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November 2019

me-mag.com

Go Means Green

Traffic Jams keeps the profit pedal down with smart diversification and an expanding influence

Top Seller!

PLUS Difference: Frankie Makes His Mark in New Jersey Installs: Rangel and Brettle Dress Up Germans Strategy: Keenan’s Keen on Pushing Past Limits

2019 Sales Pro Jayson Cook perfects his craft with a pitch that evolves with technology


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Volume 48 // Issue 11

Articles

20 14

20 Retail News 58 Installs

Departments

FEATURES 14// Sales Pro of the Year: Bridging the Gap While helping clients turn their dreams into reality, Sales Pro of the Year Jayson Cook hopes to give back by teaching and helping foster better communication between salespeople and installers.

28// Real World Retail: Traffic Jams Motorsports Traffic Jams Motorsports diversified during the recession in order to survive. Now, the team is aiming even higher and setting their sights on the national stage.

38// Difference Makers: 12 Volt Marketing Group Sure there’s Springsteen, but a well-timed walk in the North Hall at CES kick-started Franklin Mark’s rockin’ career as founder of 12 Volt Marketing Group.

44// Strategy & Tactics: Finding a Vision for Your Business If your business owns you, then it’s time to rethink your approach. Learn to create a vision that will encourage financial growth—while also allowing you to spend time with those you love most.

50// Tech Today: Check Your Power Stop-start systems can affect how aftermarket upgrades operate. Here are some ways to cope with this technology. On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Manny DeJesus Traffic Jams Motorsports survived the recession by working hard and focusing on necessities its customers couldn’t live without. Now, they continue to expand and learn from continued training, applying new ideas and concepts designed to help the business grow. Also on this month’s cover is Jayson Cook of Columbus Car Audio & Accessories, who was named Sales Pro of the Year at KnowledgeFest Dallas in August.

4  Mobile Electronics November 2019

6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback

Ad Index Accele Electronics.............................................…p. 2 & 3 Alpine…...............................................................................p. 7 Arc Audio......................................................................…p. 37 AudioControl..............................................................…p. 55 Audison.........................................................................…p. 57 Aurigin: Hybrid Audio Technologies...............…p. 49 Author Alarm.............................................................…p. 41 Cobra Electronics....................................................…p. 25 CRUX Interfacing Solutions...............................…p. 46 DD Audio.......................................................................…p. 19 Directed.........................................................................…p. 12 Firstech........................................................................…p. 63 Fullriver Battery: Full Throttle............................…p. 41 Harman..........................................................................…p. 21 HD Radio......................................................................…p. 35 InstallerNet................................................................…p. 45 Instrument Sales & Service (ISS)..................…p. 43 JL Audio...........................................................................…p. 5 K40 Electronics….......................................................p. 33 Kicker............................................................................…p. 23 Mobile Electronics Association (MEA)........…p. 39 MECP.............................................................................…p. 59 Memphis Audio….........................................................p. 47 Metra Electronics…......................................................p. 11 Morel America…..........................................................p. 43 MSC America: BRAX...............................................…p. 31 Orca: Focal....................................................................…p. 17 Rockford Fosgate....................................................…p. 53 Rydeen Mobile Electronics.................................…p. 42 SiriusXM….......................................................................p. 13 Sony…..................................................................................p. 9 SounDigital..................................................................…p. 61 Uniden...........................................................................…p. 27 USA SPEC...................................................................…p. 42 VAIS Technology......................................................…p. 26 VOXX Electronics…....................................................p. 64 Waylens.......................................................................…p. 49


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 feedback

There’s Always Room for Improvement Results depend on the level of commitment. Retailers advise continued learning and looking for ways to improve operations on a daily basis.

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 978.645.6457 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels Editor-in-Chief 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • rosas@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Manny DeJesus Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp and Laura Kemmerer

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com

“Learn how to use a DSP in your own car. When you think you can do better, delete and do it again and again. Go to your local high-end home audio shop and listen to the good stuff. The one near me just got a pair of $50k speakers that sound stunning. This should be your tuning goal. You can’t improve the sound if you don’t have a reference point better than what you are used to.” Erick Freeman, Carbon Autosports, Powell, Ohio “Know your team. Know your customer. Know your numbers. In that order.” Andrew Woodward, Elevated Audio, Lakewood, Colo. “We get out of our company what we put in. The end result can swing both ways based on our commitment to what we do on a daily basis.” Josh Landau, JML Audio of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo. “Don’t be afraid of the possibility that anything—whether it’s operations, sales, or install-related—can be done in a more effective way. Always look at your business and look for areas to improve whether it be something simple like saving time by having rolling carts for your techs, or having a morning cleaning session with the team before you start your day. Use the top shops in the country as models and don’t be afraid to reach out to those shops you may want to emulate.” Tommy Craig, Elevated Audio, Lakewood, Colo.

6  Mobile Electronics November 2019

Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.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 © 2019by the Mobile Electronics 4) Date of filing: Oct.1, 2019.5) Frequency of issue: Monthly. 6) No. of issues published annually: 127) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 8) Periodical postage paid at LawrenceMA and additional mailing offices. 9) Complete mailing address of known officeof publication: 85 FlagshipDrive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 10) Completemailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher:85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) Full names and completemailing address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Chris Cook,85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845; Editor/Managing Editor:Solomon Daniels/Rosa Sophia, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 0184512) Owner: MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive,Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 13) Known bondholders, mortgages, andother 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 ofPublication: Mobile Electronics. 16) Issue date for circulation data below: October2018. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 10,237 Single Issue; 12,826.b) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6039, Single Issue: 7346. c) Paidsales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; d) Requested distributed byother classes of mail: Average: 435, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requestedcirculation; Average 6039. Single issue: 7346. e) Nonrequested distribution bymail; Average: 3593Single issue: 4223. Free distribution through other classesof mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. f) Non-requested distribution outside the mail;Average: 267. Single issue: 750. g) Total nonrequested distribution; Average3860, Single issue: 4973. h) Total distribution; Average: 9,899. Single issue: 12,319.i) Copies not distributed; h1) Office use, leftovers; Average: 338. Single Issue; 507j) Total; Average: 10,237. Single issue; 12.826Percent paid and/or requestedcirculation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%. 17) POSTMASTER: Please sendaddress changes to Mobile Electronics, 85 Flagship Drive Suite F, North AndoverMA 01845-9998


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editor’s forum

8 Tips to Take the Career Wheel

Where you work is one thing. Who you are is another thing entirely. Whether you are a salesperson, installer or other vital cog in the retail store machinery, you are somewhere along the path that is your career, and I hope you are getting what you want from it. If your path includes a desire for growth and advancement, you represent the majority of non-storeowners in our industry, based on surveys we’ve done in the past. Yet, so many people I talk to in this position feel like they don’t control their own career path, because of where they live or how big (small) their store is, or how little they know. So, let’s change that. I want to give you eight pointers that will help you become the only factor in where your career takes you. #1: Understand first that it’s your career, not a job. When you see a doctor, he or she doesn’t wear a tag that says “Doctor at Main Street Memorial Smith.” It says “Doctor Smith.” Even though you work for a particular store, it doesn’t change the fact that you have a skill you can apply anywhere. Building a career centers on perfecting a skillset others want and will pay for. Which leads to the next point.… #2: Don’t ever feel like you’re limited. I know many people work for smaller operations in which career choices are limited due to store and staff size. But that should not stop you from learning more than your current position requires. In an industry dealing with constant change, the new skills you learn could become very important to your store (or another store) as it changes to remain competitive. #3: Speaking of learning, take education in all its forms. In the magazine business, if we feel something is beneficial to our audience, we include it regardless of the source. That’s how you should be. Don’t cherry-pick your opportunities to learn. Turning down knowledge because you don’t like where it comes from is just dumb, and it hurts your opportunity to learn. Your only consideration should be whether or not what you learn will help you. If the answer is yes, then take it. #4: Be informed, not influenced. Social media participation is more the rule these days rather than the exception. But it suffers from the same “empowerment via anonymity” as does the entire Internet: People say whatever they want to say,

8  Mobile Electronics November 2019

whether it’s true, provable, right … or not. Filter out what’s important from what isn’t. Also, do what your mama taught you: Make your own determinations about whether a person, product or service is good or bad for you. Another person’s opinion is based on a limitless number of factors, most of which are entirely different from your own. #5: Get your own … everything. Careers require investment. Most of that investment is time, but a good part is also money. Consider yourself a marketable entity rather than an employee. A plumber doesn’t go to a client’s house and ask to borrow their tools to do the work. If what you do earns you a living, you should strive to have all the resources you need, whether they are supplied by your employer or not. #6: Discover different ways to create. Sales and installation are creative processes because they require non-systematic, dynamic thinking and subjective execution. You can’t write an instruction manual for sales because every customer is different, as is every car, driver preference and enhancement need in the installation world. Creativity takes different paths to the same objective. Don’t be resistant to learning multiple ways to accomplish the same thing, and don’t be so naive to think that your way is the only or best way to do something. #7: Remember how small our industry really is. There’s a saying that goes, “You never know who you’re going to work for, or with. So don’t burn bridges.” Undue or inappropriate criticism, perceived disrespect, unfounded negative opinions, unresolved disagreements—whether directed at people, product or companies—can irreparably dissolve relationships or stop them from forming. And if karma has any say, it will be a relationship that would have provided you with opportunities in the future. And #8: Develop and live by your own standard. There’s a reason that “A” is better than “C” in school. While the latter is acceptable, the former represents achievement of a higher standard. We learn our standards from our parents and from people we look up to. Use these influences to create your own standards for quality of work, integrity and how you treat others.


