Sonic Sound utilizes a two-week store closure due to the pandemic to make improvements around the shop—leading to heightened productivity during the ongoing sales boom.
PLUS Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19 You’ve heard from the retailers—now, manufacturers discuss the pandemic and its impact on the industry.
Know the Numbers: Refresh your inventory tracking for increased efficiency Going Up: In keeping with industry trends, Hazardous Concepts reports an increase in revenue
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Volume 52// Issue 07
19 19 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs
6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback
FEATURES 14// What’s Happening: Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19
As revenue increases in many shops and facilities, manufacturers respond to meet demands. Here’s how some companies continue to face the pandemic and its impact on mobile electronics retailers.
28// Real World Retail: Sonic Sound
After evolving from a one-man business into a full-fledged 12-volt team, Sonic Sound continues to work toward expansion while taking calculated risks to increase revenue.
44// Strategy & Tactics: The Basics of Inventory Tracking
Are you hoping to get a better handle on your store’s inventory tracking methods? Taking a closer look at the fundamentals can help refresh your tracking system and increase your business’s efficiency.
48// Tech Today: Mass-Producing Custom Truck Enclosures
When custom enclosures for big trucks became popular at Traffic Jams Motorsports, the team began to envision mass-producing their creation. Building an efficient production department meant acquiring the right tools for the job.
On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Ana Ramirez Sonic Sound shut down for two weeks during the beginning of the pandemic, using the time to make improvements around the shop. Despite the risk, the investments were worth it—business continues to surge while the team looks toward adding categories and services in the near future.
4 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Accele.......................................................p.2&3 Alpine Electronics..................................p.33 AudioControl.............................................p.31 DD Audio.....................................................p.51 Directed.......................................................p.37 Escort...........................................................p.9 Firstech - Compustar..........................p.59 Full Throttle.................................................p.13 MEA KnowledgeFest.............................p.41 Ground Zero..............................................p.49 Harman - JBL............................................p.35 InstallerNet...............................................p.60 Kicker............................................................p.11 MECP............................................................p.39 Metra Electronics...................................p.47 Rockford Fosgate...................................p.5 Orca - Focal...............................................p.27 Sirius XM......................................................p.12 Sony..............................................................p.23 SounDigital................................................p.25 Vais Technology......................................p.53 Voxx Electronics........................................p.7 Wavtech.....................................................p.43
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NEED SOME FACETIME? Nothing can replace face-to-face networking with others in our industry. From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve had to give up many things for the sake of our health and the health of others—all with consequences. We have sacrificed much, and hopefully, this will save many lives and eradicate the virus in the end, allowing society to resume normal life. Until then, we must learn to adapt and create our new normal. We have adopted practices based on a bit of science, politics and hopefully some good old common sense. With that, we should all look forward to resuming life aware of the current pandemic. As I look forward to the future of face-to-face events, I am hopeful that those of us who provide them will create innovative ways to enjoy networking, education and the recognition we have come to cherish at the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards. Is there a replacement for face-to-face events? Let us explore some possibilities. When the pandemic started, we at MEA, as well as many manufacturers in our industry, launched webinars. These webinars help keep you connected to your suppliers and provide education and training that may have otherwise been accomplished during a local sales rep visit, distributor show, or regional and national industry events. Let me share from my own experience as a presenter and participant. As a presenter, it’s extremely hard to gauge the audience. Without seeing expressions and body language, it is difficult to know if those listening or watching are attentive and engaged in the presentation. It’s the equivalent of doing a practice presentation in the mirror. Feedback in the form of questions and comments are helpful, but do not replace those in a face-to-face environment. As a participant, my experience can be varied. At times, I am fully engaged with the presentation and sometimes I get distracted or lose focus. I can imagine that those of you at a shop have distractions, as well, in the form of customers. At the start of the pandemic when many shops were either closed or had significantly reduced business, there was plenty of time for webinars and the attendance numbers showed the same. As things opened back up, attendance was reduced along with the number of manufacturers providing webinars. This brings up a question in my mind: How can we return to the valuable facetime we enjoy while mitigating the health risk? Good information will help us make sound decisions As citizens of this great nation, the information we’ve received has varied in accuracy. We can all debate about
6 July 2020
who’s right or wrong, and what is the best source for information. Just open any social media app, and everything runs wild. As for me, I look for good data sources and try to understand how best to protect myself and others. As it relates to retail stores reopening, many of you have figured out a process for which you feel comfortable. Bottom line: It’s your business, and you need to do what you feel is best for you, your team and your customers. Your suppliers have done the same. You may be experiencing less in-person visits from reps and suppliers. I believe many of you would say that those relationships benefit from seeing them in your store— much like you when it comes to seeing your customers in your store. There is no substitute for selling and servicing in-person. So, until we can do this safely, we will all suffer the consequences of separation. Unless we find a way to replace this, we must look to innovative ways to regain this important socialization.
THIS BRINGS UP A QUESTION IN MY MIND: HOW CAN WE RETURN TO THE VALUABLE FACETIME WE ENJOY WHILE MITIGATING THE HEALTH RISK? When will we all be together again? KnowledgeFest Long Beach was a success this past February. Later this year, we should all look forward to seeing one another at an incredibly special event for our industry—KnowledgeFest Dallas. The move to later in the year was strategic. We felt it was the best chance to hold an event we could all enjoy. Yes, I hear the news and review the numbers, and here’s what I can tell you: There are brilliant people creating new ways to allow us to come together at an event, in person, without great risk to our health. You will see these practices in action at KnowledgeFest Dallas, and I would assume also at both SEMA and CES. Industry trade events are important because they provide needed education, networking and facetime with others including your suppliers. These events represent the best our industry has to offer, and just like reopening your store, they will have processes in place to allow all of us to enjoy connecting with each other in a way that can only be accomplished face-to-face. I hope to see you all very soon to celebrate our successes!
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NO MONTHLY OR ANNUAL FEES. FREE APP DOWNLOAD to become a dealer visit: www.carlinkusa.com/become-dealer Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.
ADVERTISING SALES firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • email@example.com Chris Cook Editor-at-Large Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer
Published by TM
DIG DEEP FOR THE BEST RESULTS
Retailers share the difficulties they’ve faced in the past year, advising others to keep an eye on the basics—labor rates, proper financial management and, above all, business structure. “Over the last couple months, [we have taken a closer look at managing] cash flow, employees, loans and community efforts. I think we’re always tight on certain aspects, but one thing you cannot undervalue is contribution to the community. Without the community, we don’t exist. Businesses survive on cash flow, and without understanding how to manage that, it will always be tough.” John Schwartz, Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security, Anchorage, Alaska “The experiences we’ve had over the last year show that you can overcome anything. Stay strong and positive. Oh, yeah—we also had a truck drive through our showroom in December, so we gave the showroom a massive makeover. We wouldn’t have done anything differently.” Christopher Labonte, Vibe Car Audio, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada “Don’t sell yourself short on labor rates. We were scared to raise labor rates due to our shop being in a very low-income part of the country. You’re worth a lot these days, especially due to integration knowledge and keeping up with major automobile changes.” Scott, Sound Effects Automotive, Auburn, Maine “It’s obviously a weird time, but it’s also a perfect time to analyze and adapt to changes if business is slow, work on projects you haven’t had the time to do, work on a demo vehicle—most of all, work on your business.” Anonymous “Foot traffic has definitely returned and clients are spending money, for sure. The biggest issue is that only a small portion are following state-mandated rules, which makes it challenging for us to manage the retail part of our store.” Jim Hergesheimer, Streamline Audio, Vancouver, Wash.
