The Industry’s #1 Resource
2015 Survival Guide // me-mag.com
Your Plan to Outsmart Sales Obstacles... Season by Season Who’s Smarter? Tips to Stay Ahead of Your Customers’ Knowledge
Stay Lean! Assess Vendors and Brands for the New Year Ditch the Dread: Two New Ways to Tackle Tax Time
In This Issue
2015 Survival Guide // Issue 12 ®
Kerry Moyer 703.598.6759 • firstname.lastname@example.org ®
EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 213.291.1528 • email@example.com
Ted Goslin 800.949.6372 ext. 466 • firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Layout: Maria Molina
36 // Holidays
Make the most of a short season by utilizing marketing resources to their full potential.
What do you do when your customer knows more about your products than you do?
18 // Summertime Selling
44 //New Year
While still popular, summer has shifted its focus to new products. Find out how to keep up with the shift in trends.
Industry expert Keith Lehmann gives you five tips to help you choose the right products for the year ahead.
Creative Design: Vincent Rios Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter and Rosa Sophia.
26 // Winter Prep/Back to School
52 // Tax Time
Prepping for quarter four can mean the difference between red and black. Are you ready?
Paying taxes doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Learn the tactics that will help you turn a season of loss into profit.
Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 703.598.6759 • email@example.com
6 – Editor’s Forum Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 213.291.1528 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Ad Index Accele................................................. p. 2, 3 Audiovox............................................. p. 29 Brandmotion.....................................p. 50 Camera Source................................ p. 56 Compustar......................................... p. 59 Custom Autosound....................... p. 56 Design Engineering....................... p. 57 Directed...............................................p. 60
Chris Cook, President 978.867.6759 • email@example.com
Cory Mayo, Dir. Member Relations 800.949.6372 ext. 461 • firstname.lastname@example.org
InstallerNet........................................ p. 39 Kinetik..................................................... p. 5 Memphis.............................................. p. 51 Mito......................................................... p. 51 Mobile Electronics...................p. 35, 57 Panavise..............................................p. 58 Scosche.................................................. p. 7 Team TSI..............................................p. 58
4 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • email@example.com Jamie Uliano, Events Manager 978.645.6478 • firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile Electronics (USPS 957-170) (ISSN#1523-763X) is published monthly by Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, Inc. 85 Flagship Drive, Suite F, North Andover, MA 01845. Periodicals postage paid at Lawrence, MA 01842-8887 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mobile Electronics PO Box 3186 Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Please allow 6-8 weeks for address changes to take effect. Subscription Prices - United States $35 per year, Canada $42 per year, Foreign $75 per year, Single copy price - $5; Buyer’s Guide $25. Please allow 6-8 weeks to receive your first issue.
Measure Twice, Cut Once It’s what your installers are saying in the back. It’s what your management team should be saying up front.
here’s no substitute for talent, and there What seasonal sales will you have? What’s the best are a lot of talented guys in this industry. time of year for customer appreciation activities? But the truly successful ones have another Think of this phase as the frame of a house: it’s the dimension that elevates their game: they strong foundation on which everything else will know how to plan extensively and execute based on depend. a roadmap. (Ask Installer of the Year Tom Miller how Part 4: The Tasks. This is the next-to-last phase much time he spends planning out an install before of the plan, but it can easily be divided further into the first screw is removed.) In the case of a store, you subtasks and sub-subtasks. This is where you go into can have a great location, a first-class building and detail on each project and define goals, timelines, the talent of you and your staff but the same lesson SOLOMON DANIELS task handlers, required components and necessary applies: it’s the plan that will put you over the top. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF steps. It is by far the most time-consuming part In retail—especially in our retail environment—it’s of planning, and it is vital for any chance of sucnot enough to have monthly meetings to decide what cess. But make sure you put just as much effort into you’re going to do for the next 30 days. The plan ensuring the steps are flexible as you do defining the needs to encompass the entire year, and it needs to be multi-laytasks. Be realistic about the time needed to finish a task. Leave ered. A great plan has 5 parts: space for other things to happen. As famous as sayings about Part 1: The Vision. You often hear about the CEO of a comthe importance of planning are, there’s an equally famous saying pany as responsible for creating a company’s vision. This is that states, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Make probably the most subjective component of any plan, because sure your task lists allow for changes, additions—or even delevision doesn’t involve setting process; instead, it simply defines tions—along the way. the impression you want the world at large to have about your Part 5: The Assessment. Just because this is the last part business. In short, you are deciding the type of business you doesn’t mean it happens at the end. (I had a boss who, at my endwant to be. Is your store the technology leader? The destination of-year performance review, told me all the bad things I had done for the best price? Known for an exemplary customer experithroughout the year. I asked him, “Why didn’t you tell me these ence? While you can (and should) be all these things, a clear things earlier so I could have corrected them?”) Therefore, the vision defines your place in the market. time and ability to evaluate how your plan is performing should Part 2: The Translation…or as I like to call it, The Reality be built into your task lists. You don’t want to wait until someCheck. Every great company has that person whose job it is to thing fails to determine why, when you can assess performance “translate” the desired vision into the real world. If a store known partway through and make changes as you go. That’s why it’s for low prices wants to change its vision to become a destination important in the project and task phases to set realistic expectafor more affluent clientele, you can’t just raise your prices and tions so you can see how you’re doing against the goals you’ve set. expect magic. You have to take into account the current market That’s what the Survival Guide is all about: giving you the condition, what those customers think about your store, and the tools to make a better plan for 2015. I urge you NOT to look at process for change that gives you the results you want over time this as a regular issue that you stack in chronological order with without dipping into your profits. Therefore, this part defines all the rest. Instead, give it a good read when you get it, then how you’ll accomplish the plan given real world conditions. It place it where it can be accessed easily—somewhere (other than outlines the challenges and how you will overcome them. the bathroom!) Schedule it into your plan to pull this issue out Part 3: The Projects. This is where you get down to the at the beginning of each selling season and get season-specific project phase of planning. Here, you define the actual compotips on polishing your execution. Then, take some time to share nents that will make things happen. Will you send a newsletter your successes and failures with your peers, so they can in turn to your current customers and collect email addresses for new plan better. ones? Will you add or reduce staff ? Bring in a new product Maybe you can call that Part 6. category or showroom display? Expand your service offerings We don’t exist as a single store; the economies of scale don’t or decrease the number of lines? Timing is an element as well: work. We can only succeed as an industry, together.
6 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
boating | graduating
Overcoming the pitfalls of a short season can prove difficult for the unprepared. That’s why an aggressive, demographic-based marketing system is the only way to boost seasonal profits. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN
efore the two-piece bikinis, ice cream sundaes and sunbaked faces of summer emerge on the streets of any town, there’s a time of year when the sun has yet to make its presence fully known. This is when the hibernating bodies of winter hit the gym and prep for beach season. It’s also when retailers in all markets prep their inventory for a season that, depending on the region, is the shortest of the entire year: boating and graduating season. Something as common as a bathing suit or sunglasses mostly sells itself during this time of year. But what about less common items like marine audio? How do you sell that? The answer lies in the constantly changing medium of marketing.
First Things First Before you buy that brand-new display for your showroom or spend loads of
8 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
money on advertising, it’s crucial to craft a plan of attack. Like any successful marketing program, knowing the sought-after market requires research. The recreational boating market in the U.S. has an annual economic value of $121.5 billion, according to a recent study from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). With such a large market to tap into, retailers have some tools to help gain entrance, mainly from marine audio standpoint. While marine and boating sales offer a chance at high margins, graduation and Father’s Day are typically the more accessible categories to focus on due to the widespread versatility throughout so many areas of retail. Prior to the 2014 grad season, it was predicted that Americans would spend more than $4.7 billion on graduation gifts based on a survey by the NRF Foundation. It was
Displays like this marine audio showcase are proven to help sell promotional items once clients enter the store.
To help build its client base within the boating category, Eric Carter, owner of Cartronix in Valparaiso, Ind., travels as far as 60 miles to look at a boat. This increases the chances of adding not just one, but a whole armada of customers.
also stated that the average person buying graduation gifts would spend $97.79 and shop for approximately two graduates. Approximately 56.8 percent of gifts would be cash, which gives graduates the power to purchase their own gifts, expanding the potential marketing demographic. Aside from the big picture numbers, there are also the regional numbers to consider. In August 2014, Redfin.com released a blog with its top 10 best cities for boaters. Out of the 35 major metropolitan areas evaluated, the top 10 list included South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach), Tampa, Fla., Minneapolis, Minn., Virginia Beach, Va., Providence, R.I., Long Island, N.Y., Baltimore, M.D., Chicago, Ill., Seattle, Wash., and Austin, Texas. Determining criteria
included portion of listings on a waterfront, number of boat dealers in the state and recreational boat registrations by state. Once the regional demographics are accounted for and a retailer gets a sense of what their shop’s potential customers are comprised of for the season, it’s time to get down to specifics. Here are five strategies for creating the most effective marketing campaign for the season.
1. Clean Out Older inventory Having a focused campaign means clearing out products that have nothing to do with that season. Since most stores don’t sell off all their holiday merchandise by the time February rolls around, start there first. There will likely be holiday product you
When working on boats, make sure to use a large facility to protect from the elements.
boating | graduating Events to Check Out
BENCHMARK TRAININGS NUCLEUS 2015 dates to be announced Kingpin Facility Wilsonville, OR Also available onsite $999/3-day session Learning the proper techniques for engaging potential customers, showing them the value of a longterm relationship with your store, and performing efficient, professional installations that exceed the customer’s expectations and don’t come back with problems. A comprehensive, intense three-day session that empowers you with the complete solution for supercharging prots and creating strong rapport with customers. Jason Kranitz, 503-582-1315, jason@ kingpincaraudio.com; Del Ellis, 559259-2932, email@example.com WEBSITE: www.delellisintl.com
SPRING BREAK NATIONALS March 21, 2105 Ocean Center Daytona Beach, FL WEBSITE: www.springbreaknationals.com An annual event that kicks off the spring selling season and features a trade show, expo and car audio competition. The event is a mainstay for enthusiasts and 12-volt professionals, having proven to be a great place to show off vehicles and network.
10 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
need to offload, such as remote starters, for your products. Think of this as ‘pre’ which aren’t usually a huge seller in the marketing.” off-season. Newell added there are three steps to “We tend to run special promotions like every good marketing campaign. The the penny sale to get rid of marine model first is to plan well ahead with a marketyear-end merchandise, but by grad time ing strategy. A good marketing strategy we are out of overstocked merchandise,” is about 80 percent of any good business said Dean Magnesen, 2013 Mobile Elecplan. In this case, you need to have a tronics Retailer of the Year and owner of marketing strategy that works backwards Sound Warehouse of Utah, in Salt Lake from marine and grad seasons, or around City. “In early spring we do the one cent six months in advance. sale where we sell something like an amp “The second step is to execute your and give another one for a penny.” strategy, ensuring things happen when Each season requires a strategy with a you schedule them to happen,” he said. beginning, middle and end, just like any “The third step is to measure your sucstory. The strategy must consist of obvicess so you can take steps to make your ous elements like purchasing products, strategy more effective next year. If selling products and getting rid of leftyou don’t measure things like sales and over products from traffic, it’s next to a particular season. impossible to know Promotions aren’t what impact your always needed for marketing is really the first two parts, Numbers are presented having.” but generally are The planning phase at beginning of each needed for the last of your plan should month so there are no element, such as the begin at the end of surprises. If you’re going penny sale Magnesen winter, around Februto play the game, you employs. ary. That’s when most need to keep score.” people are “beginning – Dean Magnesen, Sound 2. Get the Word Out to think about spring Warehouse of Utah No matter how and getting back on good your operation the water,” Newell is, if nobody knows said. about it, it doesn’t “Early spring, the work. According to 12-volt marketing guru tone of your marketing should shift from Marcel Newell of Avidworx, Surrey, Briteducating customers into a model that ish Columbia, any marketing campaign converts sales,” he added. “Posters and disshould begin with getting the word out, plays should reflect the change of seasons. using anything you can find. Newsletters should focus on getting people “Your campaign should get underway ready for boating season while reminding by generating some public awareness, them that it’s just around the corner.” without a specific sales message. For example, new marine and outdoor audio 3. Start with the Obvious products will be released in the new year. Like all great plans, it’s best to start with Draw attention to that on your website, something you know and are familiar with, in your newsletters, or in social media rather than venturing into new territory posts,” Newell said. “When those prodwith an unproven technique. For retailers, ucts arrive you can start taking pictures this means using the contacts you’ve made of unpacking them and post any posiwith past business dealings as the basis tive reviews you can find. Even if it’s still for things like email blasts. Magnesen has January and there’s a foot of snow on succeeded with this tactic by creating dedithe ground, you can add a tagline like cated email lists from people he’s met in the ‘Already dreaming about summer? So are shop and out at different events, such as we!’ You want people to start thinking the regional boat show he attends to drum and budgeting ahead, and to get excited up business annually.
