Mobile Electronics Magazine August 2020

Page 1

August 2020

rT mains steady fo re s s e in s u b , n ow two-week shutdxpansion and growth a d n a s n o ti a ll e cance rd to Despite e vent while the team looks forwa Car Audio Shop

PLUS Top Pros Drop the Hammer The Top 50 and Top 20 are working toward the finish line—regardless of challenges posed by this year’s unparalleled pandemic


Taking Stock: Got what you need? Retailers discuss tips and strategies for inventory management Safety First: Tech Today begins a series on ADAS and how businesses can expand into this essential category


LED Lights

360º DVR REAR VIEW MIRROR • Full 360 Degree Surround DVR • OEM spec. and look mirror • IPS 4.5” wide VGA LCD screen • Touchscreen controls • Parked recording function • Second external camera included


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

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3 Video In for rear and side cameras



Adjustable Parking Lines




Volt Meter

Type C and 18W PD Blue LED Quick Charger 3.0 for Apple and Androids

Type C and 18W PD Blue LED Volt Meter Quick Charger 3.0 for Apple and Androids




Volt Meter

1 amp & 2.1 amp USB output

Glowing Blue Backlight Dual USB. 3.1amp Output




SPA500 takes the things that you want to do with your phone while driving and puts them on your car’s built-in display. When you connect your phone to SPA500, you can get turn-by-turn directions, make calls, send and receive messages, listen to music, and more. SPA500 uses the contacts on your phone to help you make calls, send texts, and find destinations.

SPA500 - Universal SPA500MBZ - Mercedes SPA500BMW - BMW SPA500TOY - Toyota / Lexus

Mirror / No Mirror Backup Line On/Off

Good TLP150 - Standard Better TLP150L - Moving Parking Lines Best TLP150HDW - HD Low Light • Metal License Plate CMOS • Waterproof


LCDRV700WLKD • Digital Wireless 7” LCD Camera • New 600 TV Lines • Microphone Built In

RVCLPM (Chrome) RVCLPMB (Black Chrome)

RVC800LPWIRB (Black) RVC800LPWIR (Chrome)



License Plate Camera 120º view

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Mini Mini Moonlight Camera with Incredible Low Light Performance

True Full 180º Horizontal View Programmable Mirror / No Mirror

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Volume 52// Issue 08


20 20 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs



6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback


Ad Index

14// What’s Happening: Flying Start

One thing hasn’t changed—the perseverance of the industry’s top-tier professionals. This year’s Top 50 and Top 20 continue to prove that adaptability is a key trait in the 12-volt universe.

28// Real World Retail: Real World Retail: The Car Audio Shop

AWhile picking up speed and continuing to increase revenue, The Car Audio Shop and its team of installers prepares for transition in the coming months.

44// Strategy & Tactics: Inventory Management

Staying on top of inventory management is always an essential task. Due to recent issues with inventory and back-orders caused by COVID-19, some retailers have taken a closer look at their own methods for inventory management and how they can improve.

48// Tech Today: Selling Vehicle Safety Systems

Vision Zero is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of safety equipment in vehicles. Join us as we highlight these technologies and discuss sales strategies retailers can implement today.

On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Ana Ramirez The Car Audio Shop began as a one-man business in 2012, then grew into a small team of dedicated installers. Now, the shop is looking toward expansion with the goal of maintaining consistent growth year over year.

4  Mobile Electronics August 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 Ground Zero..............................................p.49 Harman - JBL............................................p.35 InstallerNet...............................................p.60 JVC..................................................................p.19 Kenwood......................................................p.17 Kicker............................................................p.11 MEA KnowledgeFest.............................p.41 MECP............................................................p.39 Metra Electronics...................................p.47 Orca - Focal...............................................p.27 Rockford Fosgate...................................p.5 Sirius XM......................................................p.12 Sony..............................................................p.23 SounDigital................................................p.25 USA SPEC..................................................p.45 Vais Technology......................................p.13 Vision Zero................................................p.53 Voxx Electronics........................................p.7 Wavtech.....................................................p.43






C.L.E.A.N.: Patented circuit with input and output clip indicators that help match the source unit to the amplifier and optimize musical output

P.O.W.E.R. Supply: The Unique P.O.W.E.R. supply continues to generate more than rated power as the voltage increases

Integrated Punch EQ: Corrects the acoustic deficiencies in the listening environment, by delivering up to 3X the bass via equalization





Available at: or your local Rockford Fosgate dealer


editor’s forum


It’s time to make the most of the opportunity. We are facing many challenges as an industry. We experienced a lapse in business, followed by a huge increase, and major product shortages. What could be next? No one really knows. Here’s what we do know: You’ll be opening your doors with great expectations, focused on closing the sale and delivering the highest quality customer service, along with keeping your team motivated and happy. In the midst of your daily mission, it’s important to review your numbers and ensure being busy translates to growth and prosperity. Track and review your business’s performance The first two quarters of the year are behind us. The third quarter is in play. How we finish this one is essential when it comes to setting up your business for the final quarter of the year. Some of us view this with anticipation and others with trepidation. Regardless of your outlook, it’s imperative to focus on making the numbers at this all-important time for your business. When measuring success, there are a couple benchmarks to review. One is year-over-year performance. The other is daily, weekly and month-to-month performance. How your business performed over the last year is a good indicator of gross revenue growth. First, review the current month as it relates to the same month last year. Then, review your year-to-date performance versus the same period to date for the previous year. This allows you to better understand your seasonal performance and your overall performance to date. When reviewing daily, weekly and monthly performance, focus on daily revenue and whether it’s increasing, decreasing or staying relatively flat. Tracking daily, weekly and monthly gross revenue will help you see current trends, allowing you to adjust and focus to meet your goals. There are many other key performance indicators (KPI) to track as part of your daily dashboard. However, when business is good and your team is stretched thin, the above KPIs will at the least give you a heads-up on performance. There’s nothing worse than being busy only to discover you’re not doing as well as you thought. Make sure you keep up with performance so you don’t look back in disappointment. Do we have that in stock? Speaking of disappointment. Many of you have indicated that inventory shortages have been inhibiting your ability to deliver on customer requests. Many of you have been enjoying the benefits of “just-in-time” delivery. In an inventory shortage

6  August 2020

environment, this practice can severely inhibit your ability to take advantage of the increased customer interest in your business. It’s extremely easy to become accustomed to letting others carry inventory levels to fulfill your business needs. This is not one of those times. During inventory shortages, review what you have available to sell. Do this every day. Make a list, and share it with your team. Then focus on what’s available to make the sale. Next, contact each of your suppliers and request an update. Make sure you know what’s in the pipeline so you can fulfill the needs of customers looking for specific brands and or products. Again, share this information with your team. Find a way to say yes to your customer regardless of your situation.

REVIEW ANYTHING YOU HAVE WHICH COULD BECOME AN ADD-ON FOR A SALE. ONCE IDENTIFIED, MAKE SURE EACH OF THESE ARE OFFERED TO EVERY CUSTOMER. Make the most of every sale Lastly, focus on producing the most in every sale. When it’s business as usual, it’s much easier to focus on maximizing each sale. When you’re remarkably busy, not so much. This is the time when having processes in place will help you gain higher profitability. If you don’t have anything in place, don’t worry— there’s still time to do something that will keep you from losing out. Here are a few easy-to-implement ideas. Review anything you have which could become an add-on for a sale. It could be a performance guarantee (a warranty), cleaning and detailing, non-mobile electronics products such as sunglasses, specialty items or services. Once identified, make sure each of these are offered to every customer. If you want to go a step further, look at the top five or ten vehicles that tend to be repeats at your store. Then, make a list of things to offer to each. Communicate this with your team, and make sure these are offered every single time. Do this without fail, and I can guarantee it will not only increase your revenue, but it will also add to your bottom line! Taking a few minutes out of your day to add these simple processes should help you focus on the main goal: Make or exceed your numbers today.

