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Shop Owners Teach Industry Essentials at KnowledgeFest
 
Word by Laura Kemmerer
 
Known for hosting some of the highest quality education in the mobile electronics industry, KnowledgeFest recently marked a return to in-person classes and networking opportunities. At the event, Adam Devine of Devine Concepts in Naples, Fla., and Brandon Green of The Car Audio Shop in High Ridge, Mo., both drew on their own expertise and taught “Marine Fabrication Best Practices” and “The 12-Volt Insight.”
Devine said he felt the turnout at the debut Orlando show was excellent, “especially being post pandemic. People are still worrying about going to events. The turnout has been great, the interactions have been great and the classes are phenomenal. I’ve seen more interaction during the classes instead of just downloading the content and information and not participating,” he added.
 
Online education options, though helpful due to pandemic restrictions, had lower rates of engagement from students. According to Devine, in-person learning facilitates more participation and gets attendees to ask more questions. In contrast with few questions asked in virtual trainings, Devine and Green had over 30 inquiries after their first presentation. The two also closed out the weekend co-teaching “The 12-Volt Insight,” an owner-manager class. Devine noted that his store in Naples focuses on high-end luxury vehicles, and his perspective might not be relevant to everyone.
 
“Understanding those differences and what you should have in terms of product selection could be different from Naples to Minnesota to everywhere else,” Devine said.
What should remain the same, however, is how you interact with your clients. Emphasis on customer service, excellent solutions and getting an understanding of your customer’s lifestyle, in order to better understand their needs, should all be part of the same core practice. With an additional emphasis on selling benefits rather than features, customers are sure to have a positive experience.
 
“You’re not going to sell a mom who has two kids and makes long trips on the features of rear-seat entertainment, you’re going to sell them on the fact that it’s the experience—the kids in the backseat are going to be quiet and you’re going to have a nice relaxing ride,” he explained.... Read the rest of the story HERE.
 
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11-9-2016, Mobile Electronics -- Every now and then a build will come in to a shop that plants major seeds for the future. That scenario happened for Chris Hilbert and his shop, Sound Decisions, out of Racine, Wisc. After completing a stealth box build for a client, he returned with a bigger job. That client was Master Sergeant Chris Moore of the 347th Air Force recruiting squadron out of Oak Creek, Wisc.; the job was to turn a 2014 Ford Expedition into a recruiting tool for the Air Force. According to Hilbert, it's working.

"Moore has trucks similar to that in Texas and had great success with that. He was really happy. He asked us for estimates and went with it," Hilbert said. "It needed to be loud, visible on the outside and have lots of lights. The truck got tons of exposure at Oshkosh. The biggest thing was to get them more recruiting. Chris gets paid commission for the more people he signs up for the Air Force. He said this has made his job incredibly easy."

But the job was anything but easy for Hilbert and his team, comprised of installers Ian Glacio and Dave Northart. Due to the truck being leased, anything installed had to be easily removable once the lease ended. The build included a 20-inch flat panel screen and Xbox that were supplied by the Air Force. Audio equipment included one JL Audio XD1000/5v2 amplifier, four JL Audio 12-inch subwoofers, one JL Audio MM100S (marine control center) and two JL Audio MX650-CCX-SG-TLD-B component coaxial systems. Stinger, Compustar, iDatalink and Cobra rounded out the mix with various accessory products. Overall, the build took 10 days to complete.

Although creating a custom build that is easily removable is a rare feat for the shop, they were well prepared thanks to their previous training with Sonus, learning techniques that would come in handy with this and other builds.

"I paid for my guys to go through training at Sonus two years ago. They implemented lots of techniques from that in this truck. There's fiberglass in the rear panels where the speakers are. Two screws hold each one of those panels in place completely. Using what we have there, it's easy to come out if we have to work on it," Hilbert said. "We knew the Xbox had problems with overheating, that's why we made mesh compartments so it doesn't overheat. They say they've run the system for as long as 12 hours without having to start the vehicle. Being in the back of the truck, it's important so you don't gas people out when they are playing the game."

