+ FIRST OPENED IN 1969, WESTMINSTER SPEED AND SOUND HAS POISED ITSELF FOR LONGEVITY BY EXPANDING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ITS CLIENTELE. Join us for a closer look at some of the latest offerings on display at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas. NURTURE TO THRIVE ON THE
April/May 2023 me-mag.com
ADVERTISING SALES email@example.com
Rosa Sophia MANAGING EDITOR 978.645.6466 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Cook EDITOR-AT-LARGE
CREATIVE LAYOUT AND DESIGN
Contributing Editors Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer
12// What’s Happening: Lighting the Way
KnowledgeFest Las Vegas saw a packed show floor, classrooms brimming with students and a look back at Pimp My Ride—an industry favorite.
22// On the Show Floor: Live Wires
At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, manufacturers and distributors presented solutions and exciting opportunities for everything from audio to EV charging.
38// Real World Retail: Bountiful Harvest
Once a business gifted between friends, Westminster Speed and Sound is now a thriving 12-volt shop with multiple categories and plenty of room for expansion.
50// Learning From Leaders: Vision Quest
A long run in retail brought Bernie Sapienza to a non-profit focused on making the everyday commute a lot safer.
56// Strategy and Tactics: Leveraging an Online Image
How can retailers leverage online platforms to instil confidence and increase revenue? Drewbie Wilson shares strategies to remember.
4 Editor’s Forum
6 Feedback ON THE COVER:
Open since 1969, Westminster Speed and Sound in Westminster, Md. has evolved from an old-school speed shop to a 12-volt store that offers multiple categories and services to a broad demographic. From left to right: Evan Cabral, Owen Humphrey, David Sewell, Daniel Miller, Luke Miller and Mark Miller. Not pictured: Dawn Miller.
Chris Cook PRESIDENT 978.645.6434 email@example.com
Richard Basler DIR. TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS 978.645.6449 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 55 Issue 3
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD,
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HOW TO HAVE FUN AT WORK
When Pimp My Ride was on television, I was living on a farm in rural Pennsylvania where my roommate and I had free cable. One day, we were hanging out with friends in the living room when someone changed the channel and we all watched “Mad Mike” Martin enthusiastically describe a project. I can’t recall which one. I had never seen anything like it before.
Life is funny sometimes. I never would have guessed that one day I’d be working in this industry. I certainly wouldn’t have expected to be in attendance this past February in Las Vegas, when Mad Mike, Jason Ewing and Cabe Sipes were each presented with a Career Achievement award. My 20-year-old self probably would’ve said, “Cool.” I also would’ve noticed how much fun they were having and wondered, “How do you find work that doesn’t feel like work?”
FIRST OF ALL, NEVER STOP LEARNING
On Sunday at KnowledgeFest, the crowd gathered for “The Real Installers of Pimp My Ride: Lessons and Learning,” where the three men formed a panel to answer questions about some of the builds they’d created throughout the course of the show. The room reverberated with laughter as the guys joked and reminisced. As I went around snapping photos, I knew one thing for certain:
These guys knew what they were passionate about. They did what they loved, and through it, they found success.
Many of the retailers and technicians I’ve spoken to over the years agree that falling behind can lead to a feeling of overwhelm and powerlessness. If you lose your footing, you might be too focused on catching up to really enjoy your work. During our second time back in Las Vegas for the Industry Awards, the exhibit floor was packed with cool builds, buzzing with activity.
I got to listen to snippets of hands-on education sessions while walking along the back of the hall.
In last month’s Installer of the Year feature, Brian Mitchell of Liquid Trends Modesto in Modesto, Calif. said if you want to move up in your career, the best thing to do is keep training. Every opportunity should be taken—whether it’s manufacturer trainings, distributors’ events or other industry trade shows. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
FEELING UNCERTAIN? FIRST, LOOK WITHIN
I once spoke to an industry professional who told me that if you feel dejected and you don’t like your job, it’s important to be open to the possibility that it might not be the place of work that’s the problem. Maybe it’s you.
Mitchell echoed this piece of advice: Before changing jobs or making a career move, he said, make sure there’s nothing else in your life that’s making you unhappy.
It’s important to keep things in perspective: When I was watching Pimp My Ride on my couch in Pennsylvania, I didn’t get to see all the work that went into producing each episode. We can have fun, and we can even have a career that doesn’t always feel like work. But as Mitchell noted, “Work always feels like work sometimes.”
For this month’s Learning From Leaders article, we spoke with Bernie Sapienza of Vision Zero Network, who offered a sound piece of wisdom: While any career path requires work, “If you are passionate about what you do, you will likely become pretty successful.”
Lost your zeal? Ask yourself why. We might not see anything quite like Pimp My Ride again, but we can still find fun and fulfillment in our everyday work—as long as we stay educated, and most of all, as the saying goes, “Know thyself.”
4 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
It’s easy to admire those who seem to have it all, but how do we get there? It takes passion, persistence and commitment.
EDITOR’SFORUMROSASOPHIA• MANAGING EDITOR
Before changing jobs or making a career move, make sure there’s nothing else in your life that’s making you unhappy.
LEARN ABOUT NEW GEAR CELEBRITY GUESTS ASK QUESTIONS COOL RAP MUSIC HOT TIPS WIN SWEET PRIZES # kickeraudio # livinloud @ kickeraudio kicker.com WATCH LIVE EVERY OTHER TUESD AY on KICKER Facebook ( @kickeraudio ) or KICKER YouTube ( @kickerfanatic ) .
KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Nick Apicella provides his perspective on sales, while Jason Ballard talks positive mindset. Finally, while this year’s Awards ceremony is over, Marty Adamschek has some advice that next year’s contestants can put to use right away.
“Don’t put your clients into a box. I used to do this, and it prevented me from doing a better job. Here’s what I mean: Don’t make up their mind for them. Guide them and provide all the information you can in a way that fits each client’s individual personal preference, and you will be surprised what can come out of it. Nearly every client who’s getting something other than a quick in-and-out job will be open to doing another service or upgrading the original service. But if you aren’t comfortable giving them the information properly, it may be time to look in the mirror and start looking at how you can better inform yourself. Indisputable knowledge and experience are the key to being able to guide your clients properly and make them confident that you and your team are going to give them exactly what they’re hoping for.”
- Nick Apicella, Vanguard Automotive Design, Stony Point, NY
“When faced with a life-altering challenge, keep a positive attitude. If you have a good employee, and you’d like to cement a positive relationship with that employee and other employees, do what you can to help them during their time of adversity.”
- Jason Ballard, Freeman’s Car Stereo, Asheville, NC
“If I could go back and do anything differently in the Industry Awards process, I think I would have tried to have more fun with my video. I’m really not comfortable sitting in front of a camera, and it definitely shows. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others who have done this a few times. Everyone is always willing to help out and give advice. Most importantly, have fun with it. If you don’t make the Top 50 [keep trying]. I didn’t make it, the first time, but I worked hard, got the advice I needed to improve and two years later, took that top spot.”
- Marty Adamschek, Andre’s Electronic Experts, Courtenay, BC, Canada
feedback 6 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
Wake Series Source Unit
Immersive sound for the marine environment
JBL = Legendary Audio
JBL’s all new marine source unit, the JBL R4500, is the culmination of precise engineering and performance. With a bold new look and key audio features, this all weather stereo will be glad to accompany you and your family for a day on the water. An IPX7 weatherproof face patiently waits for rain, UV, salt and whatever else the elements may be.