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New-style distributors play the game as good as vendors

35%

Percentage of Primary Inventory Bought Through Distribution

16% 25

Product Availability

50

23%

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48%

worst

100

46%

worst

5%

75

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4%

24%

11%

3% 0

Worst to Best: Rating Distributors on:

35%

21% 2%

63%

Personalized Service

28% 21%

8%

best worst best

10  Mobile Electronics November 2019

best

37% 25%

2%

worst

best

worst

16%

best


facebook.com/MobileElectronics  11


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The next-generation business model is here, but what is it? There are many possibilities: the agile organization, the networked organization, and a holacracy, a method of decentralized management in which decisions are made by self-organizing teams (see Zappos). Ultimately, leaders need to know what will work. How do you build an organization or company that can respond to fast-changing markets? What type of organization delivers speed and scale, and how do you lead it? The authors of this book give leaders a six-step blueprint to reinventing an organization based on research at leading firms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Huawei and Supercell. If you’re seeking a roadmap to reinvention for your business, this book might be a place to start.

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The tag line for this security company could not be more on point: What do you have to lose? As a business owner, there’s probably a long list. Some of the main considerations are business security cameras, access control systems (safeguard against intrusion; protect employees) and fire alarm systems (Bay Alarm installs, monitors, tests and inspects). The company also specializes in video verification (alert police to an intrusion in progress) and remote access and management (manage security from anywhere with your computer or smartphone using Bay Alarm Link). Founded in 1946 and still a family-run operation, Bay Alarm is the largest independently owned security company in the nation. Call 1-800-610-1000 to get a free quote. What do you have to lose, right?

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The Program: Lessons From Elite Military Units for Creating and Sustaining High Performance Leaders and Teams BY BY ERIC KAPITULIK AND JAKE MACDONALD

Offering a hands-on guide to the winning techniques and tactics of The Program—a team building and leadership development company founded in 2008, and used by many corporations and professional athletic organizations—this book is the roadmap to reinventing your business. Eric Kapitulik, founder and CEO of The Program, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served as both a Marine Infantry Officer and a Special Operations Officer. He is an ultra-endurance athlete and an avid high-altitude mountaineer who has summitted Mt. Everest. Drawing on the actual experiences of The Program’s instructors from their personal combat stories to takeaways from world-class athletic teams and successful corporations, this book details how The Program’s training operations can help to achieve life goals and ambitions in addition to bringing your company to the next level of success, holding your managers and sales team to the highest standards and communicating effectively. According to the authors, we only grow as individuals and as a team when we are outside our comfort zones.

SNACKNATION GET.SNACKNATION.COM/HOME

With demanding work schedules and equally busy home lives, it can be challenging for anyone to make time to shop for and prepare meals, and pack healthy snacks during the week. It’s when we’re low on time that we hit the company vending machine and go for those high-sugar options. Gummy bears, chocolate bars, donuts—you name it. Enter SnackNation, who made it their mission to find healthy snack brands and connect them with people craving a better alternative. Each box contains 150 single-serve snacks curated from a rotating selection from SnackNation’s library of premium options. Get bars, chips, jerky, granola, trail mix, dried fruit and more. Prices start at $199 including FREE delivery and a display case.

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SiriusXM subscription sold separately by SiriusXM. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   13 © 2018 Sirius XM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc. All other marks, channel names and logos are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.


 Sales Pro of the Year

Bridging the Gap While helping clients turn their dreams into reality, Sales Pro of the Year Jayson Cook hopes to give back by teaching and helping foster better communication between salespeople and installers. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

For most of his career, Jayson Cook has been with Columbus Car Audio and Accessories in Columbus, Ohio. After attending Mobile Dynamics in 1996 with the intention of becoming an installer, Cook started working in sales in 1998 instead. He left once—for about a year— and worked as an installer, but returned to the sales floor. “When I started in sales, I just ran with it,” he said. “A good friend of mine was a box builder, so everyone around the neighborhood went to him to build boxes, and I helped him a lot with that. A lot of people knew of me, so when I started selling, they were coming in the front door.” Although he hadn’t intended to become a salesperson, Cook said, “I love this industry. I love cars and audio in general, so what I love about sales is that I’m able to put dream systems together for people and use their money to do it. You get to see their reaction. A lot of the technicians don’t get to see that—the end user getting excited about it. I think my passion overflows into the sales process. People pick up on that and start to get pumped up about what they can do. I have embraced sales over the years.”

The Evolution of Sales in the 12-Volt Industry Continuous changes in technology require continuous evolution for the salesperson, according to Cook, who

14  Mobile Electronics November 2019

noted that it used to be the norm to say, “Let’s change that radio out.” It was the first step, he said. “I’ve got a Model S Tesla back here. There’s no way we could change that. Who would want to change that? I just did an amazing system in a 2020 Ram, and it’s the same thing. It’s got that 12-inch tablet style radio, and

I would be stupid to tell the guy, ‘Let’s change that radio out and put this little 7-inch touchscreen in,’ or even a floating Halo 9-inch.” OEM integration is a huge focus, he added. “For me, I’m pitching doing a 5-channel amplifier and a sub to start out, not even touching the speakers


Bridging the Gap

because the most difference I see for my clients is when we add a sub. I can put a $3,000 set of front stage components in there, and they’re like, ‘Oh, okay, yeah,’ and then as soon as we put a sub in there, they say, ‘That’s what I was after.’” Another challenge, he added, involves easy access to information. “When I was young and just getting into this, I had Crutchfield and JC Whitney catalogs. Now you can Google so much stuff. You really have to know what you’re doing, and you have to be able to give that customer the experience.” Creating an experience for the customer is a main focus for the sales team at Columbus Car Audio. While customers are more educated, he added, they may be more overwhelmed because of the amount of information available. This requires the salesperson to be quick on their feet. “You have to learn how to adapt. I was told early on in my career that you kind of have to be a chameleon. Everyone is different. You never know what you’re getting. Just because one guy is in a suit and driving a Porsche and the other guy’s driving an old custom vehicle, it doesn’t make them any different. At the end of the day, they’re still people and they’re still wanting what we have to offer,” Cook said. “You have to figure out how to relate to them.”

Last year, Columbus Car Audio completed an audio build in a red semi. This year, the owner of the truck returned with a brand new Kenworth and asked for a similar custom install. Cook said one of his favorite aspects of being a salesperson is building relationships with clients who then return to the shop again and again.

Helping Clients Find Solutions Cook uses top-down selling to educate the customer and help them decide what they want. “I see myself as just another guy who’s helping somebody out. I start at the top and work my way down. It’s not because the top is the most expensive—it’s because a lot of people who come through this door don’t know what the top is.” The client may not be aware of what’s available to them, he added, and it’s his job to inform them. “If you come in for a CD player, I’m going to show you one that has navigation because maybe you didn’t know you could get that. We’re going to work our way down, and if we get to a $79 CD player, then that’s fine, but at least you know all the other options that are available. Rather than, ‘Hey, here’s the

$79 CD player,’ and you’re done, and they come back a week later saying, ‘You didn’t tell me I could get all this other stuff.’ I like to find solutions.” When talking with a client, Cook said, “I try to go out to the car. If they come in wanting better sound, you don’t know what it sounds like without going out and listening to it with them,” he explained, adding that he prefers the client show him what they listen to at the volume they most enjoy. “A lot of guys in the industry have demo tracks they use, and I understand the reasoning, but in my opinion, with music in general, if you put on something

I can’t relate to, it’s not going to move me to do anything,” he said. “If I’m showing someone a set of speakers, I may be able to point out the instruments and how clear they are, but it doesn’t matter to them because they don’t listen to that kind of music. I like to listen to whatever the client likes to listen to.” At Columbus Car Audio, he added, the customer usually decides to go with an amp and sub. “That’s what separates us from just being salespeople. I’m not just clerking boxes, I’m actually trying to find out what will be the best solution for you. I love big-ticket sales—that’s how we make money—but at the same time, facebook.com/MobileElectronics

15


 Sales Pro of the Year

Cook explained that part of his sales process is top-down selling—not to increase the size of the ticket, but to make sure the client knows what’s available. “A lot of people who come through this door don’t know what the top is,” he said.