Marine work can reach far beyond typical audio products. A wide range of products can be used that include navigation units and wakeboard towers. “We have dedicated email lists from people who were at the boat show, which we’ve done for the last four to five years,” he said. “We don’t have one for grads. We use a traditional list for that and dedicate three to four weeks of advertising to the ‘dads and grads’ theme.” Magnesen added that he runs the ‘dads and grads’ promotion from Memorial Day through Father’s Day, ending the day after that holiday. During that time, the shop doesn’t move forward half-cocked, it dedicates all assets to that one theme to maximize its effect. Separate campaigns are run for each theme (dads versus graduates), to keep the message as focused as possible. “Everything we do during that time period is themed. We hit our price points more often when there’s a theme in a promotion like grads. It’s about the theme you are promoting. We advertise practically every day in at least one form and are always in search of a theme,” Magnesen said. “Sometimes you have to try two or three of them before you find one that works pretty good. Keep shooting at the target and eventually you’ll hit the bull’s-eye.”
4. Think Creatively When Pursuing New Clients Once the obvious routes have been explored and marketing tactics
implemented, the next course is pursuing the unorthodox. Like the obvious methods mentioned above, it all starts with knowing what’s happening right in your back yard. “We get a lot of high schools in the area calling us to buy ads in yearbooks. I don’t mind giving a couple hundred bucks to most of them to buy that page in their yearbook for graduation time,” said J.T. Torres of Al & Ed’s Autosound in Huntington Beach, Calif. “We have another customer that is a coach at one of the high schools and asks us to bring our demo cars out to their games and other events.” Attending local events not only puts you in plain view of the public and new clients you can’t reach with digital campaigns, but allows you to fix problems you can’t foresee otherwise. “During boating season we print fliers and take them down to the marinas, visiting two to three a day. But for around three years I didn’t know my business insurance didn’t cover me working on boats down at the marina,” said Eric Carter, owner of Cartronix in Valparaiso, Ind. “We had to change strategies and not work on them until we bought a different insurance specifically for working on boats at the marina. We also picked up a new vendor with Wet Sounds and put up a
Sites to See
BNI BUSINESS NETWORKING WEBSITE: www.bni.com National organization with local chapters all over the country that meet regularly—usually weekly—for members to exchange business leaders. Benefits include increased exposure to many people and businesses, tools to network more effectively, opportunities to participate in many networking meetings, publications, advice and more.
ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE WEBSITE: www.entrepreneur.com Monthly magazine for entrepreneurs. Insights and articles on starting and managing an entrepreneurial business.
boating | graduating display. It improved our marine and motorcycle business at least 12 percent.” Carter added that not limiting the types of work the shop does also contributed to more business from unexpected areas. For example, traveling can bring in work that a shop wouldn’t do otherwise. “My biggest job came from a guy from Chicago. He had a boat, said what he wanted and threw out some crazy number. Nobody would look at his boat within 60 miles, either being too busy or not serious. I went out, took some pictures, and the next week the guy brought the 30-foot yacht in. We’re willing to travel 60 miles. One guy we did an intercom system on boat and he gave us five to six referrals.”
5. Plan for the Next Season Once the season concludes and numbers have been hit, planning should begin for the next season. Aside from different promotions based on the season, the same principles should be used.
People to Meet Dean Magnesen Sound Warehouse of Utah 2763 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 801-485-0070 www.soundwarehouseutah.com Locations in Orem and Ogden, UT Offers Apple Pay for in-car use. Receivers, navigation and video, amplifiers, subwoofers, speakers, marine and ATV, alarms and safety, satellite and HID, radar detectors, iPod and iPhone, and sound damping are included among items and services offered. Marcel Newell Avidworx 107-18515 53 Ave Surrey BC V3S 7A4, Canada +1 604-696-2843 www.avidworx.com A widely respected voice in 12-volt, Newell founded the company with the goal of providing interactive showcases and marketing assistance to 12-volt retailers. The company was founded in 2002 and has since launched BusinessWorx, an online marketing and management tool for 12-volt retailers.
12 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
“For any season, we have a three-goal process: first is meeting our quota, the second is to beat the previous year’s sales and our number one goal is trying to achieve the best month ever in volume for each store,” said Magnesen. “Numbers are presented at beginning of each month so there are no surprises. If you’re going to play the game, you need to keep score.” Planning ahead should also involve more than just digital methods, but physical in-store marketing as well. “That’s one thing we’ve tried to fix for retailers with businessWORX. We’ve already got over 40 ready-to-print ads and flyers ready to go, and another 40 pre-written newsletters to help plan campaigns months in advance—and we’re adding more all the time,” Newell said. “By having a strategy and planning ahead, it’s actually possible to get most of the work done well in advance so it doesn’t fall off the table later when you get busy. If you’re not working six months ahead when it comes to marketing, then you’re already behind.”
Apps to Download
www.groupon.com You can offer a 50% discount on your product or service and a 50% service fee on all voucher sales Groupon provides discounted gift certificates that can be used at local or national companies. By offering deals to people who use Groupon, you can bring a lot of new customers to your shop. However, some businesses have been overwhelmed by the response to Groupon offers, and others have found that people use their coupons once and never come back, so it can cost you money without building customer loyalty. www.iphone-invoice2go.com Free; full version, $9.99 Handle invoices, estimate costs, manage billing, collect payments and report your financial position efficiently and easily. The Invoice2go Lite iPhone app lets you create and manage up to three invoices at a time, and gives you the flexibility to interact with customers even if you’re not seated in front of your computer screen. The company says users get paid faster and save an average of three hours a week by using this app.
Marcel Newell of Avidworx To make sure the importance of marketing wasn’t lost during the editing process, Newell provided a host of tips we thought you should know. ME: What are some main marketing practices that retailers can prepare and execute for the boating and graduating season? Marcel Newell: There are really three steps to every good marketing campaign. The first is to plan well ahead with a marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy is about 80 percent of any good business plan. In this case, you need to have a marketing strategy that works backwards from marine and grad seasons, or around six months in advance. The second step is to execute your strategy, ensuring things happen when you schedule them to happen. The third step is to measure your success so you can take steps to make your strategy more effective next year. If you don’t measure things like sales and traffic, it’s next to impossible to know what impact your marketing is really having. Let’s look at boating season. We’re just heading into winter right now, so it’s not really on the radar for a good part of North America, and won’t be a spending priority for a lot of people until around April or May. However, boat shows start to get underway around February, so people will be start thinking about being back on the water.
Your campaign should get underway by generating some public awareness, without a specific sales message. For example, new marine and outdoor audio products will be released in the New Year that you can draw attention to on your website, in your newsletters, or in social media posts. When those products begin to arrive you can start to take pictures of unpacking, and post any positive reviews you can find. Even if it’s still January and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, you can add a tagline like, “Already dreaming about summer? So are we!” You want people to start thinking and budgeting ahead, and to get excited for your products. Think of this as “pre-marketing”. Early spring, the tone of your marketing should shift from educating customers into a model that converts sales. Posters and displays should reflect the change of seasons. Newsletters should focus on getting people ready for boating season while reminding them that it’s just around the corner. If you don’t have a showcase in your store that’s dedicated to marine audio, then you should invest in one. It’s a growing product category, especially with so many other outdoor applications like UTVs and motorcycles taking off. Plus, it’s a year-round advertisement for that
Stuff to Read THE $100 STARTUP: REINVENT THE WAY YOU MAKE A LIVING, DO WHAT YOU LOVE, AND CREATE A NEW FUTURE By Chris Guillebreau, 2012 Lead a life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living by learning from 50 of the author’s most intriguing case studies from 1,500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less). People with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized, and were able to restructure their lives for greater freedom and fulfillment. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay and a way to get paid.
By Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay/Little, Brown.) Find out why some people succeed and apply their insights and experiences to your business management techniques — it has to do with luck and opportunities as well as talent.
boating | graduating Companies to Know
product category. Even customers coming in for remote start in the middle of November will be able to see that you’re the place to come back to for marine audio in the spring. As for marketing graduation season, it’s a little different than marine because it’s not tied to a specific range of products. In that case, your goal should be to promote the event by reminding parents—the real target market for grad purchases—that this very important milestone is coming up. University/college graduation is in April and May, and high school kids get out in June, so work backwards at least a few months when it comes to planning events, posters, flyers, newsletters, website updates, social media campaigns, and so forth. In marketing, there’s an expression: “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” In other words, you need to sell the features, the benefits and the fun. For example, “Reward your grad with an even louder sound system!” is probably not as powerful a message to parents as, “Keep your college student safe with hands-free calling and texting.” Always consider your audience, and the feature that matters most to them. A piece on “great gifts for grads” can also help you to cover all the product categories while refining your own sales presentation and messaging. Think about it: better sound or satellite radio for those longer drives to school and work, handsfree systems for driving safety, alarms for
14 Mobile Electronics 2015 Survival Guide
Home and Car Products PO Box 22745 Long Beach, CA 90801-5745 Phone: 310-761-8802 Fax: 678-957-1880 Online at: www.kenwood.com/usa/ www.facebook.com/kenwoodusa www.twitter.com/KENWOODUSA
AAMP of America In business 26 years Headquarters: 15500 Lightwave Drive, Suite 202 Clearwater, FL, 33760 Phone: 727-527-9255 Fax: 1-800-444-6044 Online at: www.aampofamerica.com/ KICKER Headquarters: 3100 North Husband Stillwater, OK 74075 Phone: 1-800-256-5425 Online at: www.kicker.com
JL Audio 10369 North Commerce Pkwy Miramar, FL 33025-3962 Phone: (954) 443-1100 Fax: (954) 443-1111 (General) Fax: (954) 443-1108 (Technical Support) Online at: www.jlaudio.com
Online at: www.jlaudio.com
Kenwood USA In business 54 years Headquarters: Communications Sector 3970 Johns Creek Court, Suite 100 Suwanee, GA 30024
Wet Sounds Headquarters: 9330 W Airport Blvd, Suite 170 Houston, TX 77031 Phone: 1-877-938-7757 Online at: www.wetsounds.com
safety and security, better lights for safer is to believe 100 percent that of all the driving after dark. gifts out there a dad could get his grad, By having a strategy and planning car accessories are the most useful, most ahead, it’s actually possible to get most appreciative, and can have the greatest of the work done well in advance so it impact on the student. doesn’t fall off the table later when you Remember, people spend an average get busy. If you’re not working six months of one hour commuting every single day, ahead when it comes to marketing, then and sometimes a lot more than that. Car you’re already behind. audio and electronics stores enhance That’s one thing we’ve tried to fix for that time behind the wheel, and make retailers with BusinessWORX. We’ve something people generally dislike into already got over 40 ready-to-print ads something they can actually enjoy. We and flyers ready to go, and another 40 also make drivers safer a dozen differpre-written newsletters to help plan cament ways, from hands-free products to paigns months in advance—and we’re back-up cameras, and we save lives. We adding more all the time. protect our customers’ biggest investME: The “dads and grads” promotion ments and favorite possessions from theft seems to be popular in many industries. and damage. We make our customers How can retailers set more efficient, more themselves apart and productive and more spark interest when confident when they’re promoting this to “If you’re not working on the road. We make people unfamiliar with six months ahead when people more comfortcar audio and other able. And yes, we can it comes to marketing, 12-volt products? also make them cooler then you’re already Marcel Newell: at the same time. behind.” There’s always a lot Those are powerful – Marcel Newell, Avidworx of competition when it messages that other comes to sales events, industries can’t match, and there always will so be bold. That’s how be. The biggest challenge for our indusyou stand out and set your store apart try is the fact that we’re not considered from the competition. mainstream yet, which is something that To get those messages across effecAvidworx and other industry groups are tively, you need to get your messages out working hard to change. early, with the right language and the When people buy a house, for examright sales collateral—posters, newsletple, they know they’re probably going ters, content for your website, radio spots, to be making a few shopping trips—the web ads, and so on. If it’s worked for you hardware store for tools and supplies, in the past, then make the investment. IKEA for furniture, and so on. They will It’s not enough to have a page on factor those trips into the cost of owning your website, you need to promote a home. it. You won’t have the budget of your When people buy vehicles, they need competitors, but for starters you’ve got to be thinking the same thing when hundreds—if not thousands—of past cusit comes to aftermarket car audio and tomers to draw on, and the web really is electronics stores. Unfortunately, we’re a powerful tool for leveling the playing not in that position yet, which is why we field. If someone searches “grad gifts,” have to work so hard just to let people then your store should pop up on the know our stores exist, and then get first page. across all the benefits of the products we The last thing our industry needs to carry. A little awareness will go a long do to set ourselves apart is to look and way, but in the meantime we have to act more professionally, which is one market ourselves better. area we’re starting to make large strides My advice to stores trying to compete in recent years. The way we’re going to with all the other industries out there become mainstream retailers that people
boating | graduating
Keeping track of the latest aftermarket products for the category is fine and good, but to really know the products you can go to a boat show. To make the most of these events, set up a booth and watch the business roll in.