ѻ 4” LCD Screen
ѻ Rotary encoder
ѻ Aux input
ѻ USB input/charging
ѻ 4x55W Peak @ 4 ohms
ѻ 2 ohm stable
ѻ Three Zone line level differential outputs with L, R, Sub for each zone
ѻ NMEA2000 Ready
ѻ Adjustable dimming/ illumination
ѻ Wired remote ready. Compatible with MIL-REM80 and INF-REM1
IN THE BAYS FOR 2022
2022 – A tough year for the industry. Here are the top automaker brands seen in the install bay, and the top product categories sold.
TOP AUTO MAKES BY TRANSACTIONS:
9. R AM
2. Speakers & Subwoofers
3. Amplifiers & Processors
4. Installation Kits & Accessories
5. Remote Start & Security
FIVE CATEGORIES BY REVENUE:
TOP FIVE CATEGORIES BY TRANSACTIONS:
2. Head units
3. Installation Kits & Accessories
4. Remote Start & Security
5. Amplifiers & Processors
8 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
AUTOMAKES BY REVENUE:
Fool Me Once: Scams, Stories, and Secrets from the Trillion-Dollar Fraud Industry
BY KELLY RICHMOND POPE
Have you ever wondered why Bernie Madoff thought he could steal his clients’ money? Or why investors were so easily duped by Elizabeth Holmes? No one ever thinks they’re going to be taken in by a scam, but it happens all the time. In this book, forensic accounting expert and documentarian Kelly Richmond Pope serves up a compelling look at the perpetrators, victims and whistleblowers behind financial crimes. Fraud is everywhere. Pope encourages us to look at our own motivations in the hope that we can protect ourselves and our companies. With fascinating stories and insightful analysis, this book will open your eyes and challenge your thinking. And it will help you understand a phenomenon that most of us fail to grasp—until it’s too late.
Series: Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Season 5)
AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX
Formula 1 has long been a mainstay on the international sports stage, but this reality series has helped bring more awareness to America. The series, which had its debut in 2019, provides a behind the scenes look at the 2018-2022 racing seasons, taking fans inside every team—yes, that includes Ferrari and Mercedes—and showing the lives and preparation of the drivers, owners and managers. The inaugural Miami Grand Prix held in May 2022 attracted Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Venus and Serena Williams. The show’s fifth season kicked off earlier this year in February and a sixth season is already in the works.
Woodward Dream Cruise
August 19, 2023, Pontiac,
Plan to attend the world’s largest one-day automotive event—the Woodward Dream Cruise. Drawing over one million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe, the event has become an annual rite of summer near Pontiac, Michigan. Everyone shows up to take the drive down Woodward Avenue through nine participating communities (Pontiac, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale) in Oakland County. For 2023, Ford (which has its headquarters nearby) is the title sponsor for the event, so odds are pretty strong that tons of Mustang enthusiasts will line the streets with their most iconic muscle cars.
Started From the Bottom
AVAILABLE ON APPLE, SPOTIFY, GOOGLE, STITCHER AND MORE.
Every week, host Justin Richmond interviews successful people who grew up on the outside—people of color, people who weren’t part of the old boys’ network, people who grew up in a world where almost nobody went to college. So how did these folks beat the odds? How did they avoid feeling like imposters? How did they overcome and do it? On the most recent episode, Nike executive Larry Miller is featured. Convicted of murder at age 16, Miller kept his crime and incarceration a secret for over 40 years. But after building the Jordan brand at Nike into a billion-dollar business, Miller has chosen to open up about his story.
12 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
KnowledgeFest Las Vegas
F Lighting Way the
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
or the second year in a row, the Industry Awards returned to Las Vegas with a crowd of eager attendees filling the classrooms and the show floor. In last month’s What’s Happening feature, “How Can the Industry Attract New Talent?” we covered the debut of hands-on education sessions, all taking place on the show floor on Sunday.
The education sessions at this year’s paramount event included two new speakers: Kimberly Trainer of Car-Tunes, Inc. in Greenville, Miss. and Jody Culbertson of 5 Axis innovations, who teamed up to present “Showroom Design: Close Sales Quicker with An Inviting Sales Floor Experience.” Also new for this year, attendees received text alerts about upcoming classes for which they had registered. Chris Cook, president of Mobile Electronics Association, noted that many more attendees opted in for text messages, rather than emails.
Additionally, two workshops were taught for Spanish-speaking attendees by Ricardo Rangel of Monster by Rangel, and Carlos Pinto of Elite Audio. Drewbie Wilson returned, this time to teach “Tactical Social Media Marketing for Busy Businesses.” For those who didn’t attend, or would like a refresher, check out this month’s Strategy and Tactics column, “Leveraging an Online Image.”
“Last year,” Cook said, during his keynote address, “we were down 11 percent as an industry, but still up almost 20 percent from 2019.” As has been noted before, the pandemic increased visibility of the 12-volt sector. While the past year has been difficult, Cook added, it hasn’t been as difficult as previous years.
saw a packed show floor, classrooms brimming with students and a look back at Pimp My Ride— an industry favorite.
PIMP MY RIDE’S
MARTIN, JASON EWING AND CABE SIPES
RECEIVE CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS AT KNOWLEDGEFEST
On Sunday morning at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, a big crowd gathered for “The Real Installers of Pimp My Ride: Lessons and Learning.” Jason Ewing, Mad Mike and Cabe Sipes reflected on their experiences on the popular television show Pimp My Ride. Never-before-seen clips from the show were shared with the audience during this informal, fun panel discussion.
When Chris Cook, president of Mobile Electronics Association, asked the three panelists if they would do the show again, they said, “We do the show every day. Someone comes into the shop with an idea, and we make it happen. If someone comes into the shop, gives you money and says, ‘Put a coffee maker in my dash,’ you mean you’re not going to do it?” After a pause—“Exactly.”
The panelists shared how they got started: When MTV wanted to turn car customization into a television show, a pilot was made, and in 2004, the channel bought it. Today, all three continue their work in the industry, in different capacities.
At the Industry Awards show on Sunday evening, Cook announced the next Career Achievement Award, which he noted doesn’t come every year. “Each time we do a career achievement award, we look at what they’ve done throughout their career, even if they continue
14 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 what’s happening
to have a career in the future. You’ll remember a show we watched in our industry. Today, we heard some interesting stories about Pimp My Ride, but this isn’t about the show,” he explained, adding, “This is about the real installers.”
All three—Sipes, Ewing and Martin—came up on stage to receive their awards while a banquet hall filled with fans cheered them on.
When it was Martin’s turn to speak, he said, “You know, this is really special. This means a lot.” He told attendees that he’s been installing for perhaps 40 years. “The industry is so supportive. You guys are the heart of us installers—all the guys who helped us create this massive TV show.” He paused, adding, “I just want to thank you all so much. I love you guys.”
At the mic on stage, Ewing said he learned a lot from Sipes and Martin. “These guys taught me a lot about how to work in a group, how to work under pressure and how to not take things so seriously,” he said. “When you’re younger, you think you know everything. We did. Mike taught me to never help someone else screw themselves. He also taught me to be helpful and kind, and to put myself in others’ shoes. I’ve always tried to maintain that.”
EDUCATION WORKSHOPS ENCOURAGE A WILLINGNESS TO LOOK AT THINGS DIFFERENTLY
In “Growth Techniques for All Sizes: Scaling Your Business,” Ata Ehdaivand of Absolute Electronix and Adam Devine of Devine Concepts Automotive Design shared their insights as store owners who know what it’s like to work as
a “one-man band.” They noted that, often, people in the 12-volt industry start businesses based on past employment experiences. But how can a business owner properly manage their time while scaling up to the next level?