I don’t just want to sell you something. I am not just going to sell you this because I make more money on it,” he said. “I’m

16  Mobile Electronics November 2019

When visiting a client’s vehicle, Cook asks them to play the music they most enjoy, at the volume they prefer, to get a better understanding of what they need.

going to sell you this because this is the solution you need.” Last year in Mobile Electronics magazine, the shop shared a red semi build they had just finished. “The guy came in a few months ago with a new blue Kenworth semi,” Cook said. “I said to him, ‘What happened to the red one?’ He said, ‘This is my new one. One of my guys is driving the red one.’ I said, ‘Well, you can’t have one of your guys using a better system than you.’” Columbus Car Audio outfitted the new semi with Hertz products and Rockford amplifiers. “That was a really cool

experience. That’s one of my favorite things: Once I build that relationship, the client comes back. They have faith in you. That’s the greatest thing for me. Over the years, we’ve done so much together that I know what they’re after, and they know what I can give them.”

Highlighting Selling Strategies in the Industry Cook said he still uses Eddy Kay’s sales techniques to train his staff, but salespeople also have to know the technical side of things. “As a salesperson, you need to know what you’re selling, how it works and what makes it work,” he said. “If someone comes in and they have a pair of woofers and they don’t know how to get it wired down to two ohms, you need to be able to show them how to do that and understand it. I think salespeople need to have a little bit of a technical background—not near as much as an installer, but you need to have some of the basics down.” Cook said he feels there hasn’t been enough of a focus in the industry on how to sell products. “That’s what I wanted to


Bridging the Gap

facebook.com/MobileElectronics

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 Sales Pro of the Year

change. I’ve been in the industry a long time and I feel I have a lot to give back, so we started the 12v Sales Pro Facebook group to have a spot for sales. There are lots of technical outlets, but nothing geared toward, ‘How can I sell this better?’” The main goal of the group, he added, is to share sales ideas. The group is still relatively new, and Cook said Elias Ventura—2017 Sales Pro of the Year—has helped a lot. He’s also one of the group admins. “I can sell products all day long, but if my guys can’t install it, we’re all at fault,” Cook added. “It is a team effort. Once the award came, the staff here threw a little surprise party for me in the conference room. It’s an individual award, but the people behind me make me who I am. I couldn’t do this without the support I have from everyone here, and in the industry. There are so many people who have had my back or pushed me along over the years.” Recently, Cook taught a class at a sales training in Pennsylvania with one of his reps. “It was a small turnout, I felt, but everyone came up and was telling me how much they got out of it, so that was cool.” He added that his ultimate goal is to train more and continue to grow the sales staff. “I would like to be more

18  Mobile Electronics November 2019

involved in training and spend less time on the sales floor.” At the end of the day, he noted, he just wants to help people get better at selling. “To grow this industry, it has to start in the front of the house as well as in the back. There should be professional salespeople just like there are professional installers. I love that salespeople are getting more of a voice in the industry now.” He hopes to teach at KnowledgeFest one day with the goal of growing the sales side of the industry. “I would like to discuss communication between the front and back of the store— working with technicians and salespeople to create a better outcome for the client,” he said. “It’s great when techs knows

exactly what you’re after, and that comes from working as a team.” Salespeople and technicians don’t necessarily know what it’s like to be in each other’s shoes, he added, “and I think that has to change if you want to grow and make your shop successful. I think we do that really well here.”


Bridging the Gap

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 retail news Car-Tunes, Inc. Expands Home Theater Product Offerings to Complement Car Audio Greenville, Miss.-based Car-Tunes, Inc. has recently added Focal home theater to its product offerings, according to owner Kimberly Trainer. The line complements the Focal car audio products the shop already carries. “It just makes sense to offer an elite sound product for the home to our customers who already appreciate the quality sound of Focal for their car,” she said. Car-Tunes, Inc. offers a unique variety of products in-store. “In order to give our customers a boutique experience, we have created a Focal Listening Room to deliver a personal presentation of a selection of Focal Custom Integration in-wall speaker systems in a simulated home layout with a wall-mounted LCD TV, center-front-rear surround sound with subwoofer, couch and LED side table.” The set-up is completed by a Focal area rug and a popcorn machine to make clients feel at home. Glass doors will soon be added to complete the listening room and separate it from the rest of the store. The Focal Custom Integration Listening room includes a surround sound home cinema with various listening options for clients: • 300IWLCR6 FLAX 3way left-centerright in-wall loudspeaker • Two 300IW6 FLAX 2-way in-wall loudspeakers arranged around a flat screen to the front wall with magnetic surface speaker grilles allowing easy removal for detailed demonstration • Two 100IW6 Polyglass 2-way in-wall loudspeakers in the rear wall positioned at head height when seated on the couch • SUB1000F 12-inch FLAX 1,000 watt subwoofer • SUB300P Polyglass 10-inch 300 watt subwoofer • CUB3 8-inch 150 watt subwoofer Clients who’ve visited the listening room are impressed with the sound and the products, Trainer said. “Our first home cinema installation was recently completed with great success for a

20  Mobile Electronics November 2019

WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

long-time client who is also a big fan of our Focal car speakers,” she added, noting this type of client is a focus when it comes to marketing the home theater category in-store. “We invite everyone who visits to spend time experiencing both our Focal boutique for car audio, and our Focal Listening room for home cinema.”


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 retail news

Tunes-N-Tint Spreads Company Name Through Mobile Electronics Event Investment, Syndicate Group Kicks Giveaways

WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

Off Live Stream Show

The Mobile Electronics Syndicate Facebook group, an online home for 12-volt industry professionals to share ideas and network, now has its own live stream show thanks to Ethan Blau of Sound Wave Customs in Virginia Beach, Va. and Ata Ehdaivand of Absolute Electronix in Rockville, Md. Members of the Syndicate group pick the topics with a vote, and the live show is usually scheduled for Thursdays. On Mondays, Blau posts a poll for topics, and group members vote from there. “It helps people feel more comfortable. The show itself is an open discussion. People are able to reach out to me,” Blau said. “We even developed a logo just for Industry Chatter, and people have started requesting t-shirts.” The live stream, called Industry Chatter, results in Blau getting 10 to 15 messages a week, usually about topic ideas or discussions regarding what had previously aired. “We host the show, but it doesn’t mean we’re 100 percent correct on everything,” Blau said. “On a live episode, people comment during and after. We’ve had upwards of 500 comments in an hour during a live show. I learn from them and they learn from us.”

22  Mobile Electronics November 2019

Director of Lakeland, Florida-based Tunes-N-Tint Joe Cassity has been spreading the shop’s name through heavy investment in a number of events, with multiple shows scheduled for the rest of the year. “For 2019 we have two boat shows, nine motorcycle events, one car show and eight parking lot events, including remote feeds from a local radio station,” Cassity said. “One of the things we use the off-site events for is consumer and brand awareness. We aren’t attempting to sell [or] install products at these events. We bring tents, [active] displays—if the venue doesn’t have electric, we bring [12-volt] car batteries charged—[and] product to show and tell about. And most important off all, [freebies and swag giveaways.]” Cassity has consistently found that customers enjoy the free stuff, noting a throwback to when t-shirts came with amplifiers. He also noted that these gestures help build brand awareness, and that it also helps drive repeat customer visits, as they come out to see what new, free stuff the shop might have to give away. “We’ve had tons of overlap between our categories with customers from motorcycle events and boat events getting products for their cars and trucks,” Cassity said. “Window tint, accessories, audio [and] lighting—it all sees an increase when we have more traffic in the door and consumer awareness helps a lot!”


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 hot sellers

PLAY IT LOUD

For customers seeking sound solutions for a car, boat or motorcycle, retailers say they just turn it up. Letting the client listen for themselves remains the best way to sell the product.

PAC AmpPRO AP4-FD21 Amplifier Integration Interface Submitted by: Kimberly Trainer, Car-Tunes Inc., Greenville, Miss. Main Selling Features: “This interface allows the addition of an aftermarket amplifier to the factory Sony system without any issues, integrating the new equipment seamlessly so it sounds amazing.” Primary Objection: “There are no objections when it’s explained to the customer why it’s necessary for their purchase to perform correctly with their vehicle’s factory system in words they can understand.” How to Overcome: “I compliment their vehicle and tell them it deserves the proper integration to make it sound as great as possible.”

JBL BassPro HUB Spare Tire 11-Inch Powered Subwoofer Submitted by: Aaron Joseph, Horizon Audio, Canton, Ohio Main Selling Features: “It doesn’t require any trunk space. It slams!” Primary Objection: “Price—and people are skeptical as to whether or not it will sound good.” How to Overcome: “We assure our customers that we’re confident it will provide sufficient bass, and we demo the unit.”

Alpine ILX-F309 Halo9 Head Unit Submitted by: Butch Boisjolie, Site on Sound Inc., Fargo, ND Main Selling Features: “Size and ease of use.” Primary Objection: Price and compatibility. How to Overcome: “Product features help overcome objections.”

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 hot sellers

Kicker CXA 800.1 800 RMS Amplifier Submitted by: Ben Marr, National Auto Sound, Independence, Mo. Main Selling Features: “Usable at 4-, 2-, 1-ohm load with FIT technology eliminating the need for a line output converter for most vehicles. This is a good quality product because of its flexibility. The power output allows it to be installed with just about any subwoofers into most vehicles.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We explain to the customer exactly the amount of power and flexibility that comes with this product, and that it cannot be matched by another name brand amplifier at anywhere near this price.”

