KarTele Mobile Electronics powers through difficult times, staying focused on diversification and expanding service categories
Welcome to the Virtual Classroom
Businesses expand from product webinars to provide in-depth training during the pandemicâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and beyond On the Sales Floor: How the pandemic is changing the way salespeople approach customers Retail Trifecta: Take a look at the basics to refresh your skill level as an owner, installer or salesperson.
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Volume 52// Issue 05
18 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs
FEATURES 14// What’s Happening: The Evolution of Industry Training
As training evolves due to ever-changing product technology, the COVID-19 pandemic makes its own impact on how industry professionals stay educated. Here’s how businesses are adjusting by shifting perspective.
28// Real World Retail: KarTele Mobile Electronics
Despite a global crisis, KarTele Mobile Electronics has entered its best quarter of the year in sales, and looks forward to expanding into additional categories to better serve the community.
42// Difference Makers: End Result
End Result first provides retailers with advice relating to business structure, marketing and more—all with the aim of giving retail customers the best experience possible.
46// Strategy & Tactics: The 12-Volt Insight
Reviewing the basics and fundamentals of our industry can help bring your skill level from good to great.
50// Tech Today: Designing Installs Using Procreate for iPad
Have you tried your hand at drawing? Start using Procreate today to plan projects without having to cut a single piece of material.
On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Ana Ramirez KarTele Mobile Electronics saw a downturn in business for one week at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, business has been steady as the shop looks toward expanding into custom fabrication and motorcycle audio.
4 Mobile Electronics May 2020
6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback
Accele.......................................................p.2&3 Alpine Electronics...................................p.31 AudioControl.............................................p.21 DD Audio.....................................................p.25 Directed.......................................................p.37 Escort...........................................................p.55 Firstech - Compustar..........................p.59 Full Throttle................................................p.13 Harman - JBL............................................p.35 InstallerNet...............................................p.60 Kenwood.....................................................p.57 Kicker............................................................p.41 MEA...............................................................p.27 MECP............................................................p.39 Metra Electronics...................................p.33 Rockford Fosgate...................................p.5 Orca - Focal.................................................p.11 Sirius XM......................................................p.12 Sony..............................................................p.17 SounDigital................................................p.9 USA Spec....................................................p.45 Vais Technology......................................p.53 Voxx Electronics........................................p.7 Wavtech.....................................................p.49
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OPEN FOR BUSINESS As we adjust to new safety guidelines and precautionary measures, this should be the message from every retail store. After speaking at the Car Media Convention in Germany on February 16 of this year, I found myself wondering if this virus could affect our industry. If so, what kind of disruptions could it cause? Just a few weeks later on March 11, I spoke at the GoFast event in New England. I noticed great trepidation from exhibitors and attendees. Some greeted each other by nodding from a distance. Others offered a fist-bump, and some just embraced with a firm handshake or brotherly hug as if nothing had changed. That night, I had a long dinner with some well-respected members of the mobile electronics industry. Much of our conversation focused on what might happen next. For me, this marked the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day, news reports sounded worse. The future began to look bleak with little information to allay our worst fears. Stock markets reeled, the medical industry panicked and the news media did little to provide perspective. It felt like a swift kick in the gut. I am sure we all have a story to tell of how this nightmare left us feeling unnerved. Long days turned into even longer weeks. Then Came the Waiting Day after day, I listened to the news, feeling frustrated by a lack of good information and a wealth of disinformation. Then came closures of non-essential businesses, a watershed moment that required MEA to start gathering information on what was deemed essential. Once we understood, we could share information to help businesses stay open if they wanted to. The potential of Small Business Association loans, both Economic Injury and Paycheck Protection, seemed to hang in the U.S. Congress for an eternity. MEA provided webinars to help understand a process none of us had ever experienced. I felt extremely disappointed at the first round and the mishandling by some financial institutions. The second round of funding seemed to be more focused on those in need. As of this writing, many of you have received funds to shore up your businesses. I am happy we were able to help. Is Your Business Essential? Finding out what defined an essential business led us to understand the Department of Homeland Security Identification of Essential Infrastructure. We reviewed each state and province
6 May 2020
to understand their interpretation. Here’s my personal take on “essential businesses.” Governments and thus politicians have a way of deeming businesses essential that has nothing to do with how I feel about the topic. Essential, to me, is any business that produces income to provide for you, your family, your team and their families. What is non-essential to others has little to do with what you need to fulfill your obligations and live your life. I hope we never again see a day when any of us are deemed non-essential. For those of you who listed your business as vehicle repair, you had proof to meet the criteria. I recommend taking the time to update your listing with your state to make sure you never have to deal with this again. While I know business may have been down for many of you, I was happy to see a large majority were able to stay open.
ESSENTIAL, TO ME, IS ANY BUSINESS THAT PRODUCES INCOME FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM TO PROVIDE FOR THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES. The Next Phase: Reopening The Federal Government set out an approach for reopening that provided guidelines which some states followed. Others made more cautious plans. We are all learning through this. I do not suggest throwing caution to the wind, but I do think all voices should be represented and heard in a free society. I fear we have become complacent in allowing social and traditional news media to define what is appropriate. I hope one day we can all feel free to speak our minds without hesitation and fear of retaliation. Today, I am glad to hear many retailers are having an experience similar to Black Friday due in part to stimulus checks and pent-up demand, coupled with seasonal uptick—and, I believe, a desire to drive rather than fly this summer. Hopefully, we all experience this rush. It will go a long way to making up for losses suffered over the past couple of months. Stay safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing everyone in person at our next event!
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: 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 email@example.com
EDITORIAL Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • firstname.lastname@example.org Chris Cook Editor-at-Large Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer
Published by TM
FUTURE FOCUS Retailers share how they’ve been handling
the COVID-19 crisis—from limiting store hours and customer interaction, to shifting focus on strengthening the business for the future. “As with every day, start with a prayer for everyone across the globe affected by this virus or any other illnesses and issues that humans face daily. Stay positive and others around you will, too.” Kimberly Trainer, Car-Tunes, Inc., Greenville, Miss. “Since the volume of business has changed for my company, I’m taking the time to work on my business and plan for the future. I’m going to take this time to see what things I’ve done right and wrong to prepare for future economic downturns.” Eddy Lamour, DSP Audio and Video, Wheaton, Md. “This situation is so dynamic that it’s impossible to forecast the ramifications or speculate short- and long-term effects or procedures going forward. Although customers are still coming in and we have some work, business has slowed to about 50 percent [as of the end of March]. Our goal is to keep food on our employees’ tables as well as keep our customers safe.” John Faust, ABC Automotive Electronics, Elk Grove Village, Ill. “We will continue to monitor our local rural situation, and we will adapt, overcome and improvise accordingly. We clean and disinfect surfaces multiple times a day. All four employees have been taking their temperatures in the morning and evening. Installers wear medical-grade gloves when working on vehicles.” Jeff West, Benchmark Audio, Inc., Springfield, Ill. “We closed our doors. We feel everyone has to do their part to prevent the spread COVID-19. Business as usual is not the way to go about it. The faster everyone does their part, the faster it will be under control, and the faster we can get back to our normal routine.” Lenny, Xquizit Customs, Hamilton, NJ
8 Mobile Electronics May 2020
mobile electronics association
Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • email@example.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • firstname.lastname@example.org 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
SPECIALTY RETAILER BUSINESS IMPACT The Mobile Electronics Association created a weekly survey in an effort to track the impact of COVID-19 on our industry as it relates to the mobile electronics specialty retail channel. The results shared are from the past 30 days of survey results ending May 22, 2020. Based on your current situation, do you feel this crisis may cause you to go out of business?
Drastically reduced - 26% Somewhat reduced - 26% Minimally reduced - 9% No effect - 0%
When you reopen or the shelter in place orders are removed, how long do you believe it will take you to recover?
10â&#x20AC;&#x201A; Mobile Electronics May 2020
SITE TO SEE: MEA Membership WWW.MOBILE-ELECTRONICS.COM/JOIN
Mobile Electronics Association focuses on education and empowerment of those in the 12-volt industry, providing KnowledgeFest trade shows, business services and networking opportunities to over 1,000 members. MEA also publishes Mobile Electronics magazine and presents annual Industry Awards. New to MEA is MEAhelp.com, providing resources and information during the Coronavirus pandemic. Visit the website and learn how MEA can help support you and your growing business—especially in difficult times.
