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12-21-2016, Mobile Electronics -- There are plenty of marketing campaigns and techniques designed to attract new customers. But once those customers arrive, make their purchase and leave, how can they be enticed to return?

A first impression is the beginning of everything and the first step in customer retention. Upon entering a store, everything that’s seen is compiled in the mind to create the customer’s first impression—shop presentation, initial interaction with sales staff, whether the customer’s needs are anticipated and more.

Marcel Newell, founder of retail design company, AVIDWORX, noted the importance of the first impression as well as “putting forward a professional appearance and backing it up with friendly and professional customer service. You need to win that customer’s trust to make the first sale,” he said. After that, their trust has to be retained, so by the time the customer leaves the store, they have enjoyed their experience and have fond memories. Boosting customer retention means considering a number of different factors and applying logical techniques that keep customers coming back.

Method 1: Shop Presentation

Upon entering the shop, the visitor formulates a first impression based on what they see and whether or not they are greeted in a friendly manner. Jon Kowanetz of Handcrafted Car Audio in Chandler, Ariz. has been in the industry for 19 years. He stressed the importance of authenticity and being genuine with customers. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned that relates to customer retention is authenticity. Honesty and integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do, do your best work, and always be pushing the limits,” he said.

How the shop looks—whether it’s cluttered or clean, for example—will stick in the customer’s mind. The first impression is the basis for everything that follows. “If anything goes wrong, and it sometimes will when you’re dealing with cars and technology, a happy customer is a lot more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and a fair chance to make things right,” Newell said. “In fact, most studies show that it’s not the mistakes that matter to customers, it’s the way you handle them.”

With more than a few buying options to choose from, it’s important to make the customer want to come back by giving them a positive shopping experience, according to Newell. Interactions with customers give salespeople a chance to showcase the benefits of other products. “They may not buy today, but you’ll have given the customer something to think about and a reason to come back.”

Method 2: Forge Connections

Ensuring the customer knows how much you care is an essential aspect of boosting customer retention. Newell recommends checking in with customers who’ve made purchases. Ask them how things are going and whether they’re enjoying the product. Also inquire about their shopping experience. Was it positive? Do they feel any aspect of their experience could’ve been better?

“Post-sale, you absolutely need to keep in touch,” Newell advised, stating that an initial email should be sent to thank the customer, along with any information regarding warranties. Included in that first email should be an invitation to take a survey.

“The survey is another way to intercept unhappy customers before they do anything else that could hurt your reputation, as well as a good way to recognize the efforts of your staff,” he explained.

“After that first email, you need to send them regular emails from your store, at least once a month. Let them know about upcoming sales and promotions, new products, and the advantages of the other technology and products that you sell.”

If something negative occurs, it’s important to see what can be done to fix the issue. “We do recommend calling back customers, especially the bigger ticket customers that have more invested financially and emotionally in your products and installations,” Newell said. And if there’s a problem, fix it right away. “Customers are more loyal to the business that go the extra mile to fix things than they are to the businesses that don’t make mistakes.”

Anything that needs to be rectified should be taken care of as soon as possible. Due to the many outlets for sharing concerns and reviews on the Internet, it doesn’t take much for a customer to post and share their disappointments. “They have Yelp, they have Google, and they can have a huge amount of influence on others,” Newell said of unsatisfied consumers. “It takes years to build a good reputation, but a few unhappy customers can destroy it overnight.”

Kowanetz advised shops to do what they can to stay in front of people and keep them coming back. “We’ll do car, bike, and truck shows and invite all our past customers to check out our work,” he said. “We have special deals on those days and manufacturer demos. We find the bulk of our clients are enthusiasts, so they’re not getting it because they need it, but because they enjoy it. They like being kept in the loop on new things and we keep them part of the community and coming to our events.”

Collect customers’ email addresses and send them a newsletter. Hosting an event can be a great way to thank customers and encourage them to come back to take part in vehicle demos or for a chance to win a prize. When a shop is able to successfully demonstrate how much they care, the customer forms a happy memory and is more likely to return.  

Newell also advised owners and managers to ensure employees are consistent when picking up the phone. “Use a standard greeting like, ‘Thanks for choosing King Audio, the leader in mobile electronics. This is Marcel speaking, how can I help you today?’ It makes your customer interactions more professional.”

This also sets the stage for positioning the brand, another essential aspect of customer retention.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

12-14-2016, Mobile Electronics -- As the mobile electronics industry evolves, 12-volt manufacturers and retailers are constantly addressing the product categories that are most effective, those that are underperforming, and most importantly, the ones which represent where the business is headed.