8 Mobile Electronics July 2020
mobile electronics association
Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • email@example.com Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA 1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN#1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 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
The Impact of COVID-19 on Retailer Inventory In our July survey, we asked retailers how their store inventory has been impacted since the beginning of the pandemic. Here are the numbers based on 58 respondents. Is your business experiencing inventory shortages?
What percentage of your business is purchased through distribution?
Have you had to buy product from another brand to replace products that you’re unable to get?
10 Mobile Electronics July 2020
What percentage of your business is purchased direct from the vendor?
Have you had to turn away a customer for lack of inventory?
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If you haven’t read this yet, now’s a good time. In the last few months, 12-volt shops have seen both highs and lows, making many rethink their focus and their business structure. Before opening his now-successful business—Top Class Installations in New York—Keenan experienced his own downfalls in other business ventures. Now he shares what he’s learned in Unf*ck Your Business, which teaches business owners how to create the solid foundation necessary for the growth of a company. Keenan presents his own personal insights gained through trial and error, and shows how readers can define their core values and build a business around those values. .
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SITE TO SEE: www.nfib.com WWW.NFIB.COM
The NFIB—or the National Federation of Independent Business—has been advocating for small businesses since 1943. During the pandemic, the NFIB has been offering webinars on PPP and EDIL loans and offering support for small businesses in every sector. Visit the organization’s website for financial resources, upcoming webinars and information on how businesses can protect themselves during this time.
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Have you been wondering how you can harness social media to increase your business’s revenue? Ryan Stewman wrote Social Media Millions after using social media marketing knowledge to increase his net worth. Stewman shares his strategies with readers while focusing on the long-term—not just short-term tricks for limited success. Whether you’re new to social media marketing, or you’ve already been using it for your growing company, this book will help you expand your online influence and close more sales.
MANUFACTURE RESPOND TO COVID-19 14 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Manufacturers Respond To Covid-19 WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
As revenue increases in many shops and facilities, manufacturers respond to meet demands. Here’s how some companies continue to face the pandemic and its impact on mobile electronics retailers. In the June issue of Mobile Electronics magazine, retailers shared their experiences during the pandemic and discussed skyrocketing sales. To help minimize the spread of the virus, Alpine Electronics of America instituted a mandatory work from home policy, according to Mike Anderson, the company’s vice president and GM. Alpine wanted to ensure the health and safety of their team members. “This was a huge adjustment for our employees, most of whom had never worked from home,” he said, “but they quickly learned new ways of communication and task management.” Anderson said Alpine faced the same questions as retailers: “Were we an essential business? Were we able to remain open? We closed our warehouse for two days while attorneys gathered enough information to make us comfortable reopening.” Revenue had dropped, he added, due to retailers temporarily closing. As businesses began to reopen, sales increased. “E-Commerce sales exploded and have remained extremely strong, as people took stimulus money and used it to purchase things like car stereos that they installed themselves while at home,” Anderson added. Andy Oxenhorn, president of JL Audio, agreed the health of employees is always the number one concern, adding, “[We made] a series of continuing efforts to adjust our U.S. factory to new conditions and requirements, and a major effort to work with our suppliers to keep everything moving.” Most office-based
JL Audio staff in Miramar, Fla., Phoenix, Ariz. and Portland, Ore. started working from home. Demand has been strong for all categories at JL Audio, Oxenhorn noted. Consumers Are Still Seeking Quality Car Stereo Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog said his company is extremely busy, and it’s been difficult to catch up. He also feels the additional business came as a surprise to companies that might’ve been expecting lower sales due to the pandemic. Anything unexpected that occurs, he added, can cause problems when it comes to manufacturers forecasting sales. “Additional business can be just a big as problem as not enough business,” he said. “This can account for any inventory shortages. People might have thought business would be down from the pandemic—not 40 percent up—so they didn’t get enough product. Some distributors might have said, ‘I don’t think we’ll have business, so I won’t get the same amount of product.’ All of a sudden, sales are up and they have nowhere to go.” Wehmeyer has also been occupied with customer service and tech questions because of an uptick in consumers who are trying to do their own work, perhaps because they have additional time and money, he said. These consumers often find him in the course of their research. Audiofrog sells a microphone kit online with instructions, and many of the buyers of this product have been consumers rather than 12-volt professionals. After purchase, the buyer must email facebook.com/MobileElectronics
“THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, SO LONG AS WE FIND ENOUGH PEOPLE TO DO THE WORK WELL.”
Wehmeyer for a calibration file. “I want them to be successful,” he said, adding that he’s learned something key from many of these communications: “There are a lot of people who have purchased systems from retailers, who’ve installed them, and they were never particularly happy with the sound.” The concerning thing, he added, is that he’s heard from many consumers who share the same story: They’ve visited other retailers for help, but experienced disappointing results. Sometimes, though, it comes down to a lack of understanding on the part of the consumer, who may or may not know exactly what is in the vehicle. “Sometimes the customer has a head unit or a factory amp that isn’t allowing him to build the system he really wants,” Wehmeyer said. “Sometimes the dealer didn’t know, and didn’t do any summing, or they did but they didn’t know how to properly tune the car.” What he’s learned throughout the pandemic, he noted, is that customers are still looking for quality car stereo—and it’s the industry’s job to deliver. Sales Are Strong Despite Supply Shortages Speaking to anyone who’s worried about the future of car audio, Wehmeyer noted that the demand isn’t disappearing any time soon. “Customers want these products,” he said. “For companies that want to focus on great solutions for people who are really enthusiastic about a purchase, the future is bright, so long as we find enough people to do the work well.” The recent increases in spending in 12-volt, he said, proves this. While retailers have seen the necessity of diversifying due to the pandemic, Wehmeyer added that consumers haven’t been distracted by other spending recently. “They haven’t been going out to eat or going to the movies, or whatever else, and a whole bunch of them decided to spend that money on car audio,” he said. “Anyone who thinks the public isn’t interested should think again.”