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SITE TO SEE: Engel Embroidery WWW.ENGELEMBROIDERY.COM
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Engel Embroidery has responded to industry needs by providing face masks and other PPE, as well as antibacterial hand sanitizer. Engel Embroidery can also provide apparel for your business and other promotional products featuring your store logo, to help keep you top-of-mind with existing and future customers.
SITE TO SEE: MEA Help WWW.MEAHELP.COM
MEAhelp was created to support our industry in the midst of an unprecedented global event. You’ll find presentations, resources on small business loans, tax information and much more. This website is available to all within the mobile electronics industry—not just members of MEA. Additionally, Mobile Electronics Association is hosting a live webinar once weekly to help industry professionals stay up-to-date. Topics have included Coronavirus and its impact on the industry, as well as local marketing during the crisis, and an overview of the CARES Act and the Payment Protection Program.
The Evolution of Industry Training As training evolves due to ever-changing product technology, the COVID-19 pandemic makes its own impact on how professionals stay educated. Here’s how businesses are adjusting by shifting perspective. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
At the tail end of this past year, things had yet to change. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, this feature was intended to look at how training has evolved and how more isolated businesses gain access to education if they can’t make it to a distributor show or an event like KnowledgeFest. When the global pandemic began, Mobile Electronics magazine and MEA shifted focus to offer resources. While MEA has offered weekly webinars,
14 Mobile Electronics May 2020
as well as manager and owner roundtable discussions online, manufacturers have also shifted perspective to bring online education to retailers everywhere.
The Changing Landscape of Training Jeff Cantrell of Jackson Car Audio in Jackson, Tenn. recalled the last faceto-face training hosted at his facility in November—a class on the Business of DSP with Ken Ward of Educar. The class was sponsored by Audison, AAMP, AVR Distributing, Sony, NAV-TV, K40, Harman
and Scosche. “This class was a mix between teaching the install side of DSP, what happens on the front end and the sales floor, and how to teach staff to work together to make sure we’re selling the customer the right thing,” Cantrell explained. “It was about 25 percent focused on sales, and about 75 percent on installation.” Communication between the front of the store and the back was a main discussion point. “I think people struggle with
The Evolution of Industry Training
One of the highlights of the November training at JC Audio was the “History of Mobile Electronics magazine,” a dedicated area in the fab room where attendees enjoyed flipping through previous issues.
selling DSP,” Cantrell said, adding that some salespeople likely have difficulty because they are not familiar enough with the product. “We decided to address both sides. I think the more we look at both sales and installation, the better things will be when it comes to selling any product.” About 13 students attended the class. Past classes held at the facility have been led by Ray West and Jason Kranitz. Cantrell feels that additional educational opportunities have instigated a huge change in the industry, pushing many shops to produce higher quality work. “I don’t remember as many trainings when I was coming up in the industry. We relied on manufacturer reps to provide training,” he added. “That was back in the 90s and early 2000s.” Cantrell’s facility began hosting trainings because the local area doesn’t offer much in terms of industry education.
“We have the option of Mobile Solutions in Arizona, and Kingpin University in Nevada. No one does anything here, so we are meeting a local need,” he said. “We’ve had people from Chicago, Texas and Mississippi. Attendees aren’t usually local.” The shop hopes to host more trainings in the future. Currently, many of the trainings that would have taken place in-person are now being held online. Since that training took place in November, Cantrell said his shop has stayed open during the spread of COVID-19. “We locked the door and began allowing only one person at a time inside. We are also doing a lot of estimates over the phone and email. It’s actually been pretty good,” he said, adding that revenue had increased 10 percent in April from the previous month.
Online Education Opportunities Increase Due to COVID-19 Since businesses began closing and
stay-at-home orders went into effect in various parts of the country, Ken Ward of Educar has offered some online training. “We have been releasing online courses and preparing online courses for release that we hadn’t spent much time on before all of this,” Ward explained. Segments of courses are being released as free previews for those shops who may not have money to spend on paid trainings. Ward said the recently released Basics of Sound and Audio course has received positive reviews, and is offered at a reduced cost during the pandemic. “Kicker featured it on their social media page for dealers and enthusiast consumers,” he added. “That was a nice compliment. Surveys tell us the next course customers are interested in is OEM integration.” While Ward has had less of a response to online courses, manufacturers such as AudioControl have experienced a
“Chris Bennett of AudioControl believes increased online education will continue post-pandemic, which could help meet needs in areas of the country that have less access to face-to-face trainings.” surprising amount of international interest. Chris Bennett, director of sales at AudioControl, said the international attention was completed unexpected. “We were trying to reach our domestic dealer base,” he said, adding, “but it’s been great for international installers, too.” He noted that the company’s live trainings on Zoom have garnered between 65 to 100 participants each time. “It’s all free. This is our eighth week of online trainings. We’ve kept it at the same time, and a lot of people have commented on them.” While the trainings take place on Zoom, he said, they’re also added to Facebook. “On Facebook, our trainings have 20,000-plus views,” he added. “With that kind of viewership, we’re keeping it open to consumers as well.” Those who are interested in the training videos can find them on AudioControl’s Facebook page. While AudioControl has done some webinars in the past—mainly to walk dealers through a product line—Bennett said these training sessions are unlike anything they’ve ever done on the Internet. “Now we’re getting into how to tune systems, how to use DSPs and how to use our line output convertors,” he said, adding that it was something the company already wanted to do, but hadn’t had time for until the pandemic began. Being in Seattle, Bennett said AudioControl was impacted greatly by the pandemic. “Chris Kane was somewhere around the one-thousandth person in the U.S. to test positive, and he oversees our home audio,” Bennett explained. “It seriously impacted us. It was surreal and scary.”
How Will the Industry Adjust to the New Normal? Everyone has a different idea of what “the new normal” refers to. In the 12-volt industry, the way retailers
16 Mobile Electronics May 2020
interface with customers has already changed in the wake of the pandemic. “It’s only because of this crisis that we’ve been able to sit down and put this together,” Bennett said. “It’s given us time to do what we wanted to do years ago. The only thing I can compare the Zoom trainings to is KnowledgeFest, when we can get about 100 people in a classroom.” Both Bennett and Ward stated that the impact on business has been different depending on geographical placement of 12-volt shops and facilities. “Some shops have been forced to close down,” Bennett said. “Employees are often like family. For a retailer who has four employees in a shop, it’s heartbreaking to let two or three or all of them go because you just don’t know what’s going to happen next.” AudioControl revenue is up a bit, he added. “We’re not where we want to be, but our numbers are increasing. We haven’t been as impacted as we anticipated six weeks ago, which is a huge blessing, and I think a lot of dealers are also ramping back up over the last few weeks and starting to see new business.” Ward said he’s heard stimulus payments are beginning to help. “Shops that are open are busier than they’ve been all year,” he said. “We have a big disparity between those who have nothing to do or are officially furloughed, and the folks who have more to do than ever.” Those who are too busy may not be participating in online trainings. JC Audio handles much of its training in-house. “There are only three of us on staff, which is part of the reason why I try to bring someone in to do a training,” he said. “That way, we don’t have to close down the store and drive eight hours to an event.” At the end of these in-person classes, students take a quiz to test their knowledge. “The results are used to determine the main prize,” Cantrell explained. “When we do these trainings, everyone
goes home with something because of the sponsors providing goods for prizes. In November, students went home with a workbook and educational handouts.”
Online Trainings Continue to Offer Convenient Educational Options Since the pandemic began, Cantrell said it’s been nice having access to more online trainings and meetings than usual. “They’re very convenient,” he said, adding, “I hope they continue after everything is back to normal.” The value of in-person networking, however, can’t be underestimated. As part of the event in November, Cantrell featured a “History of Mobile Electronics magazine” in the shop’s fabrication area so students could flip through the print issues and see how the industry has evolved year over year. Additionally, participants enjoyed a visit to Rusty’s TV and Movie Car Museum, and then attended a Sony-sponsored dinner. Ward said he will be releasing additional online training soon. “I’m hoping to release the biggest course we’ve done so far,” he said, adding, “It’ll probably be about three KnowledgeFest classes worth of content.” Under ordinary circumstances, Bennett said that AudioControl trains between 1,600 and 5,000 people at faceto-face events throughout the year. “There will always be some shops in the Midwest territory, or more rural areas, where training events are too far away to hop in a car,” he noted, “and it’s too expensive for them to get in a plane to go to KnowledgeFest.” While there are still some shops that fail to take advantage of training events—regardless of proximity—Bennett believes increased online education will continue post-pandemic, which could help meet needs in areas of the country that have less access to face-toface trainings.