None of that is lost on Bob Goodman, Director of Sales and Marketing, for Torrance, Calif.-based Rydeen Mobile Electronics, an aftermarket manufacturer that counts vehicle safety and convenience products among its core competencies.

“One of the challenges the 12-volt industry is facing is that we’re getting away from speakers and amplifiers, something we’ve been doing for 40-plus years,” Goodman said. “These days, the challenges of driver safety are becoming far more critical. If you make a mistake on the road or while driving, you could lose lives. If someone’s radio doesn’t work correctly, no one dies. It’s important that we get this right the first time—not the second time.”

Goodman, who considers himself an ambassador of sorts for the vehicle safety category, is trying to get the word out about its importance—not just to retailers, but to the industry as a whole. He may have more of a chance to do that, now that he’s been recently elected to the Vehicle Technology Division board of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Its key initiatives are to raise consumer awareness of automotive technologies and installation, and to serve as a leading voice on safe driving and vehicle-related legislative and regulatory issues.

“The challenge for us as a manufacturer is to create awareness within the category,” Goodman said. “The 12-volt retailers have not globally embraced this category, but they are starting to get it.”

In 2015, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Safety Council. According to the Council’s annual report on unintentional injuries, the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road included alcohol (30.8 percent), speeding (30 percent), and distracted driving (26 percent).

All of the new technology in vehicles is causing more driver distraction behind the wheel than ever before, but part of it stems from the fact that 53 percent of drivers believe if manufacturers have loaded all this entertainment into their cars, then it must be safe.

Enhancing car security systems for occupants as well as pedestrians has become a greater priority for automakers worldwide. It also presents tremendous potential for aftermarket manufacturers.

 “We have shored up our resources and we’re adding new products that will get traction with consumers,” Goodman said.

Blind Sight

At the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show held last month, Rydeen showcased four new products—three of which represented new product categories for the company.

One of the key introductions, according to Goodman, is the BSS1, the Blind Spot Detection System, with an MSRP of $599. “We have been selling side cameras as a solution for the blind spot issue, but we came up with an alternative in terms of sensors,” he said.

For the most part, Goodman explained, vendors use ultrasonic sensors for these types of blind spot devices that are similar to what is used for parking sensors. It has been the only alternative, until recently.

“Now we’re starting to see more microwave radar systems, which are far more accurate and easier to install for the 12-volt specialty retailer,” Goodman said. Rydeen’s new system employs microwave technology to warn drivers of any vehicles within their blind zones and, Goodman added, is more accurate than competitors’ systems employing ultrasonic sensors. The two compact microwave sensors mount behind the bumper, eliminating drilling into the bumper of the vehicle. Alerts are displayed with mini LED icons on each A pillar and a buzzer mounted behind or under the dashboard.

With installation being less complicated, it may open up more opportunities for the category. “In talking to installers and retailers over the last two to three years, blind spot detection is one of those things that the OE has offered on higher-end vehicles and parts of technology packages,” Goodman said. “The consumer is aware of it and has asked about it, yet many retailers we’ve spoken to have shied away from it because it required drilling into the vehicle. First of all, that can be time consuming, but the other issue was, if the consumer didn’t like the result, if their expectations and what the product actually delivered were not in sync, then they had an issue that there were holes in their vehicle that had to be addressed.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Mobile Electronics, 12-1-2016 -- Having natural talent is seen by many to be a blessing. Some people have athletic prowess and capabilities that far surpass their peers. Some with high IQs exceed expectations in fields like math and science. Others, like Jag Rattu, naturally excel at sales. But if you ask him, it takes much more to make his business—Audio House in Napa, Calif.—a profitable enterprise.

"When we started, it was just me and two other installers. They worked their butts off," Rattu said. "The store was open six days a week. I worked every day, all the time to get the store running. Getting inventory in the computer took forever. There was a lot of stuff I had to deal with."

Since opening his store in July of 2006, Rattu has found ways to increase revenue and grow his customer base. By using his gift for gab and years of 12-volt industry knowledge as a base, Rattu won over customers with his welcoming, non-pressured approach to each sale, and by reaching out to local businesses to build a community eager for new technology.

"We had to advertise and get our name out there,” Rattu said. “Now we're doing 10 to 15 cars a day. Every year we add something else."