16 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Manufacturers Respond To Covid-19
GROWTH DEMAND TEAM
Alpine has focused on trying to keep up with unprecedented demand, according to Anderson. “Where possible, we have air-freighted in goods, but air freight rates have skyrocketed, making it a difficult proposition,” he said, adding that supply chain issues occurred that caused some supply shortages which the company is continuing to work through. To help out dealers, Alpine reduced minimum order levels to earn free freight so orders could be made as needed, Anderson said. “This was appreciated in the very uncertain weeks at the onset,” he added. “Next, we conducted a series of training webinars that offered product education and marketing support to dealers so they could hit the ground running upon reopening. We also developed consumer-facing promotions that we hoped would drive traffic to dealers’ stores as markets reopened.” The global supply chain has been disrupted and has yet to recover, Oxenhorn said, adding that JL Audio’s Miramar factory had to shut down for three weeks in April and could only operate parts of it for another three weeks, leading to depleted inventory levels. “This created back order situations, which we are working to overcome,” he added. “Our production teams have re-engineered our Miramar factory’s various departments: speaker production, woodshop, fiberglass, home products and others, in order to limit viral transmission risk.” The company instituted strict safety protocols to protect employees. “Every department has played a role in adjusting to the new conditions—a true team effort.” Responding to Uncertainty with Preparedness There’s been a coming together of retailers and manufacturers throughout the pandemic, Anderson said, noting this can only bring added strength to the industry. However, both Oxenhorn and Anderson agreed that it’s hard to predict how long business will remain strong. Oxenhorn said there are simply too many variables. JL Audio continues its commitment to its
“DO RIGHT BY THE CUSTOMER. FOR ANY BUSINESS, THAT SHOULD BE THE FOCUS EVERY DAY. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO SUSTAIN THIS INCREASE IN BUSINESS? AND SINCE BUSINESS IS UP, WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE EXTRA CASH?”
18 Mobile Electronics July 2020
dealers, he said, adding, “We value their partnership, and we don’t think there is ever a bad time to strengthen partnerships with our dealers. This year has thrown a bunch of challenges in front of us and we have been working closely with our dealers on an individual basis, to help in any way we can.” Anderson noted that he feels growth is closely tied to stimulus money, and if this continues, Alpine Electronics’ business should remain strong. “Without it,” he said, “we are concerned about a sudden drop-off. This makes managing inventory levels especially challenging.” Meanwhile, Wehmeyer pointed out that in his experience, smaller companies run on transactions and each transaction is a decision in car audio made by someone who is purchasing something they don’t need. He advised business owners to always remember to do right by the customer. “For any business, that should be [the focus] every day,” he said. Many retail stores are very busy right now, and Wehmeyer challenged owners and managers to ask themselves how they plan to sustain the increase in business. “And since you’re up,” he added, “what are you doing with the extra cash?” He advised taking some of the additional funds and reinvesting in the business—responding to the current uncertainty with preparedness. “Buy tools. Get some training. Buy some new software that will help you. What you’ve discovered is that people want this stuff,” he said, challenging retailers to consider what they can do today to invest in the future—to ensure the profitability of their businesses in the mobile electronics industry.
Hazardous Concepts LLC Celebrates Boost in Business During Pandemic WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER
19 Mobile Electronics July 2020
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, good news can be hard to find. But a number of small businesses in the world of mobile electronics are transcending survival mode and managing to thrive. One of the shops that has continued to grow is Hazardous Concepts LLC, located in Culloden, West Virginia. According to shop president and installer Scott E. Faller, business is doing so well, he’s booked out through the first week of August. Hazardous Concepts has been open since 1996, and Faller has been in the industry since 1987. Faller attributes part of his success to being in the area for such a long time, and customers knowing that he is dedicated to the quality of his work. “People know they’re going to get quality work, and it’s going to be consistent,” Faller said. He also highlighted friendliness and repeat customers. “I take care of my people. I treat my customers like they’re familyzOn top of this, though, the two nearest Best Buys—the only locations within a 50-mile radius—have been closed down for some time, and Hazardous Concepts has been catching some of the additional business. A couple of other local shops have also closed down, with one owner reportedly retiring. Right now, Faller’s shop is a one-man operation.
As for customer purchase patterns, Faller noted that things have been all over the map—one sector is not attracting more money over another. But even with this success, Faller has to work another job in order to afford health insurance for being a sole proprietor. As the president of Hazardous Concepts, Faller is also receptive to growth and hiring on additional help, but he’s had a difficult time finding the right fit in terms of employees for his business. Moving forward, Faller hopes to see the same steady growth he’s experiencing now. “It’s difficult to do a huge spike with my scheduling—like right now I’m scheduled through all the way to the first week of August,” Faller said. “It makes me feel bad to push people off that far, but I’m only one person with only so many hours in a day.” When asked to estimate a percentage of the increase in business since the beginning of this year, Faller estimated that business had increased 200 percent, if not more, noting that he was scheduling two or three cars a day, and that he’d never had business at this scale previously.
Who’s Who Faces in the Industry Enhanced Installations Relaunches During Coronavirus For the sake of public health, so many elements of our dayto-day lives were forced to a functional stop. Business owners used this window in different ways, by planning ahead, restocking, sanitizing and trying to make the best of a bad situation. For Steven Gechunis, the owner of and installer for Dickson City, Pennsylvania-based Enhanced Installations, this meant an opportunity to relaunch his new business. According to Gechunis, he is busier now than he was in March. Gechunis has been installing in the industry for around 17 years, and he ultimately made the choice to work for himself because he wasn’t happy with the work his previous employers were producing. He opened up Enhanced Installations this past October. “I entered the scene right at the cusp of remote start season,” Gechunis said. “Then I go to the middle of March, and everything stopped through there.” Enhanced Installations reopened in the beginning of June. As the shop owner and installer, Gechunis is a self-billed “well-rounded” individual, with the shop catering to a wide swath of business, focusing on mid- to entry-level work. As for the pandemic impacting sales, Gechunis noted that customers come in, point something out and buy it. Currently, he’s doing a lot of head units and audio, with some remote starts scattered throughout. Gechunis is also carrying very little stock at the moment, mainly having customers put down a 50 percent deposit. He’ll order what’s needed and when that comes in, that’s when they’ll set up the appointment. Gechunis is also taking the customary steps in order to protect his customers’ vehicles by using vehicle protection floor mats, seat covers and other, similar protective measures. On top of this, however, he is also implementing additional checks to make sure none of the aforementioned steps are missed, while also using a spray cleaner on surfaces he touches. Looking to the future, Gechunis hopes to expand the business, as currently he’s running as a one-man shop. The days are certainly busy right now, but as he said, “It’s a good kind of busy.”
21 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Brian Muenter Company: Auburn Car Tunes City: Auburn, California Years of Industry Experience: 26 Hobbies: Four-wheeling, rock crawling and drinking whiskey. What you’re really good at: DSP tuning.