The Evolution of Industry Training
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How Salespeople Are Adjusting in the Wake of COVID-19 WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
Since Coronavirus began spreading in the United States, Mobile Electronics Association has been hosting weekly meetings to help retailers stay informed. On April 23, the focus turned to sales as Kevin Hallinan of WINNING, Inc. provided his insights in a presentation entitled The Buyer Seller Dance and How to Take the Lead. Hallinan discussed the ground rules of selling, which he also shared with readers in the Strategy & Tactics section of Mobile Electronics magazine’s February / March 2020 issue. While Hallinan underscored that the art of sales involves making a customer comfortable, questions arose from attendees regarding how to handle sales in the midst of the spread of Coronavirus and beyond. One attendee inquired as to how salespeople should handle a worried client who prefers email rather than an in-person meeting. “Get them on the phone,” Hallinan advised. “Respond to the email and say,
18 Mobile Electronics May 2020
‘Thanks for reaching out. What’s the best time to talk on the phone?’ In times of quarantine, we may have to sell over the phone.” Since handshakes have become unwelcome due to the spread of the virus, Hallinan said, “Give them the six-foot rule and own it. Be comfortable with no handshake. I’m going to give them that space.” In this way, head motion and eye contact become all the more important. “You almost have to overemphasize that and add a little more body language,” he noted. Another attendee asked whether the salesperson should clean a product after demonstrating it and then invite the client to try it. “That’s a good idea for two reasons,” Hallinan said. “First, it gives them comfort and shows you care about their health. If you have extra disposable gloves, you can also offer them a pair.” The topic of system demos after an installation also arose in the
conversation. “I would say to the customer, ‘You’re welcome to come back when this is over, but for now, play with the system and we can Facetime if you need to, and I can walk you through it remotely,’” Hallinan suggested. Chris Cook, President of Mobile Electronics Association, prompted Hallinan to share any suggestions that might help make customers more comfortable in-store during this difficult time. “What would you do to make them feel more welcome when they come in?” he asked. “When retailers are closed or slow, would you recommend thorough cleaning and painting to make the place look and smell really clean?” Hallinan said yes. “Fresh paint says, ‘New, clean.’ Offer hand sanitizer. Let people know you’ve thoroughly sanitized the facility and that you take their health and yours seriously,” he said. “A lot of shops are hiring cleaning companies to come in.”
Cook and Hallinan also discussed inviting customers into a video call to talk about a project, or taking them on a virtual tour of the facility. Hallinan said if this is done, it’s important to normalize it from the start. “You can start with, ‘We’re in unusual times. We’re spending a few minutes on Facetime or video chat with our customers. Would you be okay with
doing that?’ Tell them it’s normal first, and then ask them to do it.” Shops should also have signage set up that guides a customer through what they’ve done to keep everyone safe. “Show concern. This should be the case all the time, but even more so now,” Hallinan said, adding, “I hope that’s one thing that will carry over into the
post-pandemic world. Ask them, ‘How are you? How are you doing with all this?’” When it comes to sales, he said, it’s essential to ask lots of questions. “I know it can be uncomfortable, but practice [with other salespeople and staff ] and learn to ask more questions. Highly performing salespeople know how to ask a lot of questions.
Car-Tunes Inc. Boosts Product Awareness With Contest WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER
As counterintuitive as it might seem, sometimes giving away product you want to sell can be good for business. In order to boost awareness of product prior to the spread of COVID-19, Greenville, Mississippi-based Car-Tunes, Inc. ran a contest for $1,000 worth of Race Sport Lighting product, with professional installation included. “We [ran the contest] to kick off the lighting season and pep up sales, and just put featured product items in front of people that they might not know are available because that’s such a large facebook.com/MobileElectronics 19
Who’s Who Faces in the Industry category,” noted Kimberly Trainer, president and owner of Car Tunes. “So we partnered with Race Sport on that, and what we decided to do was to have it run through our in-store and social media. We would post to social media once a day about featured items, and people could read about it, like the page and then share it with a new friend, so each time they shared it with a new friend, they could get an entry to $1,000 of Race Sport Lighting.” When customers had a handle on the rules of the contest, that helped spread the reach of the announcement. New people were being shown the offer, rather than the same eyes seeing the same content over and over again, according to Trainer. It also introduced customers to other lighting products that the business has to offer. Previously, the shop had run another, somewhat similar contest and found that the duration—around 40 days—was just a bit too long. This time, the contest was only kept running for two weeks. “We were highlighting the lighting products [as a specific target] because those are the kinds of products that can be an add-on to any of our existing customers, so it wouldn’t be something that wouldn’t take away from something we were already doing,” said Trainer. “This was all product we could do in addition to things we were already doing.” Other than raising awareness among established customers, this contest also helped introduce new potential customers to what Car Tunes had to offer. For other shops that are considering running a similar campaign to increase product awareness, Trainer emphasized the importance of planning, noting the importance of having things like graphic assets squared away ahead of time. Maintaining a set schedule so that customers know what to expect also remains a key point. In Car Tunes’ instance, the contest was sponsored by Race Sport Lighting. The winner was JT Harmon, who works as a first responder. “That way, once you start the contest and the hype starts up, you’re maintaining the contest, rather than having to create as you go along,” said Trainer. It’s also important to determine a dollar amount that you’re willing to spend, whether that’s in actual cash or potential labor, such as installing product. And even though this kind of endeavor is an investment, it’s still a form of advertising.
20 Mobile Electronics May 2020
Kimberly Trainer Car-Tunes, Inc. Greenville, Miss. Years of Industry Experience: 19 Hobbies: Cooking
Dalton Steadman Tunes-N-Tint Lakeland, Fla. Years of Industry Experience: Less than one Hobbies: Fishing, working on vehicles and ATVs. What you’re really good at: Upholstery, fabrication and 12-volt integration
Bryan A. Jenkins No Limit Motorsports, LLC Belmont, NC Years of Industry Experience: 35
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Despite the pandemic, audiophiles continue to pursue their passion—while retailers help these clients find what they’re looking for.
Bit One HD Virtuoso Hi-Res Signal Processor
Drone Mobile X1Max Telematics and GPS Module
Main Selling Features: “This product corrects more OEM processing than any other automated correction DSP, and it offers more manual control than any other flagship DSP—input EQ, summing and all-pass filters. Finally, it makes tuning simpler with channel-by-channel and global EQs.”
Submitted by: Kimberly Trainer, Car-Tunes Inc., Greenville, Miss. Main Selling Features: “We provide a quick demonstration of the product with all vehicle information right on the smartphone, plus the ability to start the car with a phone, and the customer is sold.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “If the customer feels it’s too expensive, we go into detail explaining how many wires must be soldered and protected, and how we program the module with a laptop to work seamlessly with their specific vehicle options. After that, this product sells easily.”
Alpine iLX-650 Double-DIN Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-10, 10-Inch 300-Watt Amplified Subwoofer
Main Selling Features: “This product has a very fast processor and high-capacitance screen.” Primary Objection: Size / color / style, learning curve. How to Overcome: “If they want a CD player, or have another objection, I sell them a different brand.”
Submitted by: Dave Clews, 12Volt Dave’s Audio, Pottsville, Pa. Main Selling Features: “This is a small enclosure that doesn’t take up much space and is very effective in filling in that bass they’re looking for. Also, it’s easy to remove if space is needed.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We explain exactly what must be removed and replaced in order to safely and correctly install it and make it visually appealing.”
JVC KW-M750BT Digital Multimedia Receiver Submitted by: Adrian Manrique, Mid-State Distributing, Broadview, Ill. Main Selling Features: “This head unit is fully loaded with Apple Car Play and Android Auto features that customers will definitely use. Plus, it comes with a two-year-warranty!” Primary Objection: Compatibility. How to Overcome: “This unit is compatible with both Apple and Android. So, down the line, if you ever want to switch phone types, you will still be able to do all the things on this unit that your previous phone did.”
24 Mobile Electronics May 2020
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hot sellers Directed Electronics Viper DS4 Alarm and Remote Start Submitted by: Moe Ayesh, 901 Sounds Auto Accessories, Memphis, Tenn. Primary Objection: Additional parts required, labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Be transparent and upfront in educating the customer.”