“When you’re a one-man shop, there’s no opportunity for delegation,” Devine said. “There’s no one to lean on. You have to make sure you’ve budgeted the correct amount of time. As you get busy and you have a full schedule, and no time, the only
Chris Bennett and Joseph Norton debuted new MUSWAY products at KnowledgeFest. During the training session, they presented features and benefits. Norton led a hands-on training session with MUSWAY product demonstrations. Bennett introduced Global Audio Marketing and showcased the benefits for MUSWAY retail partners, touching on profitability, programs and support.
16 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 what’s happening
way to get more time is to get more people. You need to buy back some of your time, and hopefully it helps you in profits.”
Ehdaivand noted that he feels it’s misleading to refer to a store as “we” if there’s only one employee. “You’re implying you have more people back there doing the work,” he said, adding that hiring employees allows for a little bit more time and opportunities to delegate tasks. “Find someone who’s strong suit is wiring, for example, and put them in that position so you can get more stuff done.”
Devine advised making sure to add up work hours correctly. “If you charge a client eight hours of labor, you and that other tech better be getting it done in four,” he said. “Two guys on the vehicle, four hours for each one. It all comes back to time—properly managing and being fully aware of that time.”
This matters even more, he said, when a shop adds employees to the team. “You can be more profitable because you’re utilizing that time. Or you might double up and get cars out faster, but you’re not actually making any more money.”
Ehdaivand told attendees to remember, “You’re the head coach. You design the playbook and delegate everything.” Then, he added, “If the football team doesn’t win, it’s not the quarterback’s
fault. It’s a shared responsibility. He’s part of the team.”
According to Kevin Hallinan of Winning, Inc., the most important part of any endeavor—regardless of a business’s size or focus—is mindset. When it comes to
scaling a business or increasing revenue, attitude is an essential element to success.
“Mindset is more important than anything,” Hallinan said, underscoring the importance of confidence and a positive belief system. “I believe your customer
18 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 what’s
Mad Mike of Pimp My Ride fame paused for a photo with David Hampson of the 12v Dashboard on the show floor at KnowledgeFest. The dashboard is a one-stop reference tool designed to help retailers close sales.
Traffic James Motorsports in Buford, Ga. is a 2023 Top 12 Retailer. Yamil Widy (right) taught an education workshop in Las Vegas called “Paving the Road to Profits with Shop Processes and Efficiencies,” together with Philip Lindsley of Titan Motoring in Nashville, Tenn.
“IF THE FOOTBALL TEAM DOESN’T WIN, IT’S NOT THE QUARTERBACK’S FAULT. IT’S A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. HE’S PART OF THE TEAM.”
– Ata Ehdaivand, Absolute Electronix, Rockville, Md.
needs you more than you need them,” he added. “You want their business, but you have to believe you’re helping them. You believe in your abilities. It’s a mindset. You want what’s best for your customer. But also you want what’s best for you. It’s not mutually exclusive.”
Hallinan taught two classes in Las Vegas, including “Converting Amazon and Online Shoppers to Brick and Mortar.”
In his first class, “The Art of Overcoming Objections,” a lively discussion began as attendees shared their perspectives— both agreeing and disagreeing with one
another. Hallinan encouraged students to interact, noting that other people’s perspectives often challenge us to stretch out our comfort zones.
“You may disagree with some things, and that’s okay. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Be willing to look at things differently,” he said, adding, “If you’re getting amazing results doing what you’re doing, then keep doing it. If you’re not getting good results, be willing to change.”
Kimberly Trainer—owner of Car-Tunes, Inc. in Greenville, Miss.—and her son, Dalton Trainer, both taught classes. Kimberly presented on “Showroom Design: Close Sales Quicker With an Inviting Sales Floor Experience,” together with Jody Culbertson of 5 Axis innovations. Dalton teamed up with Christopher McNulty of elettromedia USA to teach “Creating Brackets and Mounting Solutions for Improved Efficiency and Performance.”
20 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 what’s happening
Christopher McNulty of elettromedia USA and Dalton Trainer of Car-Tunes, Inc. gave attendees an in-depth, demonstrative look at the advantages of custom speaker brackets and mounting solutions. They also covered the advantages of building vehicle-specific brackets.
Experience incredible music detail with Hi-Res Audio Playback on the Next-Gen Alpine Halo Displays
At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, manufacturers and distributors presented solutions and exciting opportunities for everything from audio to EV charging.
22 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 On The Show Floor
LUCAS LIGHTING L5 SERIES
The L5 Series from Lucas Lighting presents an advanced LED bulb. This bulb is 11 times brighter than a halogen bulb. All Lucas Lighting bulbs are designed to work in both projector and reflector housings. The bulb draws very low current, and the body size is only 1/3 the size of the L4, which is a step down in model. The L5 offers better performance, better current draw and two times more output. Lucas Lighting and Lucas Automotive Aftermarket is available in North America and Central America, Canada, Mexico and numerous other countries. Additionally, boxes will now be printed in Spanish, French and English due to the company’s new worldwide ventures. Available now.
iDATALINK MAESTRO SR MODULE
The Maestro SR module is an entrylevel radio replacement interface that’s being offered at a lower price point. The Maestro SR phases out some of the added bonus features, such as vehicle information and climate controls. However, it does offer steering wheel controls, radio integration and it retains backup camera and crucial vehicle settings. This is a more cost-effective option for some consumers. It comes with its own line of T-harnesses, which are also more cost-effective.
MAGNADYNE CARBINE 76CSR REMOTE START WITH SECURITY AND KEYLESS ENTRY SYSTEM
The Carbine 76CSR is Magnadyne’s flagship security and remote start all-in-one solution. It is two-way, and has a three-mile range. It also comes equipped with a combination shock and tilt sensor. Longer-range solutions, such as the 76CSR, also come with a third sensor which allows the user to remote start by cabin temperature.
24 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 On The Show Floor
JVC KW-M780BT DIGITAL MULTIMEDIA RECEIVER
Along with this head unit, JVC noted other models they have been training on, including: KW-M780BT, KW-M785BW and the KW-M788BH. The BT, pictured here, is a standard model for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All of these units offer some upgraded features. JVC also introduced HDMI to these receivers. Additionally, they offer three-way crossover mode for better tuning options. The BH is a MESA- and EDA-exclusive model.
GLADEN MOSCONI GA-BARNIE BINAURAL AUDIO RECORD NON-INTERFERENCE ELABORATE MEASURING SYSTEM
The GA-BARNIE helps technicians to customize the listening experience for the driver. After getting the client’s height and finding out how far they sit back in their seat, the technician can use the GA-BARNIE to “mimic” the enduser, so they can accurately tune according to the best listening position for the driver. The BARNIE has microphones in the ears and will measure time alignment and phase adjustment. Available now.
VIPER UNIVERSAL HEADREST BACK SEAT SYSTEM
Viper’s universal seat back system allows for the user to directly log into streaming services via the unit, rather than going through a smartphone. Up to 20 Wi-Fi networks can be stored. Each monitor features 16 GB of memory so that movies can be downloaded and viewed without being connected to Internet. Additionally, a DVD player is included. Content can be shared between screens, or viewed independently. The driver or parent can then use the accompanying smartphone app to see what’s on the screen from the front seat and control it. The system will also update as long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi, eliminating the need to return to a retailer for servicing. Finally, the universal mounting bracket allows for free movement of the headrest. For certain vehicles, such as the Lincoln Navigator, specialty brackets are available.
SOUNDSKINS NEW LINE OF SOUND DEADENING PRODUCTS
SoundSkins unveiled Heatshield at KnowledgeFest. Heatshield is the company’s first under-thehood product. It is waterproof and rated for up to 400 degrees. Foam tape is also available, coming with two rolls per package. Additionally, SoundSkins debuted its wavy foam in full rolls. Previously, it was only available in smaller squares.