think about is by turning out one impressed, satisfied customer at a time. ME: What are some of the best marketing strategies for learning a demographic based on region? What can established retailers do to enhance their foothold with a demographic in their region? Marcel Newell: I’d say the biggest demographic issue for our industry is that too many retailers skew towards one demographic at the expense others. Some stores will focus on young urban males, or have an image that attracts that group ahead of others. Some stores will focus on high-end clients exclusively, with the result that a lot of people will drive by thinking they can’t afford them. Some logos and taglines limit stores by making it sound like they do a few things, like audio or tint. The goal is to create a store and an image that is somewhat generic and welcoming to every demographic. Everyone should feel comfortable coming into your store—the young guy who wants to blast bass, the outdoorsman looking for some LEDs for his ORV, the soccer mom looking for a video screen to keep the kids busy, the executive who needs a navigation system or radar/laser detector. Attracting such a wide range of customers is really a design issue, as well as a customer service issue and marketing issue. It’s impossible to say exactly what will work when it comes to targeting specific demographics in different regions, but there are some general rules stores can follow. For example, over 85 percent of consumers will do some research online before coming into your store, so you need to
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be sure your website comes up with a professional message that appeals to all demographics. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical, not just for web browsers, but for apps, GPS devices and other connected platforms. That’s something Avidworx can definitely help retailers with. There are also over 350 million people in North America on Facebook, so you need to have a presence there as well. You can link that account to Twitter and Instagram using HootSuite to keep things easy. And if you have an account, use it. A good photo and tagline will get noticed. When it comes to reaching all the different demographics for your market, you have two choices. You can try to reach each demographic with a specific message on a regular basis, which is going to take a lot of hard work and planning, or you can focus on implementing a marketing plan that appeals to everyone. Apple is the master when it comes to reaching everybody. When you go into an Apple Store, every single demographic you can imagine is represented, and you know they didn’t accomplish that by trying to advertise to each segment individually. There’s not one Apple ad for executives, and another for young people. Every ad touches every base. Customers may have come in for different products and services, but before they came in they all saw the same ads. The lesson is that it pays to keep your messages simple and use every opportunity to emphasize benefits. As for maintaining your foothold with a particular demographic, that comes with consistency in your marketing and
To sell higher end marine equipment, it’s a good idea to attend hyper-specific shows like wakeboard or boating competitions where these kinds of clients can be found. customer service. For example, if you show off installs on your Facebook page and customers respond, then you need to ensure that you’re continually posting photos of new installs. If you take out local radio or television spots, then you need to do it frequently enough that people recognize your brand. If you send out newsletters (and you should try to send at least one a month), then you need to track how many customers are actually reading them, and how many are taking action afterwards. Most importantly, you need a system in place to measure your marketing, which is something businessWORX provides. In our latest update we’re tracking all kinds of data we weren’t before, including website visits, phone calls, demographic data, geographic data, and more, while making it easy to see how customers are responding.
ME: What tactics can newer retailers use to break into the boating and marine market? Marcel Newell: It’s harder for newer stores to gain traction with new products and services because they can’t rely on existing customers and positive word-of-mouth to inform people, but there are a few easy ways to spread the word quickly. One way would be to invest in a tent and signage and take out a booth at your closest boat show or boat event, like a wakeboard competition. It’s a good way to get your name out there with boaters and other retailers who may be looking for a shop to work with to install audio upgrades. If you do go to an event, always have an enter-to-win contest of some kind where you can start collecting names and email addresses. This will allow you to follow up with newsletters and other promotions to remind them that you carry marine audio. Another way to get the word out is through web search. Again, it’s a level playing field and if you’ve optimized your web listing, then people looking for marine and outdoor audio will find you. They won’t know you’re new. Ensure that every customer is satisfied, and use them to spread the word by handing out stickers, t-shirts, hats and other visible giveaways. Seeing is also believing. If you want your customers to know you sell marine audio, then park a trailer with a boat on it outside your store. Everyone who drives by your store will take notice. We have a lot of other ideas like this available in our free eBook, 50 Ways to Grow Your Business, which is available by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AVIDWORX. We also post weekly Friday sales tips.
Summer Sells While fall and winter have taken over as the busiest seasons of the year, summer still holds great promise as long as you take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Here are some tips to help. WORDS BY BILL BRAUN
Presenting the best show cars your shop has to offer can be a great way to start off a new season. In particular, use vehicles that say something about the season, like sports cars and off-road vehicles for outdoor seasons like summer.
t’s no secret that late November brings four frenzied weeks of shopping at the average big box store. If you ask the owners of car stereo shops, they may not agree what season holds the most interest to them. For decades, summer was the bread and butter of the 12-volt industry. The prospect of big systems and bigger budgets made many a shop bank on the beginning of the summer as their most reliable money maker. It made sense to start stocking up with gear in anticipation of customers
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vying for install times, anxious to add the latest pull-out tape deck, amp or CD changer to their car. Since those heady days, the “selling seasons” have not magically shifted to another time of year. Summer is still summer. But the varying ways shops approach the heat has undoubtedly changed. The market has made sure of it. Among the companies trying to change the game is Truck Toys in Fort Worth, TX. Fred Dodson is a sales associate specializing in car audio. He asserts that
the nature of his business has evolved from power sports upgrades to something much more diverse. “We used to work mainly with sidesteps, tires, rims, bed liners and lighting. Now we get more labor and product out the door by selling car audio as well.” Truck Toys sought Dotson specifically to upgrade their services, and to provide input with stock selection for the new car audio lines. With decades of car stereo experience under his belt, he was able to add a formidable new level of profitability
In an attempt to push additional sales, try to stock “notion” items in the showroom and entrance/exit area. This also promotes customer interaction with staff. to the shop’s bottom line. Most importantly, he was able to satisfy a need the clients at Truck Toys would normally have had to go elsewhere to fulfill. Dodson claims that another big challenge is to think outside of the traditional equipment he sees his competition selling. “I see everyone offering the same thing to everyone, at the same time every year.” Those options show the customer items like remote start are a year-round possibility. “Summer in Texas is no joke. It’s easy enough to show the advantages of remote start in this heat. It’s the time that everyone wants to do everything to their vehicle. They want to trick it out. It’s almost like our Christmas.” He asserts that out of long-learned reflex, most retailers immediately limit themselves to options like auto start in the winter, audio and other modifications in the summer. Fred believes opportunities emerge by expanding options and services. New business practices reinforce the idea that changing with the times can be profitable, and with the right personnel,
completely manageable. The Lone Star state’s summer heat now brings a need for gear like marine speakers and amps, along with the shop’s more traditional stock. Powersports audio equipment like sound bars and ATV subwoofer enclosures are a welcomed addition to the Truck Toys showroom.
Be Unique, And Be Memorable Over 1,500 miles northwest of Fort Worth, Chris Dietrich serves as the Sales Manager of Auto FX in Tacoma, Washington. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, he has seen his business adapt not only to the seasons, but to the weather itself. “In the fall and winter months, we stress products such as remote start, lighting upgrades, and our favorite: sunroof repairs.” Using resources and expertise that the competition doesn’t possess—and possibly hasn’t even considered—is one key competitive factor in making the season work for you. Another factor that can
Events to Check Out CES Asia May 25–27, 2015 Shanghai, China WEBSITE: www.cesweb,org Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, as well as Google and Yahoo! vice presidents to deliver Headline addresses. Singer Nick Cannon is EM Ambassador.
KnowledgeFest August 15–19, 2015 Hilton Anatole, Dallas, TX WEBSITE: www.knowledgefest.org A great opportunity for networking and training. The event features seminars across multiple categories, a trade show, and the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards, which include a dinner and reception.
summertime selling During the spring and summer months, Auto FX leverages all of their in-house resources by offering exterior packages to dealerships and consumers alike. Carrying a wide wheel and tire selection, offering lowering and body kits, paint and of course audio all come into play. “We offer a package called ‘Sun and Sound’ where we install a sunroof and add upgraded speakers, along with a custom subwoofer enclosure to the factory head unit.” It’s a great way to generate revenue that few other audio shops can match.
Buy More to Sell More
Window Tint Specialist Jerome Ryan of Auto FX applying SunTek Carbon 35 window film. This business is especially lucrative in regions with extremely hot weather.
Sites to See
Inc. magazine WEBSITE: www.inc.com Monthly magazine for owners of small businesses. Tips on trends, news, methods, risk management, growth, case studies and more.
National Federation of Independent Business WEBSITE: www.nfib.com National organization that promotes and protects “the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses.” Provides access to health coverage, legislative information and lobbying on behalf of independent businesses, research and advice.
help your business is not just doing something new, but providing non-traditional services in-house. Sunroof repair is a perfect example of thinking way outside the box, then doing what’s necessary to make that thinking pay off. As winter moves slowly into summer in Tacoma, Auto FX starts their busiest season. “Since we have such a diverse product range, we tend to promote items that are warm weather oriented such as sunroofs, window tint, stereo systems, and more.” With a healthy number of car shows in the area, the shop also benefits from competitors getting ready for the show circuit. “A fair amount of customers want to do mods for the show season.” The boost in business arrives regularly, and without much in the way of promotional efforts. The benefit of doing outstanding work is a stellar reputation, and the close-knit show car community seeks out shops of their caliber, rewarding their work with a steady stream of seasonal high-end business. Auto FX also takes full advantage of their in-house paint booth as a way to offer a degree of additional customization that other local shops can’t touch. The result of having a service normally associated with body shops adds a uniqueness to their business, and makes customers more apt to remember them when it comes time for making those cars ready for the show car season.
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Many retailers do their best by offering unique services during the summer months. To supplement their efforts, many manufacturers take the initiative to assist the shops as well, and in a number of different ways. PowerBass & Image Dynamics VP Robin McNeal deems available inventory as one of the best ways to prep for any season. Making sure the gear is ready to roll out the door quickly benefits the dealer and his business. “We typically run a pretty high inventory level at our facility.” Stressing the importance of avoiding backorders is one of the ways he ensures consistency in dealing with his shops throughout the country. They also make a point of shipping gear the same day it’s requested. McNeal believes the logic to be highly relevant to Image Dynamic’s business, given his clientele is mostly specialty 12-volt retailers, a market is less apt to order in case quantity. The nature of the “one to show and one to go” stocking approach means that a shop can easily run out of a given product with just a few days of brisk sales. Shops rely on their manufacturers to have what they need, and get products to them quickly. Another dealer-friendly policy Image & PowerBass employs is to minimize the “pinch” of not ordering in huge numbers. While some manufacturers require a large buy-in to carry their line, followed by pressure for nearly unattainable case quantity orders to realize any significant discounting on gear, PowerBass & Image Dynamics have chosen a different way to do business.
Auto FX install bay left to right: leather installation bay, sunroof installation bay, window tint and graphics installation bay (behind curtain), lift install installation bay, and 12-volt installation bay. The more options offered, the more opportunity to capitalize on varying business during any season. “There’re only a couple of price levels.” The VP states, “We don’t encourage dealers to load up on stock they don’t need.” Their policy is geared to lighten the fiscal load placed on privately owned dealerships. In lieu of having a deep discount policy that only happens when a large case quantity order is placed, the company chose to make free freight the goal by pricing it at what they feel is an attainable level. This makes smaller orders rewarding in a way other than a direct discount on products. Easing the financial burden, manufacturers have helped private 12-volt retailers thrive. Expedited shipping practices and liberal repair and return policies are both common methods that help make the dealer’s life markedly easier. Another method is to take a personal approach to training. Alpine Sales Representative John Evans attempts to customize training to each dealer, instead of using a “one size fits all” approach that may lack the details a shop needs to best utilize Alpine gear. Since Alpine has launched vehicle-specific head units, as well as a deck with Apple’s Car Play firmware, the training Mr. Evans customizes has even more relevance than in past years. “Every shop has something unique about it,” said Evans. “Every training has
to have to have some kind of angle specific to the shop.” He points out that Alpine’s smaller dealers are shown a degree of appreciation, as the company is highly aware the brand itself is a gateway to a degree of prestige. As a matter of course, trainings are first discussed with the company’s management and often the owner, to figure out what to concentrate on for each specific training session. Digital Designs also believes the most beneficial way of helping their dealers lies in the training of the dealers’ employees. The benefits of training are common and widespread, but the big difference in their approach goes beyond the personal to the individual. “We feel the best way to help our dealers is through education,” said Kevin Doyle of Digital Designs. “They should get what they expect out of our speakers and amplifiers.” The company takes the time to work with dealers to build individual systems. Amp and box optimizing, system construction and individual training are all part of the norm for the company. The company has the ability to build custom options into their products. That customizing comes with a requirement to educate the users about that custom gear, and then how to get the most out of it. “We can build a sound quality subwoofer. We can build an SPL subwoofer. But we
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have to educate our dealers on how best to use them.” The company also stresses the importance of using the right equipment for the right application. “We preach not to sell a 10,000 watt amplifier when they only have a charging system to handle a 3,000 watt amp.” Selling the right equipment for the right reason is something Digital Designs believes will help everyone in the long run. The company considers themselves a custom manufacturer. With the standard line of speakers, subwoofers, amplifies and more, they are also capable of creating gear for specific applications, whether for sound quality or sound pressure. They rely on a well-trained retail staff to know the specifics about their standard line as well as their custom capabilities. “If we can educate the retailers, the customer will be happier because they’re getting the right equipment,” Doyle said.