Sony XAV-AX5000 Sony Touchscreen Receiver Submitted by: Brian Robinson, GB Customs Incorporated, Plymouth, Ind. Main Selling Features: “This touchscreen digital receiver is capable of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It provides a simple, easy-to-use display and comes in at a competitive price range with other products.” Primary Objection: Price, compatibility. How to Overcome: “We compare it with similar products with the same features.”
Alpine PWD-X5 Powered Subwoofer with Built-In 4-Channel DSP Amplifier Main Selling Features: “This product offers value for the dollar and sound quality improvement to OEM systems in base models.”
26 Mobile Electronics May 2020
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Hungerford hopes to offer more motorcycle audio and custom fabrication in the near future, with the potential of collaborating under the same roof with a local shop that works on bikes.
Despite a global crisis, KarTele Mobile Electronics has entered its most profitable quarter of the year, and looks forward to expanding into additional categories to better serve the community.
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
hile Mike Hungerford has been co-owner of KarTele Mobile Electronics in Waterbury, Conn. for three years as of April first, he’s been in the industry for close to 20 years. Of store ownership, he said, “It’s been a learning curve.” KarTele originally opened in 1994 as a cell phone store, and later switched to 12-volt. For the past year, Hungerford ran a different sale each month to celebrate the shop’s 25 years in business and included a free USB cable with any Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatible unit. Anniversary sales focused
30 Mobile Electronics May 2020
on something different each month— lighting, audio, remote start or backup cameras. Now, the shop is approaching its twenty-sixth year in business. Over half of the business’s revenue comes from remote starts, while the rest comes from car audio, marine audio and accessories. “All year long, [for the anniversary celebrations, if we noticed] any veterans come in wearing a service hat, or if they had veteran plates, when they came in to pay for the job, they received free installation,” Hungerford added. “Many of them are on fixed incomes, and it was very well-received and appreciated.” Hungerford said that even after all
LOCATION: Waterbury, Conn. Number of Locations: 1 Square Footage: 1,500 Type: Traditional Retail Number of Employees: 4 MAIN FOCUS 60% Remote Start 40% Car & Marine Audio 20% Accessories KEY STAFF Owners: Mike Hungerford, Skyler Arnold Seasonal Sales: George Mowad Sales and Shop Assistant: Greg Hungerford
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Thriving Despite Worldwide Crisis Some shops in the industry have had to close temporarily due to COVID-19, while others have lost business. For KarTele, however, business has never been better. Hungerford said the shop services some breathalyzers, but most of their business is not in that category. To help safeguard against illness, the shop has been disinfecting each car when it comes in and again before it leaves, Hungerford said.
these years, the business has maintained its approach to customer service. “Because of how we take care of our clients, we’ve been able to last in an industry that constantly changes and we are generating a higher revenue than ever before,” he added, noting that all jobs— big and small—are treated with the same level of importance. Big Ideas and a Small Support System In the near future, Hungerford hopes to expand the size of the shop in its current building, doubling the size of the showroom and tripling the bay. “I also want a dedicated wood room and fabrication area,” he said, adding, “I want to change people’s opinions on the industry in our area. I want customers to know they can trust us with their vehicles.” Though the shop has a staff, it’s mainly seasonal. As spring and summer approaches, Hungerford said he will be
32 Mobile Electronics May 2020
working alone. “George Mowad works here in the winter as my salesperson when we’re jamming 10 to 12 remote starters a day,” he said. “He had a surgery this past year, so my brother came in and took over.” Greg Hungerford, Mike’s brother, took on a number of tasks including helping in the bay, taking dashes apart and pulling cars in and out of the garage. “Right now, it’s a one-man operation. Today I had to close the store because we were down working at the marina,” he added. While Hungerford has to handle a lot of duties on his own, he has help from a supportive family and network of friends. “If I have a big job with a deadline, I can always find someone willing to come by and help out with phones and walk-in customers,” he said. “My daughter Rachael has helped clean the store on occasion. My girlfriend Chrissi is always
“There was about a week when the door didn’t open at all,” he added. “People were scared.” He went home for a few days, and then the phone started ringing. Hungerford reopened, putting a sign on the door stating that only one person was allowed in at a time. “Customers started coming in wearing face masks. It built back up and we had the best April we’ve ever had.” He said he wasn’t sure why business was so good, but added it could have been because of the stimulus checks. Either way, the shop had a marked improvement in business. “This has also been the best quarter of the year—off the charts,” he added. “The biggest seller has been Sony Car Audio.” Hungerford said he endeavors to keep traffic down in the showroom. “Yesterday, I had someone here and we were working on a sale. Someone else opened the door, saw I had a customer and said, ‘I’ll wait outside.’ They waited in their car until the customer left, and then they came in,” he explained. “People have been very respectful.”
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Newspaper Advertising Proves Successful
Customers often say multiple people recommended KarTele. In fact, most of the shop’s business comes from outside referrals.
offering to help clean the shop and showroom or get me a new roll of tape while I’m jammed under a dash.” The toughest thing about so often working solo, Hungerford said, is how busy the store has become. “Cars are dropped off. Twenty-five to 30 customers come through the door in a day, and I get a whole slew of phone calls,” he added. As the shop continues to grow and revenue increases at a steady rate, Hungerford said he has recognized an opportunity to offer more services to clients. This will in turn lead to hiring specialized team members. Adding Services to Increase Revenue Hungerford said the shop will begin diversifying into window tint this summer, adding that it was one thing he’d never learned to do before. “I might set up a tint area here,” he said. “That was half the reason we remodeled the garage recently. It was too dusty before.” Hungerford hopes to hire a full-time window tinter, as long as the shop can generate enough revenue. “We get calls all the time,” he said. “Right now, I refer them to another shop locally who does it, but I would like everything in-house.” Furthermore, Hungerford said the shop will be getting into custom
36 Mobile Electronics May 2020
While many shops find newspaper advertising no longer works for them, Hungerford said this was the most successful advertising campaign he pursued. “We ran ads in the paper with a discount coupon. It generated more leads than any other media,” he added. The first time they ran the ad, the shop’s focus was to increase revenue on remote starters. The second time, KarTele teamed up with 1sixty8 media to design the ad. A $25 coupon was included. “The ad was in the sports section of the Sunday paper. There’s also an add-on that goes out on Thursdays and covers 50,000 people in our surrounding area,” Hungerford said. “It’s the perfect demographic for us. We got on the cover.” If he could do anything differently, he said, he would have started out by running the ad for the entire season. “This past year, we didn’t run the ad until November because we were still trying to dial it in,” he explained. “This year, we’re running
motorcycle builds. “We do a lot of audio, but no custom fabrication yet,” he said, adding that he has been exploring the idea of collaborating with another local shop that does motorcycle audio. The two businesses have already been working together, he said, but they would like to get under one roof. “We’re considering collaborating as two separate businesses, but in the same building.” Next on the list is a dedicated area for custom fabrication, which is something Hungerford feels is lacking in his area. He recently attended Dealer Boot Camp at Mobile Solutions, sponsored by Sony Car Audio, and learned a lot. “That’s
the ad year-round.”
1sixty8 media designed two ads, he said, one for the Christmas special and one as a general advertisement with a coupon. “I still get calls on this daily,” Hungerford said. The ad includes a note stating that KarTele is a Top 50 Retailer. “It cost a little over $600 per month. I initially said, ‘If this gets us 20 jobs per month, the ad is paid for. It will have worked, and hopefully those will turn into referrals.’ This ended up generating nearly 100 remote start installs every month.” Additionally, Hungerford often handed the coupon back to the customer, who would pass it off to a friend. “Even without a coupon,” he said, “I told them to like us on Facebook and we would apply it. We had more Facebook followers and it generated a ton of Google reviews.” The shop posts a few times a week on social media, and Hungerford especially likes to highlight unusual builds.
the direction I’m heading in,” he added. “Custom fabrication.” Referrals Account for a Bulk of the Business The shop is located in a very busy area, according to Hungerford, and positive interaction with other local businesses has led to many referrals. Much of the shop’s revenue accounts for referrals. Auto parts stores such as Auto Zone, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Advanced Auto and Pep Boys all stand within close proximity. “All the auto parts stores around here send people to me,” Hungerford said. “We also have great relationships with local dealerships that sell used cars. A lot of our business comes from word-of-mouth
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Restaurant Placemat Ad Garners No Clients KarTele stands behind the few product lines it carries, Hungerford said, which demonstrates to customers that the shop believes in quality and will not just sell anything.
referrals.” Customers often tell Hungerford that multiple people recommended KarTele to them. “There’s nothing better than referrals,” he added. “I didn’t spend anything to get that customer.” Additionally, he said the shop has a high close rate when it comes to sales. “A customer usually has an idea of what they want when they come in, but not specifically,” he said. “You have to qualify them by asking questions to find out their main goal. About 60 percent of the time, someone will say, ‘I just want a little bass. I don’t want to spend a lot.’ Next thing you know, they’re putting together a full system.” Sales should be approached by asking a lot of questions, Hungerford added. “I wait out the awkward pauses and let them fill the space,” he said. “Often, they fill that space with, ‘Okay, when can you do it?’”