Rob Clason Company: Audio Midwest City: Stillwater, Oklahoma Years of Industry Experience: 30 Hobbies: Shooting What you’re really good at: Sales and merchandising
Bryan Nobuyuki Company: The Best Guys City: Concord, California Years of Industry Experience: 28 Hobbies: Anything outdoors. What you’re really good at: Customer Service
EDUC AT IO
CO MM U
Quality Service Inspires Repeat Business Retailers offer education, demonstrations and open communication—which often brings clients back to the store later on for add-ons and upgrades. 22 Mobile Electronics July 2020
2019 New Product Award Runner-up
Discover the Sony XAV-AX8000 large display digital media receiver with anti-glare screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Autoâ&#x201E;˘ support.
3-way adjustable display mount for installation in a variety of vehicles.
Anti-glare screen reduces reflection in vehicles where sunlight may shine on the display.
Adjust tilt With new anti-glare screen
www.sony.com/car ÂŠ2018 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Android Auto works with devices using Android 5.0 software or higher. Some devices may not yet support Android Auto, see the Google site for the latest list of compatible devices. Android Auto and its logo are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and newer phones. Apple CarPlay and its logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice.
hot sellers JL Audio Marine Speaker Line, RGB Backlit Submitted by: Christopher Labonte, Vibe Car Audio, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada Main Selling Features: “We sell ourselves. We believe in what we do, we always show our past work and we always let clients know right away if we see issues from past work, telling them we’d love to put it up to our standards. With that, we document every process with photos to show the work involved and get them set up properly.” Primary Objection: Additional parts required. How to Overcome: “We mention they can still purchase these JL Audio Marine speakers because we can hook them up to show one color and then add the RGB controller later in the season or next season. This keeps them happy and will also bring them back to the store again for more possible add-ons.”
Compustar Drone X1 MAX Telematic Device for Remote Start and Tracking Submitted by: John Schwartz, Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security, Anchorage, Alaska Main Selling Features: “This product offers almost unlimited range and access to the vehicle. In most cases, the customer will leave with the same thing they walked in with—their key which can lock and unlock, and their phone which can start the car.” Primary Objection: Subscription required. How to Overcome: “I tell them, ‘You spend more on coffee every day than this will cost, and you can upgrade the service and track your vehicle if someone steals it.’”
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Sony Car Audio: Still a Top Choice Rockford Fosgate PDX-HD9813 Digital Media Receiver for 1998-13 Harley-Davidson Submitted by: Andrew Field, SoundShapers Inc., Brewer, Maine Main Selling Features: “This product is plug-and-play. It retains factory functions, looks great and sounds great, too.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “It’s still $300 less than the factory radio.”
Month after month, retailers share what customers love about the Sony XAVAX5000 In-Dash Receiver with CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Here’s what they’re saying. Retailers cite the warranty and note the importance of quality customer service in closing the sale. Eddy Lamour of DSP Audio and Video in Wheaton, Md. noted that his shop’s quality installation practices continue to be a selling feature regardless of product.
Alpine ILX-650 CarPlay and Android Auto Stereo Submitted by: Bader Hijaz, Soundz Good Stereo Inc., Oxnard, Calif. Main Selling Features: “Customers are excited by CarPlay and Android Auto.” Primary Objection: No CD or DVD option. How to Overcome: “Some customers want a CD or DVD player. Most modern technology is mechless and music is shifting to digital. CDs are becoming obsolete.”
26 Mobile Electronics July 2020
“We demonstrate the value of this product and show how easy it is to use,” said one retailer regarding the Sony head unit. Other retailers agreed that easeof-use makes this head unit attractive to customers. Adrian Manrique of Mid-State Distributing in Blue Island, Ill. said, “I have this in my car,” demonstrating that he stands behind the product. Some customers still want a CD player, or have difficulty learning how to use the head unit. “Most of the time,” said one retailer, “I just ask them when the last time they bought a CD was—and then I ask them how many songs are on their phone.”
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real world RETAIL
28â&#x20AC;&#x201A; Mobile Electronics July 2020
RISK & REWARD
After evolving from a one-man business into a full-fledged 12-volt team, Sonic Sound continues to work toward expansion while taking calculated risks to increase revenue. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
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FAST FACTS Main Location: Arlington, Va. Number of Locations: 1 Square Footage: 4,000 Type: Traditional Retail Number of Employees: 9 MAIN FOCUS 50% Window Tint 40% 12-Volt Installations 10% Wheels, Tires and Accessories KEY STAFF Owner: Kevin Juarez Store Manager: Henry Menjivar Lead Installer: Edy Merino Window Tint: Kevin E. Juarez, Ryan Lopez Installers: Miguel Martinez, Noe Aguilera Apprentice: Pablo Menjivar Accountant: Rosa Melgar
n the spring of 2000, Kevin Juarez opened a one-man business in Arlington, Va. At first, he said, Sonic Sound had no bays and installation took place outside the store. He also did some mobile work for local dealerships. After a year, the shop moved to another location with a single bay, and Juarez hired staff—a window tinter as well as a full-time employee who worked in both sales and installs. Then, in 2008, Sonic Sound finally found its current location, which has a two-bay garage that can fit four vehicles, and about 4,000 square feet of space. The location is on a main road with plenty of drive-by and foot traffic. “That’s where I am now,” Juarez said. “It hasn’t been easy, but now I can see the fruit of all the hard work.” Currently, like many other shops, business is booming. Projects consist mainly of window tint and car audio. “We are booked about three weeks out,” he added, noting that the shop is still growing and adding categories and services. For
30 Mobile Electronics July 2020
the most part, though, the team doesn’t handle much custom work. Juarez said he prefers jobs that can be completed in one day. “The most custom we do might be speaker plates,” he explained. “For example, a Jeep might come in for four speakers, an amplifier, a head unit and a backup camera. We get the Jeep in the morning and we get it done in a day— instead of doing a big custom job that might take two to three days.” Among the staff is Kevin, Juarez’s college-age son. “He just got his associate’s degree, and he goes to a university,” Juarez said, “but he’s here most of the time now. He’s been working for me two years, and he’s doing great.” Kevin is primarily a window tinter, he said, but he also does a bit of 12-volt. “He’s doing very well in school and [he’s studying] cyber security. He’s become a great employee here.” While Juarez hopes his son will one day want to take over the family business, he doesn’t expect it. “I do want him to get his career lined up, get his degree and
graduate,” he added. In the meantime, the staff of nine is mostly cross-trained, although the 12-volt installers stick to their specialty. “Kevin, Ryan, Henry—even my store manager does window tint,” Juarez said. “Our apprentice, Pablo, does too.”