Today, 30 percent of the shop's business is window tinting with the other 70 percent spread amongst all mobile electronics categories, primarily car audio.

"All those Carplay stereos from Alpine and Kenwood are the hottest things right now. Selling like hotcakes. JL Audio stealth boxes were previously really hot," Rattu said. "When I was younger we used to build a lot of boxes. We still do custom work, but there are so many applications for enclosures nowadays."

When custom enclosures were the norm back in the 1990s, Rattu was still in school, graduating high school in 1997. While he wasn't an installer, Rattu always had a passion for quality sound systems and good music. He would carry those two elements with him after high school once he got his first job at a local car audio shop.

"I didn't know any brands. I knew cars, loved music, but didn't know too much about car audio," Rattu said. "The first thing I did was introduce myself to installers and started asking questions. The OG salesman took me under their wing. I was so blessed."

After working at Monet Car Audio for a year, Rattu was promoted to store manager when the manager got sick. After running the store for a week, Rattu brought up the sales numbers significantly and caught the attention of the general manager who offered him a full-time position at another of the company's chain stores. He dropped out of college and continued his path as a manager.

After a few years of managing a store and reading management books, Rattu realized he wanted to become a business owner, so he went back to school and earned a business degree. During that time, he changed shops and moved across the bay to work full time for Auto Haus, a four-store chain. Eventually, he bought one of the company's stores and renamed it Audio House.

The building is comprised of 4,800 total square feet. The installation facility consists of a six-car garage in back, a two-car garage on the side of the building for window tinting and a fabrication room with a variety of tools and templates for custom work. The showroom is traditional, with product and displays filling all space, which is deliberate given Rattu's philosophy for a customer's first impression.

"My goal is, when a customer walks in the store, they want to buy something here. There are no empty holes," Rattu said. "I want to make sure my customers can hear this stuff. At the same time, they can see it. If you can't see it, how are you going to buy it."

Read the rest of the feature HERE. 

12-6-2017 -- It takes everything to be an entrepreneur. Those who give all they have are likely to be more successful than those who hold back. What's even more true is what entrepreneurs have to know in order to be successful. With new technology coming out every day in every field, the average entrepreneur not only needs to know their own business, but how to manage finances, develop business relationships, learn new software and adapt to emerging technology. David Gold has done that while creating his own methods for doing business, as is required of his mobile 12-volt operation, rolling tones.

Currently based out of Southern New England, Gold has been installing electronics in vehicles since the 1985, having found a knack for it as the son of an architect and fashion designer, while also grandson of a mechanic with an uncle as an engineer. "Engineering is in my blood," Gold said. "When I was 13 I was responsible for maintaining the family car. I've always enjoyed working on car."

After high school, Gold joined the Marine Corps and worked on heavy jets and engines. The experience taught Gold a number of techniques he uses to this day, including discipline, the importance of personal appearance and using his technical expertise to find the best products possible to sell to customers.

"As the sole person in my business, I do everything. I do a lot of professional reading and I attend any training that comes along," Gold said. "Part of my responsibilities are to test new products before I will approve them for installation in my customers vehicles."

In 1985, Gold left the Marine Corps and began working in car audio, working three different shops in three years. During that time, Gold came across Alan Cathe of Beaconwood Acoustics in Watertown, Mass., a man who would become his mentor, teaching him a great deal about the car audio business and proper installation techniques.

"After getting out of the United States Marine Corps 1985, I knew that in order to have a  successful mobile installation business I would need to learn from professionals who had already been doing it for many years. So I set out to work for at least two years each at three different installation shops," Gold said. "Al was determined to do things in such a neat clean picky manner and that had a huge impact on me. I used to watch Japanese painters in the hanger in the Marines. They had a saying: 'God is in the details.' Attention to detail had a huge impact on me. The wires should flow like a river. So I folded that into the batter of my installation technique."

Thanks to his background as an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic, Gold claims to be very picky with his techniques, which helps set him apart from other shops. Working on expensive planes also taught him how to stay cool under pressure, which has contributed to his ability to execute work under tight deadlines. "I learned in a high pressure retail environment that you've got to troubleshoot and solve the problem that day," he added.

Despite being offered jobs by different shops, Gold eventually chose to go off on his own and began operating his own mobile operation, rolling tones, in 1990. Due to the limitations of not having a brick-and-mortar shop, Gold specializes on doing high-end work, installing about 18 categories, including blind spot assist, stereo installation, Bluetooth, GPS, radar and rear view cameras.