Say goodbye to your bulky remote THE WORLD’S SLIMMEST 2-WAY LONG RANGE REMOTE CONTROL CarLink™ CLLRCC is slim in shape but big on performance. We packed all the punch of the industry-leading communication technology by replacing your bulky remote into an intelligent extra slim long range 2-way remote that fits in your wallet. CarLink™ CLLRCC interacts with your smartphone and offers up to 1.5 miles of range. With CarLink a simple press on the remote or on the smartphone app will lock, unlock and start your car.

NO MONTHLY OR ANNUAL FEES. FREE APP DOWNLOAD to become a dealer visit: 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.

 feedback


EDITORIAL Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • Chris Cook Editor-at-Large Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez


While the pandemic has changed the way owners and retailers think about store structure, pent-up demand has also increased sales. “The way we’ve been doing business has totally changed. We now have to schedule lighter to accommodate for problems during the install process related to radio data bus modules and alarm systems that simply don’t work when installed correctly. Also, inventory has been sparse and ship times have increased considerably due to the pandemic. At the same time, customer demand is way up due to the change from flight-dependent vacations to road trips and boating. Basically, there’s way more demand than supply. We could probably have two more installers and still keep our other two or three installers busy.” Keith McCumber, SoundsGood Auto, Coquitlam, BC, Canada “We saw a V-curve from mid-March to mid-April. The crash was ominous, but short-lived. I didn’t have to lay anyone off or let anyone go. We still had enough work to continue through the bottom. Getting back up from there was a little daunting, but now we’re on fire!” Christopher Labonte, Vibe Car Audio, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada “I believe a pent-up demand has been created because people were working from home and still drawing a paycheck, plus receiving stimulus money and maybe a tax refund. They weren’t going out to dinner, out to lunch or traveling, so they have a good amount of disposable income.” Anonymous “Thankfully, business is really good right now, and we are booked at least a week in advance. We require a deposit to secure an appointment and to ‘lock in’ product we have in stock. Any current issues with inventory are a result of most of our industry’s products coming from overseas.” Chad Wilbanks, Jimmy’s Car Stereo, Auburn, Ala.

8  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA 1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN#1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 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

 stats

We are Back in Business & Finding the New Normal

Most retailers are reporting increased business and a backlog of appointments—with many hopeful the current sales boom will last for at least another month to three months.

Other Retailers Said:

I think it’s a little bit of everything from the first four options in this list. – Jay Beckwith, JB Audio, Troy, Mo.

10  Mobile Electronics August 2020

We have found that most people just have spare time right now to work on projects.

– Christopher Labonte, Vibe Car Audio, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada



Auto-EQ Dials In Audio Realism at Ear Level 200 Watts of Power (50W x 4 ch.)

40-Band Equalizer Auto-Tunes Sound Systematically Time Alignment Auto-Creates Excellent Soundstage

Mic and Selector Switch Initializes DSP and A/B Testing

Gain Adjustment Auto-Creates Balanced Sound from Each Speaker



+ AI-Driven DSP – One-Step, Automatic Calibration that Dramatically Improves Audio Quality + Compatible with Start/Stop Vehicle Technology + FIT2 Technology Allows It to Work with Nearly Any Radio

KEY200.4 Amplifiers are now shipping. For more info, contact us at 405-624-8510, or your KICKER Sales Rep.

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 helpful stuff


This is all about the fine print of big ideas in music and technology. Does hip-hop have anything to do with venture capital? Do song lyrics hint at how the world is evolving? Host Cherie Hu has an interesting take on this and many other audio-related matters. An award-winning journalist who produces a newsletter of the same name, Hu brings in a curated selection of leaders, artists, innovators and thinkers from across the music biz. Her podcast’s title comes from dialogue between two music industry veterans, Quincy Jones and Kendrick Lamar. As Jones predicts, “The last things to leave this planet will be water and music.” Episode 11 features a conversation with the founder/ CEO of Boomy, discussing how artificial intelligence will do to music creation what Instagram did to photography.

BOOK: The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness BY MORGAN HOUSEL

Doing well with money isn’t always about what you know. According to Morgan Housel, partner at The Collaborative Fund and a former columnist at The Motley Fool and The Wall Street Journal, it’s about how you behave. Behavior is hard to teach even to the best and brightest. How to invest and make business decisions is usually taught as a math-based field with data and formulas. But we all know that we don’t always make financial decisions based on a spreadsheet. These decisions are made at the dinner table or in a meeting room, where your personal history, your worldview and many other incentives are scrambled together. In The Psychology of Money, Housel shares short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches how to make better sense of one of life’s most challenging topics.


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It’s hard to believe that CES will go all-digital this year, but that’s now the plan. There will still be thousands of companies showing off products and lots of keynotes, seminars and conferences as usual—but all virtual. Stay informed so you can register and be part of this new experience. Additionally, SEMA, which cancelled its in-person event held the first week in November, was expected to house displays from over 2,400 aftermarket firms, as well as major automakers. Organizers have not yet announced plans for a virtual show. Both shows plan to return to Las Vegas for 2022.

SERVICE: Verizon Do More Unlimited JETPACKS & HOT SPOTS

Now more than ever, being on the road has its challenges. In our new normal with the pandemic’s forced closure of indoor dining at restaurants and fast food places, you can’t just run into a Starbucks or a Wendy’s for a cold drink and an outlet to charge your phone or laptop. A MiFi hotspot is great for those times when WiFi is dragging or the security of public WiFi seems weak. Mobile hotspots let you connect PCs, tablets and smartphones to your personal Internet connection so you can keep working no matter where you are without any worries. Verizon offers several mobile hot spots and jet packs, as well as a variety of plans.   13

 What’s Happening

One thing hasn’t changed—the perseverance of the industry’s top-tier professionals. This year’s Top 50 and Top 20 continue to prove that adaptability is a key trait in the 12-volt universe.

14  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Flying Start

806 Autoworks

Elevated Audio

Mobileworks Tintworks

Absolute Electronix

Explicit Customs

NVS Audio

ACT Audio

First Coast Auto Creations

Ocala Car Audio

Adrenaline Autosound

Foss Audio & Tint

Showtime Audio

Advance Electronics

GNC Customs

Sonic Sound

Al & Ed’s Autosound

Greg’s Custom Audio & Video

Sound FX

Apicella Auto Sound

Handcrafted Auto, Marine and Off Road

SoundsGood Auto

Amarillo, Texas Rockville, Md.

Vernon, Conn. Clayton, NC

Winnipeg, MB, Canada Los Angeles, Calif. Stony Point, NY

Lakewood, Colo. Melbourne, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla. Tukwila, Wash. Goshen, Ind. Pikeville, KY

Audio Systems

Chandler, Ariz.

Audio X

Victoria, Texas

Brian Reimer Audio

Surrey, BC, Canada

California Audio

Wilbraham, Mass.

Car-Tunes, Inc.

Jackson, Tenn.

Cartunes Atlanta

Fenton, Mo.

Certified Autosound

Waterbury, Conn.

Clear Vibrations

Seaside, Calif.

DES of Wilmington

Conroe, Texas

Devine Concepts

Spring Hill, Kan.