Pandemic Offers Opportunity for Improvements When team members expressed concern about COVID-19, Sonic Sound closed for two weeks. Juarez used the opportunity to make improvements around the store. “I always wanted to put down floor epoxy and never had the chance,” he said. “It needs about 10 days to set. I took the risk. I didn’t want to spend the money. The installation bay needed a facelift and a remodel for a long time, but we were always too busy.” Recently, the shop also installed new storage cabinets and a work bench in the install bay. The team handles wheels and tires, but Juarez always outsourced. Now
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Targeted Advertising on Spanish Television Keeps Business Top-of-Mind With such a large Latin community in the heart of Arlington, Juarez said, he’s had positive experiences with targeted advertising on Spanish television networks. Many of Sonic Sound’s customers speak Spanish, and the entire staff is bilingual. “That’s why I advertise heavily on Spanish TV,” he said, “because we get a lot of that community here in the shop. The initial goal was to draw more of the Latin community to the store.” Juarez said he accomplished this by advertising on prime time during televised sports. “Every time the commercial comes on, they send me the exact time it will go on, and on what show. If a game is at 10 or 11 in the morning, we will get calls during halftime—and we know because that’s when our commercials air,” Juarez explained. “We track the numbers.” Customers often come in and say they saw the television commercial. “That’s how we know it’s effective. I don’t do it to get more customers, because we are busy all the time, but I will do it to remind people I’m here,” he added, noting that customers will sometimes forget about the store. The ad helps keep Sonic Sound topof-mind. “Some people move about an hour away, but when they see the commercial, they are reminded we’re here.” The shop used downtime during the pandemic to give the install bay a facelift, apply floor epoxy and put in new cabinets. They also purchased a new wheel balancing machine and a tire machine. Now, the team is able to offer wheel and tire services in-house. While investing during a shutdown was a risky move, owner Kevin Juarez said it paid off.
32 Mobile Electronics July 2020
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they’re able to handle it in-house. During the pandemic, Juarez said he took a calculated risk and purchased a wheel-balancing machine and a tire machine. “I didn’t want to spend the money on that, either, but I had to. Now if someone needs balancing, or wants to keep the factory tires but wants wheels, I can do that in-house. I am happy about it because we’re doing very well.” Although in-person trainings have ceased temporarily as a result of the pandemic, Juarez said the shop has taken advantage of online trainings, especially in the beginning when they were still open and business was slow. Now that business is back up, Juarez said they’re even busier than before. “Even when we opened back up, we were able to do some trainings, but now we are so slammed with work that I can only [attend evening webinars].” Also planned for the near future are upgrades to the displays in the showroom. Juarez said the shop’s display is a little old and he’d like to have something bigger with more opportunities to demonstrate options to potential clients. Investing during the pandemic was a risky move, he added. When the shop closed, he wasn’t sure when they’d reopen. But shortly after reopening, they were busy again, “and we haven’t looked back since.” Juarez said the spike in business, at least at his shop, is due in part to the stimulus checks. Clients have come in and told him directly that they’ve decided to spend their stimulus money on vehicle upgrades.
Sales Strategy Led By Product Knowledge and Honesty Sonic Sound uses top-down selling in order to inform customers about a full range of products. “I want to make sure the customer knows there are other options,” Juarez said. “If I sell them an $80 or $300 radio, and they come back, I don’t want them to say, ‘Hey, you never told me about the wireless version of this head unit,’ [for example]. I want them to know what’s available.” The store offers Focal, Sony Car Audio, Alpine, Kicker and some JL Audio,
34 Mobile Electronics July 2020
The shop continues to take additional precautions due to COVID-19. If customers come in without a face mask, Sonic Sound will provide one. All cars are cleaned well, and contact points are sanitized before and after a project.
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36â&#x20AC;&#x201A; Mobile Electronics July 2020
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real world RETAIL according to Juarez. If a customer comes in looking for speakers, Juarez will begin at the highest quality and work his way down. Additionally, Juarez will take a look at the customer’s vehicle. “A lot of people don’t know what they have in their car, whether it’s a premium or basic sound system,” he explained. “I listen to the music they listen to, and how loud they like it.” Sometimes the system sounds very good and Juarez will tell them. “Maybe they don’t want speakers,” he said, adding that the customer might think they want speakers, but what they really wanted was a subwoofer. Sonic Sound also has demo vehicles—a Lexus with a popular dash camera, and a car that shows off the shop’s window tint capabilities. “We also have a Toyota 4Runner that Henry drives. It has Focal speakers, a Pioneer head unit, a backup camera, a JL Audio subwoofer and a Viper remote start system,” Juarez said. “We demo that all the time.” Customer service continues after the sale, Juarez said, adding that the shop will invite customers back if their head unit requires an update. “There are always software updates for Apply CarPlay or Android Auto. Some customers don’t know how to do it, and we tell them about it. Maybe a Bluetooth function isn’t working correctly, and a software update could fix that,” Juarez explained. “When we know there’s an update, we’ll call the customer and ask if they’d like to come back and we’ll do it for free. It takes about a half an hour. Once they’re in the store, we can talk about a sub they were interested in last time, or the speakers they’d been considering.” Training is as frequent as possible to keep up with product knowledge, Juarez said, though the pandemic has impacted the usual proceedings. “Most trainings are after-hours and in-house,” he noted. “We also do trainings held by our distributor, manufacturers and webinars. Every two or three months we might do some kind of training—whenever one is available. We had one in February just before the COVID-19 shutdowns.” A rep from Kicker came to train the team on the company’s amplifiers, he said. “DAS is
38 Mobile Electronics July 2020
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facebook.com/MobileElectronics â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 39
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Instagram Advertising Not Yet Successful Juarez said he wants to continue drawing followers to the business’s Instagram page, but so far, advertising on the platform has failed to draw followers or attract business. “The money I spent on ads didn’t work at all,” he said, adding that Facebook brings better results. For both platforms, Juarez said the shop posts before and after photos. Customers will ask questions on both Facebook and Instagram, but the majority of the inquires come through Facebook. “On Instagram, I get maybe two or three questions [from potential customers] a month,” he added. “Facebook, we get maybe 20 to 40 questions in a month.” While some customers may not have Facebook or Instagram, Juarez can still direct them to Sonic Sound’s website, where build photos are cross-posted through social media accounts. “They might come in with a Porsche 911. They’ll see photos of others we’ve worked on, and they’ll say they want the same thing,” he added.
40 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Window tint accounts for half of the business’s revenue. In the future, the shop hopes to add vehicle wrapping and paint protection to its list of services.