Since completing the job, Hilbert posted the job on the store's social media pages and website to attract attention. It worked. "Because of the pictures we sent, a store in Nebraska inquired to us about what we did and how we did it. I know the store in Nebraska saw all the same work we did and was asked by the recruitment office there, too. I posted this to our MESA forum where dealers actively search for this business," Hilbert added. "This is something that can be done any time. They need to go to events, they need to attract young people, which are our 12-volt clients anyway. Keep in mind [the military] have funds for this type of work." 

Read the rest of the story HERE. 

Words by Jon Kowanetz

May 24, 2018 - Mobile Electronics magazine feature

Branching Out: How to mindfully expand your business into new categories.

We have been hearing about it for years in Facebook groups, trade shows and in the columns of this very magazine, and now we are seeing it reflected in our own P&L reports—the decline of the core car audio business. Like it was for me, that very part of the business is surely what ignited your passion so many years ago and kept that flame burning through all the late nights and early mornings while you built a career around it. But now, as we think about the average customer who walks through our doors, we see less excitement over sound quality than connectivity, and more discussion over product prices than specifications.

Now, if you’re anything like I was a year ago, you’re probably wondering, “Is this flame slowly flickering out?” While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, the broad answer is yes, it is flickering out. There’s still time to place some tinder around it and allow that flame to light some new fires, but you need to choose carefully!

When the profit center that you built your business around starts to erode, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a popular new category that promises revenue growth and new customer acquisition. Before you take on the challengen... [Click Here] to read the rest of the feature.

 

Words by Jason Kranitz

April 16, 2018 -- When it comes to communicating with the customer, selling products and charging properly for labor, some businesses may struggle. Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University offers five steps that shop owners can implement today to help increase revenue.

The American dream is to work hard, make money, and have fun doing it. Your 12-volt business can make all those dreams come true, but you need to know how to build a profitable ticket in order to succeed. With my experience training at other shops, at KnowledgeFest, and at my in-house classes at Kingpin University, we have developed some techniques that will add dollars to your bottom line.

1.Talking time instead of dollars

By now, we’ve all heard we must start billing out by time instead of guessing a dollar amount. But do you truly understand why? Your client understands time and can justify a cost easier when associating it with a dollar amount. On Saturday morning you don’t get ready to go to the local hardware store to pick up some supplies and tell your spouse, “I’m headed to the hardware store and will be back in $125.00.” We don’t talk that way. It makes no sense, but we do it in our stores! Stop. Yes, you can have a few items in the store that are priced flat rate. But you need to analyze it and make sure—using the laws of averages—that the task can be completed in the flat-rate time by the average tech. Not your senior guy or the quick guy in the bay, but the average tech!

2. Labor is 100 percent profit

Crack is illegal and this statement should be, too. This is an... [Click Here] to read the rest of the feature.

Nominations will open for select retail performance and vendor awards

NORTH ANDOVER, MASS., May 9, 2018 (MEDIAWIRE) – Mobile Electronics® magazine, the industry's premier trade publication, announced it will kick off the first phase of the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards on May 16. At that time, the publication will begin accepting nominations for several retail performance awards, as well as awards for vendors, rep firms, distributors and expeditors. Nominations for Retailer of the Year, Installer of the Year, Salesperson of the Year and Trusted tech will begin later.

The split nomination process is a change from last year, in which all awards began nominations simultaneously. The new format will attract a higher number of participants and enable candidates to focus on creating quality submissions.

"It's no secret that our Retailer of the Year and Installer of the Year awards garner the most attention during the awards process," said Solomon Daniels, editor-in-chief of Mobile Electronics and awards coordinator. "But we know there are quality stores, companies and individuals in other categories who perform at a high level and will make excellent examples for other industry professionals to follow. We want to give these categories a spotlight of their own so that the candidates, and ultimately the winners, get the recognition they deserve."

Also new this year is a realignment of the Top Vendor awards. As product categories shift toward after-the-head-unit solutions, recreational applications and a blending of vehicle sensing and notification technology, the categories have adjusted to reflect the changes.

Held annually, the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards recognize the best of the industry. Candidate companies and individuals submit video nominations and are narrowed to a list of finalists after a selection and/or voting process. In certain award categories, finalists submit materials that are then judged by a select panel to determine a winner. In other categories, final voting tallies determine the winner. All winners are announced at a special awards ceremony, held the last day of the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) KnowledgeFest tradeshow and conference in Dallas. This year's awards ceremony will take place August 19 at the Dallas Convention Center.

