How to Boost Profits in Car Audio: Accessories

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McDonald’s is in the burger business; but it makes it’s money selling drinks and fries.

The same model can be applied to retailers who sell car radios but make their money selling accessories such as sound damping material, step-up RCA cables and even speaker wire.

Mike Cofield  President of  both Custom Sounds (Austin, TX) and of the Mobile Electronics Specialists of America buying/marketing group (MESA) says he used the burger-fries principle to take his 16-store chain from the red to the black.  In fact, the store’s net income  swung from a loss of over $90 thousand  in 2004 to  profits of over $1 million currently.  Cofied himself went from taking a pay cut to driving a Maserati.

Mike Cofield
Mike Cofield leads seminar at KnowledgeFest.
Credit: Shannon Gilroy

At a KnowledgeFest seminar last week he explained how he methodically  incentivized Custom Sounds  salesmen to sell extended warranties, sound damping material, step up RCA cables, woofer grilles, caps/batteries, and speaker wire.

In 2012, the chain’s profits  hit $1.4 million  on sales of $14.5 million.

But here’s the clincher.

It doesn’t matter if the Internet takes away sales.  It doesn’t matter if the hack shop down the street grabs sales.   That’s all here to stay and isn’t going to change, says Cofield. But, by selling accessories you are not trying to compete on price on car radios any more.  You can match a price for the radio on the condition a consumer buys a “local” extended warranty from you.   And then you sell him step up RCA cables.

McDonald’s once gave away water for free. Now it sells it for $1.25 a bottle.  Cofield takes speaker wire spools, cuts up the wire and sells it in packets for $19.99 each.

He also pushes radar detectors.   He stays away from credit cards, which costs the retailer a fee and pushes debit card transactions. He also charges for freight for special orders.

“Hushmat is your fries,” he told the audience.

In RCA cables you offer good, better, best and maybe even one more step up.  Good is $15.99, better is $29.99, best is $49.99 and superior is $99.99.   Prices are the same regardless of length.

He suggests retailers choose one accessory a month and focus the sales team on that one category with cash incentive awards.   Then move on to the next until you build up to pushing 10 accessories.  Look at register receipts and make sure each salesmen is pushing each category.  If he’s strong in one and weak in another, call him to the office for a talk.  It should take a year to make the transition.

“What business are we in?  The car stereo business.  Do we make a ton of money selling car radios? No.  They are beat up all over the Internet,” Cofield said. “If we had to survive on head units, we’d all be out of business.   What should we be pushing?  We need to push ‘drinks’ and ‘fries.'”

Source: CEoutlook

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  1. This is a great article, but one everyone should be ashamed of not coming to the realization sooner. How difficult is it to understand that everything in your store can be treated as “fries and drinks”? We’re so in tuned to treating everything as the main item that we forget that all items in our stores are relevant to making money as retailers. The problem with the industry is that we are not professional enough, partly due to the ideal that all you need is a heartbeat and a paycheck to become a car audio retailer. Look around… everything you sell, including your reputation are worth money. I’ll use a poker analogy… look around, if you can’t find the pigeon at the table, it’s because you’re it.

  2. BRAVO !

    It is clear that this man is in the business of retail. He makes real observations about market conditions. He develops a plan to insure that his stores are relevant to the consumer. He incents his staff to participate accordingly. Retailing on purpose.

    We all should be paying attention to this kind of knowledge. For sure it ain’t rocket science. BUT it should help make decisions that we are proud of and decisions which are worth defending.

    Ray Windsor
    German Maestro

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