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Keith McCumber recommends more education as a way to advance your business, while Parish Tanner warns about the dangers of deceitful business partners.

8-21-2016 -- Never undersell your expertise. James Donaghy, High Output Audio, Garner, N.C. 

I would tell anyone who is just starting out to plan for when you are one of the best shops in town. This would include increasing your staff and an organized plan to handle the increase of business. Eddy Lamour, DSP Audio and Video, Wheaton, Md.

Anyone that has a issue and you're registered with iDatalink, all you have to do is call and they will go out of their way to make sure your problem is solved. Isaac Siegfried, Jam Audio, Brunswick, Maine

We have had exposure to several thousand potential clients recently. I think if we were able to give accurate estimates and schedule appointments from there we may have done even better. Anonymous

We're slimming product line offerings across all aspects of the shop. We have revamped our shop and reduced the brands we offer to a select few of quality which are the most profitable, best selling lines in our area. Doing so allowed us to reduce SKUs and overhead as well as really push the product that sold and worked the best for us. It also allowed us to be more knowledgeable on every piece we sell and not have to learn all the ins and outs of a ton of parts that may rarely sell. We feel it gives us more of a specialty feel and less like a box store that carries a little of everything and know little about any of it. Rick Snyder, Tri State Automobile Accessories, Southaven, Miss.

Always have patience with your support staff. Many times these individuals are learning about the issue with you, in real time. Troubleshooting can be an exercise in patience and you need to be willing to try a solution you may not have wanted to hear. Dayne Mielken, Visions Electronics, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

To keep our industry going I think we have to do more training to bring more people in and show them how exciting our industry is. Kevin Cornutt, Stereo King, Portland, Ore.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

8-22-2016 -- The Car Audio Shop in High Ridge, Mo. has been going through significant changes, including a complete rework of the fabrication area, shop and showroom. Rather than have someone else do the work, they’re designing and building their own displays and counters for the showroom. Brandon Green, shop owner, is determined to ensure all the displays are consistent with the business’s theme. By making their own designs, they’ll be able to update them in the future according to their needs. Green is confident the outcome will be exactly what is best for the business. “For us, it is another way to show clients what we can accomplish rather than a display bought and sitting in a corner,” he explained. “We will be able to use even our counter as a selling tool, not just to hold a computer. It will be good for pictures and advertising and give people seeing it there an idea of what to expect.”

With a single location, the shop has two full-time employees and two part-time. “My wife and I opened this shop in February of 2012, so we are currently working on our fifth year,” Green said, stating that when they initially opened, they partnered with a high-end detailing company and “rented the back 30 by 30 portion of the shop out.” However, both businesses grew quickly, so the detailing business moved out, giving Green a chance to expand the fabrication department. Areas were then dedicated to metal work, welding and wood working.

There’s plenty of room to operate, offering room for long-term projects now that all the equipment has been moved from the main installation area and things have been re-organized. As for the showroom, it is something The Car Audio Shop has been wanting to update for some time, according to Green. 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

8-22-2016 -- In the August issue of Mobile Electronics, we erroneously made three errors in the Behind the Scenes section. We apologize for the errors and are providing the following corrections for all interested parties:

  • - On page 47 in the center column, 2nd paragraph, the product is listed as the Legend CB-100, it is actually called the Legend CP-100.
  • - Also on page 47, the total employees is listed at 40,000 but it is actually around 39,000.
  • - On page 50 on the left side bar, the bottom picture has a caption that says it is a JBL Trip;; the picture actually displays the Kappa Perfect series speakers. 

To read the complete article, click HERE.

August Issue Feature, 8-10-2016 -- As an installer practicing in the 90s, Pacific Accessory Corporation was the name you knew for all the "little things" that made electronics integration work. Whether it was a timer, signal converter or turn-on delay, PAC had the solution.

Today, they don't use the whole name anymore as the brand is now a division of a larger corporation, AAMP Global. It's simply called PAC. But despite the obsolete name, what is not lost is the 40 years of innovation the brand contributed to make the mobile electronics industry what it is today.

As the anniversary number implies, PAC was started in 1976 by John Patterson, who saw a market opportunity to create a better antenna connection for CB radios. The package featured a hideaway antenna and slide mount adapter for the radio. Unfortunately, the window closed quickly as the government changed CB specs just as the units were being manufactured.

Piggyback Ride to Big Boxes

The company turned its attention to the burgeoning car stereo installation business, producing noise filters, crossovers, times and signal adapters for shops across the country. PAC developed strong ties with the specialist installation community and quickly became known for its customer-focused phone technical support. Those ties were so strong that a car stereo company gave Patterson the designs for a new high-to low adapter concept that the company developed into some of its most successful products early on: the SNI-1, SNI-8 and SNI-15.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

8-31-2016 -- Legendary martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee once said, "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

The power of water is undeniable in the natural world. But in the retail space, it can be even more powerful. Especially if one put Lee's concept into practice. Luckily for Mark Fung, owner of Stereo Solutions in Redding, Calif., both the philosophical and physical elements of water have helped land his shop in the Top 50 two years in a row.

Located on the Sacramento River, and close to multiple lakes, including the vast Lake Shasta, Redding is home to a strong boating community that acts as the foundation for Stereo Solutions' business. Due to the recent drought in California, Fung had been concerned about the possibility of a slow season, but luckily, thanks to a surprise rainy season, business is booming.

"It's been our second busiest month ever. California has been in a drought. Our lakes are full now. Mt. Shasta has a bunch of snow. People are investing in new boats," Fung said. "There was a point where people thought we were a boat dealer because we had a lot of boats here. The bay has 2,500 square feet with four bay doors, two on each side to pull vehicles through. We squeezed eight or nine boats in there at one time. Marine is a big portion of our company but it's not all of it."

The shop also works with the local fire department and highway patrol, installing navigation, Bluetooth, backup cameras and specialty remote starts.

"Some of the highway patrol cars would come from probably 300 miles away," Fung said. "What started it was we work with a lot of dealerships here in town and they were handling a lot of fleet programs. They got on board with highway patrol and we jumped on board with that."

Liquid Thoughts

Becoming a community's go-to place for vehicle upgrades isn't a guarantee, even in a place like Redding where there is a need. It's a good thing that Fung is immersed in all things 12-volt and always has been throughout his career.

"It's the only job I've ever had. I worked sweeping car audio shops when I was 15 and a half, right when I could drive," Fung said. "The first shop I worked at was called Speed of Sound in Redding. I was sweeping floors and getting to learn installs by shadowing." After spending two to three years at Speele Audio, Fung moved around to around six shops in town. The experience helped Fung identify the do's and don'ts of the business, preparing and inspiring him to open his own shop.

"All the shops I worked at in town are no longer in business. I think one of the biggest reasons was the owners of the shops were not car audio guys. They all had financial backers. None of them could install. They all had to rely on someone to get a job done," Fung said. "When it comes down to it, I can sell a job and I can turn around and install it. It's hard for me to hire a salesman without an installation background because if he doesn't know what he's selling and the car it's going in, it won't turn out right. That's a unique thing here. I have six employees and every single one of them has an installation background."

The shop does not have a dedicated salesperson anymore. Instead, Fung uses a unique approach, allowing as many installers to populate the sales floor as is needed at any given time to handle customers.

"People can buy this stuff anywhere but can't get it installed anywhere. There's a guy in town now that just sells product," Fung said. "That's how we focus the shop, around the install."

Part of Fung's unique approach comes from his background in self-sufficiency. The shop has no traditional financial backers. It started thanks to a generous loan from Fung's grandmother in 2007. 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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