On May 16, Mobile Electronics will open nominations for the following award categories:

Retail Performance Awards

  • Most Improved Location or Chain
  • Best Online Presence
  • Best Customer Retention Program
  • Best Customer Experience
  • Best Store Culture (New for 2018)
  • Rookie of the Year

Vendor Awards

  • Distributor of the Year
  • Expeditor of the Year
  • Representative of the Year
  • Rep Firm of the Year
  • Top Vendor - Safety, Security and Driver Assistance
  • Top Vendor - Autosound and Processing
  • Top Vendor - Infotainment and Multimedia
  • Top Vendor - Powersports and Marine
  • Top Vendor - Accessories and Materials

For each award, candidates must submit a video based on the specifications listed under each award category at meindustryawards.com. All video submissions are due May 28. Visit meindustryawards.com to view submission requirements and awards updates throughout the process, and sign up to the Hotwire newsletter at me-mag.com.

Mobile Electronics strives to grow the mobile electronics industry by supporting its retailers, salespeople, technicians and manufacturers with integrated services built around the group’s 1,100-plus-member industry association, the Mobile Electronics Association™, its Mobile Electronics® magazine, KnowledgeFest® tradeshows, Partnership Program, point-of-sale system and data products. Through these offerings, Mobile Electronics delivers education, networking avenues, and business and marketing resources, and promotes partnership between retailers and manufacturers to increase sales and profits. For more information, contact Mobile Electronics at 85 Flagship Dr., Suite F, North Andover, MA, 01845, telephone: 800-949-6372, or visit mobile-electronics.com.

Words by Rosa Sophia

Each year, the Industry Awards encourages owners and installers to take a look at their careers and how far they’ve come, showcasing their achievements in front of their peers. Taking such a deep look at one’s business and profession reveals many factors to success, as well as areas where competitors can improve.

“If you can work really hard and you’re willing to put in the hours, you can reach your goals,” said Christerfer Pate, Top 12 Installer of Mobile Toys Inc., College Station, Texas.

How did the process of competing in these awards affect personal growth for installers and owners, as well as growth within their businesses?

Regarding the awards and working toward the win, owners and installers shared their feelings about how the process changed them and spurred development within their personal and business lives.

 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

With a focus on revitalizing the Industry Awards, the yearly ceremony has been moved from Dallas to Las Vegas. Past award winners share their perspectives on an evolving tradition.
 
Words by Rosa Sophia
 
For the last three years, KnowledgeFest has held an event in Long Beach, Calif. But on February 18-20, 2022, the show and the Industry Awards will take place in Las Vegas, Nev. The choice was made to revitalize the awards ceremony and processes, and to make the awards more reflective of a full year of recognition.
 
Elias Ventura, who was awarded 2016-2017 Sales Pro of the Year and now works as the Mid-Atlantic territory manager for SounDigital and Ground Zero, said the move is a welcome one. “I think a change of scenery and structure is necessary, especially with all the present chaos,” he explained. “Having something to look forward to is important. Vegas is a perfect place for the show, and I think a little shift was needed.”
 
Past Winners Work to Refresh the Industry Awards
Members of the Industry Awards committee—including Ventura—meet to “make sure the process is very fair, and that we move forward in a modern way of doing things,” according to Jeff Smith, director of training at AAMP Global.
He added that it’s important to.... Read the rest of the story HERE.
 
 
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In-person training events and trade shows have shifted to online platforms in the wake of COVID-19. Retailers discuss pros and cons of education in a cyber setting, and their hopes for the coming year.
 
Words by Rosa Sophia
 
Due to COVID-19, some decisions regarding meeting with retailers have had to be made on a case-by-case basis, according to Mike Lewis of Echo Sales. The company is a rep firm covering seven states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota. “Under normal circumstances, our business is set up to call on independent accounts,” Lewis said, adding that they also host trainings to support retailers. This year, he noted the company started to stock more inventory themselves, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because of all the backorders.
 