38 Mobile Electronics May 2020
KarTele carries a very small selection of brands with the intention of standing behind the product and demonstrating quality. “I don’t have 30 brands of radios,” Hungerford said. “We keep our product line streamlined. I think it helps because it shows we believe in this product, and we aren’t just throwing everything at a customer.” The shop also continues to freshen the appearance of the showroom, with the intention of exposing returning customers to something they might not have noticed on their last visit. “The constant rotation keeps the display nice and clean as well,” he said, adding that he also enjoys decorating for holidays. “There’s nothing better than seeing people smiling when they walk in and see how festive, clean and welcoming the store is.”
When the shop advertised in three local restaurants on their placemats, they didn’t receive a single call, according to Hungerford. When he signed up, he carefully considered the placement of the ad. “I wanted our ad to be seen, so I requested the top righthand side of the placemat, so a plate wouldn’t cover it while customers were dining. We thought it would be a good spot, and our goal was to hopefully get a few responses from it,” he said, adding, “It wasn’t expensive, but it did absolutely nothing.”
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Go Fast Solutions Goes Above and Beyond KarTele Mobile Electronics gets most of its equipment from Go Fast Solutions, which Hungerford said often goes above and beyond to support the shop as a retailer. “David Prinz has really transformed that company to meet the needs of this industry,” he said. “Jonathan Mercado has been extremely important to our success,” he added, noting that Mercado, the company rep, is always willing to help the shop get what they need. “He’s a wealth of knowledge.” Recently, the shop ordered a dash kit for a Cadillac. The kit was scheduled for delivery, but got lost in transit. When Hungerford called Mercado the day before the job was scheduled, Mercado called a half hour later and said he found the product and was having it overnighted. “Another time, I had a customer here who only spoke Spanish. I don’t. We made it work. I pointed at products, and we were figuring things out. It got to the point where they were ready to buy,” Hungerford said. “I wanted to explain a couple things to them. Just by chance, Jonathan happened to call. I asked for his help and he translated the entire thing and helped me close the sale.” KarTele also deals with Directed Electronics. Remote starters are a top seller for the shop, and Hungerford said customers love the Bluetooth control and OEM remote on the Viper DS4.
40 Mobile Electronics May 2020
This year, KarTele Mobile Electronics was given the Sony Circle of Excellence, Top 50 Dealer award. Hungerford feels that much of the business’s achievements are due to the positive store culture he continues to nurture.
Demonstrating Commitment to Quality When it comes to training, Hungerford likes to focus on OEM integration. He also attends trainings on remote starters, simply because it drives such a large percentage of the business. He noted that he likes to give customers a chance to explore the showroom before discussing a project. “Every customer who walks in is greeted, even if I’m on the phone or with another client. As they wait, they can have a seat in our showroom or make a complimentary cup of coffee,” he said, adding that the showroom layout is designed to get clients thinking about the possibilities. “They may have come in for a remote starter, but they’ll also see we offer WeatherTech Floor Liners and LED lights.” Hungerford feels the shop’s increased revenue, especially lately, is related to the positive store culture he continues to nurture. “We build relationships with vendors and salespeople, and we are dedicated to every customer—no matter how much or how little they are spending,” he added.
The main hurdle? Demonstrating commitment to craft. “We often fix work from other facilities, and it’s getting bad.” Hungerford noted how much free training is available to retailers, adding that shops should take advantage of these opportunities. “A lot of them don’t,” he said. “We are still seeing speakers selftapped into doors without bracketing, poor wiring techniques, bad grounding and sloppy work. That’s not the kind of stuff we do here.” Some customers arrive at the shop with a negative feeling toward the aftermarket industry because of bad experiences elsewhere, he said, adding, “It’s my job to show we’re strict about the quality of work we do and our installation practices.”
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FIRST THINGS FIRST End Result first provides retailers with advice relating to business structure, marketing and more—all with the aim of giving retail customers the best experience possible. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
For the past 38 years, End Result has been servicing Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia as a rep firm. The company tends to deal with larger retailers, but also services mom-and-pop 12-volt facilities that have been in business 20-plus years. Owner Ed Dalesandro first got into car stereo in his college days when he heard a fellow classmate’s stereo for the first time. “I can remember the song, the day, everything,” he said, adding, “When you’re hooked, you’re hooked.” He worked for another rep firm before going into business for himself. “I took a bus to CES when it was still in Chicago, spent 12 dollars on cards and passed them out,” he said. “I got one product line, then went around and sold it to dealers, put it in my car and gave demos. That’s how it all started.” Additionally, Dalesandro got involved
42 Mobile Electronics May 2020
in the early days of car stereo contests, starting with the Rockford Challenge. “I did the contests, made the forms, bought the trophies and did everything for the dealer, and would do 30 to 40 of these a year every Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he explained, adding that he became known locally as “the car stereo guy.” He also served on the Board of Directors for IASCA. “It’s been a fun ride,” he said. “A real fun ride.”
A Focus On Building Relationships Currently, the company represents Hertz Audison, all the AAMP brands, Memphis Car Audio, Mobile Solutions and Race Sport Lighting. “I do things a little differently,” Dalesandro added. End Result’s only other team member is Nicole Rice, who manages the company’s office, processing orders, handling
administrative issues and return authorizations. While the current pandemic has made things difficult, Dalesandro noted how important it is to continue learning. “I’m always learning. That’s what I am most proud of. I’m a young 64, and I’m not even thinking about slowing down. I’m better now than I ever was,” he added. “I think I’m continuing to get better. I want to know my dealers as people— because it’s really people selling people, not people selling products. If a dealer doesn’t like me as a person, then I’m out of luck.” When it comes to representing manufacturers, Dalesandro is very selective. “The box I have in my hand better be as good or better than someone else’s,” he said. “If it’s readily available on the Internet, then no one can make any money on
First Things First
End Result utilizes a trailer with Memphis equipment to demonstrate product and to use in promotional events.
it. The quality of the management of the manufacturer is important, too. A lot of factors go into picking up product lines.” Many of the dealers Dalesandro works with have become friends. “If a retailer was just a flash in the pan,” he said, “I would know it. I have seen many dealers go in and out of business.” For those dealers he doesn’t work with, he also represents Davis Distribution and other distributors, and will send them their way.
Helping Retailers Put Their Best Foot Forward Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and Dalesandro said some dealers need extra help when it comes to marketing. To help provide access to such services, End Result also represents WeConekt, a marketing company that will help businesses with social media,
websites and more. “I also represent 5 Axis Solutions, which makes displays for stores,” he added. “The days of the big car audio displays are over. You’re more effective having a three-foot-wide display on the wall that doesn’t take up floor space.” If a shop has difficulty marketing or doesn’t know where to start, Dalesandro said, “Talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.” When he comes across a shop that is having trouble with marketing, he calls WeConekt. “I tell them what’s going on. I say, ‘He doesn’t have a lot of money,’ or, ‘He needs a website.’ I size up what the dealer needs, and how much they can spend. Sometimes I’ll ask WeConekt to provide an hour of free consultation. Everyone is different.” Dalesandro’s first goal when visiting a dealer is to be proactive and help drive their business by encouraging them to market better. “Don’t market until you
have your store and your displays looking good,” he said, adding that this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Internet is always on, and some stores are getting behind. When things return to normal, you’d better give people a reason to come in.” It’s important to ensure the store is clean and ready to go, he said, adding that retailers should have already been working on any areas of weakness. During the pandemic, Internet orders continue to operate, Dalesandro said, adding, “The Internet can’t give an experience the way a good demo at an audio store can really move someone’s emotions. If you want to sell, you’d better make a good demonstration. If someone is a country western listener and you play Nine Inch Nails for them, you’ll probably lose them. The dealer can be his own best friend or his own worst enemy.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 43
Ed Dalesandro (right) and Nick LoMonaco, president of Memphis Car Audio, pose for a photo at the End Result Show.
