volume. There are many guidelines for how much product you should have in stock. For example, I usually kept around four weeks of inventory for products that moved well.
58 Mobile Electronics April 2018
I was also careful to monitor overall inventory dollar levels to keep them in line with the rate of sales. I would establish an open to buy number that served as a filter to keep me from overbuying on the deal of the week. Remember that you can’t buy more unless you sell what you have. To that end, make sure you review your dust collectors. If it has been sitting on your shelf for more than a year, get rid of it. That product is costing you money even if you have already paid for it. This includes your display inventory.
Strategic Planning Equals Smarter Purchasing You must have a plan to profitability. Don’t be drawn into buying end-of-the-month deals. Don’t jump at every special offer. Learn to create systems that focus on merchandising and generating profit. Understand the best way to test your current product mix against your plan to find out whether the products you’re selling are right for your business. This should be based on knowing your business model and budget, then supporting the model you created to decide what you should sell and why should you sell it. Once you know your sales history and understand what you have in stock, make a list of the orders you could place with your vendors that could be input as a scheduled purchase order. When placing a scheduled PO, request a way out of the order if any of the SKUs drop below 50 percent of the forecasted rate of sale. Your vendors should be your partners in business. They appreciate the forecast, and most will do what they can to help meet your goals. Understanding what to buy and when is an important part of running a growing business. Think about what you will do differently on your next purchase. Be cautious of new products on the market. New products have no history. Ask your vendor for information that supports why they feel their new product will be your next hot seller. Buy smart, buy often and buy what sells. If you’re taking a chance on something new, ask your vendor for marketing support and training for their new product. Make sure you understand it and have a plan to sell and install it. Always have a product plan—and make sure that plan supports your mission and goals. You will be glad you did.
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Mobile Electronics Magazine April 2018