26 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 On The Show Floor
PRV AUDIO MOTO SERIES
This pro audio line is water-resistant and dedicated to motorsports. Its shallow design makes it easier to install. A full line of eight products will soon be available. Currently, coaxial speakers are available for purchase. Three are available now, and more are coming soon.
SMART START SSI-30/30
The new easy-to-use “stop and swap” Smart Start SSI-30/30 is available now in some states. According to the company, it’s a game changer because it features a removable fuel cell. No other unit offers this. Previously, customers had to come into the store to have the product calibrated. The 30/30 simplifies it to a fuel cell removal and replacement. This product also features a GPS modem with a SIM card that transmits all the data. Available in Texas, Utah, and going up for certification in Arizona, then California.
PRECISION POWER HDHU.9813RG PLUG-AND-PLAY HEAD UNIT FOR 1998-2013 HARLEY- DAVIDSON ROAD GLIDE MOTORCYCLES
The Precision Power HDHU.9813RG comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. This head unit fits the same smaller opening of the Road Glide motorcycles, but offers all the features of a larger radio.
POWERBASS OE DIRECT FIT SERIES
With an aim to provide solutions that make it easier for the installer, PowerBass offers its OE Direct Fit series. The line includes plug-and-play products for GM, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen and more. The products are molded after factory speakers, and they plug into factory harnesses. The line also offers adapters for tweeter wires as well as mounting adapters. All products in the series are available now.
28 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 On The Show Floor
AUDIOFROG DEMOS LINE OF SPEAKERS IN 2013 VOLVO C30
On the show floor, Audiofrog demonstrated its product in a 2013 Volvo C30. According to the company, the car features 18 speakers from the GB Series: GB60 6-inch midrange speakers in each of the doors; a GB60 and a GB10 one-inch soft dome tweeter in the center; and in the rear of the vehicle, GB40s 4-inch midrange speakers and GB10s. In the back, the build features two GB10D4 10-inch subwoofers, as well as GB25s and 10s. All of the equipment is driven by five A150.4D 4-channel amplifiers. Finally, there are two 8600.2D amplifiers being controlled by two 8 by 12 mini-DSPs, along with Audiofrog’s in-house DSP upmixer.
AUDIOCONTROL LC 5I PRO AND LC 7I PRO ACTIVE LINE OUTPUT CONVERTORS
AudioControl is offering the 5i Pro, a sleeker, slimmer product to replace the 6i. It features built-in load selection, and load-generating devices, which “tricks” factory radios into continuing to work properly. Signal summing is exposed so the user no longer has to take the case apart to access it. It also has new trigger modes, and modernized AccuBASS with an LED, making it easier and faster to set up. Maximized LEDs also aid in setting up the outputs more quickly. It offers four channels in, and six channels out. This product will be most useful for a shop that installs a lot of five-channel amps, according to AudioControl. All Pro models come with a built-in ACR1 bass knob, which is ordinarily sold separately, to provide better value.
ARC AUDIO BLACKBIRD 8-CHANNEL AMPLIFIER
This is an 8-channel amplifier with more power than it might appear to have. It offers 125 watts by 8 with a 12-channel DSP, and four additional outputs. It is loaded with features and can be used for any application. Available now.
30 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 On The Show Floor
ALPINE OPTIM8 PXE-C80-88 8-CHANNEL HI-RES SOUND PROCESSOR AND AMPLIFIER WITH AUTOMATIC SOUND TUNING
The Optim8 is Alpine’s latest OEM processor, offering eight channels of high-level input. It also features auto-tuning with an iPhone app, making the tuning process fast and simple. VIR filters give this product high-resolution, full-bandwidth filtering which handles phase correction and audio correction. It allows for the same sound experience, whether the user is sitting in the driver’s seat or the passenger side. It also has fully flexible crossovers with selectable slopes, and built-in power. The Optim8 offers 50W x 6 at 4 ohms, and 300W by 2 at 2-ohm or 150W by 2 at 4-ohm, so a full system can be run out of one chassis.
The 12V Dashboard has changed the look of its interface, sorting by product type and reorganizing the database. More and more brands are coming on board, and more vehicles have been added. According to the company, the product list is “ever-growing.” The database also features a new reports section to track what an individual store’s salespeople are looking up throughout the day, compiling a top 10 vehicles list so store owners and managers know what cars they work on the most, thus offering the ability to create data based on that specific location instead of on a national scale.
On The Show Floor 32 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
RADENSO ULTIMATE EDITION 2.0
The Radenso Ultimate Edition 2.0 is the company’s new flagship custom install piece with lifetime warranty. At the show, Radenso featured its DS1 Model, to continue the conversation on laser jamming. The company noted that custom install pieces are its “bread and butter.”
GCH AUTOMOTIVE POWER LIFT GATES
Due to shortages in the past year and a half, some manufacturers have eliminated the power lift hatch. To meet the need, GCH Automotive offers a line of power lift gates. Many hatches weigh as much as 300 pounds or more and open six to seven feet wide, making it difficult to close. GCH Automotive now offers over 200 kits covering models from 2008 to 2023 on all manufacturer lines. The system offers a rear hatch button and a front-mounted button. Additionally, the system interfaces with the original factory key fob, even if it doesn’t feature a trunk button. Instead, pressing the unlock button three times either opens or closes the hatch. If desired, the user can also add a proximity sensor so that a wave of the foot under the hatch will either open or close it, as long as the key is present. The line also presents a great opportunity for retailers to get into dealership work by providing a needed service.
On The Show Floor 34 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
FOX BOX AUTOMOTIVE SPEAKER CABINETS
For the first time, Fox Box displayed its products at KnowledgeFest, with owner Joe Fox present to answer questions. The business has been manufacturing high-quality automotive speaker cabinets since 1996. According to the owner, the company will be completing an expansion by summertime: Fox Box will be working from 54,000 square feet, allowing them to increase production capability. To learn more, retailers can visit www.foxacoustics.com.
Pictured: Owner Joe Fox at the Fox Box booth.
WALLBOX PULSAR PLUS LEVEL 2 EV CHARGER
On display in the DOW Technologies booth was the Pulsar Plus EV charger, which will charge an electric vehicle in about six to six and a half hours. This will be an important tool to have at a shop, to keep batteries from running low while a car is being worked on. Aside from being useful in the shop, retailers might consider installing them in front of their locations. Through an app, the owner can control the hours that it’s available to the public, as well as rates. Then, the store is added to a network of charging stations, which can help drive customers to the shop.
BOSS AUDIO ADDS WIRELESS SOLUTIONS TO ITS LINE OF FLOATING HEAD UNITS
BOSS Audio has recently incorporated wireless options into its line of single-DIN chassis floating head units. The position of the screen is easy to readjust depending on how the user wishes the screen to be angled. Shown here are the 9-inch and 10.1-inch floating head units— BECPA9W and BECPA10W, respectively. With the wireless options, the unit automatically connects to the user’s phone. The units include dual camera inputs and Bluetooth. The units still offer a USB port for other devices. Wired head units were also on display. The company now offers 14-inch and 12-inch wired head units. The larger screens are ideal for upgrading an RV or a Sprinter van.
On The Show Floor 36 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
KICKER KEYLOC SMART LINE-OUT CONVERTER
In the training rooms at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, Kicker focused on OEM integration. The company demonstrated the Kicker KEYLOC, which aims to overcome challenges in OEM integration and can be used with any aftermarket brand or factory installed system. A demonstration showed the difference between a system with KEYLOC applied, and a system without one. The product detects and analyzes crossovers, EQ, time delay, and all-pass filters, and then level-matches the left and right audio channels. Filters are corrected to offer a clean audio signal. The photo showing a “jagged” line demonstrates the signal before KEYLOC is applied; the photo with a straight line shows the signal after KEYLOC. The “jagged” line demonstrates what might happen if a new set of speakers are installed when the radio has been equalized for factory-installed speakers: It might not sound good because it has been designed for a different response. Kicker noted that this can cause a bad experience for a customer, who might never return to the shop again. KEYLOC provides a solution to this problem, and is available now.