Moreno Valley, Calif. Florence, Ala. Winnipeg, MB, Canada West Valley City, Utah Greenville, Miss. Atlanta, Ga.

& Security Abbotsford, BC, Canada Quakertown, Pa. Wilmington, NC Naples, Fla.

Hi-Pro Audio Inc Ridez

Santa Maria, Calif. New Jersey Ocala, Fla.

Chicago, Ill.

Arlington, Va. Lewes, Del.

Burnaby, BC, Canada

Stereo & Video Center Tyler, Texas

The Car Audio Shop High Ridge, Mo.

iNNovative Concepts

The Studio Automotive Tailoring Ltd.

JC Audio

Tier One Motoring

JML Audio of St. Louis

Titan Motoring

KarTele Mobile Electronics

Traffic Jams Motorsports

Kartunes Auto, Stereo and Alarm

Tri State Automobile Accessories

Richmond, BC, Canada Oaks, Pa.

Nashville, Tenn. Buford, Ga.

Lakeside Audio

Southaven, MS

LIS Audio

Lakeland, Fla.

Mobile Toys

College Station, Texas

Tunes-N-Tint Westminster Speed & Sound Westminster, Md.


 What’s Happening

Marty Adamschek

Nicholas Frazier

Fernando Lopez

Dayton Allen

Joe Giallombardo

Callum Martin

Nick Apicella

Roop Gossal

Colin McAndrew

Melinton Benavides

Javier Gutierrez

Christopher McNulty

Dean Beyett

James Halter

Alex Mendez

Michael Bischoff

Christian Herrera

Rob Miller

John Brettle

Bryce Hinton

Jesse Mitchell

Alejandro Caballero

Justin Hosek

– Andres Electronics Courtenay, BC, Canada – Nova Electronics and Tint Manassas, Va. – Apicella Auto Sound Stony Point, NY – Speed of Sound Technologies Milford, Conn. – Five Star Car Stereo Clearwater, Fla. – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, Ga. – Cartunes of Atlanta Atlanta, Ga. – Showtime Audio Chicago, Ill.

Phillip Cantu

– Elevated Audio, Inc. Lakewood, Colo.

Adam Devine

– Devine Concepts Naples, Fla.

Dave Evans – Adrenaline Autosound Clayton, NC

16  Mobile Electronics August 2020

– iNNovative Concepts Wilbraham, Mass. – Autosonics Highland Park, Ill.

– Inc Ridez Surrey, BC, Canada – Audiosystems Moreno Valley, Calif. – Stereo & Video Center Tyler, Texas – Nola Sound Solutions Harahan, LA – HIFI Mobile Audio Roanoke, Texas – Hi-Pro Audio Victoria, Texas

Aaron Iwane

– Car Toys Denver Denver, Colo.

Justin Kush

– Mobile Toys, Inc. College Station, Texas

Christopher Labonte

– Vibe Car Audio Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

– Five Star Car Stereo Clearwater, Fla. – AV-DC Pty LTD Panorama, South Australia – Brian Reimer Audio Winnipeg, MB – Kingpin Car Audio & Marine Las Vegas, Nev. – Showtime Audio Chicago, Ill. – JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, Mo. – Safe & Sound Car Audio and Security, Inc. Manassas, Va.

Junior Ngim

– Sound Innovations Union City, Calif.

Joseph Norton

– The Mobile Method Prairie Grove, Ariz.

Jeremy Owen – Highdown Car Audio & Security Ltd. Worthing, Texas

Ryan Oxenhorn – Ox Audio Cheltenham, Pa.

Flying Start


 What’s Happening Jaime Palafox

– Agoura Autosounds Agoura Hills, Calif.

Mario Paredes

– M & M Pro-Audio River Grove, Ill.

Cameron Powell – LIS Audio Spring Hill, Kan.

Carlos Ramirez – NVS Audio New Jersey

Jesse Rhodes

– Boomers Audio Tulsa, Okla.

Joshua Riesland

– Hampton Roads Elite Virginia Beach, Va.

Oscar Rodriguez

– Oscar’s Audio Designs Corpus Christi, Texas

Heber Ruiz

– Car Toys Denver Denver, Colo.

Te’Vonn Bailey

Corbin May

Brandon Brown

Justice McFall

– Exotic Sound & Tint Salisbury, Mass.

– Visions Electronics Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

CJ Silvey

– Columbus Car Audio and Accessories Columbus, Ohio

James Smith

Anthony Carranza

Jesse Sprister

Donald Darouse

Austin Thorne

Daniel Holben – ACT Audio Vernon, Conn.

– Mobile Toys, Inc. / MTI Acoustics College Station, Texas

Dalton Trainer

Zayd Khan

Justin Smith

Bryan Turvaville

Jason Kranitz

Parish Tanner

Jason Vanlakerveld

Joshua Landau

Craig Timmerman

– Foss Audio & Tint Puyallup, Wash. – ACT Audio Manchester, Conn. – Drive Customs San Luis Obispo, Calif. – Tunes-N-Tint Lakeland, FL

– Car-Tunes, Inc. Greenville, Miss. – 806 Autoworks Amarillo, Texas

– Audio Systems Moreno Valley, Calif. – Elevated Audio Lakewood, Colo.

– Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, Ga. – Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Las Vegas, Nevada

– DES of Wilmington, Inc. Wilmington, NC

Caleb Paulson – Audio Garage Fargo, ND

Jack Rogers

– Mobileworks Santa Maria, Calif.

Jim Skaggs

– Sound FX Lewes, Del.

– Ocala Car Audio Ocala, Fla.

– The Studio Automotive Tailoring Richmond, BC, Canada

– JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, Mo.

Matt Vowell

– Anchorage Remote Start and Sound Anchorage, Alaska

Bryan Turvaville

Joshua White

John Mathews

Ron Venable

– Mobile Toys, Inc. College Station, Texas – Auto FX Tacoma, Wash.

18  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Jade Lindow

– Columbus Car Audio & Accessories Reynoldsburg, Ohio

– Safe & Sound Mobile Electronics Chantilly, Va. – 806 Autoworks Amarillo, Texas – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, Ga.

Flying Start


 retail news money. Lee scouts out locations and measures, Tyler Neault plots and cuts the material, and both Scott Groenwold and Lee install the barriers. On average, the team spends a night doing the work, and half of one day cutting the material. “It’s giving the restaurants the opportunity to add capacity for reopening, and increase their revenue,” Lee said. “The restaurant we did it for was able to make back the investment of the barriers in a week.” For businesses that might be struggling, this kind of work can be a game-changer, though earnings are reliant upon where a shop is located. The cost of materials is something to keep in mind: In Lee’s area, he said, plastic is expensive and more difficult to get.


