How The Car Dealer Sees The 12V Industry

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One of our own, Barry Vogel, is currently working at Volkswagen and Ford dealerships and can provide an unusual perspective on how car dealers and consumers view your shop and car audio in general.

Car electronics veteran Barry Vogel

“We as an industry have it so wrong. You cannot believe how wrong we have it…” says Vogel who is a past President of MERA (currently the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association) and he remains owner of the car electronics shop Ultimate Edge, in Oswego, NY.

The first tip is that car dealers aren’t concerned about the profits they can make from working with expeditors to offer aftermarket radios in the showroom.   They are so busy they only care about electronics if it can make or break a car sale.  Says Vogel, “There’s a huge opportunity for expeditor business. But we don’t understand the car dealers’ mind set. We want to sell them aftermarket products as a profit center. For them, it’s just one more thing they have to deal with. The only reason they’ll sell it is if it helps the car sales. The key there is finding a way to make it easy and painless for a car dealer to sell aftermarket products.”

Point two is on sound quality. “We’ve talked, as an industry, an awful lot on how today’s consumer doesn’t appreciate sound quality. I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely nonsense. Almost every customer that comes in [to the VW dealer] wants to hear the stereo and they want the upgrade….I would say it’s a minority of customers that don’t ask about the sound quality of the system.” This demonstrates that aftermarket shops need to teach consumers about true sound quality, he says.

Thirdly, customers don’t trust car audio shops to touch their cars. “When I talk to a customer that comes in with a base level car, I’ll bring up to them you can upgrade the system. They’ll say, “Oh, no, I’ve heard horror stories. I’m not letting anyone touch my car. They don’t trust aftermarket people…” said Vogel. He estimates of the approximately 4,000 car electronics shops in the country, 60 to 70 percent ” are not delivering a quality experience. ”  Ouch!

Vogel finds that almost every customer, “including people over the age of 60, want to know if they can hook up their iPhone and play music files…in Arizona, you can still legally talk on a handheld phone, but even with that, our customers want Bluetooth.”

Some food for thought…

Source: CEoutlook

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  1. Unfortunately alot of installers today do not understand how the automobile works and that is where alot of the problem comes in. We have people that worked in the automotive field that understand how vehicles operate. That is key todeay for proper integration.

  2. It’s comical how much time we spend on our car dealer brochures and price sheets, trying to cover a lot of customer scenarios. But in reality, they don’t read it or refer to it. We get a rushed call, “hey what do you have for cheap for a xxx car?” They don’t mark it up, they just want to roll out the car as fast as possible before the customer changes their mind. Gotta love car dealers.

  3. We are lucky to have two top notch installers on staff that have turned out some very nice work over the years. We have had the occasional issues with dealers who have taken forever to pay, but we’ve still managed to get a foot in the door with some of them. Yes, you run into the occasional sales manager or salesperson that “wants the spiff” or “kickback” and those frankly are the people to avoid. Give it a month or so and go back to try again, because those types are usually either transferred or gone by that time.
    Important points:
    1. Keep your showroom and shop looking great, clean and up to date with working displays.
    2. Have your staff KNOW about the product and always be LEARNING about it.
    3. Make the customer experience AWESOME whether they buy from you or not.
    4. Stay on top of trends and ADAPT to changes in the industry.
    5. Be price-aware. Educate your staff and customers about online purchases and try to reach a “common ground” so they’ll want to purchase locally.

    SENSATION, SALES AND SUPPORT. From start to finish, be there for the customer!

  4. Steve: Yes I do have an idea of how to make it painless. As soon as the idea is fleshed out a bit more, I will let you know.

    To the others, I appreciate the discourse positive and negative. Here is the point; As an industry we beg for opportunity. We complain about an apathetic consumer. We have tons of excuses for the decline and fall of our businesses. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! Consumers want what we sell. THEY JUST DON’T TRUST US TO SUPPLY AND INSTALL IT!

    #1- There must be established minimum standards to operate a mobile electronics business. As long as anyone with the cash for a business certificate can call themselves a professional, we cannot change the public’s perceptions of us. Period. End of story.
    #2- Manufacturers MUST support #1. Not only is it good for the aftermarket, it is also good for manufacturers. From lower return rates, to more satisfied consumers, to more profitable distribution; you benefit as well!
    #3- MECP MUST be a part of the above as a requirement. Not just a good idea. If you think MECP has no teeth, then you have not looked at the new training and reference guides.

  5. GREAT observations. The myth that consumers do not care about audio quality is just that a myth. Regarding making it easy and painlessfor the dealer…

    1 Do it right the first time. A car dealer is judged and makes a profit based on CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index).

    2 Do it on time. Same reason.

    3 Be flexible and availabe for the dealer’s schedule.

    Many retailers in the aftermarket believe that the car dealers are slow to pay, will leave you for a nickel and are un reasonable. I am sure that is true on occasion. On the other hand if we qualify the dealer before engaging we can avoid most of those problems and build a steady and predictable partnership.

    Ray Windsor
    German Maestro

  6. I have been in this business for a long time and I just dont see the passion anymore. Very few car audio shops in my territory can even do a real demo. Holes in the boards, wired out of phase and not being able to play subs. Wow, really? Remeber the saying- Ya dont know whatcha dont know? Customers wont step up if they cant expierience it. We need to sell sound quality and show them we are the guys that can do it and do it right. That means paint the walls, run the vacuum and sweep the lot. Maybe replace the light bulbs while you are at it. Stop surfing the internet and complaining about price. Instead, show them you are the expert in your field. Imagine walking into a place to buy a tv and they are all unplugged? Going to buy a new car but the fenders and hoods are missing. Busines isn\\\’t lousy, its just somewhere else.

  7. I agree with Barry, also the current economy doesn’t support new car buyers to qualify for a new car loan as easy anymore. I’ve been in business for 13 years in the south Florida area. And there 5 new car dealers in my area all of which at one time were very profitable for me. The last 4 years have been almost impossible. To reestablish a working relationship. I’ve had numerous conversations with several salesman and insiders and no luck. It seems that all they want is a big kickback and the profit margin in today’s market isn’t worth it for me. When the make you wait 30-45 days to payout. Thankfully our over the counter sales allow us to have a more in-depth and personal. Expierence with our clients. At this point j have to agree with Barry we get a a lot of questions and concerns about their vehicles regarding the installation. They want to know if their car is going to be OK. Will all.the screw go back. Will it be put back.

  8. This is spot on! It’s a sad thing that the aftermarket shops have gotten such a bad rap. This business can be gotten fairly easily though when you learn to speak to them with their mindset and provide over the top customer service. The last thing the dealer wants is to deal with a upset customer when it pertains to the install that was sent out to another shop. It’s no wonder they are so faithfully to their current vendors. Those vendors have learned the art of putting the dealer first.

  9. “The only reason they’ll sell it is if it helps the car sales. The key there is finding a way to make it easy and painless for a car dealer to sell aftermarket products.”

    I agree, I see this all the time. Got any ideas on how to make it painless?

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