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Match (Audiotec Fischer) UP 7 DSP 7-Channel DSP Amplifier Submitted by: Pat Lee, Certified Autosound and Security, Abbotsford, BC, Canada Main Selling Features: “It’s a solution product that works in so many applications. We love it!” Primary Objection: “Learning curve, labor cost to install. Many people do not understand DSP-based amplifiers and don’t get why they need to pay us to install and tune them. It takes time to educate them on this fact.” How to Overcome: “We show them the steps and the difference between a basic analog amplifier and a DSP-based amplifier. Often, the DSP-based amplifier is the only choice for them, but we always educate them on what the amplifier is doing for them and where that value lies.”

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   27


real world RETAIL

The BIGGE Traffic Jams Motorsports diversified during the recession in order to survive. Now, the team is aiming even higher and setting their sights on the national stage. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Traffic Jams Motorsports opened 26 years ago in Buford, Ga. according to company president Yamil Widy. “I’ve owned Traffic Jams since September of 2006,” he said. “Our first location was a 2,500-square-foot facility, three miles

28  Mobile Electronics November 2019

up the road, and we’ve grown into a 25,000-square-foot facility.” The move came about by transforming a downturn into opportunity. The recession that started in 2008 forced the company to reconsider its business model with a focus on survival. “That’s when we became more of a one-stop-shop instead of just 12-volt,” Widy explained. “It was

a time of reflection to ensure we did what we could to survive. We were able to purchase our current building during the recession. It was the best decision we ever made.” As a result of diversifying, Traffic Jams offers numerous services including automotive mechanical work, performance upgrades, turbo installation, engine


THE BIGGER PICTURE

ER Picture swaps, upholstery, wheels and tires, window tint, car wraps—and of course, the main focus—car and marine audio. “If one department is having a slow month, there’s always another that picks it up,” Widy said. He added that the company also has a dealer’s license and sells one or two vehicles a month. Besides the retail side of the business, Widy noted the facility has perfected a process of box-building which they are sharing with other retailers across the

country. Overall, Traffic Jams Motorsports’ retail reputation has become nationwide, evidenced by the need for the tractor trailer they use to transport vehicles from all over the country to their location. With the hope of truly making the business a one-stop-shop for customers, Widy said they intend to add a paint and body department once they expand. The business will be able to offer just about every service to automotive enthusiasts. Plans

for expansion are already in the works. “We hope to have 50,000 square feet of facility in the future,” Widy said. “We want to hire more employees. We want to take a bigger market share not just here in Georgia, but in the U.S. overall.”

From Surviving to Thriving in Multiple Categories Marine audio continues to grow due to shop’s close proximity to Lake Lanier, the largest lake in Georgia. Mobile techs will facebook.com/MobileElectronics   29


real world RETAIL

At the end of the day, each team member reports on the tasks they completed via group chat so it’s always clear what everyone is working on. Pictured from left to right: Ron Venable, Tyler Jankowski, Jeff Cheek and Michael “Biscuit” Bischoff. travel to the lake to work on larger boats, while smaller ones are transported to the bay. “Usually, we’ll have two or three boats here at a time. Marine business is a huge part of what we do.” Fifty-five percent of the business is focused on car and marine audio collectively. Traffic Jams works on boats year-round, and their seasonal focuses include motorcycles, four-wheelers and jet skis. The shop prioritizes client satisfaction with no-pressure sales techniques, Widy said. The customer waiting area is a fun, comfortable place, complete with arcade machines in the showroom and TVs. “We make them very comfortable, and they’re happy with the quality of our work. The brand we’re selling is Traffic Jams Motorsports. Once they know what they’re buying, they start trusting us and believing in what we do.” To help increase awareness of the brand, Widy said every car gets a small sticker by the VIN number on the door

30  Mobile Electronics November 2019

which states the vehicle had custom work done at Traffic Jams. The sticker has a factory appearance. “I have to give credit to Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University for that,” Widy said. “When the car gets sold or traded in, customers will always know where the work has been done.” If necessary, the company will pick up customers’ cars at work, home or school and return them when the job is done. The focus is always on the store brand, not the products the store carries. In fact, when it comes to amps, speakers and subwoofers, the only lines offered are JL Audio and Memphis Car Audio. Any other brands in-store are items such as head units. This past year, Traffic Jams was named to the Top 12 Retailers list, and one of the business’s installers, Michael “Biscuit” Bischoff, earned a spot as a Top 50 Installer. The aim is to do the highest quality work possible, and Widy added that the shop is more expensive than

most. “A lot of times this isn’t the place for most people, but those who love us want their vehicles babied,” he said. The shop also demonstrates behindthe-scenes work on Facebook as a method of gaining the trust of potential clients. Several levels of quality control ensure the job is completed to the highest standards possible. After a second installer checks the job, a salesperson does the same before the vehicle is returned to the client.

Continued Growth by Embracing Change With a staff of 14, all departments are cross-trained except upholstery. People tend to stick around, Widy said, and the average staff tenure is about six to seven years. Team members keep each other accountable by using a group chat system. At the end of the day, everyone has to submit an individual report on what they completed.


THE BIGGER PICTURE

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real world RETAIL

FAST FACTS Location: Buford, Ga. Number of Locations: 1 Square Footage: 25,000 Type: Traditional Retail Number of Employees: 14 The current facility is 25,000 square feet, which Traffic Jams purchased during the recession when implementing departments like automotive repair to help keep the business afloat. The additional departments did so well they decided to keep them after the economy recovered.

MAIN FOCUS 55% Car and Marine Audio 20% Wheels, Tires and Lift Kits 20% Window Tinting 10% Automotive Repair and Performance

KEY STAFF President: Yamil Widy General Manager: Ron Venable Bay Manager: Kelly Rush

Most departments are cross-trained. If one department is experiencing a slow day, staff can help out elsewhere. Pictured is team member Alex Salinas. In-house training for new hires follows a handbook and a clear structure with rules and regulations. “The first week is all training,” Widy said, adding that new salespeople are trained by general manager Ron Venable. “We also have mandatory training for all staff every two weeks.” Processes and procedures help ensure there is good communication between the front of the store and the back. While training is a big part of the business’s continued growth today, it wasn’t always the case. “For the longest time, all we did was put our heads down and work. We didn’t pay attention to what our competitors were doing. We didn’t pay attention to trainers. We just worried about Traffic

32  Mobile Electronics November 2019

Jams Motorsports, that’s it,” Widy said, adding that all this changed when Jeff Smith from AAMP Global challenged them to attend Michael Bischoff was named a Top 50 Installer this KnowledgeFest. year. As a team, Traffic Jams plans to aim for Retailer “We went, and we of the Year. haven’t looked back since,” he said. “Sitting in those classrooms, hearing these whole, Widy said the staff has become guys talk about issues and problems and more receptive and open to change. how they deal with them—it was one of They’ve also made a team decision to those things where it felt like they were work toward Retail of the Year. talking directly to you.” While it was dif“The staff sees that the changes we’ve ficult to try new things at first, the staff made have improved things for the eventually embraced the idea. On the better,” Widy said. “Now, we look at new


THE BIGGER PICTURE

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real world RETAIL

Groupon for Remote Starts Proves a Failure “We were not doing as many remote starts and alarms as we wanted to, so we did a Groupon to try to kickstart the category. We had a lot of people wanting to do it, and we couldn’t do them all. We also chose the wrong product and we were having issues with their equipment within six months. We ended up having to take out the product, and put another vendor’s product in, and it cost us more headache and money than it was worth. “[If we did it again] I would choose a better vendor. We partnered with another vendor, told them the situation and they brought us their product and we swapped them out. It was probably about 50 remote starts. We have stepped out of that. We don’t need to do $199 remote starts to get people

When it comes to amps, subs and speakers, Traffic Jams only sells Memphis Audio and JL Audio. Outside of that, the business sells radios and head units from other manufacturers, such as DS18 and Sony. things and say, ‘Hey—if it makes us better, let’s try it.’” Trainings both in-house and outside the store contribute to continued growth. Widy said Compustar recently came to the shop and provided a fourhour training, including both hands-on product training and sales training. In August, Traffic Jams took the whole team to KnowledgeFest Dallas. “You come back motivated,” he added. “We’ve done that for the last couple years and we plan to continue. Ron and I go to every KnowledgeFest—not just Dallas.”

Strong Presence in the Community Increases Store Visibility Because the business is so well-known in the local area, much of the work comes through word-of-mouth. With jobs booked two to three weeks out, the only marketing is done online via the Traffic Jams website and social media pages. Widy said they focus on community outreach and charitable work to increase store visibility. Venable handles community-related events, along with sitting on the Buford High School Advisory Board. The shop works with the local high school frequently on events. “Tomorrow they are having a career fair, and we’ll be doing a presentation on what we do,” Widy said.

34  Mobile Electronics November 2019

in the door. Now, people are coming in and we’re just focusing on higher quality builds. Our mentality has changed over the years. We’re trying to be considered a powerhouse, not just a local shop that does anything. We’ve learned to say no.”