Dalesandro encourages shops to have quality displays in their showrooms. “The only time I went out during the pandemic, it was because I had a dealer whose store burned down—Advanced Custom Sound in Warren, Ohio,” he said. The original facility was smaller and more limited, and had only one large display that was damaged in the fire, according to Dalesandro, who encouraged the owner to diversify into additional categories. “I sold him little displays and he moved into a bigger place, and we made it look great. His business is going to jump.” If a business is struggling, he advised looking in the mirror for answers. “Maybe your display has gray trunk liner on it from five years ago,” he said, “or you don’t even have a display for lighting or backup cameras.” Dalesandro underscored that he starts by having a conversation with a dealer to find out what they need and how he can help.
44 Mobile Electronics May 2020
Education Leads the Way As a one-man rep firm, Dalesandro puts on the End Result Show every other year. “I rent out all the ballrooms at a hotel, and I host a show from nine to five. The show includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then we have a casino night,” he said, adding that educational sessions take place all day long for managers, installers and salespeople in breakout rooms. End Result takes part in trainings on a regular basis, beyond its show. “A manufacturer will come in, we’ll work until six and then do a training at seven,” Dalesandro said. “I’ll buy pizza and pop or beer, and we do a training.” This has changed, however, in the wake of COVID-19. “Now I’ll probably physically go to the location, offer a training and the manufacturer will be on the big screen. I’ll bring the laptop and projector, and they trainer will offer the session from his house.” Dalesandro also owns a 15-foot
Memphis trailer, filled with gear, which he pulls behind his truck to do promotions. “I also have Hertz Audison in my car. I put you in the driver’s seat, I sit in the passenger seat and I have songs ready to go,” he said. “The stage is right on the dash.” Dalesandro feels this approach helps set End Result apart from other rep firms. Early on, he installed Rockford Fosgate in his 1980 Volvo and put about 350,000 miles on the vehicle when he first started the company. “I did demos and got their emotions going,” he said, adding that he feels some shops lack demos that can evoke emotions in the client. “You’ve got to be ready to move their emotions. They came in for a reason, so it’s up to you from there.” Satisfaction makes the sale, he noted. “An attentive and educated salesperson can size up the customer and the customer’s needs. You need to sell from the top down, and not just sell according
First Things First to your own wallet,” Dalesandro said, adding, “A lot of guys have trouble with that. Selling the cheapest amp kit is the biggest mistake in the world.”
Engel Embroidery Assists Dealers, Alters Focus Due to Pandemic Part of cultivating positive culture in a store involves presenting a clean, organized appearance. “My wife, Lori Engel, owns Engel Embroidery,” Dalesandro said. “I want dealers to have matching shirts. I want them to look good. I want them to have little giveaways like keychains with their logo on them. My wife does business with a lot of manufacturers and dealers.” Engel Embroidery provides embroidery, screenprinting and promotional products, according to its website. But during the pandemic, Dalesandro said Engel Embroidery’s business stopped completely. “Someone asked Lori for a mask, and now her business has turned into producing masks [and other personal protection equipment], hand sanitizer and more,” he added, noting that the business has altered its focus to “everything a business needs” to reopen as soon as it’s safe and possible.
How the Pandemic Changes the Way Retailers Approach Clients For dealers in his area, Dalesandro said business is off about 60 percent. While some businesses have experienced very little negative impact, others have been hurt more by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Urban dealers tend not to get hurt as much,” he added. “The back door is open, while the front door is closed and people knock. Some dealers have had no change at all, especially when the stimulus money came in. A lot of people closed just for safety purposes.” Shops should have already been rethinking structure or business practices during the pandemic, Dalesandro noted. “It’s almost too late now to work on weak spots,” he added. “I had two town hall meetings with my dealers on Zoom. I gave a presentation of what I thought stores should be doing during this time. I really think this could be an upside for
our business,” he said. “I’m in home audio also. People will want to spend more time in their cars and homes. This has touched a nerve with people. They’ll go about their lives a little differently. The home and car will be two things they will want to improve on. I think there will be new opportunities.” Retailers can focus on this possibility in order to be prepared when states reopen. It’s essential that retailers know how to approach customers in the new normal post-pandemic, Dalesandro said. “A lot of shops aren’t open yet, but when they do reopen, they should publicly announce the opening and what the rules are,” he explained. These guidelines would include wearing masks, wiping cars down before working on them and afterward, as well as taking any other precautions. Dalesandro is considering hosting another Zoom call with dealers to focus on how to approach the customer in this new normal. “I’m not sure they know. Things are different now. Some guys won’t make it out of this pandemic,” he said, adding, “Some will.”
strategy & tactics
The 12-Volt Insight Reviewing the basics and fundamentals of our industry can help bring your skill level from good to great. WORDS BY ADAM DEVINE
Whether you have been in the industry for 20 years or two, these key words will always come to mind: complacency and insanity. By nature, humans are complacent creatures. We find a comfortable rhythm and tend to stick with it, rarely straying beyond our comfort zone. Albert Einstein is widely credited with stating the following: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Whether we fall into the category of store owner, sales professional or technician, all of us can fall victim to complacency. You may find yourself wondering, “Why isn’t my business growing?” or “Why am I finding it difficult to close sales?” You might ask, “Why do all my installations seem like they’re the same?” Those three positions, while vastly different in terms of day-to-day tasks, are highly dependent on one another. If complacency starts at the top, it will ultimately work its way down to all levels of the business.
The Owner is the Captain of the Ship If you are the man or woman who oversees the ship and leads the crew, then it all starts with you! If you’re not finding ways to inspire and grow your team, then don’t expect your financial gains and growth to change. As a leader, you are looked up to for guidance and structure, plus continual support. Without a great captain, the ship may drift off-course and the crew will be less likely to respond to direction. As the captain, you should be asking yourself, “What can I do differently to achieve expected results?” It all starts with having a plan and building a solid foundation. You are in charge of delegating tasks to your crew to help you achieve desired results. If you don’t have a
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strategic business plan for the next three, six, or twelve months, that’s an excellent place to start. As a business owner, you need to know where your business is strong and where you can find areas of opportunity for improvement. Recognizing these areas and drilling down on your numbers and books will help you begin to plan and implement changes.
Know and Understand Your Numbers How often do you dive deep into your books and really assess the business? Are you staying high level and just looking at your P&L? To make or develop any real strategic business plan moving forward, you have to dig deep. The numbers on the screen are a direct reflection of how you are steering the boat and its current condition. If there is an area in which you
are excelling, do you know why? Is it the sales approach, your advertising or your prices? There are also two sides to this question. In other words, what are your opportunities? Why are you weak in the areas that need improvement? Could it be a lack of tools, education, or desire to make a change?
Get to Know Your Key Demographic If you are expecting your showroom to fill up and your phone to ring off the hook without putting in the work, you will be severely disappointed and you’ll wait a long time. The market in Naples, Fla. is flooded with luxury and exotic cars. Upper- to middle-class individuals are going to have different wants and needs than a college student whose goal is to rattle his car until the mirror falls off. Knowing your demographic is crucial
The 12-Volt Insight
Learning to tailor a product demonstration to a client is an important aspect of closing the sale.
to designing a strategic business plan that can positively impact your financial gains. A solid piece of business advice can come from the most unlikely source. In the movie Joe Dirt, Joe offers simple yet often overlooked words of wisdom to Kicking Wing, who owns a fireworks stand but sells only the fireworks he prefers. When it comes to a lack of sales, Joe says, “Well, that might be your problem. It’s not what you like, it’s the consumer.” That simple, yet powerful statement has a huge impact on how you run your business. Are you selling only what you like, or have you also taken into consideration what your consumer wants and needs? Truly knowing my demographic took time and effort. From attending local Cars and Coffee events, to taking note of the exotic cars in my area, I was able to learn that my customers have a more refined or seasoned taste that I need to cater to. For example, they are not interested in loud systems. Instead, they have an interest in safety, sound quality and radar and laser protection.