The Takeaway “For 12-volt shops, the challenge is to recognize opportunity,” said Dodson of Truck Toys. Summer has presented his company with new challenges, and with good management they have also generated new rewards. More business emanating from a more complete set of options, all under one roof. They’ve made themselves a one-stop shop in many respects. The same method is working for Auto FX; employing a paint booth and tire selection to add to the car audio gear adds a flexibility to their services, especially as summer approaches. Manufacturers are taking the time to train retailers for the summer, as well as every other season, with the hope that the knowledge they impart gives retailers the confidence and the credibility needed to make their experience a great one.
Stuff to Read
Apps to Download
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution By Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2014) These studies of the people who created computers and the Internet, beginning in the 1840s, have lessons for business owners and managers looking to enhance their creativity and business savvy.
How We Got to Now
By Steven Johnson (Riverhead, 2014) This history of innovation focuses on six key technologies of modern life.
www.hipchat.com Free for five participants or fewer, $2 per user, per month after that This cross-platform tool makes it easy for your team to message one-on-one or in groups. There is no server technology to maintain. Everyone in your business can be available to participate in a chat. HipChat helps decrease e-mail messages among team members and help them communicate more effectively for greater overall productivity. Runs on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux and also has a web version.
www.squareup.com 2.75 percent of every swipe, custom pricing available for larger businesses Square is an increasingly popular payment app that uses a small, portable credit/debit card reader for fast, convenient transactions. It’s ideal for businesses where space is limited and works on all devices and operating systems.
People to Meet We can build a quality sounding subwoofer. We can build an SPL subwoofer. But we have to educate our dealers on how best to use them.” Kevin Doyle, Digital Designs
Handcrafted Car Audio Owner – one of only a handful of MECP Master Certified installers in Arizona, and one of only 200 in the USA. 2775 N Arizona Ave #5, Chandler, AZ 85225 480-550-8944 WEBSITE: www.handcraftedcaraudio.com Works with Apple Car Play. Back-up systems are available. The company also offers advice on warranty rights and whether aftermarket products will void a warranty.
SRQ Custom Autosound 5638 Jason Lee Place, Sarasota, FL 34233 941-923-6200 WEBSITE: www.srqcustoms.com SRQ gives customers full-service, high-end car customization and repair services. Custom subwoofer enclosures are also available.
summertime selling Companies to Know
Absolute USA, Inc.
In business 26 years Headquarters: 1350 E. 17th St. Los Angeles, CA, 90021 Phone: 213-744-1144 Fax: 213-749-2999 Support: 213-749-0222 Support Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. PST Online at: www.absoluteusa.com www.facebook.com/absoluteusa www.twitter.com/absoluteusa
Headquarters: 31200 Solon Road, Suite 4 Solon, OH, 44139 Phone: 1-440-248-5858 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Online at: www.americanbassusa.com
Accele Electronics, Inc. Headquarters: 17900 Crusader Ave Cerritos, CA 90703 Toll Free Phone: 1-800-788-1212 Direct Phone: 562-809-5090 Online at: www.iatft.com
DD Audio presents at trade shows around the country to help educate dealers.
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In business 28 years Headquarters: 1141 NW 1st St. Oklahoma City, OK 73106 Phone: 405-239-2800 Online at: www.ddaudio.com www.facebook.com/TrueToTheSource www.twitter.com/DDAudio www.youtube.com/user/ddaudiotv
In business 22 years Headquarters: 1550 Pacific Ave Oxnard, CA 93033 Phone: 805-486-4450 Online at: www.scosche.com www.facebook.com/Scosche www.twitter.com/scosche www.youtube.com/user/scosche
Headquarters: 3301 E Deseret Drive Saint George, UT 84790 Phone: 435-673-5021 Online at: www.wilsonelectronics.com www.facebook.com/WilsonCellular www.twitter.com/WilsonCellular www.youtube.com/user/WilsonElectronicsInc
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winter prep | back-to-school
Riding Good Tidings Do These Five Things For A Fabulous Fourth-Quarter Finish WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER
he final quarter of the year is critical for mobile electronics retailers. It kicks off the remote start season and includes the busy holiday shopping stretch, which this year began for some stores on Thanksgiving Day itself. Are we ready for Black Thursday? Making this season brighter than last year are two notable trends: an improving economy and bolstered consumer confidence. According to the Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey, 25 percent of consumers plan to spend more on presents than they did in 2013 because of increased job security and more disposable income. In fact, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is predicting this holiday season will see the highest levels of consumer spending on electronics since the organization started tracking holiday spending back in 1994. According to the CEA’s holiday outlook, tech spending during the holidays will increase 2.5 percent (up from 0.9 percent growth in 2013).
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While not every mobile electronics retailer needs to shift into high gear for the holidays, the fourth quarter is still an opportune time to try out a new promotion, offer early-hour store openings, freshen up inventory, or solidify relations with customers. Whether you’re a small shop or have a few locations, it’s about figuring out the right balance of marketing, merchandising, and manpower so you can head into 2015 with some momentum. Add to the equation today’s consumers who are increasingly tech-savvy and who have more shopping alternatives than ever before, and the net result is that retailers need to be on their toes in this increasingly competitive environment. To help you make the most of the remainder of the year, we checked in with a handful of mobile electronics dealers to get their insights on fourth-quarter strategies. Read on to find out what you can do right now to attract customers, boost sales, and close out the year confidently.
1. Prep For Profits—Stock Up On Inventory, But Price It Right With the onset of cold weather and the anticipation of those polar vortexes, folks in many parts of the country are thinking about remote starters. Retailers say they’re wising up, focusing on customer service, and not giving it away at rock-bottom prices. “The amount of time and liability that goes into a correctly done remote start is a lot higher than what a lot of other shops around here are advertising their prices at,” explains Jesse Peterson, owner of Lacey, Wash.-based Audio Northwest, which has been in business since 1983. “There is a guy down the street promoting $130 for an installed remote start. Another store a mile down the road is also advertising that same low-ball number. I don’t play in that field. The basic remote start system for us, not including a bypass, starts at a minimum of $400. When it comes to remote starts, we are very clear with people that we are not doing the budget jobs. And if we do the job, it is going to cost them more, but it will look OEM.” Maintaining pricing is important, but equally imperative is keeping the store well-stocked since weather can be an unknown. John Schumacher, owner of Audio Solutions STL based in St. Louis, Mo., preps for remote start season by getting in plenty of product ahead of time. “We bring in extra because we know we’re going to pull through,” he said. “We recently had our first very cold day so I expect remote starts will be flying out the door any day now.” The season, he notes, will go right through to March. Although the store has been in the same location for almost three decades, signage is still essential for getting the consumers’ attention and driving traffic. “We had a sign made for the front of the building promoting remote starts,” Schumacher said. What about in parts of the country where there’s no threat of harsh winter weather? “We are located in the south, so instead of advertising ‘stay warm’ in our ads, we say ‘stay cool,’” said Anthony Pellegrino, owner of Mobile Audio/Video Integrations in Davie, Fla.
Promotional displays coupled with seasonal decorations like this Christmas tree can add both purpose and ambiance to your shop during big selling seasons.
2. Develop an Omni-Channel Strategy The smartphone has changed everything including how we shop, but that is only part of the picture. Folks not only make purchases via their smartphones, but also on their tablets, by PCs, through catalogs, and, of course, in stores. According to the CEA, two-thirds (67 percent) of people who plan to spend money on consumer electronics are likely to use a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to help them shop. Interestingly, those likely to use mobile devices to help them shop for CE plan to spend more money on it this holiday season. All the more reason for retailers to have an updated and useful web site or possibly an app that can provide shoppers with information since many of them are doing research before making any purchases. According to Forrester Research, the majority of all consumer purchases are either influenced by online research or actually occur online.
To bring in traffic after finishing a long-needed renovation for GNC Customs, Josh Mojica posted images of the shop’s transformation on Facebook to promote the new look.
winter prep | back-to-school
Remodeling shouldn’t be limited to just showrooms, as Audio Solutions StL has shown here with their install bay upgrade.
Utilizing industry-wide events like Car Tech Demo days are also a great way to get people into the shop who have never set foot in the 12-volt universe.
The omni-channel approach makes your store available for either shopping, information or both, in a seamless way. “From a social media standpoint, we’re pushing a lot that way,” said Josh Mojica, general manager, GNC Customs based in Goshen, Ind. “We’re changing out the images on our website and our Facebook page to represent remote starts,” he said. “I am guilty of not spending as much time on Facebook as I should, but I try to post a couple of times a week. This past summer I created a lot of hype with our store renovations. I was posting shots of what was going on and hoping to get folks to come in so they could see it for themselves. As for our website, it is for information only. We do no Internet sales whatsoever, but our website gives consumers a small taste of what we can do.”
says. “It was interesting because we went down to KnowledgeFest earlier this year and it was cool to find out that the direction we were going in—the things we were getting ready to start building and tearing down—are the same things other shops are doing. We got a lot of reinforcement from other retailers who have taken this route and said it worked for them.” Peterson took out the sound room and now has only one active fixed sound display. “We replaced all of that with a really good-looking demo vehicle,” he says. “Our walls are no longer covered in product. We have discovered that most of the folks walking in here don’t want or need to see 1,000 choices. We have built relationships with our customers where they ask us what we recommend and we tell them— and everyone is happy so it works out well. This way is less confusing for the shop3. Shore Up Your Store— per. We also pulled pricing off the alarm Remerchandise or Renovate So wall and pulled pricing off pretty much Products Move everything except for the radios, but even There is no question that high-impact our radio display is different. We used to merchandising can have a significant have 33 on display, but we went down to effect on a consumer’s experience while 17, which several years ago was a big deal, shopping in your store. Some retailers and now we are whittling our way down to are choosing to about eight. Year after freshen up displays year, it is typically five and make use of “When it comes to remote different radios that uncluttered floors we sell.” starts, we are very clear and walls to engage GNC Customs also with people that we are today’s consumers made some signifwithout overwhelm- not doing the budget jobs. icant renovations ing them. during the year and And if we do the job, it is “Our floor traffic is taking advantage going to cost them more, of the CarTech Demo doesn’t skyrocket this time of year,” but it will look OEM.” Days to promote the says Peterson of store’s new look. The Audio Northwest, – Jesse Peterson, Audio Northwest demo event is an “but there is defiindustry-wide effort nitely money to be to promote mobile made now. Right electronics technolobefore Christmas we do some gift certifigies nationwide that takes place during cates and bigger systems are pre-sold, but November and December. we’re not located in a strip mall and we’re “This two-day open house gives us the not next to any major shopping center chance to educate people who don’t know so we don’t go out of our way to do huge or don’t understand about the technolChristmas promotions because it has yet ogy we can install in their vehicles,” says to translate to something.” Mojica. “It also correlates perfectly with But what has been effective, he points our grand reopening so it’s a bonus for us out, is the store’s completely different to be able to do this. Customers will be layout and new approach to customers. able to come in and see that we doubled “We recently did a remodel,” Peterson
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winter prep | back-to-school hours, loaner vehicles—or offering special deals to your loyal base. According to Forrester Research, the customer experience these days is the sum of all the interactions a customer has with your company over the duration of the relationship. That can be from the way someone answers the phone to how they are greeted when they walk into your shop. Good experiences, notes the survey, are no longer just “nice to have,” but a necessity. Price matching, mobile pay options, gift cards, free shipping, budget-friendly lay-away plans, or no hassle returns can all be ways to appeal to your target customers and keep them happy. It is about differentiating yourself from the competition. “When the holidays roll around and people are ready to make a purchase, we are ready to honor pricing,” says Pellegrino. “It’s a numbers game and a strong fourth-quarter push will help us get closer to our targeted goals.”
5. Promotions—Take A Chance On Something New
Top: Left to Right: Audio Northwest Owner Jesse Peterson, Manager Larry Hatch, Lead Tech Rick Horrocks and Office Manager/Sales Layne Drew. Bottom: To keep the store look fresh, change show cars on occasion.
our bays and we relocated and rebuilt the wood shop.”
4. Deliver Great Customer Service and Keep’em Coming Back Customer service is an area where smaller shops can play up their advantage to have meaningful relationships with their customers. For mobile electronics retailers, it can mean offering tailored services to your customers—extended
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“We are actually looking into doing something with Groupon this season,” says Schumacher. “The only problem is we have some other shops in the area that aren’t quite up to par, and they will do that remote start for $120. That’s not the type of shop we are. In my experience, I’ve got friends and family who love Groupon so I want to try it out, but I am not going to cut my throat on it if it doesn’t make sense. If I can’t make a little bit on it, then it’s not right for us. We want to give a great deal, but I can’t give it away.” Pellegrino says he opts for the traditional promotion tactic using flyers to generate excitement about the holidays. “We always do sales flyers around Halloween so we put the thought of holiday shopping out there early for those in the market for 12-volt electronics,” he says. “We plan on increasing our advertising budget for the holidays and social media will be a big part of it. If we are not able to close the customer around the holiday, at least we create a buzz and show the customer we are an industry vanguard.
Sites to See
People to Meet Del Ellis
National Urban League nul.iamempowered.com National nonprofit community organization that provides jobs, financial literacy and mortgage programs. Focuses on community issues and education, offering opportunities to help build local residential and business neighborhoods. 2015 national conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, July 29–August 1.