Certified Autosound & Security Adds to Business with Acrylic Barrier Installs Throughout the pandemic, the mobile electronics industry has demonstrated a unique versatility in repurposing some of the core parts of business production. For Certified Autosound & Security, which has locations in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Maple Ridge, British Columbia, this meant pivoting into doing unexpected work: installing acrylic barriers in a restaurant. According to business owner Pat Lee, it began with a client asking about face shields, which then moved into a request to install barriers before the restaurant reopened. Lee noted that while he said he would be up for the work, he wanted to keep things quiet, as the shop was too busy at the time to take on such large-scale projects. “The restaurant was part of a franchise, and people from corporate came in, saw it and asked him for my information. They wanted us to do eight more restaurants,” Lee added. “We are on to three and four this week. I keep getting inquiries and phone calls on it from other restaurants. I think it’s spreading through word of mouth.” According to Lee, for those interested, this kind of work is an opportunity. Lee also noted that the business has been busier than ever. The additional jobs add supplementary income, which has allowed staff members to work afterhours and earn more

20  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Car-Tunes, Inc. Hires for New Internal Sales Position

For Car-Tunes, Inc., based in Greenville, Mississippi, business focus has largely remained the same during the pandemic, but the culmination of a couple of years of planning have finally come to fruition: The shop recently welcomed Jacob Mallette as a new inside sales professional. According to shop owner and president Kimberly Trainer, Mallette is completely new to the mobile electronics industry. The inside sales professional role is also a new position for the shop, something that has been a while in the making. Mallette’s story is also a reminder to stay open to the possibilities of new talent, even in unexpected places. “It’s actually a funny story,” Trainer said. “Back in November [two years ago], we were fortunate enough to be featured on the cover of Mobile Electronics magazine, so whenever they would do the stories on us, we had to have photos submitted. Jacob


Faces in the Industry

Milton Warren Company: Delmarva Two-Way Radio, Inc. City: Ocean City, Maryland Years of Industry Experience: 40 Hobbies: Swimming, biking and running. What you’re really good at: Making friends and associates.

actually took our photos—of all of us and of the store—for us to submit to the magazine. He’s a really good photographer, and he’s a friend of my daughter’s.” From there, Jacob soon found a work home with Car-Tunes: The shop needed someone for inside sales, and he fit in very well with the work ethic and dispositions of the other employees, according to Trainer. “We don’t have much turnover at all,” the shop owner said. For scale, Car-Tunes, Inc.’s other most recent hire just celebrated 10 years with the company a few months ago. “Jacob has just come in and become immediately essential.” Mallette began working for the shop back in May. Trainer also went on to add that she’s previously never had anyone dedicated strictly to sales. For contrast, all of the installers at Car-Tunes also do sales. While being new to the industry, Mallette is also currently in school for business, a path that naturally complements his work at the shop. Trainer also highlighted Mallette’s demonstrated ability to pick things up quickly and bring his own skills to the table. As for introducing the new internal sales professional role to the business, Trainer noted that they’d been wanting to do it for quite some time. Though she knew the shop needed someone to take on those responsibilities, she thought it prudent to wait to find the right person rather than rush. Otherwise, the shop has remained relatively busy, with work currently scheduled out four to six weeks. Currently, with Mallette included, Car-Tunes has four full-time employees and a couple of part-timers who help with larger off-site projects.

Chad Wilbanks Company: Jimmy’s Car Stereo City: Auburn, Alabama Years of Industry Experience: 31 Hobbies: Woodworking, customizing firearms What you’re really good at: Management, logistics

Darren Thomas Company: Audio Works City: Newark, Del. Years of Industry Experience: 20 Hobbies: Real estate. What you’re really good at: Customer service   21

 hot sellers

When it comes to selling audio equipment, retailers agree the quality of the product often speaks for itself. Convenience, warranties and the ‘wow’ factor help close the sale.

22  Mobile Electronics August 2020

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 hot sellers Stinger Micro 4-Channel 700-Watt Powersports Amplifier Main Selling Features: “The compact size of this amplifier makes it very adaptable to most applications, plus it provides plenty of power.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We explain to our customers the level of experience and knowledge of our installers.”

Kenwood eXcelon DMX907S Double-DIN Head Unit Submitted by: Chad Wilbanks, Jimmy’s Car Stereo, Auburn, Ala. Main Selling Features: “The convenience of wireless CarPlay and Android Auto is a main feature that helps sell this product. The demonstration of wireless CarPlay works every time.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We explain to our customers that new technology comes with a price. Wired (USB) CarPlay is certainly less expensive, and some clients choose that in order to save money. However, when we demonstrate the product, and have the client visualize having to pull their phone out and plug it in every time they get in the car, most will choose the wireless option.”

JVC Double-DIN Multimedia Receiver Submitted by: Kelly Spongberg, Metaldog Machines, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta Main Selling Features: “We can easily overcome concerns about retaining OEM features, such as backup cameras and amplifiers, by showing all the adapters and modules we have at our disposal.” Primary Objection: Additional parts required and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We will make it work, make it look perfect, and we will warranty the product for one year. We also warranty the install for as long as the customer owns the vehicle.”

24  Mobile Electronics August 2020   25

 hot sellers Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX Wireless Double-DIN Receiver Submitted by: Marc Vickers, Sound Sensations, Marietta, Ga. Main Selling Features: “We demonstrate the unit’s wireless capability.” Primary Objection: Additional parts required. How to Overcome: “We explain to our clients how much better the in-car experience will be, and show them how they can use all of the functions of their phone legally.”

Helix V EIGHT DSP Submitted by: Michael Meza, Santa Rosa Cartunes, Santa Rosa, Calif. Main Selling Features: “Demo vehicles definitely add a ‘wow’ factor.” Primary Objection: “Our prices are higher than customers expect, and we don’t discount anything.” How to Overcome: “We use top-down selling. We will say, ‘I’m sorry, let me show you something less expensive.’”

Power Bass XL-1000 10-Speaker Bluetooth Sound Bar Submitted by: Ric Moore, Dr. Dashboard, Evansville, Ind. Main Selling Features: “When we turn it on and demo the product, it sounds pretty good. The construction of it is very good quality as well. And it’s just power and ground for hook up.” Primary Objection: Size / Color / Style, Additional parts required How to Overcome: “It comes with universal brackets, so you don’t have to have the bar clamps, but it is recommended to use them.”

26  Mobile Electronics August 2020   27

real world RETAIL

While picking up speed and continuing to increase revenue, The Car Audio Shop and its team of installers prepares for transition in the coming months. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

28  Mobile Electronics August 2020


real world RETAIL

FAST FACTS Main Location: St. Louis, Mo. Number of Locations: 1 Square Footage: 4,500 Type: Boutique / Traditional Retail Number of Employees: 5 MAIN FOCUS 66% Car, Motorcycle, Marine Audio 27% Remote Start, Security 5% Safety and Lighting 2% Radar KEY STAFF

Owners: Brandon Green, John Schumacher Bookkeeper: Crystal Green Installation Manager: Dan Castro Installer: Cameron Noland


n St. Louis, Mo., The Car Audio Shop has been going strong since 2012, when Brandon Green opened the doors as a one-man business. Green said his main impetus for starting his own business was based on the fact that he’d observed other shops which he felt were lacking in quality customer service, and decided to step out on his own to focus on defining a higher standard. The shop now has a staff of five, including Green. “Dan Castro was my first employee and I hired him five years ago,” he said, adding that Castro also handles inventory and ordering for the store. About two years ago, Green partnered with John Schumacher in the business. “John had another shop down in Kansas City,” Green said. “It wasn’t in a great area, and he felt the location wasn’t right

30  Mobile Electronics August 2020

for him. We both wanted to expand a bit, so we decided partnering up would be the best option.” Now, they co-own The Car Audio Shop. The current facility has a separate wood shop and an upholstery area at one end of the building. At the other end is a three-car install bay, along with a metal fab area that can also double as space for overflow during busy weeks. However, the business is gearing up to move within the next couple of months, though it’s unclear whether it will simply relocate or whether the owners will choose to open a second store. The shop, which is located just off a busy highway, currently has 4,500 square feet, but the new location will offer about 6,000. “Despite everything going on,” Green said, “this year has been amazingly good—very good. And we’re hoping to expand.”

