12 Volt Tech : Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Audiovox: A Friend to the Expeditor for Over 40 YearsNovember 2011 By Brett Solomon
Tom Malone, president of Audiovox, and a 25-year veteran remembered the good old days but also sees bright opportunities in the future of expediting. "What makes Audiovox unique as an expeditor partner is we have employees in the field who specifically deal with expeditors. We actually send our guys to help close sales at car dealerships."
Proceed With Caution
Expediting sounds terrific as an extra way for your business to make money, but it does come with its share of problems. "It is always best to test the waters with a dealership or two before you know if expediting is right for your business," said Malone. "The service level you need to provide is intense. In the industry, it is known as bell-to-bell coverage—when the bell rings in the morning opening up the service area to when the bell closes at night when the overhead door finally drops. You will always need to have an installer on call, and need to respond immediately if you want to continue to do business with the dealership.
"Thirty- to 60-day terms are difficult and you need to float that money, so cash flow becomes a potential problem. Obviously, it is best to start with a friendly dealership to get used to the process."
Sounds tough, but there is an upside that Malone has noted throughout his long tenure at Audiovox: "People are always buying cars so there is constant customer flow. There are up years and down years, but even in the worst economy people are still purchasing vehicles and want to have them outfitted correctly."
Depending on your organization, some aspects of expediting sound great. However, Malone gives some words of advice and caution from his years of experience: "Unfortunately, our best expeditor customers do strictly expediting. The most successful people in the expediting world are those who specifically cater to car dealerships. However, there are still some great brick-and-mortar retailers who have a dedicated installer for expediting who do well with that side of the business."
The key is having a dedicated installer who can provide the bell-to-bell coverage needed. Don't kid yourself into thinking your two-man shop can run the bay, sales floor, and then take off for the Caddy dealership at their beck and call.
So what are the hot sellers in the dealerships today? Malone notes Audiovox has come back to where it started from with a new line of radios that are similar to SPS radios in concept, but are lightyears ahead as far as technology. "Our new OE Look radio line upgrades the factory units by adding navigation, Bluetooth and USB technology while maintaining the factory cosmetics."
Audiovox has dealership security covered through its Pursuit line. "F&I guys really like to push remote start because it is a 20-second explanation on their end usually followed by the customer saying, 'OK, do it if you can roll it into the payment.' When the temperature drops, the sales go up, just like retail."
As much as we don't like it, there are also some people who will never visit an aftermarket store. Cosmetic surgeons and bankruptcy attorneys who visit the Lexus dealership want the vehicle waiting for them at pick-up and they might not ever be back until the next lease is signed (even service is done with the vehicle being picked up at their house). The only way to get these people a remote start is from the get-go. Indeed, they will be overcharged but they will pay for the convenience. Hell, everyone in the industry giggles a little when they window tint on the Monroney for $599.
Rear-seat entertainment (RSE) is done at the dealerships through Audiovox's Advent line that, according to Malone, "Still has a good profit margin even when compared to the OEM offerings with the benefit of easily installing Mobile TV."
Be on the lookout for accessing content on the screen via an Android smartphone in the near future. Safety is becoming a big seller and may be the next opportunity. "Rear sensors and cameras coupled with monitors with cars that don't sell them will become popular," noted Malone. Especially considering that rear cameras will become standard equipment by 2014. The newest safety technology to come to the aftermarket is lane-departure technology. That could be a great opportunity for fleet vehicles or any concerned driver.
Is expediting for your store? Well, it probably does not hurt to try a dealership. One dealership might be able to be pulled off by your current staff if you have a floating installer. But if it grows, you better step up to hire a dedicated employee. But if all goes well, it's just waiting 30-60 days for some checks to come in. And we all like that.