"I also do basic floor speakers and a little bit of flooring. The little jobs pay for the big jobs. I'll take that money and order a K40 system," Gold said. "I don't do super high-end sound systems where I keep the car for a week. My bread and butter are K40 remote starters and heated seats."

A Personal Touch

"I read an article that said the majority of wealthy people in America are underserved. My brother taught me years ago, raise your prices 10 percent per year and let the bottom customers fall out the bottom. I've focused on the high-end customer more and more," Gold said. Gold's focus on high-end customers allows him to do two things at once: charge more per installation and fill a need that his niche service fills—concierge service. 

"There are not enough skilled trades people to provide all of the services that these wealthy families demand. I get very little pushback on my pricing structure. The usual response I get is 'When can you do it?'" The focused client base helps Gold choose to let go of less-desired work by handing it off to trusted local shops he has relationships with. "I get a call for a Toyota Camry, I may do it or refer to another shop. The good thing about the erosion of the installer base is there is less competition, more demand. You can charge more and put a stop to the race to the bottom."

Read the rest of the story HERE. Contact David Gold Toll-Free at: 855-323-3330 and via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. View his website, HERE.

12-20-2017, Mobile Electronics -- No matter the season, strategy and attention to detail is essential in planning and goal setting. Pablo Picasso—born in 1881—is well-known for his paintings, but he was also a stage designer, poet, playwright, and sculptor. Picasso once said, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

A well thought-out plan, regardless of life position, is necessary to ensure success. In the 12-volt industry, passion and perseverance combine to form an unstoppable determination to succeed. In each season, strategic promotions are laid out to best attract new customers and bring back previous clients. End-of-year sales tactics can help make up for any losses in the previous year.

Sound Warehouse in Salt Lake City, Utah has three store locations and has been open for 38 years. Owner Dean Magnesen has tried many different avenues in marketing and advertising. “Luckily, our plan is based on a lot of previous years, so we kind of look at our sales volume from year to year that each campaign brings us,” Magnesen said. “If it doesn’t bring us enough business or lets us down, then we switch campaigns.”

Planned in Advance, Tweaked Along the Way

Extreme Audio is a two-store franchise with locations in Mechanicsville, Va. and Midlothian, where fall and winter sales can depend greatly on the weather. In the beginning of November, the company starts promoting for the holiday season, according to owner Mike Bartells. “We aren’t in a cold climate, so it can greatly depend on the weather to some extent. It’s been colder for a couple days, it’ll be 80 tomorrow,” Bartells said, noting how the unusual weather can affect sales of remote starts. “We can market remote starts as much as we want, but until someone goes out and gets into their car in the cold, it’s not something they think about. No matter how we try to do early sales, unless it’s something dramatic like Groupon, you don’t get the results until the weather breaks.”

For Sound Warehouse, advertising campaigns are planned out for an entire year. Everything is carefully organized. “We do what one radio station manager told me we should do: relentless advertising,” Magnesen said. On the evening of the 18th, a Black Friday ad campaign begins. On the 22nd, the business has a three-day sale, followed by an “everyone deserves a second chance” sale with Black Friday deals on the 27th of the month. “Two weeks for Black Friday,” Magnesen said, adding that by December fourth, the business is focused on leveraging Christmas sales. From November into December, advertising is aired on five or six local radio stations. “We will be on cable TV with multiple channels, alternative newspapers, and digital. It’s hard to say what works best. We get customers coming in and saying they saw it on our website, on our e-blast—I almost think it’s kind of split between digital, radio, cable and print.” Magnesen hypothesizes that this split is about 25 percent in each category. “We are very fortunate we have been in the market so long and in radio.” The way in which Sound Warehouse utilizes radio advertising is very efficient, and they are in a good geographic area for radio, according to Magnesen.

The business has found what works and what doesn’t, and in the course of a year, Sound Warehouse will run as many as 15 different advertising campaigns. “Some will be seasonal,” Magnesen said, referencing the “Max Your Tax” promotions set up by MESA. “And some we just pick a good time to do them.”

Although plans are made carefully for each part of the year, the campaigns are always tweaked along the way for effectiveness. “If the numbers are disappointing, we change it,” Magnesen said. “We will sit down somewhere in December and lay out next year. I will know our ad campaign for all of next year. We do it campaign by campaign. Sometimes we have one in a month or three in a 30 day period. It’s a lot of work, but once we’ve done it a lot, you can kind of repeat it a little bit."

Read the rest of the story HERE.