Be the Expert in Your Niche We know the categories, but how do we attack them? For us at Devine Concepts, a great start was implementing a Radenso RCM Ultimate Edition into our shop’s demo vehicle, a brand new Mercedes GLC 300. (You can check out this demo vehicle in the Installs section of this issue of Mobile Electronics magazine.) Why did we do this? Because that type of vehicle is on par with what the majority of our clientele drives. They can relate as well as see the value in a luxury demo car. In any sales scenario, you should always use top down selling. Always! The GLC 300 received a high-end, built-in radar and laser defense system. Not only did we install the best equipment, but the installation matched in quality. We took the time to build custom acrylic pods, ensuring the system stayed as clean and stealth as possible. Any integration into the cabin appears factory. Our vehicle has a great system and a great install. Now what? Do we just
show it to every client who walks in? We could, because it wouldn’t hurt, but to really see return on investment, we have to market to clients who already want what we have. Attending a local Cars and Coffee event on a Sunday, while providing a demo of our system, is an example of a great opportunity to show clients what’s possible. Partner with your dealers. They are there to support you. We did just that. We helped sponsor a high-end auto show, and we had our GLC 300 on display. Jason and John from Radenso helped tend the booth with us. Afterward, we saw a dramatic increase in sales and custom OEM integration. Our booth was flooded with visitors at the event, and most of them had no idea this kind of install was even possible!
Utilize the Art of the Demo to Close the Sale How you approach your clients in your sales presentation is going to direct the course of the sale. You have to be
strategy & tactics
Devine Customs prides itself on a clean, organized facility. During a tour, the client is able to see the shop’s dedication to quality.
able to read your clients. You are there to impress them with what’s possible, something they may not know existed. Effective merchandising stems from keeping your client’s attention on what you are presenting. Are you set up to offer product demonstrations? If your answer is no, or if you’re unsure what “the art of the demo” is, now is your opportunity to grow as a sales pro. The art of the demo can be as simple as ensuring that the product is placed into the client’s hands, or their device is connected to the display so they can touch, feel and interact with whatever you’re trying to sell. A demo can be as complex as setting up the perfect stereo triangle for an audio demonstration, ensuring the client is equal distance from the source, and you are playing their favorite track in high resolution. A salesperson must sell the experience, not the specs. By tailoring your sales and demo approach to your clients, you will yield more positive results. Some clients care about specs and technical inner workings, and some just care about the end result. With time and a few lifestyle questions,
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you will be able to quickly determine which category they fall into. Two industry professionals who gave solid sales advice that rings true and has always stuck with me are Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog and Ata Ehdaivand of Absolute Electronix. In an online video interview, Andy spoke perfectly about the clientele who is just looking for the result. You can’t impress them with technical specifications. In this scenario, too much “tech speak” can work against you. Ata offered simple but effective advice on this topic. Once you know the demographic of your client, and you’ve tailored your demo and made recommendations, it’s time to ask for the sale and stop talking. Give the client time to process and let them make a decision. If you continue to talk after asking for the sale, you may find that you just talked them out of it.
Fulfill the Promise to the Client The technician is a craftsman and a sculptor, but they’re only as good as their last install. The vehicle has made it to the bay and it’s up to them to fulfill promises made to the client. When checking the vehicle in with the client, you should take
time to review the invoice, expectations, product locations and intended results. Ask your client prior to checking the vehicle’s functionality if there are any issues you should be aware of, such as recently tinted windows or a stuck window motor. Giving specific examples may help jog a client’s memory, since the typical response is, “Everything’s fine.” Being in South Florida in rainy season with a window that will not roll back up will drastically diminish the client’s experience. Always note any issues you find and review them with your client and have them sign off before they leave. Doing so will cover you and your business from any unwanted or surprise damage claims. Protect the vehicle with seat covers, fender covers, steering wheel and shifter covers, and interior and exterior protection film. Using proper tools for disassembly and reassembly will also protect from any unnecessary damage. Keep your tools, work area and machines clean. Just as the art of the demo is essential in the sales process, proper client education at the end of the sale is just as important. Making sure your client understands how to properly use their new equipment
The 12-Volt Insight will enhance their experience and they will leave confident they made the right choice. The vehicle checkout process is just as important as the check-in. Ensure all systems function the same as they did when they came in. Forgetting to plug a power window switch back in can easily happen when installing a pair of door speakers. Finding and correcting any issues will always be a better scenario than a client finding it days later and returning for troubleshooting.
Continue to Seek New Experiences The MECP Program is an excellent resource for technicians and sales pros of all levels to develop best practices, and learn industry standards and fundamentals. As vehicles get more and more complex, OEM CAN Bus, MOST and data bus infotainment systems continue to advance. The expectation of staying connected in the vehicle has become a standard. Attending trainings and events such as KnowledgeFest will keep you on the continued path of exceling at your trade and expanding your skillset. Networking is important, too. Remember, the only stupid question is the question left unasked. At the end of the day no one can force you to be a better you! Whether you’re the owner, sales pro or technician, your future is in your own hands. The sheer act of reading this article means you’re already part of an exciting industry. After 20 years, I still go to work every day just as excited as I was at 16 years old, modifying my first car. Technicians get to play with some of the latest and greatest technology and vehicles, share knowledge, resources and best practices with our clients. We are able to provide each client a small taste of the world in which we live. They, in turn, take that experience with them and share it with others. My best advice—never stop learning, growing and sharing. Continue to push yourself into new experiences and find your capabilities. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when you stop being complacent and step outside your comfort zone.
Networking and training at events such as KnowledgeFest are integral to staying informed about the evolution of technology and OEM integration.
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Designing Installs Usin Have you tried your hand at drawing? Start using Procreate today to plan projects without having to cut a single piece of material. WORDS BY BRANDON GREEN
When I was younger, I did a lot of sketching. I got my inspiration from aircraft or car-related books I borrowed from the library, and I went through countless notebooks trying to recreate what I saw in books. I am still fascinated with design and how the lines of a vehicle flow together. I got to the point where I could draw an F-14 or a Porsche 911 from memory, although I never mastered human faces or live subjects. Over the years as I turned my mobile electronics obsession into a hobby, I relied on some of those skills for sketching enclosure designs, but I never really put a whole lot of stock into how valuable and useful it could be—kind of like the math we thought we’d never use when we were growing up, yet we use it daily
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as adults. People like Tom Miller and Randy Kunin were drawing designs to show clients, and I got to see their amazing results. I wondered whether I could also use drawing to better serve clients in my own business—and what would I need in order to make that happen? Getting Started With Design Using Procreate I have always been comfortable with a pencil, but Tom gave me some advice and helped me start with pens. After seeing what he was able to do with Procreate, I knew I had to start learning to use the program. I do not want to get into the “why” behind designs; Tom teaches that in parts of his courses at Mobile
Solutions, which I highly recommend attending. What I want to do is give you some general knowledge you can use to start drawing today, and I’ll share how we’ve used this skill here at The Car Audio Shop. While I’ve always been able to create what I saw in my head, I couldn’t build it if I had no idea where it was supposed to be placed. Sometimes a sketch is helpful to get the ideas flowing. And although that’s been great for me, conveying what’s in my head to clients—or to others helping me with a build—has proven a bit more challenging. It’s hard for a client to justify cost or approve an elaborate design you only have in your head. This is where drawing can be a game changer. Most of what I had done in the past
Designing Installs Using Procreate For Ipad
ng Procreate for iPad
involved orthographic views (2D) with no real shape or depth, so I purchased a couple of recommended books to help me improve on it. How to Draw, and the follow-up, How to Render, by Scott Robertson and Thomas Bertling, offer step-by-step instructions and provide several exercises that will help anyone become more efficient at putting ideas on paper. Moving on from the standard pen and paper, there are quite a few drawing and design programs available. Although they require quite a bit of practice to become proficient, they allow many more opportunities to adjust designs. For the
purpose of this article, I will refer to Procreate on iPad, as it seems to be the most widely known and used in our industry. It’s also easy to get started using it, and there’s a lot of support available beyond basic applications. There are also many hours of helpful tips and videos available through the “help” tab in the program. A few things I really like about Procreate are the autocorrect options for different lines and shapes, the ability to import pictures (such as a client’s actual vehicle door or trunk) and using the multiple layers available. Autocorrection ensures lines are straight, other shapes are exact, and it offers the option to edit
and move. Importing a picture and adjusting the opacity settings as well as adding grid lines are extremely helpful for ensuring your design works and gives you a good idea of the final product in the vehicle when the design is finished. The use of multiple layers and being able to turn them on or off as needed, or to add or eliminate ideas as you create is also a very useful. Just remember to use them. (When I first started, I often forgot.) Applying Design Techniques to a Tesla Model 3 I have a client from Colorado who recently purchased a Tesla Model 3. This facebook.com/MobileElectronics 51
Lightening some of the colors help give the design a physical appearance so the client can really envision it in the trunk of the vehicle.
