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October Issue Feature: Strategy & Tactics - Double Trouble

10-25-2017, Mobile Electronics -- Growth is interpreted differently by business owners the world over, and that’s because it’s different for everyone. While one business may wish to expand, another might want to stay small. Over the years, each business picks up various strategies that work well for them.

Mobile Toys, Inc. in College Station, Texas expanded in unanticipated ways, increasing space, diversifying product and adding staff. “Three years ago, we opened up our own upholstery shop,” said Chris Pate of Mobile Toys. “We brought in our own stitcher and sewing machines. We expanded our offerings to dealerships for aftermarket leather kits and are able to do more custom interiors and repairs,” he added, noting that this was an entire segment of their business that they were unable to do before. At their second location in Bryan, Texas, the company has a 600 square foot space dedicated to special upholstery.

“From there we got into doing hot rod interiors, which went hand-in-hand with our work,” Pate added. “Since then, we started to do truck accessories. We can do everything you want on a vehicle. We just don’t do paint and body.”

While Mobile Toys expanded, Tunes-N-Tint of Lakeland, Fla. has consolidated its business to increase effectiveness in certain areas. Meanwhile, Sound Wave Customs in Virginia Beach, Va. has expanded in terms of staff, going from a skeleton crew of three or four team members to a staff of eight, including owner Ethan Blau.

Each business has come across its own set of challenges, but each continues to grow thanks to the implementation of strong business strategies.

Tight Rope

Finding good employees is one challenge stores in the 12-volt industry are continually struggling with. Pate stated that the most challenging part of expanding Mobile Toys, Inc. was finding qualified people who could do the work.

“Getting into lifts, rims and tires and truck accessories, you’re not just putting a radio on a truck,” Pate said. “You’re doing lifts, rims and tires. You could hurt someone or kill someone. You have to be thorough and find people who can do it right. That’s one of the biggest tasks we have. We have more insurance because of it. It’s not easy finding qualified employees who do the job right.”

Mobile Toys provides a wide range of services including truck accessories, wheels and rims, tires and lift kits on trucks, LED lighting, custom headlights as well as installations of light bars and more. To do all this, the team needs to be diverse and well-trained. Mobile Toys now has 10 employees.

Discovering a need for additional team members is something that happens over time, according to Blau of Sound Wave Customs. “I’ll use my kids as an example,” Blau said. “One minute they are born, they’re an infant, and the next thing you know they are five or six years old. You can relate to that in business. The more your name gets out there, the busier you get. We have to handle that workload. We have a big building, 6,300 feet. It takes that many employees to do stuff.”

At one point, Tunes-N-Tint had two locations, but owner Joe Cassity chose to focus on only one store to keep from being stretched too thin. “We've consolidated our Lakeland stores down to one, but expanded our offerings,” he said. “This has allowed us to increase revenue while decreasing overhead. By keeping our staff members cross-trained it allows us to control costs, mitigate time off issues and deal with what can sometimes be a roller coaster business.” Cassity also noted that managing all the social media and digital platforms can also be challenging.

Another challenge can be encouraging customers to return to the store. Blau stated the number one goal at Sound Wave Customs is ensuring a positive customer experience. “I get great reviews, from Google to Yelp, to Better Business Bureau, Facebook—it just grows. The store grows, we bring in a new line or change the showroom,” Blau said. “I’ve revamped the layout of the store twice in four years. Even returning customers are like, ‘Wow, you’re always doing something new!’” Keeping things fresh is also strategic in that it helps encourage growth and expansion in the long run.

Scheduling is also a challenge, according to Pate, who stated that it can be difficult to schedule jobs and to ensure that staff members aren’t already scheduled for something else. “The margins on rims and tires and lifts and truck accessories are far less than car audio,” Pate added. “That can be a challenge, too, especially because of the Internet.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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