Additionally, the shop collaborates with another local business—Jimmy’s Tequila and Carnes—to host a car show that’s getting bigger and bigger every year. The first time they had the show, Widy said, there were 50 cars. In Every two weeks, the staff takes part in mandatory its fourth year, the training, and they also travel to trainings outside the most recent show store—including KnowledgeFest. had 160 vehicles. More vendors are getting involved each year, he added, and run themselves. The campaign accepts this year the show was sponsored by JL public nominations. Audio and Memphis Audio. “Last year we worked to help a family All proceeds from the car show go to who has a baby with hypotonia, or floppy charity, and this year’s efforts included a baby syndrome,” Widy said. “We outBack to School giveaway for lower income fitted a Toyota van for them with help communities. Widy said the shop gave from DS18, and a bunch of different venaway 400 bookbags with pencils, papers dors. We added wheelchair access, a TV, and other school supplies with help from window tinting—made it very comfortJL Audio. able for the child.” Each year, Traffic Jams chooses a charPeople who won money at the last car ity to support. Additionally, the shop show donated it back to the cause, he sponsors a different needy family every said, adding that those in attendance year based on a Facebook campaign they wanted to help. “We also noticed a mix


THE BIGGER PICTURE

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real world RETAIL

JL Audio Always Ready to Assist with Training and Charity “We’ve been with JL Audio for 15 to 16 years, and we’re considered one of their biggest accounts in the southeast. They support us on our car show every year, and this year with our KnowledgeFest expenses. JL has even paid us to go to Miramar, Fla. to train. If we come up with an idea for something, they’re always the first ones willing to help. “When we did our bookbag drive, I called up my rep and told him, and the first thing he said was, ‘What do you need?’ I told him what it was costing me, and that I had to purchase 400 bookbags with supplies. They said, ‘You have a care package on the way. Sell it retail and recoup your money.’ “We did a charity drive when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. We called our customers, and we expected a few things here and there, but our showroom was full ten feet up in the air with all kinds of perishable goods, Pampers, water and toiletries. JL Audio helped us get that to Puerto Rico. “We’re a little bit nontraditional here when it comes to 12-volt because we only carry two main lines for amps and subs—JL Audio and Memphis Car Audio. We carry radios from different manufacturers, but speakers, amps and subwoofers are only JL and Memphis. “The VXi amplifiers have been a major influence for us. Customers love them. They look great and sound great. If you take out what they sell and just focus on JL Audio as a company, they’re a great company with good people. Right now, we’re most excited about the new VXi amps for marine.”

of nationalities at the car show—white, black, Hispanic, Asian,” he said. “When you do good, charitable work, people come together and forget race. It was cool.”

Aiming for the National Stage Traffic Jams continues to build a national reputation, Widy said, which is one of the team’s goals. If there’s a downside to such rapid growth, it’s probably that the business has grown too fast, he said, and as a result it’s been hard to find enough qualified help as quickly as necessary. Widy and Venable have been traveling all over the country in search of technicians outside the local market who might

36  Mobile Electronics November 2019

Traffic Jams hopes to add a paint and body department in the future, covering all sectors of automotive for its clients. Pictured is team member Mark Strickland.

be interested in relocating. “We run into an overload of work and not enough hands to get the work out,” he said. “It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem.” The facility works on vehicles from all over the country and uses a tractor trailer wrapped with their logo to transport cars. The truck also features JL Audio, the company that sponsored the wrap. To accommodate this growth, Traffic Jams is focused on acquiring a second facility—a free-standing building next door. “It would be the same location, but expanded,” Widy said. While accommodating their box-building department, Traffic Jams Motorsports Performance Enclosures, the second building would also house a paint and body department. The current expansion of the road in front of the business’s location will mean more traffic, and more people noticing Traffic Jams Motorsports while driving by. The area is growing fast, and Amazon will be moving in just across the street. This

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Clients can have a drink and play arcade games in the comfortable showroom waiting area.

will mean increased activity, and Widy hopes it will also mean an increase in the business’s customer base. “We’re starting to look at ourselves not just as part of the local market,” Widy said, “but also on the national stage.”


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 Difference Makers

New Jersey’s Other

Boss WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER

Sure there’s Springsteen, but a well-timed walk in the North Hall at CES kick-started Franklin Mark’s rockin’ career as founder of 12 Volt Marketing Group.

Chances are pretty good if you’re looking for Frankie Mark, principal of Bayonne, N.J.-based 12 Volt Marketing Group, he’s navigating the New Jersey Parkway or Turnpike on his way to visit a dealer. (Just ask him about Pennsylvania versus New York drivers!) With an industry career that spans almost 30 years, Mark unexpectedly started his own firm in 2013. “It’s a great story,” he said. “It was three weeks before Christmas and Directed Electronics decided to dissolve my position. It was an eye-opener. I had never been put in

38  Mobile Electronics November 2019

that situation—and I had to react fast. I got a ticket to CES, put on my badge and thought I would walk the show floor and try to get a job. So I headed into the North Hall and within 30 minutes everyone found out I was no longer working with Directed. My cell phone started blowing up. At one point someone said to me that I should just start my own firm. Be my own boss. And I walked out those doors, ripped up the badge I had, got a new one, and quickly came up with the name 12 Volt Marketing Group. I called my lawyer to make sure the name wasn’t

taken in New Jersey. We registered it for $125, I went back into the show with my new badge, got nine lines and started the company.” Today, 12 Volt Marketing Group, based in Bayonne, N.J., covers the metro New York-New Jersey area. It includes the five boroughs of New York and all of New Jersey. “Most recently, I got back from four days in Connecticut so now my coverage extends there as well,” Mark said. “Those dealers need some love!” Additionally, he handles New York’s Rockland, Westchester and Orange counties. As business increased over the last few years, Mark expanded his team. Jose Castellon came on board last year. “He is bilingual which is incredible for this territory,” Mark said. “Over 75 percent of this community is Latin American and he has been an asset in terms of that as well as driving business for the firm.” In addition, Javier Torres is helping the company drive two different segments—marine and power motorsports—which promise lots of potential.

Focused on Helping the Dealer Partnering with a select group of vendors, including Maxxsonics (MB Quart, Crunch, HiFonics and AutoTek), Compustar and AAMP Global, to name a few, is invaluable for Mark, who pointed out a critical common characteristic. “These manufacturers all have passion—that’s number one,” Mark said. “We all know it’s about sales at the end of the


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 Difference Makers

12 Volt Marketing Group Aims to Find Solutions Mark’s Motto: “I’m a business partner and solution maker.” • 28-year veteran in the industry • Started as distributor rep for Beta Sound Distributor • V.P. of Sales for rep firm Northeastern Marketing • NJ Sales Director for Directed Electronics Special practices: Car connectivity, CAN-Bus integration, DSP processing, OEM integration, vehicle telematics, future autonomous integration, fiber optic MOST Interface, vehicle crash avoidance systems. Goals: Focused on 12-volt specialty brands. High margins, non-Internet, protected MAP products. Teach the independent dealer to RESET and become a true 12-volt specialist.

day and, of course, you want to create profitability for everyone, but the bottom line is you’ve got to have a good footprint. There’s a certain connectivity there if I have passion about what I’m doing and I know the vendors I’m working with do, too—if they’re interested in helping the dealer, not just trying to get that order in at the end of the month. For some vendors, that’s all it is—order writing.” Another key for Mark when working with his vendors is flexibility and room for a bit of creativity. “I want to know if they’re able to let me be creative, as not every retailer is the same based on a number of factors like demographics, seasonal and financial status,” he said. Constant communication between Mark and his vendors is also a strategic part of a successful partnership.

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New Jersey’s Other Boss

“Daily phone calls are important,” he added, “and I always encourage the manufacturers to visit the territory which is essential.”

Honesty as a Core Value For Mark to partner with a retailer, there are certain requirements. “You need a clean store,” Mark said, adding that he’s honest with any dealer who needs to freshen things up and reset. “It’s the first thing I notice when I walk into a business and I am sure it’s something a customer notices, too. A retailer also needs inventory and must be dealing with some direct brands already, but the biggest thing is financial stability.” Retailers who want to work with Mark need to be open-minded and willing to listen. “I set up a detail meeting to provide an overview on a plan of action with the manufacturer,” he added. “The most successful meetings are after hours at an off-site place like a restaurant. We’re able to focus on our discussions without being interrupted during daily operations.” One way to keep things operating smoothly for all parties is consistent visitation to the dealers. “That is the key,” Mark said. “I am good facebook.com/MobileElectronics   41


 Difference Makers

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42  Mobile Electronics November 2019

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for six turns a year per dealer. They know I’m there for them and just a phone call away. When I visit the stores, I am always landscaping—giving the retailers ideas. I also take pictures of their stores and post them on social media to give them some visibility.” While every territory is different, he added, the area he covers isn’t one where it makes sense for him to be a stocking rep.