Balanced Growth With An Eye on the Budget Much of the business’s revenue comes from audio, with most of it centered on car audio and a very small percentage on marine, motorcycle and ATV. “We’ve had steady growth every year,” Green said, noting that continued growth is always at least 15 to 20 percent or higher. “We’ve had a lot of growing pains, but I think we’re finally at a point where we know a bit about what we’re doing.” The biggest challenge has been continuing to grow the business without going over the budget, according to Green and Schumacher. “We try not to bite off more than we can chew,” Green said. To maintain the budget, the business utilizes QuickBooks Online. Crystal Green, Brandon’s wife, works as the business’s bookkeeper and provides a daily cash





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real world RETAIL

Community Engagement is Key For The Car Audio Shop, in-person events remain the best kind of marketing. This year, car shows and car club events have been canceled due to COVID-19, but Green and Schumacher said it hasn’t impacted the store’s revenue. Numbers are still good despite the decrease in face-time. The shop works with several local car clubs. Each year, the St. Louis European Auto Show is the most productive event for the shop, Green said. “We’ve gotten new clients out of that. [Events] get us out in front of people so we can see previous clients and gain new ones,” he explained, adding that it helps for people to meet them face to face to learn about what they do. “That’s the end goal for attending events— continued growth, building relationships and meeting people within the community,” Green said. In an ordinary year, the shop participates in 20 events per year, about two to three per month. Schumacher noted that “community engagement is key.” Depending on the show, the shop has a trailer that’s wrapped with the company logo. The team loads up tents and tables, display items and product to show. Usually, they work with a client to bring a vehicle that fits the event. “We detail it for them in exchange for allowing us to use it,” Green said, adding, “It helps everyone out, and they’re happy having their car shown off.” The type of vehicle they bring depends on the show. “[It might be] a car show, truck show or rad rod show. If we don’t have a client’s car, we bring one of our own.” However, Green and Schumacher agreed it’s hard to track return on investment. A client might come in a year later and mention an event. They might not even remember meeting the potential client. While the events are fruitful for many reasons, ROI will “never be instantaneous,” Green noted.

32  Mobile Electronics August 2020

The Car Audio Shop’s team of skilled technicians also manage the salesfloor, where top-down selling is the main strategy.











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real world RETAIL

In the coming months, The Car Audio Shop will be transitioning into a new location. Currently, the business has about 4,500 square feet of space.

During the beginning of the pandemic, the business joined forces with Joseph Oetjen of Xclusive Audio in Belleville, Ill. to make face shields for medical professionals in the community.

report, which helps keep things in perspective, he added. “It’s a quick summary of the previous day’s transactions, bills coming up due, and invoices. It’s a huge help for me. It really keeps me up-to-date, and keeps the numbers top-of-mind. If there’s a day when we’re traveling or something, and I don’t get that report, I almost feel like I skipped an important part of my morning.” Providing Support for Clients Beyond the Sale Schumacher said the team endeavors to learn what the customer really needs as opposed to what they believe they want. “At some other shops, we noticed a customer says they just want a radio, so the [shop] says, ‘Okay, we’ll put this radio in,’” he said, explaining there isn’t

34  Mobile Electronics August 2020

enough education offered or exploration of the customers’ needs. “Here, we try to get details from them, and then we show them the process of how we can help them reach their goal,” Schumacher added. Support extends beyond the sale. Recently, Green said the shop started a private group on Facebook for clients, which is part of their drive to improve the business’s social media marketing. “Once clients join the group, they have access to offers we only give to that group,” Green said. “It gives them an exclusive in-store discount.” Green said they’re also the first to know about new products or upcoming events. Additionally, Groupon is used to increase the store’s reach in the community. While some businesses prefer not to

use it, Green said he considers it advertising. “It’s mainly a break-even point,” he added. “It keeps our name in front of people, but I wouldn’t say it’s a money-maker. We usually do a remote start special on Groupon. We start it at the end of October or the beginning of November and we run it through the season.” Once clients come into the shop, they often see other products they’re interested in—or maybe they’re exposed to something they didn’t know existed, Green explained. Team of Technicians Handles Both Sales and Installs Having an all-technician staff working both the sales floor and the install bay helps give the shop an edge, according to Green. “We do it a little differently. We handle the phones and sales as people come in, but everyone is in a technician


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Yelp Advertising Falls Flat During the pandemic, the shop took advantage of online trainings offered by vendors and other companies in order to keep education top-of-mind.

36  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Recently, the shop halted its advertising campaign on Yelp, which Green and Schumacher said wasn’t useful to them. “We got a little bit out of it,” Green added, “but not enough to make it worth trying again. For our target clientele, it just wasn’t the right place for us to advertise.” The shop ended up spending more on the advertising than it gained. Green pointed out that some people are simply looking for the cheapest price, which is not something they’ll find at The Car Audio Shop.


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real world RETAIL role. We don’t have dedicated sales staff,” he said, adding that although they’ve discussed adding a salesperson, they have yet to do so. The system works very well, Green added. “John, Cameron and Dan handle phones and day-to-day traffic. Dan and I both handle emails and other messages. We have a good system worked out where we each have a different area to handle.” Green and Schumacher also feel that having trained technicians on the sales floor helps when it comes to handling sales and educating customers. “We know what’s needed as technicians, so we don’t have to go and ask a tech to answer a question about an install,” Green explained. “Most of the time, we don’t need to have those separate interactions in order to complete a sale.” Sometimes, though, there will be specific questions relating to specialties. “I do most of the fabrication, so if someone has a question relating to that, they’ll come and ask me,” he added. “John handles upholstery and sunroofs, so if someone has a question about that, they’ll get him involved. Dan has experience with more exotic cars, so he can answer questions about that.” The team, Green said, supports one another based on their individual skill and experience as technicians. Attention to detail is a key component of the shop’s quality practices, with careful vehicle check-in and checkout processes. Additionally, there are procedures in place for other duties, such as cleaning, to ensure all daily tasks are completed. They even have a Facebook group for employees, Green said, in which any vehicle issues can be recorded. “If something is wrong, we post it in the group with photos and notify the client. It’s time-stamped and dated, so everything is covered.” The team works well together and maintains open communication so everyone is on the same page. Schumacher added that everyone is aware of the endgoal each day. “We know what has to be done, and everyone wants to make the store the best it can be,” he said.

38  Mobile Electronics August 2020

Brandon Green (right) partnered with John Schumacher about two years ago after the technicians decided that joining forces would aid in continued growth and expansion.


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real world RETAIL

Arc Audio Goes the Distance Ever since the shop opened, Arc Audio has been there to provide additional assistance beyond what is expected, according to Green. Brian Mitchel and Fred Lynch of Arc Audio have become good friends of the shop, he said, adding, “Their support really stands out. If we have questions, they are always willing to help. We talk regularly with Brian on the phone. Last year, he was headed to KnowledgeFest and stopped at the shop to work with Dan on sound quality tuning. They go above and beyond. The Arc Audio X2 Coaxial Zinc component has been one of our top sellers recently.” Green added that customers love the company’s entry-level speakers, especially at the price point.

40  Mobile Electronics August 2020

In addition to careful check-in and check-out procedures, the shop utilizes a private Facebook group for employees where any issues can be discussed, recorded and time-stamped.

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real world RETAIL

Having an all-technician staff working both the sales floor and the install bay helps give the shop an edge, according to co-owner Brandon Green.