12-18-2017, Mobile Electronics -- With countless mobile and personal electronics from overhead monitors to speakers, to remote starters, Voxx carries just about anything you can imagine. It is fitting that its technical support is also expansive.

The department is vastly different from when Edward Catapano first joined Audiovox 20 years ago, interestingly in tech support before eventually becoming director of technical services.

“The biggest change is you must be more technologically advanced today,” he said. “Back then every car was similar to one another. If you knew how to put a radio in Car A, that radio could be installed and wired into Car B. Today, every car is different. Everything works off the vehicle’s computer and every car is advanced so you really have to think about what you touch and what you’re doing. You need modules to decipher that information for you.” When the module is installed—for example, between a remote start and the car—the module does a lot of the work for you, Catapano explained, adding that it’s much more difficult to do an install nowadays.

Advanced cars, tougher installs, and more complex products are precisely why Voxx has coordinated a comprehensive effort to manage issues for consumers, installers and dealers. All tech support functions funnel through Catapano’s department of 12 employees. Everyone sits around him in the call center at the corporate offices in Hauppauge, N.Y.

Catapano’s hand-picked team of techs, he said, is ready for just about anything.  Catapano himself is MECP certified, along with three of his techs. The rest of the team is MECP Advanced.

“I could bet the farm that I have one of the best teams in the business,” he said. “They can take their hat and turn it when a consumer calls and then they can turn the hat one more time when an installer calls and needs help with something. These techs have installed products all of their lives, so I have almost 300 years of experience in my department.”

On any given day, there are a couple of dozen phone numbers that pump calls into the center. There is one for consumers and other numbers dedicated to dealers. “If we get a call and it’s computer related—maybe an installer is trying to flash software into a unit—my guys will take over the computer and not only show the caller how to do it, but will do the work and train the installer on the phone at the same time,” Catapano said. “This method lets a person learn what to do for the future. If we just tell them how to fix something, great. If we do it for them, great. But if we can do the work, show them, and also teach them at the same time, then they keep that knowledge forever.”

The tech support team is also cross-trained. When calls come in, they can bounce to anyone. “Everyone here can do everything,” Catapano said. Some techs are more adept at certain types of calls, so priorities can be set on those calls so they’re directed to certain people on the team. “Technician A may be good at a particular type of call, so when that call comes in, I might set his priority for that type of call higher than for everyone else. “

Unbox, Dissect And Discuss

With so many products that the techs might potentially have to answer questions about, it is essential to keep everybody up to date with the intricacies of new items and also revisit the mainstays. Catapano does this with hands-on trainings. “I take everyone in the conference room and we physically unbox a product,” he said. “I give out the installation and owner’s manuals to each person. We’ll sit around the table and talk about the product, rip it apart, go through the installation and owner’s manuals, and everyone marks them up with their own feedback.”

Catapano takes it the next step and puts techs on his team in cars to have them actually install products. “Every day, I pull one of my guys off the phone, and we do this in a round-robin fashion,” Catapano said. “My technician will sit inside of a person’s car and install a product. Every day, we do another installation, even though it is common practice or mundane if we do similar things over and over again. My technicians have to be as smart and up to date as the people we talk to, so they can’t just sit on the phone and not experience what these other people are experiencing.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

12-11-2017, Mobile Electronics -- The end of the year brings many tasks for a retail shop. Decisions are made about the success or failure of product lines, promotions used throughout the year, employee growth versus areas for improvement, hiring, firing, profit versus loss on the year and hundreds of other micro issues that can stress out even the most seasoned business owner.

In 12-volt, there are enough categories of product alone to make a person's head spin. That's why for the second year in a row, Mobile Electronics magazine sent out a job satisfaction survey to help retailers identify issues they might be having related to employee satisfaction. This was done not only to help take away the stress of finding out these things themselves, but had the intention of helping take a major category off of their plates when planning for next year.

Each portion of the survey was broken into sections that focused on a different topic. The 47-question survey included questions on career development, work engagement, compensation, relationship management and work environment.

Career Development

The first topic the survey focused on was career development. The majority of those surveyed in total (46 percent) were owners, while lead installers came in second at 11 percent and the installation managers and regular installation technicians came in tied for third at around five percent. Around 30 percent of those who answered about their satisfaction regarding professional growth agreed with being satisfied, while around 19 percent disagreed with 23 percent remaining neutral on the topic.