New Jersey’s Other Boss

“We have some key strategic distribution partners so there’s no need for me to have a conflict of interest,” he said. Almost 75 percent of the lines the company represents are three to five days from shipping, Mark added. “We provide the service to get the product out on the next day or same day service to assure the dealer doesn’t lose a sale. I’ve gotten into situations where if it’s a strong account, and they need something, I will tell the manufacturer to charge me the next-day air freight and just get it out to the account. So that’s where I come in with the service. That said, we are able to identify the best-selling SKUs per vendor and will stock those to provide a service to our account base as well as providing a warranty service in case of a defective product.” Training and support for dealers is ongoing. “My manufacturers are very supportive with year-over-year training,” he said. “My company conducts three to four trainings a year and we are looking to double it this year. My vision is to one day conduct a manufacturer trade show right here in the metro New York-New Jersey area for the brands I represent. Since 95 percent of the dealers I work with don’t participate in SEMA and CES, this would give them an opportunity to engage with my vendors locally.” In a growing territory coupled with his incredible passion and commitment, Mark is poised for any challenges the industry presents. It comes down to a simple premise. Relationships with anyone, retailer or vendor, he explained, require honesty. “It’s one my firm’s core values and it’s especially important when you’re dealing with the New York-New Jersey metro market,” Mark said. “We have no filter here. We tell it like it is.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics   43


 strategy & tactics

Finding a Vision for Your Business If your business owns you, then it’s time to rethink your approach. Learn to create a vision that will encourage financial growth—while also allowing you to spend time with those you love most. WORDS BY TOMAS KEENAN

When I became MECP certified at the age of 17, all I knew how to do was work. I felt proud that I could outwork anyone, and I thought following a work ethic

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was all I needed to become a profitable businessman. Even as I was installing electronics in clients’ cars, I wanted more for myself. I dreamed of being my own boss. I’m guessing you can relate since you are reading this.

I could only last four years working for someone else before I opened my own doors. At 21, with just $300 to my name, I was confident that my grand idea of outworking anyone and everyone would bring me what I wanted in life.


Finding a Vision for Your Business

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www.InstallerNet.com • 800-444-1644


 strategy & tactics Back then, I misunderstood the difference between being an entrepreneur and a businessman. Believe me, they are not one and the same.

Rethinking Your Business Model When you work in your business, it owns you. You don’t own it. You are at its beck and call. You’d better not get sick or hurt, and just try to have kids and be there for them and your spouse as much as you want. Not gonna happen. I learned these lessons up close and personal twice. Once, when I hurt my back and couldn’t work for three weeks, my income ground to a halt for that long, too, and it happened again when my wife, Jenn, and I had our three kids and a complication developed with my son. Fortunately, there was a major difference between the time I hurt my back, and when my six-month-old son needed me, which was the second time my business came to a halt. I hurt my back because I was overweight and my body couldn’t handle all the extra stress.

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I remember lying on the floor in the bay writhing in agony. Somehow, I got myself up and went home, where I lived with my mom at the time. The money just dried up. Nothing was coming in the door since I couldn’t work. I made myself the end-all and be-all in every part of my business, which meant no one was around to help me. Life went on, and I figured my back would heal and the money would flow again. It did, but I made some vastly different arrangements in my second business to allow it to survive if life hit me below the knees again. After my first business crashed and burned, I launched another one—the same one I operate today, Top Class Installations, Inc. But I still did the same

things and got the same results for a good chunk of time. I failed to realize how to keep my business afloat and still allow myself to have a life, along with the ability and perspective to work on my business—so it could flourish without my involvement every day. I knew I had to


Finding a Vision for Your Business

much that I decided to change my entire worklife reality. Then, there was no looking back.

delegate and learn to get out of my own way. When my kids were born, they taught me what I would allow or not allow in my life. It crushed me when I couldn’t be there for them as much as I wanted to when they were so little. It crushed me so

What Would Happen to Your Business if…? At the age of six months, my son got very sick. I had three young kids by then, including his twin sister. For weeks, little Tomas hadn’t been feeling well and wasn’t eating, and my wife’s “mommy alarm” went off. One night, after seeing no improvement, she took him to the hospital while I stayed home to care for our two girls. The phone rang. Jenn told me she was in the back of an ambulance with Tomas. He was taken into surgery for a bowel obstruction. After surgery, he stayed in the hospital a few days to recover before

he could come home. For me and Jenn, it was all hands on deck. Every child needed attention, and Tomas needed even more than usual. This time, however, my income didn’t stop, and my worries didn’t compound. I had a team of people who were more than capable of keeping the cogs turning and the clients happy at Top Class. Money came in. Employees (including myself ) were paid, and I could focus on where I needed to be—at home with my kids, ensuring Tomas would heal well. Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if you got sick or seriously injured? Would your business immediately stop, or could you take the time needed for yourself? If your answer is, “Everything would stop,” I want you to read on because I am about to drop some knowledge that changed my life, and I want it to change yours, too. Before I implemented changes in my business that would allow me to step away, I had the wrong mindset. It was not enabling my business’s optimal

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 strategy & tactics

performance. Quite the opposite, I had been conditioning myself to fail. To give you an example, here are some of the things I used to say before I discovered a better way of doing business. Read these and see if you can relate. If you can, don’t you think it’s time to work on your responses—and your reality?

If this is what you’re thinking, think again: 1. If I want it done right, I have to do it myself. 2. It’ll take me longer to show you, so I’d rather do it myself. 3. I must know everything that goes on in my business. 4. I’m not confident enough to step outside my comfort zone. 5. There’s not enough time for that. It’s Time to Change Your Self-Limiting Beliefs I drilled these wrong ideas into my head every day while working in my new businesses. I made myself too important, as reflected by these beliefs. Yes, any business you’re operating needs to be able to run without your daily

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input. But this is easier said than done, and I want to clear up some of the confusion you may feel when you’re advised to pull back in your business. Advice is only useful if you understand it. Instead of grinding harder and pushing your sales, or beefing up your marketing budget, slow your role. Identify your systems and processes—and I don’t mean sink a boatload of money into a fancy CRM app, either. When you are just digging into the mechanics of your business and trying to find the best way to operate, a pen and paper, Evernote, or recording will suffice. So, write down what you need to do and move on to the next exercise—getting clear and honest about your vision.

Creating a Vision for Your Business These are the elements that make up your vision: • Purpose + Mission + Core Values = Vision Before you can begin to formulate your vision, the three components—purpose, mission and your core values—should be defined. Let me give you an example of what purpose, mission and core values

represent for us at Top Class. Purpose: Why do you do what you do? Our purpose is, “We bring efficiency to life.” Your mission relates to what you do, who you do it for, and by when. Our mission is, “To install GPS tracking devices and camera systems in one million vehicles by 2025.” Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles that dictate behavior and help people understand the difference between right and wrong. They also help companies determine if they’re on the right path and fulfilling goals by creating an unwavering guide. These are the differences in my business that have come about as a direct result of implementing our core values:

Top Class Before the Vision: 1 We said yes to every job presented to us. 2. No real focus or expertise. 3. We were generalists, not specialists. 4. The riches are in the niches. 5. Hiring woes and employee turnover. 6. Only four full-time employees, including the owners. 7. Six-figure per year business. Top Class After the Vision: 1. 20 full-time employees. 2. Hyper-focused on what we do and for whom. 3. Expanded footprint. 4. I work ON the business, not IN it. 5. Growing daily with an industry-projected CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 20 percent by 2025. 6. Seven-figure per year business.


Finding a Vision for Your Business

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Don’t Let Your Business Run You! I know this sounds so incredibly simple—“just get clear on your vision”—but it is imperative that you go deep into how you want to run your business. When you do this, it will stop running you. Instead, you can run your business. You will appreciate the freedom to adjust fire when life comes at you hard, you will survive, and you will even achieve maximum profitability. Living by the vision Top Class adapted has changed every detail of my working life, but more importantly, it has allowed me to have a personal life which supports the people who mean the most to me, as it gives me everything I need for the lifestyle I want to live. I want the same to be true for you, too, so I hope you develop and follow your business vision to experience the benefits for yourself.

Tomas Keenan is the author of Unf*ck Your Business: Stop Business Self-Sabotage by Getting Clear on Your Core Values NOW. Learn more about the book and find related free goodies by visiting: www.tomaskeenan.com.

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 tech today

Check Your Power

Stop-start systems can affect how aftermarket upgrades operate. Here are some ways to cope with this technology. WORDS BY DAVID MACKINNON

There is no disputing that vehicles equipped with stop-start systems can save the owner a lot of fuel, especially when driven in heavy traffic. If you doubt the veracity of this claim, I refer you to the technical paper published in the Society of Automotive Engineers Journal called “Fuel Consumption Improvement of Vehicles by Idling Stop.” If you are the TL, DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) type, you can check out Jason Fenske’s YouTube channel called Engineering Explained and watch the video entitled “Americans Have No Idea How Much Fuel Idling Uses.” By way of full disclosure, I am sure that my fellow Canadians also don’t know. Nevertheless, let’s get back on track with how stop-start systems affect the accessories we install in our clients’ vehicles. For those who haven’t come across one yet, a vehicle with stopstart technology will—once certain criteria is evaluated—shut the engine off when you stop at a red light or a stop sign. For those who are curious, the criteria includes battery voltage, air conditioning request, adequate brake pedal pressure, coolant temperature and battery current draw to name a few. Provided that nothing will be affected detrimentally, the engine stops when the vehicle comes to a full stop. As soon as the brake pedal pressure is released, the engine restarts as you move your foot to the accelerator pedal to drive away. While the engine is off, if one or several parameters change, the engine may restart before you need to drive away.