“Conveying what’s in my head to clients—or to others helping me with a build—has proven challenging. It’s hard for a client to justify cost or approve an elaborate design you only have in your head. This is where drawing can be a game changer.”
client looks at all the builds from installers like Matt Schaeffer, Tom Miller and many others. He knew he wanted something similar to Doug Dobson’s Audi, which was designed by Tom. Obviously, I was not going to steal a design. However, I have seen Tom’s video on how he did that particular enclosure, and I have seen it in the actual vehicle, so I had good direction from the client regarding what they wanted. I am by no means that talented or experienced, but providing a design for the client is the point of this story. I imported images into Procreate and
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started there. I did a quick sketch on paper to decide on the design, and then lined my grid up with the vehicle lines in the picture. I adjusted the size of the grid to match what I would need. From there, I added some guidelines to work from. These lines would be removed for the finished drawing. Creating an Enclosure Using Layering Tools To begin the enclosure design, I used a combination of straight lines, arcs and curves to get the outline and overall size and shape using the guidelines I made previously. For me, this part is usually
trial and error. As you become more familiar with Procreate, it will get easier. Getting this right is important to the rest of rendering, so take your time and use the guidelines from the previous step. I did this in three layers and then combined the layers to get the final result. The next layer is where I added what would be the wood and acrylic inserts as well as the aluminum trim to divide the materials. With this shape and the angles back on the bottom and top, I worked off the outline to keep the symmetry of each side. I tried several different color combinations and these can always be
Designing Installs Using Procreate For Ipad changed very easily in the program by choosing the color and dragging it from the top right to the enclosed area you wish to change (if the area is not closed, then it will color your whole screen, so make sure all boundaries are closed). The following layer involved trying a few different brush and color combinations to get the “wood” look. Using Colors and Fill to Create Life-Like Appearance Following the accent layer, I turned those layers off and tried a few different brushes and colors to fill in the enclosure itself. I am working hard to practice this technique, which is something I have yet to master. Using colors and the fill-in tool helps create a life-like appearance, and it comes with practice. Layers 12 and 13 are simply some accent lighting thrown in to show where and how it could be done for the client. Notice how the arrangement of layers
has changed in order to have certain pieces overlap the lighting effect. You can always move things around and try different configurations to achieve an effect; this allows you to get the main parts done and then go back and finalize the desired look. The next two layers involve lightening some parts to help give it a more physical appearance. Finally, we add our logo and remove the original guidelines. Logos and symbols can be imported, cropped and resized to fit your project. A Visual Example of Possibilities Helps Close the Sale As you can see, there are many uses for this in the install bay as well as on the sales floor. Showing the client a drawing to demonstrate what’s possible can help close the sale, and takes away a lot of the guesswork. It also allows for design revisions before ever needing to cut a piece of material. If there are multiple technicians
working on a project, making this part of the work order for the vehicle ensures everyone knows what needs to be achieved. The end goal is clear, which will improve overall project efficiency. Plus, it’s fun. I even draw with my 11-year-old daughter, who has starting using Procreate on her iPad. As you take time to learn and practice, drawing in Procreate will become a quicker process which will help your overall goal. And let’s face it—we all want to build more, so let’s use this to help justify cost to our clients. Brandon Green is owner of The Car Audio Shop in High Ridge, Mo.
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To help sell radar and laser jammers, Devine Customs installed a sleek system in a demo vehicle, giving it a factory appearance. Submitted by: Adam Devine, Devine Concepts, Naples, Fla.
This 2018 Mercedes GLC 300 is Devine Concepts’ demo vehicle, which was recently given a full stealth Radenso RCM and AL Priority Jammers. The team included: •Equipment Radenso Ultimate Edition •Three RX Laser Jammers in the front of the vehicle •Two RX Laser Jammers in the rear
•Front and rear radar antennas Acrylic pods were designed to house the front left and right jammers. The center is hidden inside the Mercedes star. Everything was covered with laser-cut IR transmitting acrylic, a.k.a. Perspex. This allows the jammer to be hidden. Perspex is IR-permeable, which means it can send
54 Mobile Electronics May 2020
and receive signals cleanly through the acrylic without refraction, loss of signal, or diffusing or diminishing the signal. The rear received the same treatment, with a one-piece acrylic plate with dual pods and custom magnetic license plate frame. All parts were precisely measured with digital calipers, designed in CAD and laser-cut for a factory fit
and finish. Finally, parts were attached to factory mounting points. Ensuring all laser heads are perfectly level horizontally and vertically is essential to the performance of the system and its ability to be 100 percent effective. The smallest details can make a huge impact in performance. “Radar and laser defense
facebook.com/MobileElectronics â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 55
is one of the most incorrectly installed pieces of equipment in the 12-volt industry,” said Adam Devine, shop owner. All wires were dressed in OEM-style tape and labeled for serviceability. Wires were soldered, heat-shrink was used, and stainless steel mounting hardware was applied. Mounts were drilled and tapped for a secure placement and future service. The controller is housed in a custom acrylic mount behind the cup holders and back-lit with green LEDs. Since the vehicle is meant for eye-catching demos at Devine Customs, the team created a flashy look for the controller mount. For a custom design, clients can choose another logo, such as Mercedes or Porsche. Finally, the lighting can be matched to the ambient lighting of the vehicle so it looks like a factory design.
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from the President
LEARN FROM YOUR
In the midst of a pandemic, we must apply lessons learned to ensure the survival of our businesses for the future. Experience is the best teacher—although the test is given first, and then the learning begins. Like many of you, I run a small business. The Mobile Electronic Association is considered a small business by any standard. Our mission is to educate, inform and empower you to succeed in your business. Many of your calls, emails and messages relate to support you need to make the right decisions. That’s what I would like to address now. Lately, inquiries have focused on two important areas: How do I get the Paycheck Protection or Economic Injury loans? How do I create a safe environment for my team members as we seek to reopen or maintain our business in this new COVID-19 environment? Many of you had to make tough decisions recently regarding your business. You may have been forced to consider the possibility of going out of business. You had to consider the reality of furloughing some or all your team. You’ve had to institute new policies and procedures to create a safer environment for your team and your customers. As a business owner, these decisions were on top of all the normal pressures you deal with day-to-day just keeping the doors open. Adding to all these pressures, you have a personal life and family to consider. Then comes the need. Regardless of your rainy-day fund, I have encouraged all of you to apply for small business assistance. That included having your team apply for unemployment insurance. My advice was not based solely on the financial strength of your business. It was based on an outside force (the government) making decisions that directly inhibited your ability and the ability of your team to earn a living. And for that reason alone, you and your business merit the compensation. I know that this can be a real confidence killer. Do not let your pride keep you from collecting what is rightfully yours. Some of you have never had to file for unemployment benefits, and just the thought of it can be unsettling. Requesting a loan is also a tough decision. Again, some of you have never had to do this. Speaking directly to both of those issues, I will tell you this: You are not asking for help and you are not relying on the government for assistance. You are requesting compensation from the source of the downturn in your business. Think of it as your insurance. If you had damages, you
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would file a claim. The same rule applies. Do what you must to sustain your business. As you do this, another issue arises. How do we go forward with the new normal, and what does this mean? I do not think any of us knows for sure. This is where our industry truly excels. We have gone through many changes and always find a way to continue. This challenge should be no different. There are a few things to consider, including the safety of you and your team, and the safety of your customers. Starting with what you can control, you should outline best practices for your business. Review the CDC and OSHA websites as well as
Review the CDC and OSHA websites as well as your state guidelines and local ordinances. Once you are familiar, draft a plan of operation. Then communicate it to your managers to elicit feedback. your state guidelines and local ordinances. This will take a bit of time, but it’s necessary to know what you must do to remain in compliance. Once you are familiar, draft a plan of operation. Then communicate it to your managers to elicit feedback. With buy-in from everyone, communicate this to your team members. Support these efforts with visuals. For example, put specific guidelines in specific areas. The breakroom comes to mind. Limit access and have a process for cleaning. Another important area is the showroom. Locked and by appointment may be necessary. Make sure your team knows what to do, where to do it and executes the plan one hundred percent. Then make sure your customers know you have put procedures in place for their safety. This is a marketing message and should in the short-term be over-emphasized. Make the message a positive one. Let them know you are ready to provide them with the best products and service to help them make the most of their summer drive-time. With your new normal in place, proceed with caution and make the most of every customer experience. As an industry, we provide great technology with professional installation. Deliver it with confidence, and do your best for everyone involved.
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www.InstallerNet.com â&#x20AC;¢ 800-444-1644