Before Westminster Speed and Sound in Westminster, Md. became what it is today, the business was simply Westminster Speed—catering primarily to the performance category. Now it’s owned by Mark Miller, whose interest began with home audio when he was 12 years old. “When I figured out you could put a stereo in a car, that was the greatest thing to me,” he said. The business has been open since 1969. When Miller began his job at Westminster Speed in 1987, he said the owner’s name was Bob Sherfey.
“I was working there for six months when Bob found out he had cancer.” After a year, he added, Sherfey—only 37 at the time—told him he wasn’t going to make it. The two men had developed a close friendship. “I led Bob to have a relationship with God,” Miller explained. “We had a long conversation. Bob told me I’d given him the greatest
real world RETAIL 38 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
Once a business gifted between friends, Westminster Speed and Sound is now a thriving 12-volt shop with multiple categories and plenty of room for expansion.
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
39 facebook.com/MobileElectronics BOUNTIFUL HARVEST
40 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 real world RETAIL
gift one man could give another man— the assurance of knowing he would go to Heaven when he died.”
Sherfey passed away a year later, willing the company to Miller, who was 23 years old at the time. “We’d already talked about expanding into mobile electronics,” he said, adding that the category was incorporated into the store’s offerings in September of 1990. Miller has nurtured and grown the business ever since, continuing to add categories, including window film, navigation and powersports. The shop still retains an “old school” sound room, a nod back to the early days of audio.
MAIN LOCATION: Westminster, Md.
NUMBER OF LOCATIONS: 1
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 12,000
TYPE: Traditional Retail
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 8
50% Audio and Integration
25% Window Tint
10% Remote Start
7% Truck Accessories
OWNER: Mark Miller
PRESIDENT: Luke Miller
BOOKKEEPER: Dawn Miller
LEAD SALESPERSON: Daniel Miller
SERVICE MANAGER: David Sewell
TECHNICIAN: Owen Humphrey
WINDOW FILM MANAGER: Will Wilson
WINDOW FILM TECH: Evan Cabral
DESTINATION SHOP REMAINS ACCESSIBLE TO WIDE DEMOGRAPHIC
While Miller sees Westminster Speed and Sound as a destination shop, he also views the business model as “hybrid”—a sense of boutique leaning toward traditional retail. “We have a wide range of clients, but I would say our core client is affluent,” Miller said, adding that the main differences are window tint and remote start, which attract clients from a wide demographic.
“On audio, we do a lot of pickup trucks, and probably half of those are just enthusiasts.” However, he noted,
they also service a lot of BMW and Porsches, providing paint protection and ceramic coating.
The shop has 12,000 square feet with plenty of room to expand. The showroom takes about 2,500 square feet of the space. The shop has seven bays, with three of them dedicated to car audio and performance. Two bays are set aside for window film, and two for ceramic coating. An additional bay serves an extra in case it’s needed, and there’s also a room for fabrication work. While the business has expanded to include window tint, remote start, navigation, rear-seat entertainment and truck accessories, car
audio remains the most popular category. While the shop does very little marine audio, revenue in motorcycle audio has increased in the past year.
Since the business boom of the pandemic, things have begun to settle down a bit, “but we still see that resurgence being a long-term thing, not short-term. We’ve seen that positive trend continuing.”
Miller said they like to demonstrate the best option possible, then move down from there. “During a consultation with a client where we talk about an audio upgrade, we might show them three different proposals or options,” he said.
In the near future, Miller said the company hopes to grow its window film division and expand more into vehicle-specific audio upgrades.
For example, they hope to target Jeep clients with specific install packages.
“We want to take that to other vehicles and do the same thing. We already offer it, but we want to drill it down further and market the package,” he explained.
“If you’re a Jeep client and we have three dedicated packages to offer, that’s really good from a marketing perspective.”
FACING THE CHALLENGE OF INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
One difficulty, according to Miller, has been lowering inventory post-pandemic. He recalled 20 years back when the business model was different. A store might stock several different head units from several different vendors because it was a good price point. In recent years,
the approach to inventory management has been much different: “You wouldn’t have a lot of all of them,” he added. “You would have more of just one.”
The store has been focused on finding a better way to manage its inventory. Much of the issue originated during a time when it was more difficult to get product. “If you didn’t have it, you couldn’t sell it. If you had a 12-inch subwoofer in stock and you normally only stocked four, you might have more. It would just take longer to sell them all. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to get things back to the way they were before.”
Despite inventory issues, Miller said one of the business’s biggest accomplishments has been “keeping the momentum and cashflow going”
42 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 real world RETAIL
post-pandemic. “In May of 2020, before the supply chain got really bad, we could tell it was going to dry up because business was going up instead of down,” he explained. “We had key relationships with vendors who said they lowered projections in December and January because they saw what was happening, and they expected to see business drop. It didn’t.”
All of a sudden, he said, it was taking much longer to get products. “In early May, we started ramping up inventory as fast as we could.” The business continued to stockpile, buying at every opportunity. “Now we have inventory from multiple brands we might not have normally stocked because they had products available, and we bought it.”
DIVERSE MARKETING APPROACH KEEPS BUSINESS TOP-OF-MIND
Westminster Speed and Sound uses a combination of targeted marketing, alongside strategic private sales, to bring back previous customers and attract new ones. The business uses Facebook and Instagram, with both paid boosting and organic growth. Content marketing is utilized on the website.
“We have about 600 pages of custom content on our website,” Miller said. “We also use talk radio at strategic times of the year, based on categories. We always use it in the fourth quarter because we do well on talk radio for remote start and Christmas presents.”
This allows for a 60-second prime time advertisement, either in the morning in the afternoon, which Miller creates himself at the radio station. This is something the shop has been doing for the past 20 years.
“Our marketing budget as a percentage of our sales has grown,” Miller said, adding, “This past year, when things started to normalize, we raised our budget.”
In the past, the aim at Westminster Speed and Sound was to avoid stocking a lot of product unless the products were markedly different somehow. During the pandemic, though, things changed. “You might have three CarPlay radios within similar cost because if you couldn’t get one brand, you got another,” he said, adding, “Now we have all this product.” It requires more than one sale, he noted, to liquidate additional inventory.
PLANNING FOR THE NEXT STEP
The pandemic also showed Westminster Speed and Sound that there might be a better way of operating the business—by appointment and consultation.
During the pandemic, Miller said, “We didn’t want to crowd the showroom floor because we wanted our clients to feel comfortable.” The method allowed for three consultations at the same time. Consultations last between 30 and 60 minutes, during which time the salesperson looks at the vehicle, discusses options and generates proposals. “That’s our goal. But if someone wants a simple tint job, there’s no consultation. We just spend a few minutes explaining the types of films we offer.” Window film might become a consultation if the client is seeking high-end film, or the vehicle requires a more complex approach.
COVID-19 gave the shop an idea of what it might look like if they switched
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to a locked showroom. During COVID lockdowns, Miller said a sign on the door notified any visitors that they could call to be admitted for a consultation, but some people didn’t read the sign. Miller said if the shop decided to move to an appointment-only, lockeddoor approach, clients would be notified well in advance, and it would go on the website and into all the marketing materials.
Miller noted they’d have to figure out how to handle events around Christmastime if they made the switch. “We
tried it in Christmas 2020,” he said, adding that it didn’t work very well despite every attempt to notify clients. “We just aren’t there yet.” Still, the idea remains an attractive one because of the ability to focus on the experience and comfort of individual clients.
