Audio Express, the 36- store car audio chain based in Scottsdale, AZ made its name as the “home of the $1 install,” back in the days when CD players sold at close to $1,000 and it was easy to discount labor.
Today, the chain still offers $1 installs on certain special items, and it claims ½ price labor fees for the rest. So its business model relies heavily on volume sales.
Audio Express also matches Internet prices except for certain deals on Amazon. In that case, “We have a discussion with the customer on where that product is coming from, and gray goods, and we talk about warranties. And we take the time to do so,” said John Link, President of the chain since 2011.
Like the 50-store Car Toys chain, Audio Express is converting to “connected car” sales. It is creating connected car displays that will allow a customer to test his own smartphone with a car radio on the demo board. The first test store will receive the display in January, said Link.
The aim of the displays, produced with Avidworx, is that even without a salesman, a customer can walk up to the display “and link up their own phone and play with it…..to where they can sell themselves a system,” said Link.
Audio Express is interested in new sideline areas to car audio. It carries Race Sport accessory lighting and is “doing more and more complete lighting packages,” said Link. It is also looking into offering leather seat upgrades. It’s also moving into driving safety.
“We’re open to and going to try and test anything new the industry comes out with,” said Link.
The chain is growing in revenues year over year.
Also, Audio Express remains interested in expanding. In the past it took over stores from Mobile One in Houston and Quality Autosound in Colorado. “We’re willing to listen to any 3, 4 up to 10 store chain that’s ready to move on or retire,” Link said.
It continues to do some advertising in radio and print, and is still seeing benefits from these, but has shifted to digital and social media as well.
Link worked his way up at Audio Express from a salesman back in the mid 80s. If you ask him what would help the industry, he says, more “vendor participation,” or more advertising, and more in-store point of purchase materials. He says ever since the first MP3 player came out from Rio, he’s seen a drop in sales for car audio and a corresponding drop in advertising from car audio brands. “I will say that Kenwood got involved with Revenew and that’s showing a move to help bring consumers into the stores. We like it and we hope that trend will only grow.”
TWICE magazine lists Audio Express revenues at $55 million.