Make Plans to Attend
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Education. Networking. Exhibits. Now Coast to Coast Long Beach
Learn More at knowledgefest.org facebook.com/MobileElectronics â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 41
real world RETAIL
Sony Car Audio a Number One Seller at Sonic Sound Sonic Sound acquires all its Sony Car Audio products through DAS Distributing, which Juarez said he’s worked with for about 18 years. The shop began selling more Sony about three to four years ago, he said, adding, “My reps—Ben Mootz and Ken Litten—are always willing to help out whenever we need anything.” Part of what Juarez appreciates about Sony is that it’s a protected brand, he said, noting that if a unit is $350 in one place, it’s the same price everywhere. Additionally, Sony makes it easier to return products if there’s a problem, Juarez said. “As a business owner, I look for a company that has our back. Sony stands behind their products. They’re very easy to use, and the pricing is good, too.” Juarez cited the helpfulness of Anthony Tozzi and Kris Bulla at Sony. “Every time there’s a Sony training, I am happy to be there,” Juarez said, adding, “Our customers love the Sony head units with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto because they look good and they’re easy to use. For now, I like to sell their 9-inch head unit model XAV-AX8000. Our customers love the big screen.” Recently, Juarez said, a customer came back to the shop because the Sony head unit Sonic Sound installed had stopped working. “I called my rep and he said, ‘Grab another, and I’ll put a credit on the account.’ It was as simple as that, and we got the customer on his way. He was happy because he knows we stand behind the product. He had a new radio, and I was happy because I got my credit.”
42 Mobile Electronics July 2020
our distributor, and they have a big show every April. It was cancelled this year, but we usually go and take classes.”
A Second Location Necessary for Continued Expansion Beyond tint and car audio, Sonic Sound also sells a lot of accessories and frequently works on Jeeps, according to Juarez. The shop hopes to add a second location within the next five years to dedicate space to vehicle wraps and paint protection—two avenues Juarez has yet to explore but hopes to incorporate into the business. The team is also interested in one day doing lift kits, he said. “We do Alpine head units, backup cameras and step bars for Jeeps.” Sonic Sound also sells tonneau covers and WeatherTech. “We have customers coming in and asking for
WeatherTech. I get a lot of calls because they find me on the network, and I can order it for them,” Juarez explained. “I am doing well with accessories.” To accommodate the growth Sonic Sound is anticipating, another location is necessary. Juarez said customers ask about vehicle wrapping all the time. Adding the service makes sense, he added, since it goes hand-in-hand with window tint. COVID-19 still remains a concern for the shop. “If someone comes in without a mask, we will provide them with one. We try to stay as healthy as possible.” The business has enough money set aside in case they have to close again. “My mom always taught me to save as much money as I could,” Juarez said. “I was able to pay everyone during the two weeks we were closed. After we reopened,
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they weren’t coming in full days because we were finishing early and business was slow.” No one could have expected something quite like this, he added, especially since numbers were so good just before the pandemic hit. Sonic Sound didn’t apply for any of the available business loans. “I didn’t need to because I had plenty of money in the bank for the business. I want to make sure there’s always money aside in case we have to close. If a second wave comes in the fall, we have enough that we could close for a month or two and employees would still get paid.” When things return to normal, Juarez said he looks forward to attending KnowledgeFest and bringing a few of his employees along. “I’m going to see how everything plays out first. I do plan to attend Dallas this year. I would love to see more trainings offered in Spanish,” he added, referring to recent KnowledgeFest classes presented by Ricardo Rangel of Monster by Rangel in Mexico City. While Sonic Sound has reached the Top 50 Retailers list twice, Juarez said he’s working toward Top 12 and looks forward to Awards Night. “That is my main goal,” he added. facebook.com/MobileElectronics 43
strategy & tactics
The Basics of Inventory Tracking Are you hoping to get a better handle on your store’s inventory tracking methods? Taking a closer look at the fundamentals can help refresh your tracking system and increase your business’s efficiency. WORDS BY JEFF CANTRELL
Failing to keep track of your business can put a cap on your potential. Building a business is like building any structure. Without the proper foundation and support, you can only build your business so much—before the lack of a well-planned foundation prevents further growth. Foundational items in business include: Income and expense accounts, tax liabilities, inventory tracking and efficiency tracking. In this article, we will examine inventory tracking. The first step to successfully handling inventory tracking is making sure you have a way to manage it.
What’s Your Tracking System? A proper inventory tracking software allows for individual items to be set up as one of several types, to name a few: • Inventory item
44 Mobile Electronics July 2020
• Non-inventory item • Service • Other charge It’s important to monitor the quantity of inventory items you have on hand and track your sales of these items. Inventory items are items that you keep on hand and/or track the sales of by quantity. Non-Inventory items are items you stock, but you aren’t concerned about on-hand quantities. The service category is used to set up labor items. The category for other charges has a variety of uses, including parking, late fees, or shipping charges. We’ll focus on inventory items for now.
From the Sales to the Purchase Order Each inventory item you stock should
be set up in your software and tracked all the way from when you make the order through your supplier, to the day you sell the item to your customer. This starts with one of two things: A Sales Order from your customer to you in the case of a special order, or a Purchase Order from you to your vendor when ordering items for your stock. If your customer orders a part you don’t have in stock, you can create a Sales Order under the customer’s name which will start the paper trail for the item. Then you can take the Sales Order created and convert it or transpose it into a Purchase Order from you to your vendor. This Purchase Order can be emailed (in most software systems) to your vendor. This is really important
The Basics of Inventory Tracking
Setting up inventory and non-inventory items in the system.
because it puts responsibility on your vendor to send you exactly what you ordered. There is no gray area when items are listed right on the Purchase Order, as opposed to the order being given to your rep over the phone.
populate the items on the Item Receipt or Bill, then verify the quantities. Verify the prices, too, in case you are entering the actual invoice from the vendor and not just receiving the items into inventory without a bill. Then save the form.
When the product arrives at your store, use the packing slip to verify you received what the vendor indicates they shipped by the quantity listed on the packing slip.
Completing the Sale to Your Customer
Item Receipts allow you to bring items and quantities into your inventory, and the Enter Bill area of your software is for receiving items and simultaneously creating a bill to be paid to the vendor. Some companies have one person receive the items and another enter the bill. Or, you might be doing both.
Now that items have been entered into your inventory list, you can move forward with the sale to the customer. If you entered everything from step one until now, when you create an invoice for the customer, you’ll enter their name on the invoice and your software will ask you if you want to bill the customer for items that were received under their name. Just click yes, select the items, and finish the invoice with any additional items or services they are purchasing.
When you enter the vendor’s name in the indicated field, you should have the option to select an outstanding Purchase Order to receive against. At this point, all you have to do is select the correct Purchase Order and let the software
If you’re making a routine sale—not billing a customer for special ordered items—key in the items on each line of your invoice, save the invoice, and your software will automatically reduce your stock by the quantities on the invoice
Working With Item Receipts and Bills
Basic Inventory Control Minimizes Headaches That’s it! This is inventory control at its most basic level. Now you have a complete paper and data trail from order to sale. Now you also have the ability to create reports such as Profit & Loss by customer, by invoice, by item and more— all because you’ve given your software the data it needs to perform such tasks. After doing this for every transaction, month after month and year after year, you will create a wealth of information you can use to make informed decisions about purchasing and stock levels. Of course, you can always resort to calling your rep or your vendor, telling them what you need, and then sticking it in the stock room while you search for the scrap of paper you wrote the customer’s name and number on. Then you could sell it to them under the “Miscellaneous” or “Car Audio” category since you never set up the item in the computer, and then take a wild guess at how many you should stock and when to reorder months later by
strategy & tactics going into the stock room and staring at the shelf for a few minutes. That works, too—but it’s not scalable at best and it’s very unorganized and hard to keep up with accurately. Plus, you have better, more profitable things you could be doing with your time. Once you have a system in place, and you’re using it 100 percent of the time, it will make your life and your business operations much easier.
populate on the invoice to your customer. It is your selling price. Reorder Quantity: This is used to set a minimum stocking level so you receive an alert, or the software adds it to a “reorder” list when stock reaches that level. This is useful for restock ordering when you’re not on-site to do a physical walkthrough of your stockroom or showroom, such as in the case of multi-store retailers that have a central office managing orders. Done correctly, this can automate much of the ordering process.