Del Ellis Sales Training International Clovis, CA 559-259-2932 Delellis1@hotmail.com www.delellisintl.com Sales training techniques regarding phone calls, obtaining foot traffic through the Internet, first impressions and more.
John Haynes, Senior product manager Al and Ed’s Autosound 6855 Hayvenhurst Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91406 888-900-8800 www.al-eds.com Founded by Al Brotsky and Ed Zionts in 1954. The company’s main focus is integration with OEMs and iPods. CD receivers, mobile video receivers, overheads and headrest systems, GPS navigation systems, amps, speakers, subwoofers, enclosures, security systems, radar detectors, accessories, expanded selection of backup safety systems, restyling accessories such as Power Steps, Bluetooth hands-free kits and portable GPS devices.
Apps to Download
Rochester Professional Consultants Network www.rochesterconsultants.org Regional organization based in Rochester, NY, of consultants to businesses with expertise in a wide range of business areas, including management, technology, patents, marketing and more. Members work locally, regionally and nationally. Meets weekly to share business, technology, sales, social media and management tips; publishes monthly newsletter with tips for and profiles of members; holds an annual one-day conference (2015: April 7) and Entrepreneurs Boot Camp (2015: every Tuesday in February and first Tuesday of March).
Clear, Koalcat www.realmacsoftware.com/clear $4.99, iPhones; $9.99, desktops This app provides gesture-based task management for iOS and Mac devices. Items can be adjusted by pulling down a task, “pinching” a task and swiping it off the screen once it is completed. Multiple lists and schedules can be synced between a Mac desktop, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. For Android users, Koalcat is a similar app.
OmniFocus, AndroidFocus www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus iPhone version, $19.99; Mac desktop, $39.99 OmniFocus is another task management and scheduling app for iPhones and desktops, with AndroidFocus for Android users. The app shows what’s due when, reviews completed tasks, and syncs between phone and desktop.
winter prep | back-to-school Stuff to Read The Daily Entrepreneur: 33 Success Habits for Small Business Owners, Freelancers and Aspiring 9-to-5 Escape Artists
By S.J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014) Develop 33 life-changing specific daily business habits to supercharge the ability to overcome challenges and accomplish goals. These are powerful ways to get more out of the day with daily habits that streamline productivity. Categories reflect overcoming challenges faced by all entrepreneurs.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.) The winner of the Nobel in economic science discusses how we make choices in business and personal life.
Considering the volume you’re potentially going to encounter during the busy season, it doesn’t hurt to prep materials you know you’ll use the most of, like these panel cuts that were prepped for an install. Then they’ll come back and see us when they are ready to make a purchase.” “We will use Facebook for promotions, but what we have found is that the level of interaction we get when we use it for a product—what we have and how much it is—turns out to be ridiculously low,” says Peterson. “What we’re doing now is showing pictures of projects that we have completed and we’re using it to tell our story, not using it as a direct sales tool. We’re not promoting a particular product and saying ‘come in and save 15 percent.’ Right now, above all, I am working on getting everyone on the same page and being comfortable with all of the tools that we have. I am investing in my employees, the building, and the tools instead of radio or TV ads.”
Bonus Point: The Importance of Branding Branding is one of the most important aspects of retailing today; it is your promise to the customer. Doing this strategically and consistently builds customer loyalty. In a recent article on Entrepreneur.com, John Williams, founder and president of LogoYes.com, defined
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branding as “your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.” To learn more about the subject, there are a variety of sources like Entrepreneur magazine and books like “Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget” and “Branding Your Business: Promote Your Business, Attract Customers and Build Your Brand Through the Power of Emotion.” Of course, you could also attend a trade show: “I took two of our new guys with me down to KnowledgeFest,” said Mojica. “And this next year is all about branding for us. We are actually putting our own labels on some product and even our signage will have our own name. That is why we have been dragging our feet a bit on this renovation because we are being really picky. It’s been almost 20 years since our last renovation. It was time to do something impressive and we want it to last at least another 10.”
Companies to Know
In business 35 years Headquarters: 5349 Zambrano Street Commerce, CA, 90040 Phone: 310-294-8135 Fax: 1-800-903-8839 Email: email@example.com Online at: www.autopageusa.com
Headquarters: 617 Mountain View Ave, Suite 7 Belmont CA, 94002 Phone: 650-592-1523 Fax: 1-866-259-3054 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Online at: www.gromaudio.com www.facebook.com/gromaudio www.twitter.com/gromaudio www.youtube.com/user/gromaudio
Crux Headquarters: Crux Interfacing Solutions 6860 Canby Avenue Suite 116 Reseda, CA 91335 Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. PST Phone: 1-855-822-1348 Fax: 1-818-996-8188 Support: 1-855-822-1348 Online at: www.cruxinterfacing.com
Kinetik Headquarters: 488 S. Royal Lane Coppell, TX 75019 Hours of operation: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CST Phone: 1-888-522-8346 Online at: www.kinetikpower.com www.facebook.com/kinetikpower
winter prep | back-to-school Companies to Know
Parrot Memphis Car Audio In business 49 years Headquarters: 122 Gayoso Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 Phone: 800-489-2300 Support: 800-903-6979 Support hours: 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. CST Online at: www.memphiscaraudio.com www.facebook.com/MemphisCarAudio www.twitter.com/MemphisCarAudio
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In business 20 years Headquarters: 3000 Town Center, Suite 2340 Southfield, MI 48075 Phone: 248-354-5400 Fax: 248-354-5401 Online at: www.parrot.com/usa www.parrot.com/asteroid-range/usa www.facebook.com/Parrot www.twitter.com/Parrot
Marketing to Tech Savvy Shoppers for the Holiday Season With a busy shopping season forecasted for 2014, retailers have an opportunity to cash in on the latest technology – as long as they stay in the know. WORDS BY JULIE METEA
ore cash is expected to funnel through retail registers this holiday season, as consumers loosen their pocketbooks and inject more purchasing power into the U.S. economy. They will do so with increased use of digital devices over a lengthened holiday shopping period, now defined as the time between late September through December. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales in November and December to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, the biggest spike since the past recession and government shutdowns. Industry observers and marketers are closely examining this year’s trends, as even more new shopping technologies emerge. They expect the winners to be retailers who have sorted out their digital marketing plans and implemented a high degree of interactivity to maximize all of their opportunities for sales. “We’re seeing heavy investment in technologies that enable very sophisticated interactions between retailers and consumers—both in the store and at the point of sale, online and on mobile devices. They know if you miss a sale once, you may not get it back,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. According to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey, holiday shoppers will spend their time nearly equally on an electronic
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device and in a physical store to purchase merchandise for the holidays. Phones, computers and tablets will not only provide channels for making online purchases, they will be utilized in stores to compare products and prices. Tech-savvy shoppers who visit stores—both online and in buildings—will spend up to 66 percent more on gifts than those who only shop at a building store, according to Deloitte’s Retail and Distribution Practice. They all have increased expectations for holiday shopping perks to lure their business, such as free shipping, free returns, price matching, extended holiday hours, and services to order online for store pick-up. Retailers, both physical stores and online, need to respond by differentiating themselves and touting price, value and exclusivity. Top marketers believe a year-round relationship with the consumer is the best way for a retail company or brand to stand out, and ultimately cash-in during the holiday season. “Keeping your brand top of mind has never been more important than it is now, especially when consumers can find pretty much anything they might be looking for online and compare prices from retailers around the world, ” said Andrea McArthur, director of Digital Services at Destination Marketing near Seattle.
Hook and Sinker: Online Coupons + Onsite Customer Service Even with an economic recovery, consumers still want to keep household budgets in line. They will be more sensitive to pricing, and they will prefer shopping the Internet and discount stores this season for the biggest bargains. Groupon, a “deal-of-the-day” website, has become a preferred digital marketing method to lure consumers into a storefront business. Groupon subscribers are alerted to deep discounts offered by retailers in their vicinity. The strategy is to introduce them to stores that are willing to nearly give away merchandise for an opportunity to win them back with great customer service. Perfectionist Autosound and Security in Anchorage, Alaska, is one of Groupon’s featured retailers that leverage Groupon coupons as a sales promotion tool. They reinforce online messages with Facebook updates, keeping fans engaged with the store. “It’s the only thing we use for advertising. We’re in the digital age. Everyone is digital. Once we get them to walk into the store, it’s all presentation. They see we’re world-class. We give them good customer service with VIP touches. That’s the whole point of presentation. It’s everything after advertising,” said John Schwartz, owner of Perfectionist Autosound and Security, which was named 2011 Mobile Electronics Retailer of the Year. While the holiday season is important, Perfectionist Autosound and Security puts a hard focus on sales during the remote start season, which in Alaska runs from late August and through April. Without any TV, radio or print advertising, the retailer has succeeded in attracting much of Anchorage’s market share, especially for CompuStar’s line of products. Perfectionist goes after discretionary spending dollars created by the Alaska Permanent Fund, which provides residents with annual dividend checks. This year, residents received $1,884 on October second, right before the holiday season peak and the retailer’s Groupon campaign. “There’s competition in this market, but we keep the installs filled year round. Money is the side effect of customer satisfaction. If you have amazing service, they will be happy. You could charge them more money with amazing service,” said Schwartz.
Perfectionist, 2011 Mobile Electronics Retailer of the Year, utilizes Groupon campaigns with deeply discounted merchandise to get an opportunity to meet customers. Once in the newly renovated store, the retailer gives the customer VIP service.
Market Saturation and Data Grab Through traditional advertising, social media and advanced cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tools, companies are able to maintain a personal level of service with their customers, whether they see 50 or 50,000 people in a day. Storefront and e-commerce retailers are accumulating customizable consumer data that is used to provide even better service. Based on customer history, data helps retailers identify products that customers are looking for, content they find most interesting, and information needed to make a sound purchasing decision.
Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Plan Unlike traditional means of advertising, social media is no longer a one-way traffic of marketers pushing their message across to their target audience. Social media is about connecting with people and getting them to engage with brands in a two-way relationship. This means consumers are able to form a much deeper relationship with a brand. Setting up a Facebook page is one thing, getting people to ‘like” it and actively engage with the brand is another. Here is a simplified approach to digital strategy, including social media.
Unlike traditional means of advertising, social media is no longer a one-way traffic of marketers pushing their message across to their target audiences. Social media is about connecting and getting them to engage in brands in a twoway relationship. This means consumers are able to form a much deeper relationship with a brand. Here is a simplified approach to digital strategy, including social media. me-mag.com 37
Sound Warehouse of Utah uses social media, radio station partnerships, local advertising and community events to build a customer base. The retailer conducts regular contests with gift certificates as prizes that can redeemed in one of its three store locations. Sound Warehouse is the 2012 and 2013 Mobile Electronics Retailer of the Year.
Social media has become a crucial channel for information about products they’ve already shown an interest in. It also assists holiday shoppers in getting gift ideas, finding deals, reading reviews, and sharing links to merchants. Retailers are reaching audiences with strategic messages through a number of popular channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. “The more you can align your messaging with the customers’ existing interests, the more likely you are to be seen as a company they want to continue engaging with. In social media, it’s more about sharing than it is about selling,” said McArthur. Her agency, Destination Marketing, works with Car Toys to build relationships with customers through social media, which tracks interactions and provides analytics. Her teams produce content with information based on customer preference, such as online videos of Car Toys experts talking about new products that customers are interested in. “Those who have a vested interest are more likely to continue purchasing from you in the future, but it also means that you need to work harder to make sure you’re delivering an online experience they feel is worth their time,” explained McArthur.
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Five Marketing Tips to Enhance the Holiday Shopping Season 1 – Prepare a Digital Marketing Plan that emphasizes year-round, two-way interactivity with consumers. 2 – Access your customer relationship management systems and implement the best solution to track your interactions with consumers. 3 – Get on social media to build relationships and increase brand awareness. Share content that informs consumers about products they are most interested in. 4 – Have an effective pricing strategy. Utilize coupons to increase opportunities for winning customers through customer service. 5 – Master sales strategies for the mobile shopper. Build an attractive online presence tailored for mobile devices.
www.InstallerNet.com â€˘ 800-444-1644
holidays Keeping it Local
Taming the Mobile Holiday Customer The takeaway: make sure you have a web presence that’s optimized for smartphone devices. Mobile plugins for websites are found through content management systems, such as WordPress. “Brands must make sure they have a mobile friendly website. It will turn off the customer if they don’t, especially now,” said Kaefer. Burst Media is a digital marketing agency serving major household brands such as the Gap, Old Navy, Betty Crocker and Mott’s. Conducted in the first half of October 2014, Burst Media and Rhythm NewMedia surveyed online adults regarding the use of their mobile devices. The results revealed that 40 percent are using their devices more this holiday season than last—both inside and outside of a storefront. The study also shows that consumers are increasingly using connected TVs and gaming platforms (e.g., Xbox) to shop. Men aged 18 to 24 lead the way. Burst Media is keeping a close eye on an emerging digital marketing trend known as beacon technology. Through an app downloaded on a phone (such as Swirl or AppCurious), smart phones can “beacon” texts and messages about sales and preferred merchandise. The beaconed alerts direct shoppers to the exact location of that merchandise and provide on-the-spot coupons that can influence a sale. “About 77 percent read the alert and two thirds take action on the information,” explained Kaefer.