42  Mobile Electronics August 2020

THIRD GEAR Shifting Business into High Gear in the Midst of Transition The staff also stays up to date with trainings, though COVID-19 meant everything moved to online learning. One or two staff members watch webinars and take notes, passing on any pertinent information, Green said. Like many other shops, The Car Audio Shop had to close for two weeks, but in this case it was due to a staff member’s potential exposure. Green said everyone got paid while the store was closed, and the premises was thoroughly cleaned before they returned to work. Additionally, the store took time to make face shields and donate them to the community. While business was lighter for a while, it’s been busy since reopening. In the past year, the team faced other challenges aside from the pandemic. Overcoming those challenges proved to be notable accomplishments. Schumacher had family issues to handle, and Green broke his collarbone and had to have surgery in January. These difficulties further demonstrated the strength of the team, since Green said everyone stepped up to help wherever necessary. “We took care of each other and what needed to be done. We all back each other up,” he added. “We work together to overcome any adversity.” While The Car Audio Shop looks toward its coming transition into a new building, Green and Schumacher are reworking the business’s mission statement, which Green said has been changing over time while maintaining its primary focus in taking care of clients. Getting the word out about the business’s move will be the biggest challenge, they added, and they are already working on a marketing campaign to announce it. “The new place will give us more room and it will be closer to our target clientele,” Green said, adding that while most of the business they do is in the mid- to high-end, they also handle smaller everyday jobs. Both Green and Schumacher explained that their aim is to continue improving themselves and the company as a whole, adding, “That’s our biggest focus.”   43

 strategy & tactics Most of Benchmark Audio’s product is already spoken for by clients who’ve put down deposits and scheduled their installs. The product is kept in the facility’s currently-packed layaway area.


How has the pandemic impacted your business’s stockroom? Retailers take a closer look at how planning strategy and creative thinking can help mitigate difficulties with inventory management. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Proper inventory management is the basis of any structurally sound business. In the July issue of Mobile Electronics magazine, Jeff Cantrell of Jackson Car Audio in Jackson, Tenn. shared recommendations in his article entitled “The Basics of Inventory Tracking.” This month, we take a closer look at some of the strategy behind inventory management, and how it’s been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the industry reports shortages in various brands due to disruptions in the supply chain, retailers consider potential solutions and the bigger picture. Jeff West, president of Benchmark Audio, Inc. in Springfield, Ill. said he believes manufacturers will learn more

44  Mobile Electronics August 2020

than retailers when it comes to supply issues surrounding the pandemic. “We can order as much as we can afford, but if they can’t ship it due to not anticipating a business spike in time, and not noticing trends [soon enough] or ramping up production to ensure the supply line isn’t affected, [then we won’t get that product],” he said. “Distributors got hammered early on with backorder problems. Shops like that were probably affected earlier than some of us who have mostly direct accounts.” In recent months, Benchmark Audio has experienced inventory shortages of one to three brands. About 80 percent of the business’s purchases are made directly through vendors, West said. The

rest comes through a distributor. Creating a Merchandise Plan to Anticipate Sales Each year, West said he sets a merchandise plan. He decides what products from each vendor Benchmark Audio will carry, and how many of each. “Recently, it’s been a challenge,” he said. “If the vendor can’t sell an order on a particular SKU at a certain price point, I am using other vendors to fill voids caused by supply line issues.” West added that this works sometimes, but not all the time. His main rule of thumb when it comes to designing a merchandise plan, he said, is to come up with a “good, better and best product selection” as well as entire families of product. The goal when

Taking Stock crafting the plan is to ensure that if a client comes in looking for an entire Kenwood system, Benchmark Audio will be able to supply amplifiers, speakers, a head unit and everything else needed for the project. The shop offers entry-level products at lower price points, mid-level products for the second-time buyer and products for the high-end consumer. West called this the “fourth- or fifth-time system builder who has the financial means to justify higher-ticket items.” The important thing, he said, is the shop needs to be able to appeal to all buyers. “With that merchandise plan concept in mind,” he continued, “I’ll [create] a grid where we’ll take all the Kenwood head units, for example, that I want in certain price points as you go up in features [and] I set my plan in January for the year.” Additionally, West said he sticks to the plan no matter what. “That’s how I’m basing annual decisions from one year to the next, on how the past year has been,” he explained. “Our inventory system generates popular items, best-selling and worst-selling.” When the pandemic began, Benchmark was already better off than other shops in terms of stock, he added. Learning to Recognize Shifting Trends The shop had already expected increased numbers this year due to other stores closing in the area prior to COVID-19, as well as what West called Benchmark’s “staying power” in the community. Even a local Best Buy refers work to West’s facility. “I’m coming up on my 40th year in the industry in December,” he said, adding that his business has been open for over 23 years. “I manage the business based on exposure, experience and track records.” As a result, he explained, he recognized when trends had begun to change. “We were getting booked out farther and farther. We’re booked out three weeks in advance now, and that’s been going on for ten weeks,” he said. “I saw that trend before COVID, early on, and I started ramping up orders anticipating a killer year. Sure enough, it continued,

and because I caught the trend early, I was able to load up on quite a bit of inventory.” Still, he added, the shop is beginning to run low on electronics and devices such as head units. The facility ordinarily has a stock area with shelves lined with product, but right now, there’s little available beyond speakers and subwoofers. Finding Other Solutions During Product Shortages During recent inventory issues, the main focus has been finding other solutions in order to continue assisting customers. Josh Felts of Custom Automotive Restyling Specialists in Nashville, Tenn. responded to a recent MEA survey with how his business has been managing shortages: “We’ve struggled to get basic install necessities through normal distribution channels,” he said, “and our marine audio equipment has been scarce. We have had to adjust our ‘no outside equipment’ policy to allow us to turn

labor hours. It has helped us stay very, very close to our year-to-date numbers from last year.” West said his team has taken to selling display items, leading to bare-looking display boards in the showroom. “That’s a pet peeve of mine,” West added. “Displays should be full.” While Benchmark’s reputation in the local community is solid, West said a new customer coming in for the first time might get the wrong impression if displays are scant. Still, retailers have had to think creatively to deal with recent issues as a result of supply difficulties. Pat Lee of Certified Autosound and Security in Canada said that when product isn’t available, it’s just a matter of finding a different solution. Due to its location in Canada, the business has to wait for vendors in the United States to get product before they can receive it, too. “We have to be more creative and have more forethought,” he explained, adding that retailers can start with ‖ ‖ 626.336.3836

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 strategy & tactics

Due to product shortages during the pandemic, Benchmark Audio has taken to installing display items, which unfortunately leaves holes in the showroom’s display boards.

what’s available and what the customer is hoping to find. If the desired product isn’t in stock, he said, “What’s my alternative in that price point? We shift gears so we can have something to sell in the price point we need.” However, Lee added, Certified remains loyal to the brands they carry. “There have been times when we’ve had to get alternatives from other manufacturers, but everyone has been great to work with. For the most part, we’ve been able to shift gears to sell something that’s available,” he added. At his shop, Felts said, “When I have not been able to get a required product through my normal channels, I ask the customer to source the product.” Felts’s shop has been short one to three brands as a result of the pandemic, he added. Know the “Model Stock” Through experience, West said, a business owner learns how to anticipate what’s needed for the coming year, and this all revolves around software. Benchmark Audio uses QuickBooks Point of Sale software for sales transactions, and invoices of product purchased from suppliers. “Both direct accounts from national brands, as well as distributors, are input into our software, which is the inventory management side of it,” he explained. “Once invoices have been entered with quantities of product, the inventory management system shows what’s in stock and what’s not in stock.”