Dialing Down to Specifics for Increased Accuracy Now let’s go a bit deeper. When setting up an item, there are several associated fields and attributes that must be accurately populated in order for your software to do its job. Think garbage in, garbage out. Your reports will only be as good as the information you feed your system. Here are some the fields for each item: Item Name: This refers to what you call the item in your store. This is usually the actual model number, but it can also be a custom name you come up with. MPN (Manufacturer’s Part Number): This is what the manufacturer calls it. Normally, it’s the model number or a specific SKU. For example, JL Audio has a model number as well as a 5-digit SKU for each item. It’s important to enter this properly if you choose to use a different model or SKU, so your manufacturer will know exactly what you’re ordering when you email a Purchase Order. There are other potential uses for this field that are beyond the scope of this article. Subitem: This is used to place the item in a specific area in your list. For instance, you could set up a “parent” item called “Speakers,” and then for each speaker model you set up in your list, select “Speakers” in the “Subitem of” field. Your software will place it with other speakers in the item list. Description on Purchase Transactions: This is what will show up on the Purchase Order you email to your manufacturer. Simply a description of the product. Description on Sales Transactions: This is what the customer will see on their invoice. Income Account: This is very important if you want to track income by
46 Mobile Electronics July 2020
Organization and Efficiency Leads to Increased Profitability Transferring a purchase order to customer invoice.
category. Here is where you can set up specific income accounts to run reports on. These can be as simple as: Car Audio, Tint, Truck Accessories. They can also be set up with more detail, such as: Amplifiers, Speakers, Radios, Tint, Running Boards, Lift Kits, Wheels, Lighting, Radar. For those who prefer extremely detailed reporting, you can narrow down to specifics like: 3-inch speakers, 4-inch speakers, 5.25-inch speakers, 6-inch speakers, Single-DIN Radios, Double-DIN Radios, CarPlay Radios, Navigation Radios, 8-inch subwoofers, 10-inch subwoofers, 12-inch Subwoofers and so on. This can make for a huge list of Income Accounts, but it also allows for ultimate information when deciding on stock levels for particular items or categories.
How About Inventory Items? C.O.G.S. Account: With any inventory items you have in stock, this is usually going to be “C.O.G.S.” or Cost Of Goods Sold. Understanding Non-Inventory Items Non-Inventory items may be assigned expense accounts such as “Supplies” for those who charge a standard “shop supplies” fee for each install. This can be tracked separately, but even then, the Supplies account can also be a C.O.G.S. type. Cost: This is the price—your cost—that will populate on the Purchase Order to your vendor. Retail: This is the price that will
Properly setting up and utilizing these fields can greatly increase efficiency for reporting, ordering and tracking your inventory. You only have to do it once, and it will save time on every order, sale and report from that point forward. On the other hand, if you let this slide for a while, it can be an overwhelming task to get it back under control. Set these resources up on the front end. Your life will be much easier, and you’ll be free to do whatever you’re best at which makes your business most profitable. Remember: • Set up your items properly. • Use Purchase Orders to order inventory and supplies. • Receive against those Purchase Orders. • Invoice customers using correct model numbers. • Don’t keep up with inventory by looking in the stockroom. Always ensure you have a grip on profitability and inventory control by implementing an inventory system. For more information or questions beyond the scope of this article, please email Jeff Cantrell: firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff’s area of expertise is using QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions software, although there are many other software solutions that may provide the same or similar functionalities. Jeff Cantrell is an MECP Master Technician at Jackson Car Audio in Jackson, Tenn. He is also the Chairman of the MECP Committee.
The Basics of Inventory Tracking
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MASS-PRODUCING CUSTOM TRUCK ENCLOSURES
When custom enclosures for big trucks became popular at Traffic Jams Motorsports, the team began to envision mass-producing their creation. Building an efficient production department meant acquiring the right tools for the job. WORDS BY RON VENABLE
Creating custom boxes to fit underneath the rear seat or behind a seat in newer Fords, Chevrolets, Dodge Rams, Nissans or Toyotas can be tricky. At Traffic Jams Motorsports in Buford, Georgia, we’ve seen a lot of big trucks over the 28 years we’ve been installing car stereo equipment. These vehicle owners are
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always looking for big sound. After taking extensive time to try to build a custom box that would fit well in these vehicles, we decided it was time to make something special. So, we focused on designing enclosures that would not only function well, but would also be an efficient use of the available space.
Designing Rockin’ Custom Boxes for Big Trucks The focus for this project was different from just building a custom box from scratch, which is something we already did for our customers. Now, we were building a box with the intention of reverse-engineering our design in order
to mass produce the pieces necessary to complete these boxes. Yamil Widy and Michael “Biscuit” Bischoff put their heads together and began designing and building what we now call our Performance Enclosure Subwoofer boxes. These boxes are designed to serve two purposes. The first purpose is to enhance the client’s listening experience while they’re driving in their new truck. The second purpose is to have a fit, finish and design that adds to the appearance and styling of your truck.
Utilizing Tools to Enhance the Building Process We purchased a few essential tools to help us out with this new endeavor. We acquired a Camaster Panther CNC
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Router and a Glowforge laser. Of course, a properly prepared woodshop and all the essential router bits and tools always make creating these enclosures a whole lot easier.
package with powerful 2D machining strategies for CNC routing, milling or engraving.
We use Vectric Cut2D Desktop to create and design all of the badging and logos we use in the center of our Performance Enclosures. When designing an enclosure that is ordered custom for a specific vehicle, Biscuit likes to include shapes or features in the design of the vehicle. For example, when it comes to the 2020 Chevy Silverado trucks, there is a design in the headlight that he likes to incorporate into the design of the logo plate.
Cut2D Desktop provides a powerful but intuitive software solution for cutting parts on a CNC router and includes tools for 2D design and editing and efficient 2D toolpath calculation. The 2D software tool is vital in our design process and has distinct advantages for us. The advantages include the following:
The Vectric Cut2D Desktop is an easy to use vector drawing and editing
Advantages of Cut2D Desktop for Cutting, Design and Editing
• We can import 2D designs from other programs and also utilize a full set of drawing and editing tools. • Our toolpath options cover all typical 2D routing operations such
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tech today as Profiling, Pocketing, Auto-Inlays and Drilling. • Each toolpath includes appropriate options to customize the settings and provide a high level of control for different types of operation. • Our Cut2D offers the functionality demanded for complex work, while remaining incredibly easy to use and affordably priced.
