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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.

How can a business retain or attract a client base during or after a move? Owners and installers share their tips and experiences when it comes to moving on up to a new and improved retail location. 

1-23-2017, Mobile Electronics -- Moving is an experience often met with reluctance—packing things in boxes, labeling, loading everything onto a truck and then unloading. While moving from one residence to another can be hectic, moving a business involves even more complications. Opening a new business is just as fraught with questions and concerns.

What are the best ways to notify clients of a move? If you’re moving out of town, will your clients travel to meet you, or will you have to attract a new customer base? When opening a new business, what’s the best method for spreading the word? Parish Tanner of Ocala Car Audio in Ocala, Fla. has moved several times in his local area, finally ending up at his current location in late 2014.

“Stay in touch. Set up an open house and invite people in to tour new facilities,” he advised. Retailers and owners agreed that careful planning is the key to any successful move, and there are a number of approaches retailers can take when notifying their client base. Regardless of how a business chooses to notify clients or attract a new client base, it’s important to get things going as quickly as possible.

Opening a new business requires the same meticulous approach. Bryan Turvaville recently founded 806 Autoworks in Amarillo, Texas after working professionally in the industry for 14 years.

“Opening your own shop is not an easy task,” Turvaville said. "There is a lot of hard work and dedication that has to pour into the business. You will have to make some sacrifices. But if you stick it out, and push through, it can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. I am a new shop, and I know I will have difficult times ahead, but I am ready for those challenges and will take them head on.”

As a first-time owner of a mobile electronics retailer, Turvaville’s new location is about a mile away from his previous employer.

“I entered the industry in 2002 when I attended Acoustic Edge Stereo Institute.  From that point forward I had always envisioned owning and operating my own shop,” Turvaville said. “It took every bit of that 14-year span to gain the experience and knowledge to get to this point.”

Tanner has moved enough times that he’s familiar with the process, and had originally started his business working out of a car port at his house. “I got into the new building and it was probably a couple months before we were fully up and running to where we needed to be,” he said in regard to his current location. “We were in the building for just over a year when we bought new displays from AvidWorx. We put those up a year ago. I still don’t feel like we’re completely done. For us to get up and running—four to six months.”

For each retailer, the amount of time needed may vary but the basic difficulties and issues involved in transitioning remain similar.

Big Day Prep

When seeking a place to open his brand new shop, Turvaville looked at several areas before discovering his current location. “I was driving by this one and happened to notice one of the spots had become vacant. It was facing the interstate and had high visibility and easy access,” Turvaville said. “I realized the potential this spot might have because of where it was located. None of the other locations were easy to access or didn’t give us any visibility from the roadway. We looked at it and realized the show room area was extremely nice and the shop area had plenty of space for us to start up and grow.”

At Tanner’s previous location, the area was small and difficult to work in. The new location is a 5,000 square foot building complete with dedicated fabrication area and space enough for separate installs and window tint work. According to Tanner, the retail area is smaller and there’s more room to work, with “a large fenced in back area with room for semis and trucks to pull around, which has led to a lot of boats. We did more boats this summer than I did in my five years at the old location,” he said. When it came to equipment, Tanner had begun collecting fabrication tools six months to a year prior to the move. “Within the first month I had my fab shop up and running,” he said. The business also does window tinting, which “was a significant investment, but it paid off. It lets people know we’re in the window tint business and we’re here to stay.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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.

Technicians can increase efficiency and productivity by making small improvements around the bay—including implementing a standard shop size for hardware, and keeping common materials, tools and fasteners close at hand. Business owner Brandon Green shares highlights from KnowledgeFest, focusing on how these techniques can help make an installer’s life easier.

Words by Brandon Green

Last July, Mike Schwitz and Josh White asked me to help present a class for KnowledgeFest in Dallas, and then again in Long Beach and Indianapolis. Shaughnessy Murley stepped in at the Long Beach class, and Chris Ott at the Indy class, as Josh was unable to attend.

The purpose of the class was to focus on fundamentals, industry best practices, proper materials and fasteners, tools, finishing enclosures and speaker adapters, as well as some efficiency tips for day to day installation. For those of you who were unable to attend, here are the highlights....Read the rest of the story HERE.

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