Mobile electronics retailers are always looking for ways to drive store traffic. But sometimes, an unexpected installation—just enough to keep a technician working—fits the bill. What if there was a mobile electronic product that sold for a flat rate, and used the skills of installation technicians?
Meet Intoxalock—a company that has been providing alcohol monitoring devices to qualified shops for the past two decades. Becoming an Intoxalock service center may quite fit nicely into your retail mix.
“There’s a high level of satisfaction that comes from knowing that we’re helping with such a critical public safety issue,” says Intoxalock CEO Dave Arringdale. “Fighting drunk driving through the application of our various technologies is important not only for the public at large,” he adds, “but also for the offender who can get back on the road safely and legally.”
The Intoxalock is a discreet, hand-held alcohol sensor that tests a driver’s breath to determine his or her blood alcohol content (BAC), and prohibits a vehicle from starting if the driver fails the test. The Intoxalock is primarily used by people who are legally required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) because of a drunk-driving violation. However, more and more individuals and businesses are voluntarily installing the devices as a way of preventing a potential drunk driving arrest or tragedy.
Shelley Snyder is the marketing coordinator for Intoxalock; we asked her to explain the specifics of becoming a dealer. “We’re looking for potential service centers to demonstrate 12 volt skills, with certifications preferred,” she told us. “There should be a waiting area separate from any install bays. Additionally, insurance and a business license are required. Owners and installers may be subject to state background and driver’s license checks to verify a lack of DUIs or felony convictions.”
We then asked about how the program itself actually works. “The Intoxalock device is actually leased to the customer through our corporate office,” Snyder explained. “Our service centers do not sell the product. What they do is sell their service for the installation, recalibration (depending on state requirements), and de-installation of the equipment. A few states have set rates, however, mostly we try to keep an average rate throughout the country of around $80 per install.
“Typically,” she said, “it requires less than an hour to complete. There are some high-end foreign vehicles that may require a more detailed installation and a higher installation price, which can be negotiated.
“As auto technology progresses,” Snyder told us, “installations do become more challenging. However, Intoxalock [works] in conjunction with our service centers to remain up to date with the latest technology to establish reliable and cost effective installation methods and practices.”
Once a business is established as a service center, Intoxalock works with them: They send out a local press release notifying law enforcement, judges, driving schools and various other places that those facing a DWI charge may turn. Frank Flanigan of Car Tunes in Casper, Wyo., gave his perspective of being an Intoxalock service center:
“We began as an Intoxalock dealer in the summer of 2006. We already [had] installers, and the way the Intoxalock program works, it [didn’t] require any additional financial outlay on our part. The Intoxalock company is easy to deal with and the program is simple.
“The client contacts Intoxalock to make arrangements for the unit, and Intoxalock takes care of all the compliance paperwork with the state. The installation appointments are set according to our schedule. We establish our own installation fees, and the fee is paid to us at the time of installation. The units have to be calibrated periodically according to state requirements. The calibration boxes are shipped directly to us. The client comes in, we check that the unit has not been tampered with, check that it’s working properly, and do a simple swap. This takes only a few minutes, and we set our fee for this also. If the client doesn’t order their calibration box in time and the timer runs out, we may have to do a house call for the calibration, and we charge an extra fee for this service. We also collect a fee if the unit is switched to a different vehicle.
“We’ve had very few issues with the units or with the clients. The Intoxalock company has always taken care of any issues or questions quickly. The revenue the Intoxalocks generate has increased every year for us, and it has proven to be a lucrative addition to our business—without any additional overhead.
“We’ve been in the car audio business for 25 years, and at times business can be slow. The Intoxalocks have filled in very nicely—this is something an offender needs to have if they want to drive. It is not a luxury. Taking on Intoxalock was a very good decision for our business.”
Flanigan notes that there have been few technical issues:
“We’ve installed these units on a wide variety of vehicles, and for the most part, the installation is pretty simple. But as with anything else, some vehicles require more work than others. We’ve had only one vehicle that was particularly challenging, and that was a 2012 VW Jetta. Even with the factory wiring diagram onhand, some of the wire colors were different and difficult to locate.”
It was probably more of a VW problem—having worldwide factories and different harnesses—versus an Intoxalock problem.
Doug Gambrini of American Autosound and Security in East Setauket, N.Y., also talked about being an Intoxalock service center:
“I have been installing Intoxalock units for the past eight years, and I haven’t had any issues doing these installations. The shop must have proper insurance policies and full knowledge of 12 volt electronics to have the agreement with Intoxalock.”
We then asked Gambrini if becoming a service center helped his business. “Yes,” he told us. “It’s brought in new clients that never would have [otherwise] come in. They’ve remained customers of the store even after the Intoxalock was removed. You have to treat the person who received the offense as a regular customer,” he added, “even though they have no choice but to have the system installed.”
Dignity and grace, in other words, goes a long way with these clients. And who knows? As Gambrini’s experience proves, those nice new customers trying to turn their lives around may just end up being customers for life.