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Mass-Producing Custom Truck Enclosures One of our biggest challenges involved learning how to use the Vectric 2D program. So, we enrolled in the Kingpin University laser training class, led by Christopher McNulty and John Brettle. We learned some tricks and fundamentals from those in the industry who have been using the program for years, and this really gave us a head start. Automated production machines require extensive classroom and hands-on training, which is constantly on the docket. In addition, we are able to preview all designs to our clients to demonstrate just how the part will look when it is actually cut. This allows us to gain instant feedback so toolpaths can be further optimized.
To Create Superior Sound, First Acquire the Right Tools Working in tandem with our Glowforge laser, this indispensable tool helps our designer and fabricator to break
free from conventional ideas and think outside the box when offering custom personal designs for our trim plates on Traffic Jams Performance Enclosures. Once the design is completed and approved, it is sent to the next step in the process which involves cutting the trim panel and laser etching the final design into the plate itself. Our Glowforge Plus is our in-house laser, and one of the key ingredients in the design and creation of our enclosures. We etch any design the client wants—from company names to children’s names, gamer names and tags, and also custom artwork chosen by the consumer.
quality sound with superior design—and all because we made sure to have the right tools at our disposal. Ron Venable is general manager at Traffic Jams Motorsports in Buford, Ga. Traffic Jams Motorsports Performance Enclosures serves as the company’s box-building department, and ships to locations all over the country as well as in Mexico and Canada.
So far, the performance enclosures have been doing well. These products are sold across the United States, as well as in Mexico and Canada. Ranging from a single woofer to four woofers, we have been able to build, design and deliver top
The team at AV-DC decided to incorporate all their skills and techniques into this colorful, sleek build, intending to demonstrate to clients a multitude of custom possibilities. SUBMITTED BY: CALLUM MARTIN, AV-DC, ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
All the way from “down under” comes this month’s snazzy install—a daily driver owned by Callum Martin of AV-DC in South Australia. The vehicle is a Toyota 86 Scion FR-S. The goal? To achieve a high level of sound through staging, imaging and dynamics, while demonstrating a more advanced build technique than the shop has used previously, according to Martin. “We often get to use one or two more advanced build techniques on customers’ cars, but we rarely get the chance to bring all of our techniques, materials and finishes together on a single build to show what’s possible,” he explained. “It’s our aim to more easily sell a wider
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range of our techniques and finishes into customer installs now that we can show them off in this vehicle.” The team used the following Audison Voce gear in the build: • Two AV 5.1K Amplifiers • AV 6.5 Midbass • AV 3.0 Midrange • AV 1.1 Tweeters • AV X6.5 Coaxials • Two AV 12 Subwoofers • bit One HD Virtuoso DSP • Pioneer AVIC-F80DAB Touchscreen • Thinkware U1000 4K Dashcam • Optima Yellowtop battery • Stinger Power Wiring and Accessories • Stinger Roadkill and SoundSkins
Sound Deadening • Digital RGB LED Lighting This classy build incorporated customized A-pillars, door trims, dash facia, a DSP control panel and a trunk lid display. The rear seats were removed for the comprehensive trunk installation. “We incorporated almost every fabrication and finishing technique we’ve ever used, and some we tried for the first time,” Martin said. “It’s been great for showcasing our capabilities and demonstrating modern custom car stereo to our customers.”
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from the President
Set Your Course What you do today will help decide your future. At the start of your day, you may be apprehensive. Understandable. With all that’s going on around you, it may seem hard to focus what matters most. Many of you will put faith and family at the top of your list. Add to that your financial health and your friends, and you most likely align with the majority. Knowing the correct order is also important as well. When you’re unsure of your next move, take time to step back and review the big picture. Don’t let all the noise cloud your judgment. Follow what you know worked well in the past and rely upon sound advice from those you trust.
Taking Care of Business Responding to daily news headlines is an easy way to lose focus on your business. As an owner, your primary role is to look out for the future of your business. Many of you are experiencing a surge in business due in part to pent-up demand, stimulus payments, and a desire to spend more time in the automobile this summer rather than fly to a vacation destination. Make sure you do everything in your power to maximize sales. One might assume this increase won’t be sustainable long-term. This translates into making some preparations for the future to make sure your business remains sustainable should there be a reduction sooner rather than later.
Think about some key performance indicators that could help you fend off failure as well as recognize success. Here are a few to get you started:
Regardless of your situation— remember, you survived. I say ‘remember’ because you might create a playbook for your business. A handbook for what to do in a crisis. 1. Year-over-year revenue (growing or shrinking) 2. Conversion rate (number of customers visiting vs. the number that makes a purchase)
3. Gross and net profit (how much are you making on a sale, considering cost of goods and your overhead?)
4. Sales per category (trends to follow to gauge the future) 5. Sales and or productivity per employee (are they delivering what you need?)
What you do today will determine the future of your business. Think about the last few months of activity. Many facilities were caught unaware and unprepared for business to come to a screeching halt. When it did, you might’ve taken a hard look at some of the underlying issues that left you in a less than optimal position. Those of you with high debt or limited reserves scrambled to sustain. Some of you took advantage of government grants and loans that helped you through this hard time. Regardless of your situation—remember, you survived. I say “remember” because you might create a playbook for your business. A handbook for what to do in a crisis. Write down your successes and failures. Make sure you’re never caught in the same situation. Your goal is to set a course for your future that includes every scenario you can imagine. Know what to do and when to do it.
6. Average transaction or average ticket (growing or shrinking)
Proactive Versus Reactive
When you have a plan in place, it will be easier to be proactive. However, it will take more than a plan to achieve success. You will need to recognize trouble before it arrives. Think about a vehicle’s gauge cluster for a moment. You can view speed, RPM, temperature and other important levels. Viewing any of these reveals a lot about your vehicle. Utilizing gauges for your business allows you to view important levels there, as well.
With your numbers in full view, set out every morning to seize the day—carpe diem! Make sure you share with your team. Everyone in your employ should know your mission and their numbers. Each of them should have an area of responsibility. Something they own, track and report. This will help you drive forward with confidence, knowing everyone is contributing to the success of your business—as well as their own future.
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7. You should also know your break-even point (are you above or below?)
8. Inventory turns or sell-through (are you moving what you purchased?)
9. And don’t forget to count the cash (this can make or break you) Do whatever you need to do to track your performance so you can tell if things are getting better or worse. This information will allow you to add resources or trim your sails before you get into trouble. This will keep you from being reactive and making rash decisions that could cause unintended consequences.
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