How This Impacts Car Audio and Accessories I am sure you’re asking yourself how this affects those of us in the car audio industry. Any time a large amount of current is drawn from the battery, the voltage drops. The amount the voltage drops depends on the charge condition of the battery, the physical health of the battery, the temperature and the amount of current being drawn. In a conventional vehicle without stop-start technology, the starting process can draw a lot of current. I remember seeing a spike of over 300 amps in my 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. My infrequently driven 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan has a peak starting current of around 225 amps to get the 5.0-Liter V8 spinning. That draw resulted in the very large (Group Size H9) voltage dropping to 9.7 volts during cranking.

50  Mobile Electronics November 2019

If you are adding aftermarket accessories like a radar detector, amplifier, digital signal processor, a new radio, a dashcam or LED lights, you need to be conscious of the fact that the battery voltage may drop quite low during the restart process and affect the functionality of the product. In a best-case scenario, the power supply in the device may be adequate to prevent a shutdown. In a more typical scenario, this voltage drop will simply cause the product to turn off, then restart once adequate voltage returns. Worst-case, this brown-out like scenario can confuse the microcomputer in a radio, amplifier or signal processor with unpredictable and undesirable results. In doing my research for this article, I heard about a radar detector that failed to connect to some of the sensors, leaving the owner vulnerable to tickets. Understanding start-stop systems is vitally important to delivering quality service to your customers.

Testing Stop-Start Voltages A while back, I tested the battery voltage dip that the stopstart process causes in my wife’s relatively new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe. With about 6500km on the odometer, the worst measurement I saw was a dip to 8.8 Volts. Keep in mind, this vehicle


Check Your Power

Stop Time 10 Sec 30 Sec 60 Sec 160 Sec

Voltage When Engine Stopped 12.7 12.7 12.7 12.7

is driven for at least an hour a day every day and gets regular longer trips of at least several hours to my son’s out-of-town hockey games. In terms of keeping a battery happy, other than the stop-start system, this little CUV has it pretty easy. I was curious about the relation between battery voltage dips and the amount of time the engine spends off. I decided to connect one of my more portable USB oscilloscopes to the cigarette lighter plug in my wife’s Santa Fe and do some driving. I drove around town for five to 10 minutes between each test to ensure the battery had a reasonable amount of time to recharge. As my SMD AMM-1 can capture both maximum and minimum voltages in DC MAX MIN mode, it’s worth noting I recorded a peak of 15.1 Volts at some point in the trip.

Ensure the Vehicle Battery is in Good Condition It should go without stating that the battery or batteries in the vehicle should be tested before you begin the installation of any car audio amplifier or device that can draw a large amount of power. Wear and tear from short commutes, cold weather, extremely hot weather, or simply time can reduce the current delivery capabilities of a battery. Using a battery tester like the Snap-On EECS150 can let you know how much capacity is left in a battery. If there is a weak or shorted cell, replacing the battery can help to eliminate a wide variety of problems.

The Snap-On EECS150 can provide you with critical information about the battery in the vehicle. Having a charging system and battery in top condition will reduce voltage drops during the restarting process. Many mobile electronics retailers have partnered with companies like Interstate and stock the most popular batteries right in their stores. Checking batteries is something that should be done before a remote starter installation as well.

Crank Minimum Voltage 9.2 9.1 9.1 9.0

One way to prevent battery degradation is to maintain it with a high-quality charger like the MXS 5.0 from CTEK. If your client doesn’t drive for at least an hour a day, his or her battery is likely not getting a thorough charge. Companies like Noco and Schumacher make similar intelligent charging solutions.

The CTEK MXS 5.0 charger can recondition batteries that have been sitting for a while or have been heavily drained. The high-frequency charging used in recondition mode helps to break up the sulfate layer that bonds to the lead plates and restores capacity and current delivery.

Checking for Voltage Drops If you have past experience with a vehicle, then you know you are going to need to address the accessories you install to ensure they are compatible with the voltage drops associated with stopstart systems. If you are troubleshooting a problem, measuring the electrical system for voltage drops should be first on your list. I invested in an SMD AMM-1 audio multimeter a few years ago to accurately measure the power produced by source units. One of the many other features of the AMM-1 is the inclusion of a MAX/MIN mode. When in this mode, connect the test leads to battery or a known constant power source in the vehicle, and the meter will monitor the circuit and display the lowest and

The SMD AMM-1 Audio Multimeter includes a Max / Min setting that can be used to monitor the electrical for peaks and dips in battery voltage. This can be a handy tool for trucks that produce high-voltage spikes that cause some amplifiers to go into protection mode.

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 tech today highest voltages it sees. The AMM-1 runs about $450 and is available from www. wccaraudio.com. Fluke multimeters like the 88V, 179 and even the inexpensive 17B+ have a function called MIN MAX. When activated using the MIN MAX button on the meter, the unit will monitor and record the highest and lowest voltages. You can step through the minimum and maximum recordings by pressing the MIN MAX button. The readings are reset by pressing the MIN MAX button for one second or canceled by turning the rotary switch.

How Can We Deal With Stop-Start Technology? In almost every case, there is no way to permanently shut off the stop-start system built into new cars. If you are wondering why, it’s part of the requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that issues a credit to the automaker for including the technology. This credit would be reduced or eliminated if the system was easily disabled. As such, we need to know how to deal with these large voltage drops. For devices like a signal processor or radar detector, there are several small DC/DC power supplies available that will boost voltages as low as three volts back up to 12. Of course, at extremely low voltages, current delivery is very limited. Specifically, the Install Bay L-IBVSTABL and IBVSTABL are important components to have in stock in your shop. Called DC/ DC Voltage Stabilizers, these units are in actuality small power supplies like you’d find in an amplifier. The DC output of the units remains at a constant 12 volts over a wide range of input voltages. The IBVSTABL provides up to two amps of current and will accept an input voltage of as low as eight volts and as much as 40V. The larger L-IBVSTABL will provide 10 amps of current and works between nine and 36 volts. If you are attempting to add a radio to a 24-volt electrical system, these are a great solution. DS18 has a similar product called the 3AVS that can provide up to three amps at 14.4 volts of current from an input between six and 16 volts. Another solution is to power a low-current item you want to keep operational with a small battery. Many of my peers suggested the Directed Electronics 520T as a solution. Using the supplied battery and control circuit, you can provide a constant source of power to a small device, even when the voltage in the car dips. A solution like this would be ideal for a custom installed or portable radar detector. It might not be the right

52  Mobile Electronics November 2019

Listed in the Install Bay catalog from Metra Electronics, the IBVSTABLE and L-IBVSTABLE provide a constant 12-volt output over a wide range of input voltages.


Check Your Power

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 tech today solution for a dashcam, as you will want that to shut down when the vehicle turns off.

Power Solutions for High-Current Requirements If you have a large audio system in the vehicle, you’ll need to consider adding a second battery to ensure the amplifier(s) get the voltage they need to continue working. I spoke with Jason Kemmerer from Wāvtech about their IRAD product. The IRAD is an ignition signal generating device with a pair of built-in timers. It can be used to create ignition in CAN-Bus vehicles, delay the turn-on of an amplifier to prevent signal pops and relevant to our discussion, isolate a secondary battery to help maintain voltage to your audio system. As you can see from the Application Note 3 timeline chart and wiring chart, the IGN output of the IRAD feeds +12V remote trigger to the amplifier and the positive terminal of a battery isolation solenoid. The REM output of the IRAD is connected to a relay wired in a normally-closed condition to provide ground to the isolation relay. Any time the battery voltage has dropped due to cranking or the vehicle being off, the main battery and charging systems are isolated from the rear battery. By configuring the 0-10 minute timer on the IGN and REM outputs, the system will shut itself off automatically. If you are trying to keep a small device active, Audison makes a product called the ES3. This Energy Storage device is essentially a bank of capacitors and installed between the charging system in your vehicle and a device like a bit One or bit Nove. The ES3 is specified for loads up two amps, max. Finally, we have the almighty stiffening capacitor. We’ve all known for decades that the purpose of a capacitor is to supply

54  Mobile Electronics November 2019


Check Your Power

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ďƒŽ tech today

Stinger’s SPC5010 is a 10-Farad hybrid capacitor designed to help maintain the voltage at your amplifier(s). The cap features a set of large power terminals that help to simplify the installation process.

Stop-Start Compatible Amplifiers Several companies offer amplifiers with integrated digital signal processors that are designed to work with vehicles that include stop-start systems. The ARC Audio PS8-50 eight-channel DSP amplifier with DSP is rated down to six volts with brownout protection for momentary dips to 4.5 volts. The Audiotec

current to a load to prevent voltage dips. It makes sense that adding a high-quality capacitor to your car audio system will help to prevent device shut-down during the restart process. But be aware, not all capacitors are created equally. Some offer measurable improvement in voltage regulation, and some are smoke and mirrors.

The PS8-50 is an eight-channel amplifier with an integrated DSP and support for the iDatalink Maestro AR vehicle interface module.