“How likely will you be this holiday season to...”
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Copyright© 2014 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.
Marketers are paying very close attention to holiday shoppers armed with smartphones and mobile devices. Mobile and digital platforms are better informing consumers about where to find the products they want, at the prices they want. Mobile devices give them the ability to look for store locations, compare prices, research product information, read reviews, download coupons and access social networks. Their behavior even has nicknames. More often they are “webrooming,” which means looking at items online, then going to a store to see the item and making a purchase there. They are “showrooming” if they first go to a store to look for an item, then search online for the best price and purchase online. While these consumers start shopping in October, Cyber Monday is their peak day, which falls on December 1, 2014. According to the National Retail Federation, the Internet will attract more than 131 million holiday shoppers on that day. About 25 million of those shoppers say their preferred method of shopping that day will be via their smartphones. Burst Media Marketing Director Mark Kaefer explains that nearly 60 percent of customers with income above $100,000 will use their smartphones to shop. Younger adults, 18 to 34 years of age, are utilizing mobile payment systems, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
Deloitte’s annual holiday survey also showed that more than two-thirds of consumers plan to shop locally this year, with the number one reason being to support the local economy. The second reason is to buy one-of-a-kind gifts. That’s what drives the three-store chain Sound Warehouse in Utah, the 2013 Mobile Electronics Retailer of the Year. The chain is an embedded retail brand in the Salt Lake valley. Owner Dean Magnesen knows how to draw a crowd with engaging community events, contests for store gift certificates, local radio station partnerships and social media campaigns. His key demographics, 25 to 45-year-old males, closely follow radio station KLS, where Sound Warehouse posts banner ads on a website designed like Craig’s List. The retailer cross-promotes with email campaigns and ads on local TV stations and newspapers, staying engaged with their key audience mainly through Facebook and YouTube. What has evolved is the valuable word-of-mouth leadership in the market. “We’ve been well-known and respected for 35 years. Our marketing is intense and endless. People like us, trust us,” said Magnesen.
People to Meet Charles Bonfiglio Tint World, USA Tint World Franchise Corporate Office 1000 Clint More Road, Suite 110 Boca Raton, FL 33487 800-767-8468 http://www.tintworld.com Franchising, leadership; window tinting
Micah Williams SONUS Car Audio 550 Heritage Pointe Drive Clarksville, TN 37042 931-802-8913, phone 931-802-8915, fax http://sonuscaraudio.com Fabrication techniques; seamless OEM integration for automobiles, marine, even space craft
Events to Check Out
Stuff to Read
SEMA Show 2015
The Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu’s Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work
November 3–6, 2015 Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), Las Vegas, Nevada, USA WEBSITE: www.semashow.com Hashtag #SEMA2015 The most premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. Displays are segmented into 12 sections. New Products Showcase features nearly 2,000 newly introduced parts, tools and components. Educational seminars will be presented, as well as product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more. Trade-only event, not open to the general public. (Future dates: 2016: November 1–4; 2017: October 31–November 3)
The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class
By Keith Cameron Smith (Ballantine Books, 2007)
By Chin-Ning Chu (Crown Business, 2007) This adaptation of the ancient masterpiece The Art of War shows women how to use Sun Tzu’s philosophy to win in every aspect of life by determining the most efficient way to gain victory with the least amount of conflict.
Entrepreneur and inspirational speaker Keith Cameron Smith shows you how to think like a millionaire and reap the benefits of a millionaire mindset by mastering 10 vital principles, including: • Think long-term rather than short-term. • Talk about ideas rather than things and other people. • Work for profits rather than wages; take calculated risks and learn to take advantage of good opportunities.
2015 dates to be announced WEBSITE: www.sonuscaraudio.com Micah Williams, Micah@SonusCarAudio.com, 931-802-8913 Ray West, RayWest@sonuscaraudio.com
Sites to See There’s competition in this market, but we keep the installs filled year round. Money is the side effect of customer satisfaction. If you have amazing service, they will be happy.” - John Schwartz, Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security
International Franchise Association www.franchise.org International organization for people interested in purchasing and being better at managing franchises. Includes opportunities, health care concerns, Franchising 101 tips and finding suppliers.
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) www.score.org Source of free business advice and mentoring in person, online and via e-mail, from retired business leaders dedicated to helping people launch and manage their own companies. Topics include marketing, sales, management, technology, finance and money.
holidays Apps to Download Staples
www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/ mobile-application Free It’s easier than ever to buy, order and receive the office supplies your shop needs. The Staples app lets you shop the full assortment anytime, anywhere. Scan products in a store, create shopping lists, track rewards and check out in seconds.
This complete enterprise mobility solution can replace paper forms with updated mobile solutions. It’s code-free and lets users create, deploy and manage custom mobile applications. The point-and-click system is intuitive, and reduces time-consuming, costly custom coding. It includes GPS tracking and integration. Options include delivery software, direct store delivery and distribution, field service operations, field sales and order entry and tracking, asset management and inventory tracking, proof of delivery and more.
MobileFrame www.mobileframe.com Cost not known
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Basic plan, free (3 participants, 3 video streams), Pro and Premium plans for more participants and annual commitment If you need to share training, news and other information with employees and other shops, consider using Fuze. This video conferencing app hosts online meetings for all devices and operating systems, with new versions for iPads and tablets like the Samsung Galaxy. It provides high-definition video and crisp audio, and is easy to set up.
Companies to Know
Automotive Data Solutions (ADS)
Headquarters: 8400 Bougainville Montreal, QC, H4P2G1 Canada Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. EST Phone: 514-807-2888 Fax: 514-807-2999 Support: 1-866-427-2999 Support hours: 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. EST Online at: www.idatalink.com www.facebook.com/iDatalink www.twitter.com/idatalink
Headquarters: Firstech, L.L.C. 21903 68th Avenue South Kent, WA 98032 Phone: 1-888-820-3690 Online at: www.compustar.com www.facebook.com/compustaronline www.twitter.com/compustaronline www.youtube.com/user/ CompustarPro
Headquarters: 85 Flagship Drive, Suite F North Andover, MA 01845 Phone: 978-645-6500 Support: 1-800-950-9869 Online at: www.installernet.com
Dual Clarion In business 74 years Headquarters: 6200 Gateway Drive Cypress, CA 90630 Phone: 310-327-9100 Fax: 310-327-1999 Online at: www.clarion.com www.facebook.com/ClarionUSAOnline twitter.com/ClarionUSA www.youtube.com/user/clarionUS
In business 49 years Headquarters: 250 International Parkway, Suite 230 Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone: 407-936-0129 Support: 866-382-5476 Support hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. EST
Headquarters: 1925 East Dominguez Street, Long Beach, CA 90810 Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. PST Phone: 1-800-421-1404 Online at: www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/ www.facebook.com/ PioneerNorthAmerica www.twitter.com/PioneerUSA www.youtube.com/user/ pioneerelectronics
Vendor Assessment and Brand Choices for the NEW YEAR Five ways to make the right decisions on product for the year ahead. WORDS BY KEITH LEHMANN
n today’s hyper-competitive market, the most important brand you sell is your own. The vendors who compete for your business need to understand a new type of partnership: one that requires them to perform to your specific levels of expectation so that you can better perform to their expectations. Quality retailer/vendor relationships begin with the mutual understanding that the retailer is in control of the relationship because they have chosen the vendor. That makes it the responsibility of the retailer to make that choice based on a proper assessment of the vendor. Some of your vendor relationships go back many years, others are relatively new. Ultimately the choice is yours. An objective assessment of what value the relationship brings you is necessary so that you know you’re doing business with them for the right reasons.
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For this New Year’s vendor assessment, here are five key points that will help to cultivate great vendor relationships that you will need to navigate the profit challenges of 2015 while leveraging business and profit opportunities in partnership with the right vendors.
Set Expectations This is something not enough retailers do with their vendors. They either assume the vendor will operate in their best interest and do the right thing, or—Heaven forbid!—they hope for the best. Of course, the industry’s best retailers take a more practical approach and set in-store policy on vendor performance. These are the retailers that consistently extract the best performance from each vendor and, over time, build up respect and admiration from those vendors.
Events to Check Out International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 6–9, 2015 Las Vegas, NV, USA www.cesweb.org World’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies; proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years; next-generation innovations introduced to the marketplace; global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow.
Some common vendor performance fundamentals are responsiveness, honesty, knowledge, prompt and correct product delivery, problem solving, accountability, policy enforcement and professional integrity. Other vendor attributes important to the retailer might also be association with quality reps and/ or distributors, consistent attainable margin, credit line and/or terms flexibility, promotional support, customized business programming, prompt management of product returns and industry involvement. Above all, vendors must be informed of your expectations of the relationships and how they are unique to your business. Take the time to communicate these expectations—consider putting them in writing—at the beginning of the relationship. For those ongoing relationships, a yearly assessment will help to keep things on track. This also demonstrates to the vendor that you are paying attention to their performance and that they are held accountable for any shortcomings. If you
don’t hold your vendors accountable, they can’t help but wonder if your expectations were serious in the first place. I have learned from experience that many of the best vendor relationships are those in which the retailer had to pick up the phone and let the vendor know when they fell short of expectations.
Prepare a Vendor Plan Vendors come in all shapes and sizes, and some can be managed without much hassle while others require a lot more hand-holding. This is another element of your vendor assessment: is doing business with this vendor worth the headaches? Are you constantly bullied for orders with no clear plan on how the brand intends to help you sell? Or have you planned your activities against a calendar so a vendor can accrue funding in a reasonable, responsible manner and come up with special buys and promotions in support of your plan? Responsible, worthy vendors are proactive and want to grow their business with
Master Tech – Advanced Door Panel Fabrication Training 2015 dates to be announced Phoenix, AZ $999.99 www.mobilesolutions-usa.com/ door-panel-training-camp.html Three days of hands-on training in door panel design, construction and fabrication demonstrating three examples of in-depth real world designs and innovative new techniques. Make more money by enhancing and reconstructing doors or any panel on your next installation. Prerequisites or Experience: Master Tech courses or any Advanced Fabricators/Builders, 3–5 years min. experience recommended
new year Sites to See
International Franchise Association www.fran chise.org International organization for people interested in purchasing and being better at managing franchises. Includes opportunities, health care concerns, Franchising 101 tips and finding suppliers.
Mobile Electronics Group www.mobile-electronics.com The Mobile Electronics Group currently has over 1,100 members nationwide. Many of these are independent mobile electronics specialists who ascribe to the Mobile Electronics code of ethics, operate from brick-and-mortar locations, and comprise everything from the largest independents and regional chains to local one store operations. Mobile Electronics’ primary mission is to grow the mobile electronics industry and has always been focused on education and networking opportunities designed to advance the professionalism and profitability of its members. It accomplishes this through the annual KnowledgeFest event that is held in the fall of each year, regional events and direct member-to-member networking.
you in a way that reflects the long-term interests of both parties. But they need a clear understanding of how you are planning to grow that business. The best vendor plans presented to me by retailers were those that showed how partnership with the vendor would make them money and how that would help both businesses flourish. For retailers new to this practice, a five-page vendor plan can be created and presented at the start of the year. Begin with a single-page business overview that includes a description of your business, geographical market, local median income, changes in local economy, proximity to major highways and competitive retailers and other market-specific data that favors your business. Next, outline what key initiatives you intend to undertake for the year (store openings, staff hiring, derivative business development, new partnerships, etc.) and how the vendor can be helpful through their support (these two pages can likely be used for all vendor plans). The next three pages are brand-specific and should cover the vendor expectations we explained earlier, a promotional calendar with areas indicating vendor support opportunities, and initial brand product assortment ideas. This must be accompanied by a disclaimer that these ideas are for discussion purposes only. You will have plenty of time to make those commitments later on. Also include a snapshot of gross sales expected of the brand for 2015— again, for discussion only.
Credit Considerations Vendors are being scrutinized more than ever on their extension of almost any degree of unsecured credit. Knowing this can help retailers to establish a closer relationship with responsible, well-capitalized vendors and leverage them for increased credit lines and, when it makes sense, extended terms. Good payment history helps with ongoing vendor relationships, and it helps even more if you have strong audited financials. Yes, this costs money and no, you’re not required to produce this. But in today’s cautious economic environment this could be your best path toward
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solid vendor relationships. Responsible vendors, new and ongoing, will want to be doing business with you for many years, and submitting audited financials every few years or so will keep your business credit healthy. This improves the chance that the business will grow profitably for both sides without the need for the vendor to downsize, cut back on support, pull back on business programs or raise prices. Vendors that are not interested in your financial conditions or are not willing to have these discussions to your satisfaction need to be watched carefully. If cash flow is their only concern, they might be having financial difficulties or they could be willing to dump product on a cash deal from time to time. Either way, it would be best to partner with vendors that have well-defined, consistent credit policies that help you drive business to goals that are set well in advance and reward you with more profit.