46  Mobile Electronics August 2020

West said the software allows for the addition of “model stock,” meaning the quantity of each item the store wants to stock based on sales history. The goal, he added, is to turn inventory at least three to four—maybe even five—times per year. Sometimes a shop will turn inventory more frequently because of price points and popularity, he said. “If you have $50,000 worth of inventory, you want to turn that inventory at least three times per year,” West said. “You determine how many times you’re turning inventory based on averages. There are certain times of year during which you’ll be bringing in more of some products, like seasonal items such as remote starters, but you know what your average inventory is month to month and year to year based on sales track records.” While the software will manage the inventory, West said retailers then have to be diligent and disciplined to stay on top of it. Spot checks are made prior to submitting an order. Then, once a year, Benchmark manually checks inventory for tax purposes. “On New Year’s Eve, we do a physical inventory to determine what the actual cost of goods is,” he said. Certified Autosound uses a point-ofsale system called Lightspeed OnSite, according to Lee, who said it does a very good job of balancing inventory between stores and handling invoicing. “It allows

us to do a live look-up between multiple locations,” he explained. Take it One Day at a Time West feels companies have ramped up production of dash kits and accessories, so those products seem to be in good supply. “The main electronics are still a major weak link,” he added, noting that vendors are having difficulty filling Benchmark’s orders. West said the month of August is covered in terms of product, “But I hope we start seeing product releases soon, because before too long, we won’t have any inventory left.” In Mobile Electronics magazine’s July survey, Don Amann of Unexpected Creations in Edison, New Jersey said the best thing to do in the midst of these challenges is “take them in stride” day by day. His shop is still able to offer services that don’t require unavailable products, he said, and they were also fortunate in that they were already well-stocked. For Benchmark, West noted, business already skyrocketed by the middle of February—prior to COVID-19 shutdowns. “I haven’t had a year like this since 2007,” he said. Because they offer vehicle interlock systems and safety equipment, the shop was able to stay open. West feels the industry is fortunate in that it can provide these essential services. “I chose the right line of work 40 years ago,” he added.

Taking Stock   47

 tech today

Selling Vehicle Safety Systems

Vision Zero is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of safety equipment in vehicles. Join us as we highlight these technologies and discuss sales strategies retailers can implement today. WORDS BY DAVE MACKINNON

Successful mobile electronics retailers need to be a jack-of-all-trades—and yes, dare I say it, masters. While many of us love creating bespoke audio systems that combine creativity and unique fabrication techniques, just as many retailers excel at remote starter installations or lighting upgrades. One category which deserves more exposure and emphasis is vehicle safety. While these aren’t glamorous, bragged-about upgrades, they serve a higher purpose. They prevent accidents and injuries. Additionally, they also help when it comes to ringing the register. The Vision Zero Automotive Network is a registered non-profit organization—501(c)3—and it’s dedicated to eliminating injuries and deaths caused

48  Mobile Electronics August 2020

by motor vehicle accidents. Vision Zero works with safety-system manufacturers, retailers and the press to get Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) into consumer vehicles. Vision Zero has partnered with Mobile Electronics magazine and MEA to publish a series of articles that highlight the technologies available to retailers to help achieve the goal of eliminating up to 10,000 of the 40,000 deaths that occur on our roads and highways. What is Vehicle Safety Technology? Any feature or technology that can prevent an accident is a vehicle safety solution. By extension, any device which can record or document an event is also quite helpful. Our job of providing our

clients with safe vehicles can be as simple as checking a vehicle’s turn signals, headlights and brake lights when the car or truck is checked in and out of the bay. At the other end of the spectrum, retailers can offer backup cameras, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring systems or forward collision warning system solutions as discrete sales opportunities. Even upgrading a vehicle’s headlights to provide more light on the sides of the road can help drivers see pedestrians and cyclists more easily. From a retailer’s perspective, the best part is that many of these projects are labor-intensive, making them profitable. Quite simply, you are less likely to have someone haggle over the price of a parking sensor system



 tech today

installation than a pair of replacement door speakers or a CD player they can buy online. Providing Backup Camera Solutions Every one of us has installed an aftermarket backup camera with a new multimedia receiver. They are an intuitive add-on sale to a new radio and one of the most widely recognized safety systems in the automotive industry. Whether it’s a low-slung sports car, a delivery van or an SUV, being able to see objects behind the vehicle is paramount when backing into a parking space or maneuvering. We know that a child standing behind a pickup truck or an SUV isn’t visible in the rearview mirror. A backup camera is a simple and effective safety solution that can prevent a serious accident. Let’s discuss some easy strategies your store can implement today to increase sales of these products. Quick Tip #1: Demonstrate Your Confidence in Backup Camera Brands For retailers, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing camera solutions for your clients. First and foremost, are the systems reliable? There are dozens of cheap cameras on the market that claim to be water-resistant. If the camera is rated IP-68, then it should be dust-tight and it should be able to withstand prolonged

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immersion in water. Why not drop a camera into a glass of water or mount one in a fish tank in your showroom as a demonstration of your confidence in their reliability? Selling Parking Sensor Systems Whether you call them parking sensors or backup sensors, these bumpermounted ultrasonic transceivers and their control modules are some of the least expensive fully active warning solutions available. The term ‘active’ refers to the fact that users don’t need to remember to look at a screen for the system to work. When an object is behind the vehicle, the system will provide an audible warning to let them know there’s something in the way. The driver will react, whether or not they were paying attention in the first place. Quick Tip #2: Presenting Parking Sensors in Varying Colors Offering parking sensors in a variety of colors can help differentiate your solutions from a shop that just sells what they have on the shelf. Depending on the supplier you are dealing with, sensors may be available in several color options. You can certainly customize the installation and dramatically increase your profitability on the project by offering to paint, or have the sensors painted to match the vehicle. Many autobody supply shops will

mix a spray-can of color matched paint so you can paint the sensors yourself. Educating Your Clients on BlindSpot Monitoring Systems Blind-Spot monitoring systems are available in two styles—sensor-based solutions and camera systems. These technologies let the driver know when someone is driving beside them in a position not visible to their peripheral vision or side-view mirrors. The solution you offer to your client will depend on the vehicle, its existing technology, and often what’s available from the aftermarket. In terms of radar-based systems, there are two options. The standard systems use body-mounted transceivers located in the rear corners of the vehicle. These applications require that the car or SUV has plastic bumper covers to let the high-frequency microwave signals pass through unhindered. The second solution is in the form of a license-plate mounted transceiver, which is a good solution for pickup trucks and vans. For camera-based systems, there needs to be a display available to show the images. These systems use compact cameras which are integrated into the side-view mirror assembly. When the driver activates the turn signal, the camera image appears on the screen. Unlike an active radar-based system, the   51

 tech today

driver needs to remember to look at the camera image. Quick Tip #3: Test Blind Spot Elimination Systems Before Installing If your client has experience driving a vehicle with a blind spot sensor system installed from the factory, they will have some expectations in terms of when warnings will be provided. Before you sell a solution, make sure you know it can handle objects which are in a relatively stationary position beside the vehicle, or objects which move into or out of the blind spot. These products aren’t all created equally, and it’s worth investing some time in testing the systems you plan to offer before you do the first installation. Forward Collision Avoidance Solutions Technologies that can predict an accident vary greatly in their price points and corresponding accuracy. The simplest of solutions are dashcams that include ADAS features. Many models also include lane departure warnings, but take note that these systems don’t interface with the vehicle turn signals, so they will provide an alert even if the lane change is intentional. More advanced ADAS solutions require some level of calibration after installation so the system knows its position relative to the boundaries of the vehicle and can better calculate the position and size of objects moving toward that space. Quick Tip #4: Nothing Beats a Demonstration While you might be able to display the