“The client you’re helping is never looking over their shoulder because someone else is waiting,” he said, adding, “and the more they can let their guard down, the more they open up.”
Recalling his early friendship with Sherfey, Miller noted the shop has long-since
transformed into his own family business: Miller’s wife, Dawn, and two of their sons, Luke and Daniel, currently work at the shop. All four of their children have worked in or around the business at some point. Their daughter even wrote some of the content for the website.
Miller envisions a day when his sons will take over after his retirement. “I see myself continuing to be involved from a distance. Gearing up to have products for people who are driving electric vehicles,” he said, adding, “I see us preparing ourselves for the future.”
46 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 real world RETAIL
HIRING FROM OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY AIDED BY IN-HOUSE TRAINING PROCEDURES
Training is paramount at the shop, and Miller named service manager David Sewell as an instrumental part of this. “He was a road shop manager at Circuit City,” he said. “It was his job to train the new person. When David first started working for me, I was talking about hiring an apprentice. David said, ‘I did that for years.’ I had no idea. He knows the process.”
Since it’s so difficult to find help, the shop began looking for people based on their personalities and skillsets, setting aside the hope they might find someone with years of industry experience. This has led to cultivating a younger staff and investing in trainees. [Editor’s note: For more information on this topic, check out the February/March 2023 What’s Happening feature, entitled, “How Can the Industry Attract New Talent?” as well as last month’s Retail News piece.]
Some technicians are cross-trained in sales, but for the most part, Miller said, employees stick to their assigned duties. “Our average tenure is about four years now,” he added, noting, “There’s a lot of turnover in the window film sector. Our window film manager joined us in May.”
Lead salesperson Daniel Miller trains 12-volt installers and performance technicians. Will Wilson, window film manager, also trains apprentices, while Miller trains the salespeople.
HIGH-END SUPPORT FROM TOP-TIER VENDORS
Westminster Speed and Sound carries a variety of brands, including Sony, MSC America, Harman, JVC, Firstech and JL Audio. Over the years, the shop has built very positive relationships with its vendors.
“We do a lot of business in amplified DSPs from MSC, Helix and Match brands, and BLAM speakers,” Miller said. “We do really well with Sony and JVC. CarPlay radios are still very popular.” He noted that during the first year of the pandemic, sales of CarPlay radios and rear-seat entertainment spiked. “Our number one selling remote start is CSX1900S from Firstech.” Another topic product, he added, is Ceramic IR window film from 3M. “Those are all key products for us.”
The companies, he said, provide ongoing training and support. “They always help me out if we need something. More than anything, they focus on long-term relationships,” he said, adding, “Larry Penn, Jason Digos and the MSC team probably understands better than anyone what it means to be a business partner.”
A long run in retail brought Bernie Sapienza to a non-profit focused on making the everyday commute a lot safer.
WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER
Learning From Leaders
50 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
determination has been a lifelong theme for Bernie Sapienza, who happened into a retail career in his teens. The work took him right through college and beyond.
“My drive is what did it for me,” he said. “I was just determined to be successful and wouldn’t let very much get in the way of that.”
Sapienza had the opportunity to learn the basics of consumer electronics in a family-run stereo store while going to school full-time. It ultimately prepared him for a 14-year run at Tweeter—the mammoth specialty electronics retailer
which, at one point, had nearly 170 stores, generated almost one billion in annual sales and had a presence in more than half the country.
Shortly after, he left retail to pursue intellectual properties and spent over 12 years engaged in the roll-out of HD Radio. Today, as Executive Director of the Vision Zero Automotive Network, and armed with several decades of experience in aftermarket consumer electronics, Sapienza is applying his skills to bring safer driving to the mainstream— saving lives through technology.
Vision Zero is an idea originating in Sweden to potentially eliminate virtually all roadway deaths by 2050 by re-engineering roadways. The movement has made inroads in the United States, as well. Almost 50 cities across the USA have now signed on to adopt these principles in city planning.
Jeff Varick, founder and CEO of Brandmotion, a leading supplier of ADAS aftermarket products, learned about this concept, and immediately saw the opportunity for aftermarket 12-volt to participate. It was obvious to him that re-engineering roadways across the country is a great goal, but not realistically achievable on any reasonable timeframe.
Why not help the cause by making cars safer along the way? In 2018 he created the non-profit entity (VZAN) that could help usher along the industry agnostically.
When he’s not working, Sapienza has several interests to keep him busy and spends much of his winters in Florida. He enjoys playing golf and collecting wine. Finally, there’s his love of international travel.
“I am constantly back and forth to Europe. My next big trips are Scotland, France and Italy, but after that I am thinking about Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I’ve hiked Machu Picchu,” he said, adding, “My least favorite kind of vacation is just sitting on a beach.”
Adopt a Mindset of Determination and Seize Opportunities
Sapienza said he got his driver’s license in 1978, and his first thought was to install a car stereo system. Before he even had a car, he started collecting things like power boosters and an 8-track player. His first car was a 1971 Oldsmobile. After installing his first system, he became the go-to guy in his group of friends whenever someone wanted a stereo. Then, he said, just as he was starting college, he got a job at a stereo store called Cuomo’s in Salem, New Hampshire.
51 facebook.com/MobileElectronics Vision Quest
Lane Departure Warning Systems (LWDS) alert drivers when the vehicle is drifting. If the system determines that the vehicle is inadvertently moving into the next lane, it provides an audible or visual notification to the driver. Lane Keeping Systems go one step further by automati-
“I was a stock boy and the job paid under three dollars per hour,” he said. “I started in 1981. Just a few months later, management recognized that I had a penchant for selling, and so I became a part-time salesperson.”
A few more months passed, and the manager of the car stereo department left. Sapienza was offered the job. However, he said his mother was concerned about his college career.
“I told my boss that it wouldn’t be possible for me to take on a full-time job while also going to school,” he said. “In those days, in a store like that, if you were the manager, it really meant you were also the salesperson and the partial buyer. My boss suggested I do both—work full-time and go to school full-time. He asked me to think it over.”
Upon reconsidering the situation, he realized he could alter his schedule to make it work. Sapienza said he managed to work 42 hours a week and attend school. It wasn’t always seamless, he noted: He’d have to drop a course now and then, and go to summer school to
make it up. “Again,” he said, “it was sheer determination. I wanted to graduate in four years.”
Choose the Right Career Path by Understanding Your Skillsets
Because of his love of sports, Sapienza said he frequently applies sports analogies to life situations. “I tell people all the time that the skillset needed to be a player and the skillset needed to be a coach are two entirely different things,” he explained. “You need to know your strengths and your weaknesses. Just because you’re a great player doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great coach.”
The same, he said, holds true in business. “Just because you’re great in sales doesn’t mean you’re going to be great in an executive position. Maybe you’re a great installer, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be a good salesperson.”
When Sapienza joined the team at Tweeter as the car stereo buyer, he was given a number of opportunities: “When I started, the company generated $26 million a year in revenue. When I left,
Tweeter was making up to nearly one billion in revenue per year. In 1992, I became the director of merchandising. A year or two later, I became the youngest vice president in the history of the company. I kept taking on different roles as opportunities were presented. But as you move up in an organization, you are ultimately responsible for managing more people, which is yet another job, and it requires a certain skillset.”
When it comes to moving up in a company, he noted that the growth is rewarding—not just financially, but it’s also rewarding “if you are ambitious and want to further your career.”
There are cons, though, he noted, and it’s important to consider the following in the course of one’s career growth: “Are you the kind of person who wants to manage people? This part of the job can be frustrating. Maybe there’s someone who isn’t really the right person for their position. Maybe someone is losing focus and making mistakes. And then there’s hiring and firing.” This, Sapienza said, was an aspect of the job he truly disliked.