According to Lewis, Echo Sales has had to approach their day-to-day business in a hybrid fashion. “A couple of months ago, they removed some local restrictions, but we were still being cautious,” he explained. “We were only visiting accounts with specific needs. I was focusing a lot of my travel around afternoon and evening trainings. Now we are back in more of a hybrid again, not traveling as much, and I’ve put offers out to do Zoom meetings, but most conversations have been on the phone.” There are certain things, he added, that must be done in-person—for example, it’s necessary to visit a new account to see the store. “If we do go somewhere, though, we’re very specific about what we’re doing.”
 
A year ago, the company moved into a new facility with a dedicated in-house training space, but because of COVID-19, only one training has.... Read the rest of the story HERE.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Words by Rosa Sophia

In part one of this two-part installment, industry experts—including Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog and Rob Wempe of Elettromedia—share their experiences with DSP and discuss how the industry has struggled with adapting, and how they might improve for the future.

If store owners are uncertain where to begin when it comes to DSP, they should first examine their business and decide how they are going to use it for their own purposes.

According to Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog, DSPs are becoming very accessible now, with models available under $200. “Everyone can afford to stock these products whether they know how to use them or not,” he said. But how does a business know where to begin with DSP, and how can technicians begin to educate themselves and problem-solve to integrate audio signals before they are passed to the factory amplifier?

Wehmeyer recalled his first experience with DSP in 1992. “That DSP system was designed to make it easier and to help us do a better job of optimizing the acoustic performance in the car after installing speakers,” he said. “That was the beginning of our ability to delay a signal from a speaker that is closer to us so it arrives at the same time as one farther away.”

Such an advancement made it possible for the car to have a good center image, Wehmeyer explained. “That system in ’92 included a head unit and you had to install the whole system to have the DSP,” he added. “Once DSP was included in factory audio systems, then they were using the same tools we were using. At the beginning, the DSP was included in the factory amp but the audio signal that went from the radio to the factory amp was an analog signal. It was easy for us to grab that analog signal before the factory amp and then we were almost back to what we were familiar with—a pair of wires to which we could connect in order to install an EQ, crossover, DSP or an amp.”

Some confusion remained, however, Wehmeyer added, because installers were accustomed to having an RCA plug. Now they had a pair of wires that resembled a speaker output, and “this meant we needed to learn how to identify signal types to determine if a line output convertor was necessary.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Fulfilling educational sessions and new beginnings in Orlando marked the return to in-person KnowledgeFest events, while the industry anticipates a transformative year ahead.
 
Words by Rosa Sophia
 
Over half of all attendees at KnowledgeFest Orlando, June 25-27, reported that it was their very first time attending, according to a survey by Mobile Electronics Association. Orlando—known as “the City Beautiful”—hosted the debut KnowledgeFest, and those hailing from Florida were excited to have the show in their own “backyard.”
 
Dave Elkin of DOW Technologies said it was a short drive from the company’s corporate headquarters in Tampa. “We decided to tell our ‘local’ story [to attendees],” he said, adding, “It was so exciting to look around the booth and see all the vehicles owned by DOW employees.” After all, he added, the company’s motto “‘We are Technology’ is something we live by every day.”
 
 
MMats Pro Audio, which manufactures most of its audio equipment in Jupiter, Fla., made the drive to Orlando for KnowledgeFest. For regional sales manager Mike Hall, Friday’s show floor experience was most memorable, with plenty of interaction with knowledgeable dealers. Hall said the past year has been a very busy one for the company, adding that MMats sold in the first three months of the year what would’ve normally taken nine months to sell.
“This was our third national event of the year,” he added. “While some might say attendance was low, we felt like those who did attend were very important to our success.”
 
KnowledgeFest as a Return to In-Person Networking
Professionals from across the industry agreed that getting to see everyone in person again was a highlight of the show. Elkin said DOW Technologies had very positive interactions with key dealers and core vendors, adding, “Everyone has been through a lot over the past 16 months. To be able to finally get back together with so many familiar faces was fantastic.”
 
He gave a nod to his company’s sales team, underscoring the importance of building value and deepening relationships, and said he feels the industry will begin to see higher levels of attendance at industry events in the coming year.
“I think some folks were just too busy, so they couldn’t get out yet, but I also think there were dealers who wanted to see how this show went before committing or planning to attend themselves,” he said, agreeing with Hall that although attendance seemed light, they were able to visit with a lot of dealers. One of the challenges, though, is encouraging people to .... Read the rest of the story HERE.
 
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