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hardware for a camera-based ADAS solution in your store, it’s difficult to convey just how these systems work without a demonstration. Here’re two options. You can add a video of a system providing alerts to your vehicle safety display. An inexpensive Android tablet can be had for under $200 and it will likely include a camera you can use to capture the video. Heck, you can even edit the video together and include some title screens right there on the touchscreen. The second option—which is significantly more powerful—is to have an available vehicle equipped with the solutions you want to sell. In the same way that demonstrating an audio upgrade is immersive in a vehicle, being able to show customers how these warning systems work in the vehicle is also a great idea. Some shops around the country have equipped their loaner vehicles with several safety systems to expose their clients to the technology. Take the Time to Upgrade Your Safety Game Any time you can attract a different type of client to your store, you’ve opened the door to a whole new world of selling opportunities. If someone is looking for a backup camera, but notices your remote car starter, floor mat, truck accessory or dashcam display, that information will at the very least remain in their subconscious. When someone needs that solution, you’ll get a free referral. This means marketing the different safety solutions you offer is crucial to growing the category. Make sure

everything is clearly labeled with titles that are intuitive and easy to read from several feet away. Fine print isn’t going to help you here. Lastly, if you’re serious about selling safety solutions, make sure you’ve registered with Vision Zero as a Preferred Retailer to get your business listed on their site. You can find the application by following this link: preferred-retailer-application. There is no cost to submit a request or to have your store listed. Be sure to join us over the next few months as we take a closer look at the top vehicle safety system technologies currently available. We’ll also provide additional sales and installation tips to help ensure your clients get the solutions they need. Dave MacKinnon has worked in the mobile electronics industry since 1988 in almost every capacity, including roles as a Retail Salesperson, Installer, Sales Representative, Technical Trainer and Product Development Manager for some of the largest car audio companies in the world. Dave started his writing career in 2000 as the Technical Editor of a Toronto-based car audio magazine and has reviewed more than 450 products. Formally trained as an Electronics Technician, Dave is considered an industry expert when it comes to explaining how mobile audio components work, and he has crafted thousands of articles to share that knowledge. He’s currently the Head Writer for 1sixty8 media and the Editor-in-Chief at

It's all about saving lives

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 installs

It’s the biggest custom job in the history of Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security: Meet “MG8RON,” the Decepticon-themed king of the off-road. SUBMITTED BY: JOHN SCHWARTZ, PERFECTIONIST AUTO SOUND & SECURITY, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

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This Ford F-250 Superduty was originally bound for SEMA 2020, which has been canceled due to COVID-19. This vehicle arrived at Perfectionist with an intended theme in mind—the Decepticons, the antagonists in the fictional Transformers universe. John Schwartz, owner of Perfectionist, said the custom build for this off-road vehicle was the biggest the shop ever completed. Aaron Garcia led the installation, beginning with a complete teardown, a remote start installation and sound deadening. The team used its own flagship

brand—Soundshield—which is comprised of three layers to eliminate road noise, reduce heat and amplify sound acoustically within the truck cab. Overall, the following products were used in the interior build: • Compustar T12 Remote Start and Alarm with Drone X-1 • Momento M6 Smart Dash Cam, Wi-Fi Enabled, Full HD, Front and Rear Camera • JL Audio C7 6.5-Inch Component Woofers (four)

• JL Audio C7 1-Inch Component Tweeters (four) • JL Audio W7 13.5-Inch Subwoofer Driver • JL Audio HD1200/1 Monoblock Amplifier • JL Audio VX800/8 Full-Range Amplifier With Integrated DSP • Linkswell Generation 4 Tesla-Style Radio With Navigation • Soundshield Sound Deadening • Stinger RCA Signal Cables • 0-Gauge Stinger Power Wire Kit   55

ďƒŽ installs After wiring and upgrading grounds and the stock power cable, the team moved on to custom fabrication, beginning with the front stage component speakers. Adobe Illustrator and the Glowforge 3D laser printer were used to design and cut plate adapters on which to mount C7 component woofers. To add to the design, the team also cut out the factory grilles and created a Decepticon design. Battery and amplifier mounts were added, and the Linkswell touchscreen head unit was installed. The center console was completed with the company name and a mini-Decepticon lasered onto the front plate. With the seamless interior finished and detailed from front to back, the next step was tuning. Finally, Chris King and Elijah Hickok led the exterior teardown and installation of lifted suspension. Next came wiring, lighting, exterior fabrication and wheels and tires to complete this beast of a build.

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from the President

HOW AWESOME IS YOUR BUSINESS? Letting everyone in your community know what you can offer should be a main priority. How well are you known for what you do in your community? What’s your business’s reputation? When people in your community seek upgrades for their vehicle’s electronics, are you the first place that comes to mind? Understanding the answers to these questions will help you learn how best to tell your community that your business is awesome. Like many business owners, you began with a vision. You took the risk and made a decision—in part because you believed in your mission and knew you could make a difference that would also provide revenue to grow your business. At least, I am assuming this is the case. Some retailers have become known outside their immediate communities, but it’s important to remember that if we want to grow, we have to first start at home. Your potential customers—in your local community—need to know who you are and what you can do for them. Your best source of new customers are your existing customers.

Attract More Business Using Your Existing Customer Base For most of the industry, business has been above average, which means you have a greater opportunity to impress your customers. One method is to provide a great presentation of your offerings. This should be incorporated into your sales process. Another way is to offer a solid demonstration of what you’ve installed. In both cases, you should be planting a seed for the next sale. This demonstrates that you have interest in your relationship with your customers. They should appreciate your long-term commitment to their vehicle upgrades. This will set you up for a follow-up call, which should happen no later than 30 days out from delivery. In the sales process, you may want to incorporate a broader pitch for products that may be of interest using the “what’s new” approach: a customer comes in for one thing, and leaves with more. Or, at the very least, a seed is planted for the next sale. When the vehicle is delivered, take time to present highlights of the installation and explain how the customer can best take advantage of this new technology. Also, reiterate the seed planted in the sales presentation. And finally, if they appear satisfied, simply ask if they know anyone else who could benefit

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from the products and services you provide. One way is to offer a reward card they can pass to a friend. This can be in the form of a business card that has a place for them to write their name and hand it to someone else. Let them know if their friend makes a purchase, you will provide them with special savings on their next purchase. This accomplishes two things: one, it shows you trust them to pass it on. Two, you’ll have a better chance of getting another sale from them.

What’s the best way to connect on a level that allows you to provide information on your services and how they will make a difference for your customers? Think features and benefits. Connect With the Local Community What’s the best way to connect on a level that allows you to provide information on your services and how they will make a difference for your customers? Think features and benefits. There are many ways you can connect. If you have a good audience on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or other platforms, you can add live video presentations of your store, new products and featured installs. The video portion is important, as it connects the viewer with you and your store in a way that is better than just posting pictures. You can also do a regular Facebook Live or produce a weekly product review. If you have the ability to attend local events—of course, most are cancelled right now—take the time to set up a booth and show passersby who you are and what you do. You can also utilize local government meetings to connect with those who are active in your community. Another good practice is to target other business owners with whom you can swap leads. Consider other automotive service providers who might be a great source of cross promotion for both your store and theirs. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you’re deliberate in your presentation and that you follow up. With the increase in existing business and influx of new customers, it is imperative that you let them know how awesome you are and that you’ll be available to meet and exceed their expectations every time they visit.














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