Directed said it has seen a 100 percent increase in sales of DBALL and other remote start installation products since last year due to the colder weather this year.
“For the last two years we’ve had the warmest winters in recorded history and all remote start suffered,” said Jim Minarik, Chairman and CEO of DEI Holdings, parent to Directed. He added that this winter, “We’re having a phenomenal year. December was the best in the last five years.”
The market is the reverse of the air conditioner market; just as a heat spell will cause a spike in air conditioners: a cold spell early in the winter drives sales of remote starters.
Sales of SmartStart (an in-car module that lets your smartphone remote start your car) have increased since the company dropped the price of the module to $149 late last year. The lower price has led to double the attachment rate for SmartStart to remote start sales, Minarik said during an interview at CES last week in Las Vegas.
A goal for this year is to raise dealer awareness of SmartStart as there is a vast difference in sales between dealers who focus on the product and those who don’t. Some dealers have triple the attach rates for the product than others.
In-store surveys Directed conducted found that retailers who demonstrate remote start to a consumer using their smartphone (with SmartStart) have a 300 to 400 percent increase in closing the SmartStart sale, noted Directed VP Marketing Jim Jardin at CES.
Directed is also looking at new Connected Car products. One that links an OBD2 device to a smartphone is “in the pipeline for this year,” said Minarik.
He spoke candidly about General Motors’ plans to offer free remote start from a phone on many vehicles, admiting that giving away remote start takes away a certain GM customer. But there are 270 million cars on the road and 17 million new cars sold each year, “so there’s plenty of cars as a base, so it’s a good business,” he said.
Directed has also been test marketing a Connected Car product for auto dealers in what he calls “a big project,” but would not give further details.
Like others, the company is focusing on bringing the Connected Car to consumers and looking for ways to achieve this in simple to understand products that are also simple to use.
Directed said it sells “into the seven figures” of remote start related systems a year.
Photo: Jim Minarik, Chairman and CEO of DEI Holdings