The neutrals came in even stronger when asked if they are pleased with career advancement opportunities available to them. Around 35 percent of workers were neutral while around 19 percent both agreed and disagreed with the statement. This statistic shows that the majority of those surveyed believe career advancement is limited but may likely not be upset about that fact given the popularity of the jobs themselves. The top answer for how involved employees feel in their work was to strongly agree at being very involved. Similar questions about getting excited to go to work and the level of effort employees are willing to give at work each day were resoundingly affirmative.

Compensation is often a sore spot for many Americans these days, with 12-volt retailers split down the middle on whether they feel fairly compensated. For many in the survey, their love of their work keeps them happier than the pay they receive, which includes business owners.

"As an owner, shop compensation is a bit different than if you are a tech. Everyone always wants more one way or another but as an owner I am happy with my salary," explained one surveyed retailer. "As far as the business as a whole, I mainly just want for the shop to make enough money to pay all of my guys, cover all bills, and make a little bit more each year to invest back into the shop. I don't ever plan on getting rich owning my shop I just want to be comfortable and not stress over paying each bill or employee."

Training is also a major issue for employees, with nearly a quarter of those surveyed believing they don't receive adequate training from their company. One owner said, "We need to do a better job of training people. That’s on me!!" Another added, "I want to go to training to advance my skills but it must be on my time and my money." In contrast, over 50 percent of respondents believe they do receive proper training, including both in-house and training at industry events. 

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Mobile Electronics, December 2016 Issue, 12-7-2016 -- Let’s start with the obvious. An election year typically represents transition and a sense of ambiguity for the country, and most definitely has an impact on the economy. As we voted for a new president in 2016, a man who will usher in a vastly different era, the business outlook for 2017 seems solid, yet uncertain simultaneously. Whether president-elect Donald Trump will actually be able to deliver on his promise to “Make America Great Again” is yet to be seen.

The election is just one factor in the forecast for the year ahead. Analysts look at a variety of industry sources to determine how the economy will fare which ultimately affects how consumers feel and impacts how retailers may fare.

Wage growth, for example, is expected to be slightly up for next year and is increasing faster than inflation. According to projections by Aon Hewitt, a management consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Ill., base pay will be 3 percent in 2017, up slightly from 2.8 percent in 2016.

Jobs are increasing at a moderate pace and more confident consumers, a status that has been the sentiment since last summer, suggests that spending levels will hold steady or may even slightly increase for next year which is good news for 12-volt retailers. While most consumers aren’t spending beyond their means, few are holding back from making purchases—also good news for 12-volt retailers.

While there weren’t too many bumps in the road this year, many retailers were conservative with their buying and managed inventories more tightly. Retailers have also said they’ve been more proactive when partnering with vendors making sure it’s a good fit and that they are not subjected to unrealistic minimums or inflexible terms.

Retail Overview

Throughout the year Mobile Electronics has spoken with both retailers and manufacturers about a variety of topics: partnering with the right mix of vendors, in-store promotions, maximizing store space, training and education for salespeople and installers, driver distraction and safety, the omni-channel shopping experience, and creating or participating in store, local, or regional events.

Stores across the country were asked about their closing thoughts on 2016 and how they plan to accelerate business in 2017. For the most part retailers expressed satisfaction with 2016 and said they would be finishing the year on a positive note. Many had mixed feelings about the election and said it was still too early to tell what impact the new White House administration would have on their businesses.

In the heart of the Northeast, Carlos Ramirez, owner of NVS Audio, based in Linden, N.J., said he was pleased with the results of the year. “We’re still doing $5,000 audio systems,” Ramirez said. “But we’re having a horrible remote start season just like we did last year at this time because the weather has been so warm. The difference for me is that I haven’t done my buying yet so that should help. Last year I sat with product until the spring.”

NVS Audio, named a Top 12 Retailer of 2016 by Mobile Electronics magazine, is also taking a step in a new direction by branching out with its first Groupon. The promotion was scheduled to start right before Thanksgiving and was offering 50 percent off remote start installation. The customer pays for the parts. According to Ramirez, it ends up being a $150 discount.

While business has been healthy for bigger ticket projects, Ramirez is taking a  hands-on approach to entice more cash-strapped customers by redoing the front of his store. “We’ve been struggling to capture that lower-end customer so we’re making it more consumer friendly for those with a lower budget,” he said. “We’re definitely one of the most expensive shops in town, charging $125 an hour while others are charging $70, and we’re doing a lot of more work at the higher end, so we want to be attractive to those with a lower budget.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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