Buy Direct or Through a Distributor? Many retailers pride themselves on their direct-ship relationships with top industry brands. It makes sense for the specialty retailer, but only if the vendor manages the relationship to the degree where going direct is a solid business decision. Part of your yearly vendor assessment should cover whether the brand has lived up to their end of the bargain on policies such as MAP, anti-transshipping, returns management, customer service and other important areas that keep the market stable and vibrant. There is high value to purchasing direct, but only if your vendors have offered you the proper training on their products. Also be sure they fulfill your orders promptly, resolve problems quickly, and respond in a timely manner to your requests. They should also offer compelling incentives and rewards for supporting the brand. Responsible vendors understand this dynamic and consistently work on improving the value of their dealer direct programs. Vendors that don’t offer this type of value have probably determined their relationship with you does not justify the expense. A
retailer’s decision to buy through distribution is usually more tactical than strategic; it suggests that the retailer does not see enough value in a direct relationship with a vendor. In this case, the restrictions and requirements imposed through direct dealer policy are not justified by the benefits of carrying the brand in some form or another. Yes, there are vendors that don’t seem to care whether you buy direct or through distribution. Some would prefer not to know you at all. If that type of relationship works for you, go for it.
Demand Access I was mildly amused when a rival mobile electronics brand put out a press release a few years back, announcing that their regional managers were going to visit their regions. I thought, “Is this what it has come to? Have we detached ourselves so badly that it actually makes news when we perform the most basic selling activity?” Something retailers have expressed strongly over the years is the importance
of having access to senior and executive management. Responsible vendors don’t view this as a threat; they turn it into an opportunity for improved retailer relations. Vendors that are not aligned with their retailers tend to isolate themselves and, of course, their bosses. A big difference between good and poor vendors is how they respond to inevitable problems. Allowing for access to their upper management, resources and problem solvers gives retailers more confidence in the brand. The brands you choose in 2015 will have fully met your expectations as a business partner, worked to plan your business together with you, built an internal financial position for you to maximize your business with them, proven value to you as a direct supplier and confidently offered you access to their entire organization. Brands that have failed at one or more of these five areas need to be re-assessed and possibly removed from your assortment. The benefits of your vendor assessment this year will pay strong dividends for years to come.
Stuff to Read C|NET magazine
www.cnet.com/cnet-magazine Stories behind the gadgets that are key to the mobile electronics industry are the backbone of this new print magazine, which goes behind the scenes at CNET.com, with exclusives about the visionaries behind tech’s top trends and provides first looks at tech on the horizon.
Masters of Sales: Secrets From Top Sales Professionals That Will Transform You Into A World Class Salesperson
People to Meet Ben Vollmer
Audition Audio & Electronic 410 Atlanta Highway Cumming, GA 30040 678-455-3201 Info@AuditionCar.com www.auditioncar.com
Extreme Audio 1104 South 26th Street, Manitowoc, WI 54220 920-684-0996 7451 Sujen Court, Mechanicsville, VA 23111 804-559-3589 www.extremeaudio.org
Categories: Vehicle Security & Convenience -Hands-free Calling Audio Consultants. Components and systems are treated as stages. The company aims to fully understand customer needs for audio and electronics and ensures those needs are met, while striving to exceed expectations. Customer favorite: clock setting service, free for any vehicle and on any head unit. Audition Audio upholds industry and vehicle certifications. Installers are certified as judges for every major car audio competition sanctioning body.
Extreme Audio replaces factory systems or creates audio systems. Audio, video, window tint, Bluetooth, radar detectors, remote starters, cameras/ sensors, in-car navigation, HID lights, and car audio are some of the many items they offer.
By Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D. and Don Morgan, M.A. (Entrepreneur Press, 2007) Successful salespeople reveal their secrets to success—what makes them true masters of their craft and how to adapt their tactics to your own. Martha Stewart discusses promoting yourself as an expert, Harvey Mackay provides 11 key questions to ask, and Anthony Parinello offers advice on selling to CEOs. Read about guerrilla tactics for direct selling from Jay Conrad Levinson, the psychology of selling from Brian Tracy, and more advice from Jack Canfield, Anthony Robbins, Keith Ferrazzi, Tom Hopkins, Al Lautenslager and 60+ other masters of the art of selling.
Surviving the Next Ten Years – A Technology Story WORDS BY KEITH LEHMANN
Experts say the auto industry will evolve more in the next decade than it has in the last fifty years due to the rise in connectivity and mobile technology. The dynamic happenings in the technology world are rapidly changing how automakers design, build and market their vehicles. The rise of the connected car is changing everything. Let’s first define what we mean by the “connected car.” The connected car is a vehicle able to enhance its own operation as well as deliver augmented convenience, comfort, safety and productivity to the driver and passengers through the use of on-board connectivity to communicate with external networks. Newly designed connectivity platforms will bring in functionality that exists on server networks outside the vehicle, and the implications on the driving experience are truly endless. For the sake of your survival in the next ten years, look at where connected technologies are radically changing the landscape of vehicles, how they’re driven and what this means to you, the aftermarket mobile electronics retailer.
Five Years From Now By 2020 the connected car will be an everyday reality, enabling a world of new possibilities for drivers. In five years’ time, you will be able to drop your car off at the garage for a service and monitor its progress from the office, hand over low-speed control to the car in a traffic jam, or benefit from next generation connected infotainment services. The next five years will see the roll out of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication networks. These networks transform the car from a mechanical device into an intelligent transport system capable of communicating with other vehicles and infrastructure. The driving experience will be augmented by this communication through the delivery of cloud-based services and in-car functionality that would not be otherwise possible. Also by 2020, we will see more driver assist and collision avoidance technologies mandated by federal and state governments. For the aftermarket mobile electronics retailer, derivative business
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opportunities are possible once add-on solutions are required for the hundreds of millions of non-connected vehicles to comply with new safety rules. State certifications for installers and retail licenses for selling and installing these connected devices are highly probable, thus mobile electronics retailers should stay informed on what is happening and when to get involved with this new business venture.
Ten Years From Now Here is where things get very interesting. The rise in urban living will mean car ownership will become less appealing to drivers. Car sharing fleets like ZipCar will be much more common by 2025, and automakers will be partnering with these fleets in the development of interiors that are better suited to multiple owners. Digital driving licenses will be held on smart phones, and users will be able to book a car and receive the booking details on their smart phone, then use near-field-communication (NFC) to access it. NFC will also be used to personalize
Companies to Know www.facebook.com/ audiovox www.youtube.com/user/ AudiovoxPR
car settings such as favorite radio station, preferred temperature, seat position, and more. The opportunities for mobile electronics retailers are a bit vague. However, it is clear that the in-dash receiver as we know it will cease to exist and will be replaced with more “black box” solutions that offer on-board NFC and external connectivity to networks that are not offered by vehicles today. Yes, vehicles sold in 2014 will still be on the road in ten years based on current reliability trends. Retrofit and replacement business should be brisk particularly when these connected V2V and V2I solutions are mandated alongside driver assist and collision avoidance devices. In ten years, autonomous (self-driving) cars will be a reality in some metropolitan cities. By this stage, cars will be more intelligent than the driver when it comes to the environment around them. The car’s on-board processing capabilities and connectivity to external networks will know how best to avoid traffic jams, as well as the ideal routes to reach certain places, and it will be able to respond to hazards far more quickly and effectively than the average driver. Many may prefer the car to do all the driving. This will greatly reduce accidents caused by human error and will hugely increase mobility for the elderly and disabled. Mobile electronics retailers will have a much broader field in which to play in ten years. With autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles on the road, a new range of in-car entertainment, health monitoring, communication and productivity solutions will be available that will make the commuting experience much more satisfying. Again, think about the retrofit and replacement opportunities for millions of non-connected (or under-connected) vehicles. Something that will not likely change is the need for better audio. Active on-board noise reduction systems will reach new levels of sophistication as vehicle body materials are re-engineered and “light-weighted” to comply with higher fuel economy standards. Reduction in power consumption and weight will keep aftermarket amplifiers and speakers relevant as consumers associate “green” with “good.” Through the now-legal use of personal headsets, and the relative complexity of accessorizing the audio system, audio upgrades for autonomous
Headquarters: 1703 S. Magnolia Ave. Monrovia, CA 91016 Phone: 1-626-239-6442 Fax: 1-661-462-2194 Online at: www.audiofrogusa.com
Brandmotion Headquarters: 220 East Huron St # 235 Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Phone: (734) 619-1250 Online at: www.brandmotion.com
Audiopipe Headquarters: 1195 NW 97th Avenue Miami, FL, 33172 Phone: 877-283-4674 Online at: www.audiopipe.com www.facebook.com/ audiopipeusa
Camera Source Headquarters: 7245 South 76th Street Franklin, WI, 53132 Phone: 888-844-9763 Online at: www.camera-source.com
Audiovox In business 49 years Headquarters: 150 Marcus Blvd Hauppauge, NY, 11788 Hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. EST Phone: 631-231-7750 Support: www.audiovoxproducts.com/support Online at: www.audiovoxproducts.com www.voxxintl.com/
Directed Headquarters: One Viper Way Vista, CA 92081 Phone: 800-876-0800 Email for Dealers: customerserviceadministration@ directed.com Online at: www.directed.com www.facebook.com/viper
new year Apps to Download
Apple Pay www.apple.com/apple-pay No charge to users, merchants or developers. It’s the newest thing in apps and mobile payments: payments with a single touch through contactless payment technology. Apple Pay has unique security features built right into the devices you use every day—iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad. You can use it to pay for purchases in hundreds of thousands of stores accepting contactless payments and to make purchases within participating apps on the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. More importantly, your customers can use it to pay for your services and products. More stores and apps are being added daily. Participating banks include American Express, Bank of America, BarclayCard, CapitalOne, Citi, Chase, Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, USBank, PNC and Wells Fargo.
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Insightly www.insightly.com Insightly offers tight integration with Google Apps through the Insightly gadget, seamless sync with Google Calendar and Google Contacts, and easy access to Google Drive. Saving and actioning email messages in an efficient and productive way is a big part of Insightly. With the Insightly gadget there is a seamless Gmail CRM connection to give the best of both worlds. Now, you can save any email to Insightly in just one click – giving a full conversation history between you and your client, all efficiently indexed and searchable.
vehicles could be even more challenging than today.
In ten years, autonomous (self-driving) cars will be a reality in some metropolitan cities. By this stage, cars will be more intelligent than the driver when it comes to the environment around them.” - Keith Lehmann Does the mobile electronics retailer have a chance of survival in the next ten years? With a unique opportunity in 2025 to be positioned as the technology expert on all things connected, the answer is yes…as long as the retailer takes an interest in connected car technology trends and follows their trajectory to their logical conclusions. Keith Lehmann is a 30-year veteran of the consumer electronics industry, with executive experience in sales, marketing, technology and corporate management. Lehmann was most recently Executive Vice President of Kenwood USA Corporation, in charge of the company’s consumer electronics sector for over 10 years. Today, Lehmann is a technology industry consultant as well as Managing Director of the Connected Car Council and frequent contributor to the C3 Report (www. cthreegroup.com).
Taxes Times Two Prepping for one of the most stressful seasons takes a twopronged approach: completing the 1040 and capitalizing on your clients’ tax refund checks. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN
enjamin Franklin once said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Man, he wasn’t kidding. This proves even truer for retailers who know all-too-well the looming financial hole that awaits them when they go to balance their books at the end of every year. But like most things in life, leaping over the tax hurdle is all about planning. According to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), cheating the IRS is bad, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of every deduction possibility available to you. Running a successful business means playing by the rules, but also learning the rules well enough to know where they benefit you and prevent tax day from becoming “back in the red” day. There are five things a small business can do to prepare for filing according to the SBA: keep good records and understand available deductions, utilize small business tax provisions, remember tax credits within the Affordable Care Act, avoid common audit traps and keep business and personal expenses separate.
PART I: PAYING YOUR TAXES Prep for the Big Day Before beginning the process of filing, a business must first establish what type of business it is. Business structures are generally set up when a company first opens its doors and vary based
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on the purpose of the business. Types include Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Corporations, S Corporations and the Limited Liability Company (LLC). To best prepare to pay Uncle Sam you need to first know what’s coming in to the shop, both in the gross annual sense and per season. 2011 Retailer of the Year John Schwartz, owner of Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security in Anchorage, Alaska, uses this approach every December. “Generally in December you lay out the year. I’m S corp., which is probably the best way to go for small business,” he said. “With S corp., all the profits are considered losses on the direct tax return. You get a schedule K1 showing the profit of the company and it goes on the K40 tax return.” Knowing your profits for both the year and per season will help you plan for what to include in your tax return.