Tweeter was founded by Sandy Bloomberg, Sapienza noted, adding that Bloomberg and Jeff Stone—who ultimately became CEO—were his mentors. Both had very different leadership styles and skillsets.
“I remember going to talk to Sandy when Circuit City, Highland and Fretter all announced they were going to open stores in the Boston market,” he said. “It was 1994, and Tweeter was very prominent, but still I was pulling my hair out thinking, ‘How am I going to lead us through this?’”
At the time, he said, “I already had a number of buyers working for me. I went to talk to Sandy and explained to him that the competition was going to get pretty intense, and that wasn’t even counting the 800-pound gorilla in the room at the time—Lechmere.”
It wasn’t just about car stereos anymore, he said, adding, “I was responsible for televisions, home stereos and all other categories and I was trying to figure out how to lead. Sandy said this to me: ‘Remember one thing: For everyone out there who wants to buy or own something,
Learning From Leaders
cally nudging the vehicle back into the proper lane.
Vision Quest 52 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
there is always a guy who wants something better than that guy has.’ That was to be our position in the market.”
Sapienza said Bloomberg had basically given him a lesson in step-up retailing. “We were the BMW or Mercedes in the market and Lechmere, Highland and Circuit City were Honda and Ford. That was his lesson,” he said, adding, “I remember that meeting like it was yesterday—yet, it was almost 30 years ago.”
Passionate About the Work? If So, Success Will Surely Follow
While Sapienza relates to the saying, “If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life,” he said it’s not entirely true. “Over the years, at Tweeter, we would have prospective employees take an aptitude test to find out if that person was right for a particular job. By the time they were done with the test, there was a graph sharing a bit more about the person.”
The tests, he explained, would reveal if someone would be best as an installer, manager, salesperson or in another position. While he noted that it was often
correct, he said, “This is true above all else: If you are passionate about what you do, you will likely become pretty successful.”
In 2003, Sapienza went to work at HD Radio. In 2016, the company was sold. “I found myself unsure what I wanted to do next and started doing some independent consulting,” he said. “One day I got a call from Jim Warren, who told me that he had two part-time jobs and he needed to give one up. EDA needed his full-time attention. I met with Jeff Varick, the founder, who explained that consumers had no idea they could add things like lane departure systems and backup cameras to their vehicles. There needed to be more understanding given to the consumer, and more voice from the company to let people know about these aftermarket products. More importantly, Jeff found the roadblock was on the retail side.”
Specialty retailers, he said, were accustomed to selling amplifiers, speakers and head units. “Retailers are the same people who could be putting safety features in cars. It’s just that there’s nothing
sexy about safety,” he added. “Our industry, even to this day, still isn’t quite embracing it.”
Sapienza said, often, retailers aren’t sure how to merchandise the products: “How do you put this on the board and display it? And pricing can also be challenging as some of these products could have high labor rates. Jeff saw an opportunity for the industry to take a step forward.”
This, he said, was appealing: “It’s about presenting a different message than our industry typically does, and for a different type of customer. If you have a minivan with three or four years of wear on it, chances are that it may not have a backup camera, not to mention a lane departure system or blind spot protection.”
Today, Sapienza’s position with the non-profit is “brand agnostic,” and more dealers are joining every year.
“We have 700 now, but I would like to get to 1,000 this year. It’s slow work, but the goal is to have strong coverage across the country,” he said, adding, “The most important thing is the integrity of the dealers involved.”
Learning From Leaders
Lane Departure Warning Systems (LWDS) alert drivers when the vehicle is drifting. If the system determines that the vehicle is inadvertently moving into the next lane, it provides an audible or visual notification to the driver. Lane Keeping Systems go one step further by automatically nudging the vehicle back into the proper lane.
Vision Quest 54 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
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LEVERAGING AN ONLINE IMAGE
How can retailers leverage online platforms to instill confidence and increase revenue? Drewbie Wilson shares strategies to remember.
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
While social media is now the norm for businesses, some companies employ it well, and others are not as successful. Drewbie Wilson, author of Crushing the Day: A Simple Guide to Success in Business and Life Through Service to Others, said that one of the keys to efficient and impactful social media use is be intentional and to tell one’s own story, including the challenges. At
KnowledgeFest Las Vegas in February, he challenged attendees to consider whether or not their own social media use is intentional—or are they just scrolling for the sake of it?
“You can use social media intentionally to create revenue and grow your market,” Wilson said. “The majority are already using this to grow your business, but how much revenue did you generate from social media last year?” Often, he noted, those using social media for promotional purposes aren’t certain. Wilson added that by being more intentional with time spent on social media, and by implementing practices to track metrics, business owners can have a better idea of where their time and energy is going and what impact its having. “We know how to make money, but our time and energy are our most valuable assets. You can use
that energy to generate revenue. This is one hundred percent free. You can run advertising, but you don’t have to. You can grow your audience and awareness of what you do without paying. You just have to be intentional in how you use these platforms.”
DRAW IN VIEWERS BY SHOWING YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE
Something to remember, Wilson noted, is that “you have two brands—your business brand and your personal brand. You’re trying to be a leader, and you’re trying to attract winners to work on your team, so you need to be out there.”
When considering anything on social media, or elsewhere, it’s important to ask, “Is there value here?” Wilson advised against following accounts just for the sake of it. “If I spend time or energy on
strategy & tactics 56 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
this, is it worthwhile?” He noted that people want to do business with those whom they know, like and trust. Business owners and those wanting to build their own brand—such as designers and technicians—should be willing to leverage their own personal stories in order to relate to their audience.
“Your personal profile makes an initial introduction, not your business page,” Wilson said. “What happens when you walk in and introduce yourself? You look at someone. That’s your profile photo. If it’s a dog, a logo, a sports team, then people can’t see you. There’s no trust there. You’re trying to gain trust. There’s an intent behind them arriving there, and you want that intent to have a purpose. Your profile photo should set that initial vibe of who you are as a person.”
Everything, he added, is about keeping the viewer’s attention just a little bit longer. “Have you ever looked at a potential hire’s profile and said, ‘They haven’t had a job in four years?’ This stuff matters. If you’re not thinking about it, your prospects are,” Wilson said. “People are watching and they want to know if you are who you say you are.”
It’s essential to consider the message you’re sending, too: “Do you know who your ideal client is? If you don’t know who you’re selling to, that’s why you’re failing. Are you trying to sell to a wide audience? Everyone wants to buy this product or
service, right? If you’re marketing says, ‘We do business with everyone,’ then you’re attracting clients you may not want to do business with,” he cautioned, adding, “Some business is better to turn away.”
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO EDUCATE, ENTERTAIN AND DEMONSTRATE EXPERTISE
Although people may have similar skillsets, each person brings their own unique talent to the table, which is something Wilson said should be leveraged on social media. Each social media platform offers space for a very short biographical statement, which offers a chance to consider the “elevator speech.” Wilson said it’s important to know “exactly what you do and how you do it” in one sentence.
“If you’re an expert, you should be confident in that delivery,” he added. “Give people what they want. Make it easy on them. What do you typically talk about during a networking meetup? Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do?”
It’s essential to be clear and concise on a social media platform: “If you have nine different jobs listed, how reliable are you? What is it you do again? Are you an expert? An expert has one thing they do, and they do their best at it.”
Showing expertise is demonstrating value: “If you’re bringing a value to your customer, it’s your duty to be there, help them and sell them what they’re looking for,” Wilson said, adding that money is a tool that can be used to create happiness.
Leveraging an Online Image 57 facebook.com/MobileElectronics
“If you don’t share that story, talk about the things you’ve overcome, how can you inspire the next generation to do the same thing?”