Fischer Match UP and BB Series amplifiers are also good down to six volts. The Helix P Six and similar amps are also listed at stop-start compatible with the ability to handle dips down to six volts for up to five seconds. The Kicker KEY180.4 includes their FIT2 technology. FIT2 or Fail-Safe Integration Technology helps to ensure the amp keeps playing should the supply voltage drop. Kicker implements an output limiter circuit when the amp detects a supply voltage drop to prevent clipping.

With eight channels of power rated for 75 watts and a full suite of system tuning features, the V Eight DSP is a great solution for stop-start Vehicles.

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Check Your Power

The four-channel KEY180.4 from Kicker can deliver up to 45 watts of power and includes an automatic acoustic correction function that compensates for peaks and dips in the audio signal.

The four-channel KEY180.4 from Kicker can deliver up to 45 watts of power and includes an automatic acoustic correction function that compensates for peaks and dips in the audio signal.

Proper Testing Ensures Reliable Solutions Whether you are troubleshooting an existing installation or planning a new build for a client, understanding the condition and function of the electrical system is paramount to delivering reliable performance. You will need to add questions about stop-start technology to your interview process. It’s worth testing the battery and restart voltage on the vehicle before you complete a quote. You may be able to fix a small problem with an inexpensive solution like the IBVSTABL, or you may need to implement a secondary battery and control system with something like the IRAD in order to ensure the products you are adding work the way the client expects.

audison.com

TH K2 II A Coro TH K2 II A Coro is designed to transfer the precious musical message of the Thesis electronics with absolute fidelity, with the ambition to be absolutely transparent, leaving room only to the emotion evoked by the music. The search for the best acoustic result was based upon overcoming the intrinsic limits of traditional loudspeakers. Through a finite element simulation software (FEM) conceived by the Audison R&D team, a mathematical model was developed, which they used to create, with an intense prototyping activity, the ideal transducer.

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   57 | Elettromedia USA | 16691 Noyes Ave. Irvine CA 92606 | (877) 567-3030 |


 installs

SUBMITTED BY: JOHN BRETTLE, CARTUNES OF ATLANTA, ATLANTA, GA.

This BMW M5 Competition audio upgrade was the work of John Brettle from Cartunes of Atlanta. The client dropped the car off with a few requests regarding lighting and to maintain an OEM appearance. John hit it out of the park on both requests, and even in areas the client didn’t expect. Maintaining the lighting on the sail panel mounted Focal Utopia M tweeters was one of the client’s main requests. After some careful engineering and precision machining with both a CNC and laser, Brettle accomplished the task. Using OEM lighting ensured a cohesive lighting profile in the vehicle. Rounding out the front stage are the Focal Utopia M midrange and woofers. The midranges were mounted in the factory door location while the woofers were installed under the seats. Brettle machined a custom Focal badge to top the woofer grille. Powering the system are a trio of JL Audio VXi amplifiers. The amplifiers were mounted so they appear to float. Additional lighting was added to highlight the amps. The final part of the upgrade was the subwoofer system. To make sure the client had ample bass output, the Cartunes team called on a JL Audio 12w7 subwoofer. A custom enclosure was fabricated to make sure the client retained much of his usable trunk space and access to floor-mounted electronics.

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ďƒŽ installs

SUBMITTED BY: RICARDO RANGEL, MONSTER BY RANGEL, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Always at the forefront of exquisite car audio designs is the owner of Monster by Rangel, Ricardo Rangel. This month we are looking at a recently completed 1998 VW Golf VR6. The team of Israel Lira, Javier Miranda, Felipe Leal, Abraham Martinez and leader Rangel worked to create this gorgeous Golf. The speakers and subwoofers are by Audiofrog, while the amplification is by MMATS. A unique feature of the hatch design is the aesthetic incorporation of the air bag system air tank and pump. Those components were mounted up against the back of the seat, so Rangel and team created an attractive cover for them wrapped in red and black upholstery. The audio gear was mounted in the floor of the Golf. To conceal the gear, while still allowing for amplifier and subwoofer venting, Rangel designed a multi-panel cover for the floor. The cover features six grilles that terminate in a gentle curve. A tasteful red accent is left exposed by the gap between the grilles and the remaining floor trim. Throughout the car, SoundSkins was used to help reduce road noise, panel resonance and to maximize the output of the speakers.

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from the President

There is No “I” in Team Your business will flourish when you learn to listen to your team. This is a message for business owners and managers or anyone in a position of leadership. As a leader, your first instinct may be to dole out your advice without considering the experience of those in your employ. Your view, while created over a lifetime of experience, may be biased, and could drive others to disdain as you try to execute your vision. If you are not able to trust your team to develop and execute for your business, then your business will never grow beyond your own ability.

Listening to Those Around You With your goal in mind, think about who has the best experience in each area of your business to provide you with the information necessary to assist you in making an informed decision. Cultivate listening by exercising patience, and with a bit of extra effort on your part. The listening skills you have will help you understand what others think. They will provide the insight you need to lead your business to perform at its very best. As an example, let’s look at a hypothetical situation. There once was a business leader who others viewed as very successful. This leader started the business with their own ideas and learned from their own mistakes and triumphs. The fate of the business was held firmly in their hands. As the business grew, new people were hired with differing ideas to grow the business. The leader viewed these new visionaries as a threat to the business rather than an asset, as their ways were not in keeping with the proven methods of the leader. While it could feel a bit intimidating to take direction from your team, your goal should be to listen, review and create a plan based on the best information from a wide range of data points and sources. This allows you to use the best ideas coming from your team, and turn them into your own plan to present back to them. When the idea is positioned as a culmination of strengths from everyone, the buy-in to implement the new plan will be easy to obtain and will lead to the overall improvement of the business. Derailing an Informed Direction However, the example could turn the other way. Let’s look at a negative situation. There once was a business leader who wanted to deliver a new product that would have broad acceptance in the market. Knowing what the people thought of this product was paramount to success, so a system was created to elicit feedback from both current and potential customers.

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The leader directed the team to create several examples and test them to find what would be most appealing. The team created a process allowing for feedback that would show which direction would be best. After doing exhaustive research, the team reported their findings to the leader. The plan was revealed considering the research. The result showed a listing of exactly what the customer wanted. The leader reviewed the findings and the plan. After review, the leader decided that the plan and product would not be right for the market as it was not what the leader believed would be best. The direction was given to sell what the leader felt was the right thing, regardless of the research. The product was launched. After a short time, the product wasn’t selling. The leader’s first instinct was to reprimand the team and refocus them on the plan. All of us may have been guilty of this at one time or another. I know I have been. As a leader, it’s your right to make the final decision. But it may not be the best idea if you’re ready to take your business to the next level.

Giving in to Potential for Success Looking back at this hypothetical story, it should be easy to see the lesson. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean others will. It all goes back to listening and making an informed decision. While I don’t always agree with my team, I know the information they provide is based on their experience at their level, and it should have high value and influence on my decisions. It’s very important to listen to your team. I also recommend you do your own research as well. Know the business and get data from as many relevant places as you can. Be willing to trim the sails based on appropriate input from your team. Use what works best even if it’s uncomfortable and not in keeping with what you feel is right. Learn to rely on your team. Remember, you hired them for a reason. Letting Go of the Past to Move Toward the Future This approach may be a bit uncomfortable, but I can attest from my own experience that it will provide you with a better chance for success. Do your best not to let your past experiences dictate your future. Just because it worked before, doesn’t mean it will work today. You must be open to new and better ways to grow your business. Use the experiences of those you trust to finetune your direction. This technique will go a long way when attempting to avoid any future issues that might derail your best intentions.


Revolutionize Remote Start The Drone X1 module will now be included in every 2-way Compustar and Arctic Start remote kit, adding LTE unlimited range control to every vehicle.

- “5x Top Vendor Award Winner�

dronemobile.com


GO ALL THE WAY ACROSS WITH

DETECTION

VOXX takes BLIND SPOT DETECTION across to the rear, into reverse adding another level of Driver Safety and Awareness!

REAR CROSS TRAFFIC ALERT

senses approaching vehicles when in reverse

both systems equipped with front interior LED indicator audio/visual alerts

sensors are installed professionally inside the rear of the bumper

sensors are built into the frame that is mounted around the license plate

In-Vehicle Entertainment has been reborn with the ďŹ rst system to deliver what today’s consumers demand - TRUE UNLIMITED CONTENT CAPABILITIES. Download your favorite apps, connect your favorite devices, enjoy your DVD collection, but best of all, this system offers full control of the system without having to see the actual monitors. Apps developed for Android and Apple allow Mom and Dad in the front seat BLINDthe SPOT LICENSE PLATE BLIND to access and fully control system. No more pulling the car over or reaching around the seats. Innovation at its best!

DETECTION 2.0 (ACABSD20)

SPOT DETECTION

For more information or to become a dealer visit (ACABSDLP) us at: www.voxxelectronics.com/become-dealer/

 @voxxelectronics

Š2018 VOXX Electronics Corporation A VOXX International Company

Profile for Mobile Electronics

Mobile Electronics Magazine November 2019