Find the Hidden Money Like most Americans, a small business owner can really feel the hurt when tax day comes around. When searching for a legal remedy to protect revenue, one place many retailers forget about is the realm of tax credits. While there are several types to choose from, one type that many 12-volt retailers miss is the R&D (Research and Development) tax credit. “R&D tax credit is more for manufacturers, not retailers. But there are times when retailers get into the product
development side of things themselves,” said Kirk Chen, a former CPA and current co-founder and managing director of Meritum Consulting. “It won’t work for a company like Best Buy where nothing is fabricated. But if there is any aspect to the installation and customization that a retailer would need to create for each customer, that is something they use as a tax credit.” To qualify for any tax credit, a specific form is needed. In the case of the R&D credit, retailers can use Form 6765. Any business type can take advantage of the credit as long as there is some type of documentation filed away to prove it in case of an audit. Since R&D is considered inventing, it can only be claimed if a retailer fabricates a part for a specific vehicle in a specific way for the customer. For example, if a customer purchases a set of component speakers and a double-DIN head unit for a vehicle designed only with a single-DIN unit (and assuming there’s no install kit for it), the retailer would have to fabricate door panels and an install kit to make it work. But if a business owner came in with a fleet of 20 of the same type of car, the retailer could only claim the first fabrication as part of the credit. Although something as obscure as this credit may seem so rare that IRS agents might ignore it, Chen stresses that when money is involved, the government pulls no punches. “One of the things that’s unique, if you are audited by IRS, because it’s in a specific area, they will bring with them a scientist or an engineer. Usually these folks are retired but are on the IRS’s payroll and will come with them to verify it is in the realm of research and development,” Chen said. “That’s why many CPAs won’t venture into this with a 10-foot pole because it’s out of their expertise. Claiming any instance requires evidence and clear understanding of why it’s in R&D.” Chen explained that there are three ways to prove a product has been invented on-site: 1. Wages. You have to show a specific amount of money spent on employees that were hired to design or develop products. 2. Supplies consumed during the development process. It’s not
enough to create the product in the first try. To make an expert believe you have invented something, you have to show the process of trial and error. That means spending money on multiple parts and materials and essentially throwing them away. 3. Third party contractors. If you hire Jeremy Carlson or Tom Miller to help with a project, make sure when you pay them there is an invoice to prove it.
Worth the Risk Keeping track of all the minute details of various transactions throughout the year is hard enough without prepping for a tax credit that may or may not reap great rewards. That means knowing if the juice is worth the squeeze. “There are a couple of things to take into consideration. First, how much you are likely to receive in terms of credit. The larger the credit, the more suspicious it becomes,” Chen said. “Non-manufacturer taxpayers are looked at with more scrutiny. But if you’re doing a timely file, including extensions, the risk goes down.” As long as the return is wrapped up neatly when submitted, the risk is low and can garner the maximum amount possible. According to Chen, the average refund the R&D credit gets is around four percent. Based on the amount, it may not be worth it to hire a CPA since handling the credit only requires using another form, he added. “It boils down to the risk benefit analysis. Usually it’s just tax returns and a few interviews with employees, documentation, wages, a roster list. There is some work that needs to be done with phone calls, interviews. Based on the facts, I will then give an honest opinion on whether it’s worth it.” Regarding risk, John Schwartz believes that despite a fear many retailers have that making more money means owing more taxes, it’s still better to maximize profits because it benefits the business regardless. “My mentor told me the more tax you pay the more money you make so don’t look at it as a negative. If you know the profit, you can calculate the liability. I’d gauge for the coming year on what I’m comfortable paying in taxes. On the flip
Former Retailer of the Year, Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security, uses Facebook and word-of-mouth to convince customers to spend their tax refunds at the shop. side, Marcel Newell of Avidworkx told me to stop limiting my profit. Make it higher. You need more profits to get more credit to expand your business. So the question becomes, do you limit more profitability to be comfortable with your taxes or max profitability with higher tax liability?”
PART 2: REAPING THE REWARDS Tax Refund Revenue Once you’ve handled the business side of taxes, it’s time to tackle the consumer aspect: the tax refunds. Lots of people have money to burn after they do their taxes but choose to save that money or put it toward paying off debt, according to a poll by Bankrate.com. In 2014, 84 percent of Americans receiving refunds plan to pay down debt, save or invest in everyday necessities, the poll said. That’s where good marketing comes in. “It is paramount to tie in the promotional calendar around tax season from the basic perspective that consumers do in fact have more free cash flow for that 60 to 90 day period, but the consumer hates blatant insults on their intelligence. Don’t say, ‘come spend your tax dollars with me,’” said Steve Witt, executive vice president of Automotive Electronics Management. “The key becomes being intelligent about the promotional theme, and knowing that in the background there is this higher cash flow in the consumer market due to tax returns.”
The Small Business Administration’s 5 Tips For Tax Preparation 1.) Keep Good Records and Understand Available Deductions Proper record-keeping year-round is the first step to ensure taxes are filed accurately. Save essential paperwork that might be needed to back up deduction claims, should there be an audit. Keep in mind that tax credits and deductions change each year. 2.) Utilize the Small Business Jobs Act Tax Provisions The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama, has over 17 tax provisions to decrease tax burdens for small businesses. Several of these provisions can be taken advantage of during this year’s tax season. Utilizing these provisions could provide great savings for your business. 3.) Remember the tax credits within the Affordable Care Act These tax credits will allow small businesses to cover up to 35 percent of the health care premiums a small business pays to cover its workers. In 2014, the tax credit will increase to 50 percent. 4.) Avoid Common Audit Traps It is very important to be aware of potential red flags which could include: • Classifying Employees as Independent Contractors – Independent contractors and employees are not the same and it is important to understand the difference. In the eyes of the IRS, misclassification can be seen as an attempt to avoid payroll taxes; non-compliance can bring penalties and back taxes. • Home Office Deduction – This deduction is very specific and not all home-based businesses qualify. Know how to determine if you are eligible to claim this deduction and what specific expenses may be deducted. • Large Sum Miscellaneous Deductions – If you claim a large amount of itemized deductions or miscellaneous expenses, relative to your income, the IRS could get suspicious. Be specific and label every deduction. 5. ) Keep Business and Personal Expenses Separate – The IRS scrutinizes personal expenses that may have been claimed as a business expense, such as the use of a business vehicle, for personal use. Maintain separate bank and credit card accounts for your business and personal use. Be diligent about keeping good records.
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Considering how discerning consumers are about spending their disposable income, retailers should utilize all the promotional tools they have at their disposal while not manipulating the consumer, Witt added. “It’s about focusing not just on the promotional dollars and the timing during tax season but includes also hitting hot buttons for the consumer that are more of the ‘need-to-have’ versus ‘want-to-have’ variety,” he said. “So, having things like need to fix your stereo type thinking or even the safety category fall nicely into that classification of consumer discernment for disposable income. Quite often consumers would like to have these things but won’t purchase them because they don’t feel they have the disposable income to do it.” Despite the limited disposable income issue most people have, they will still spend money as long as they feel the promotion holds value to them personally.
It won’t work for a company like Best Buy where nothing is fabricated. But if there is any aspect to the installation and customization that a retailer would need to create for each customer, that is something they use as a tax credit.” – Kirk Chen, managing director of Meritum Consulting “Ultimately, the key for sales promotion is a meaningful and relevant hook. As an industry I maintain that we have lost the ability to create meaningful hooks because we have a tendency to live in the past. You gotta look at the key drivers of consumer purchasing behavior today and we’ve gotta answer the key question of a promotion a retailer has to answer: what does this do for me? We have to think like the customer!” When prepping his shop’s promotional strategy, Schwartz utilizes old staples like Facebook and word-of-mouth to market any promotion he runs. While pushing for the specific idea of spending your refund check isn’t done by Schwartz, he does stress the importance of appealing to a timely product or service based on region. “The strategy for spending refunds is always different. Coming out of winter and going into spring we tell people it’s time to roll your windows down, come by and have the best in the business tune up your stereo,” he said. “Don’t focus on tax returns, base it off of the season. This year everybody got 1800 bucks from BP up here.” When it comes to tax season as a whole, Schwartz stressed that the best way retailers can protect themselves is to be involved with the money. “Make sure you know your company. Don’t just say the accountant handles that. They don’t know every aspect of the business. Have a great CPA and bookkeeper, but if they walk out you should know the books. Your job as CEO is the money. If you have to wait for an accountant to tell you, then you already failed. I’ve seen a lot of companies get robbed because they aren’t paying attention to the books.”
Types of Business Structures
Sites to See
Straight from the source, IRS.gov explains each type to make the most of your tax credit opportunities. Sole Proprietorship- A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself. However, if you are the sole member of a domestic limited liability company (LLC), you are not a sole proprietor if you elect to treat the LLC as a corporation. Partnership- A partnership is the relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business. A partnership must file an annual information return to report the income, deductions, gains, losses, etc., from its operations, but it does not pay income tax. Instead, it “passes through” any profits or losses to its partners. Each partner includes his or her share of the partnership’s income or loss on his or her tax return. Partners are not employees and should not be issued a Form W-2. The partnership must furnish copies of Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) to the partners by the date Form 1065 is required to be filed, including extensions. Corporation- In forming a corporation, prospective shareholders exchange money, property, or both, for the corporation’s capital stock. A corporation generally takes the same deductions as a sole proprietorship to figure its taxable income. A corporation can also take special deductions. For federal income tax purposes, a Corporation is recognized as a separate taxpaying entity. A corporation conducts business, realizes net income or loss, pays taxes and distributes profits to shareholders. The profit of a corporation is taxed to the corporation when earned, and then is
taxed to the shareholders when distributed as dividends. This creates a double tax. The corporation does not get a tax deduction when it distributes dividends to shareholders. Shareholders cannot deduct any loss of the corporation. S Corporation- S corporations are corporations that elect to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes. Shareholders of S corporations report the flow-through of income and losses on their personal tax returns and are assessed tax at their individual income tax rates. This allows S corporations to avoid double taxation on the corporate income. S corporations are responsible for tax on certain built-in gains and passive income at the entity level. Limited Liability Company- A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute. Each state may use different regulations, and you should check with your state if you are interested in starting a Limited Liability Company. Owners of an LLC are called members. Most states do not restrict ownership, and so members may include individuals, corporations, other LLCs and foreign entities. There is no maximum number of members. Most states also permit “single-member” LLCs, those having only one owner. A few types of businesses generally cannot be LLCs, such as banks and insurance companies. Check your state’s requirements and the federal tax regulations for further information. There are special rules for foreign LLCs.
U.S. Small Business Administration www.sba.gov Official site of the U.S. government’s department for small business which includes advice, forms and links to anything from starting a business to obtaining loans and grants. Understanding tax deductions is one of the keys to start-up success. Learn how to make more money for your small business by paying the IRS less -- let Deduct It! show you how to quickly maximize the business deductions you’re legally entitled to.
Turbo Tax https://turbotax.intuit.com Intuit’s solution for both personal and business taxes. Features include tax tips, purchasing software, and a help center for customer service issues.
Stuff to read Duct Tape Marketing Revising and Updated: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide By John Jantsch (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2011) In Duct Tape Marketing, renowned Small Business Marketing guru John Jantsch shows you how to develop and execute a marketing plan that will give your business the life and longevity you knew you could have when you made that decision to go out on your own.
tax time People to Meet
Companies to Know
Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Few installation technicians have the broad range of skill sets and unwavering commitment to quality that Jason delivers at Kingpin. He has been involved in the professional 12-volt installation field for over 25 years and brought a wealth of experience when opening the doors of Kingpin Car & Marine Audio in 2006. The shop has had national recognition in over 42 magazines including consumer publications like DUB, Speed, Ironhorse, Rides, Car Audio & Electronics and Car Stereo.
Musicar Northwest Ken is the West Coast’s foremost expert in audio integration, especially in premium vehicles. He has been in the audio and electronics field for almost 30 years. An alumni of both Old Town Car Tunes and avincar in Portland, he’s also worked with manufacturers in technical and product-marketing capacities. He’s served on the MECP installer certification committee, contributed to the MECP Study Guide, is a past chair of the CEA’s Mobile Electronics Education Committee, and conducts seminars at the industry’s Knowledgefest annual convention and through Musicar’s Educar Training subsidiary. The shop has won multiple awards including 2014 Installer of the Year for co-owner Tom Miller and Top 12 Retailer for 2014.
Metra Electronics In business over 60 years Headquarters: 460 Walker Street Holly Hill, FL 32117 Phone: 800-221-0932 Fax: 800-647-8091 Online at: www.metraonline.com www.facebook.com/MetraElectronics www.youtube.com/user/MetraElectronics
2014 Tacoma Rear Vision - Plug & Play Several configurations available! Secretaudio Secretaudio SST SST
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Camera Source LLC | 414-939-5226 www.camera-source.com
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Dealer & Distributor Inquiries Welcome me-mag.com 57
tax time Apps to Download
taxes. It works on all devices and operating systems.
ZenPayroll www.zenpayroll.com $25 monthly base fee, $4 per month for first 10 users, $2 for every employee after that Streamline your entire payroll process with this paperless service that automatically calculates all relevant income taxes. Users can access paystub archives at any time, along with documents like state and federal payroll
www.pulse.me Free with LinkedIn Keep up with industry news by using this app to personalize your reading experience for exactly the kinds of content needed to run a better business. If you’re away from the Internet, you can load stories beforehand and read them offline. You can also share articles to network with colleagues and grow your own LinkedIn community within one streamlined download. Works with iOS and Android devices.
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Be part of a great TEAM with a history of growth and success. Contact Team TSI today! www.Team-TSI.com/join-the-team/careers Toll-free: (866) 2WIRE-IT Email: HR@Team-TSI.com Excellent pay, benefits and future: $800+ weekly to start, training pay, hourly, commission plus bonus, company vehicles, health insurance, two weeks of paid vacation, profit sharing, 401K contributions
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