“When I’m on social media making posts, I want to educate, entertain and I also want people to remember I’m good at what I do.”
But how can a service be offered without “being salesy”? “We can share in our clients’ successes. We can talk about amazing new products and how they’re revolutionizing things. If you’re thinking, ‘If I share this secret method, they’ll know’—that’s a fail. Don’t set yourself up for failure,” he explained, noting, “Talking about what you do is creating value. You’re educating everyone around you.”
NEVER BE AFRAID TO SHARE YOUR STORY
Some people might be nervous to talk about their past or their challenges, Wilson said, but he advised listeners not to be afraid because people want to hear about our struggles. It’s relatable. “People will see how you changed your life, and that’s inspiring,” he said. “People would
love to do business with you if they hear and relate to your story.”
He also noted that sometimes, people in small towns feel like no one will care about their social media pages, so they don’t put time or effort into them. “It’s not true. Try it anyway. People post about themselves all day long.” He recommended thinking about it from the perspective of the potential client: “What’s in it for them? If they are going to follow your story, why? Why are they tuned in?” It’s like a TV show, he noted, adding, “They’re getting some kind of emotional fulfillment from that storyline.”
The same goes for the business: “Have you had really good times and you want to share, but you’re worried people will think you’re bragging?” More importantly, he said, “What am I doing to be value-driven, to educate and entertain? If you don’t share that story, talk about the things you’ve overcome, how can
you inspire the next generation to do the same thing?”
When it comes to deciding what to post, Wilson advised taking a moment to think about an experience and extract the story or the lesson. “That can bring a lot of value. Take the time to tell the story. Show them how they can avoid what you went through. Vulnerability is a superpower. Being able to talk about how you overcame a challenge is inspirational.”
The growth, he added, is slow and steady. It takes time and consistency, which Wilson said will “make you the authority in your marketplace.” By making people aware of the mission, what’s offered and the business’s core values, it’s possible to reach the right audience through social media and increase revenue.
“When we focus on service, we know we’re helping people,” Wilson said, adding, “and that’s ultimately the biggest thing we can do in the world.”
strategy & tactics 58 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
Leveraging an Online Image
one in three Americans have a subprime credit score.1 With Snap as your preferred lease-to-own financing provider, you can convert those consumers into loyal customers, boosting your sales revenue and expanding your reach.2 snapﬁnance.com A Snap Finance Solution The advertised service is a lease-to-own agreement provided by Snap RTO LLC. Lease-to-own ﬁnancing is not available to residents of Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin. ¹DeNicola, Louis. “What Does Subprime Mean?” Experian. July 9, 2022. ²While no credit history is required, Snap obtains information from consumer reporting agencies in connection with the lease-to-own application. Not all applicants are approved. ³The average approval amount a customer receives is $3,000. 4Dollar amount based on top-performing retailers, 2022. Does not indicate future performance. Drive more sales and grow your business with Snap Finance Exclusive discount rates for Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) members A Snap Finance Solution Exclusive to MEA members, use Snap at no cost to you. 0% merchant discount rate Customers can get up to $5,0003 in lease-to-own nancing, helping you increase your average order value. High approval amounts Customers choose from three convenient payment options, including an 18-month term option. Multiple ownership options Snap provides more consumers with an accessible nancing solution. All credit types welcome 2 firstname.lastname@example.org | 833-575-8789 Start attracting and converting more customers Claim your exclusive MEA partnership offer today. Access code: MEA2023 Average amount our top MEA retailers receive per month in Snap funding4 $23,000
READY TO RIDE
At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, Kenwood debuted a line of motorcycle audio designed for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, demonstrating some of the products on a brand-new Street Glide.
This 2023 Harley-Davidson Street Glide served as a demo vehicle for some of the Kenwood eXcelon Motorsports line for Harley-Davidson motorcycles at KnowledgeFest, where the line was debuted. Both packages and a la carte products are available. These plug-and-play products have been redesigned and reengineered to fit Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The speakers utilize factory-style plugs and connectors. Either a single-amp system can be installed, or up to three total amps. The speakers are primarily designed for either
2014 and up, or 1998-2014. The company also offers lid speakers and pre-cut replacement lids, making equipment easy to mount.
Additionally, the lid features an intuitive design with good drainage which positions the speakers so they are facing the rider. Kenwood also offers additional brackets for other model motorcycles which can accommodate up to three amps. Finally, if a bike owner is looking for a more rugged grille, Kenwood offers a la carte grilles, as well.
62 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023 installs
FROM THE PRESIDENT
PERFECTING YOUR CRAFT
There are many ways to learn new strategies and absorb knowledge during lectures and trainings. Continually putting these tactics into practice as you study new processes is essential for personal and professional growth. Not knowing how to do something can leave you feeling less than adequate. That feeling is compounded when it’s your job to know it. Knowledge truly is the power behind your success, and there are many ways to learn. If you are like most of us, learning is a result of just figuring it out on your own and using every available resource to find a solution to your problem.
Taking the solitary approach can be satisfying, but you may have to endure several mistakes before you find what works best. This takes time and money and depending on your situation, may cause others to doubt your ability. And, you won’t get the benefit of learning from the mistakes of others. Regardless, if you’re attempting to learn something new at a lecture, class, or training, or trying to find a better way with your current process, knowing how best to absorb knowledge will help you reach your goals.
Learning by hearing allows you to pick up the experience of others and put into practice what you have heard, or to learn from their past mistakes. Hearing someone tell their story helps you relate personally, although just hearing it may not be enough. If the presenter is less than descriptive, you may be left to your own interpretation of what you have heard when implementing this newfound knowledge. This can lead to mistakes that leave you less that satisfied.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
Seeing how it’s done is the next step after listening to an explanation. A visual representation can make all the difference. While hearing may leave you wondering, when you see it done step-by-step, you have a better chance of figuring it out for yourself. Watching video representations of a process will get your further down the road of understanding. But seeing may not leave you fully believing. There is still room for some interpretation.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a live demonstration, and modeling what you have seen and heard with the instructor. This allows real-time questions and answers to cement your understanding. Think about the last time you participated in a learning process that was hands-on. You heard the instructor and saw their presentation. Both were most likely helpful and provided a great foundation to let you model the process with the instructor and others who may have provided input. When you left this environment, you were ready to put your newfound knowledge into practice.
PRACTICE UNTIL YOU’RE PROFICIENT
This new knowledge requires practice. Take the time to repeat the process until you feel you have become proficient. Once you have mastered the strategy you’ve learned, you can take some creative license to make it your own. Be cautious in your quest to make it yours. Making it your own should never include shortcuts that diminish the quality. Ensure your modification to what you’ve learned does not sacrifice quality. Your reputation is not something you want to have to rebuild. Remember, your work not only represents your business, it represents our industry.
PASSING ON WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED
Learning from your peers is only the beginning. Now that you have learned from others and added your own ideas, consider passing your knowledge on to others. Passing on what you have learned will help others embrace the perfection you have mastered. When you take time to teach, you will find another level of learning. Teaching is a rewarding endeavor. The peer to peer learning process is the foundation of KnowledgeFest and why so many come to learn and leave the event energized and ready to conquer challenges in their own businesses. Make every effort to learn something new every day, week and month. Never let your quest for learning be put on the shelf. And make every effort to be part of any learning experience offered. If you have not attended a local dealer or distributor training, or made plans to attend KnowledgeFest, now is the time. Go with a mission and goal to learn what you lack, share the knowledge and become the professional you were born to be.
64 Mobile Electronics April/May 2023
When it comes to learning the latest and greatest from your peers and vendors, there’s no better place to go than a KnowledgeFest event.
Knowledge truly is the power behind your success, and there are many ways to learn.”
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