Auto accessory maker Roadwire is targeting 12 volt retailers, encouraging them to expand into leather seat replacement and helping them tap into sales to car dealers.
Roadwire says the car audio installer is a good fit for entering the leather replacement market because the key to successfully selling the product is the installation.
“With the talent base of mobile electronics retailers, they already have the skills to do something like leather….It requires an understanding of the safety systems in seating, like airbags,” said Roadwire VP Leather Interiors Dave Edmondson.
The company began seeking out car audio retailers about three years and says its growth in that segment has been substantial. It already “does a lot of business with” members of the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) and it will display at KnowledgeFest August 16-19 in Dallas, it said.
It is also working on special programs for car audio retailers.
“Over time, I think mobile electronics retailers understand the necessity of adding products like leather. It’s a high profit margin project. Getting into it is simple; we don’t have any buy-ins,” he said.
Entering the market requires an investment of about $300 in hand tools, which is sufficient for one or two installs a week. Once you move into 10 or more installs a week, there are pneumatic tools that help reduce installation time.
The company has 6 warehouses, which stock over 10,000 leather interiors.
One of its car audio customers is Auto Action of Kenilworth, NJ, which is heavily into expediter sales to car dealerships. It began branching into leather about 10 years ago after some of the local car dealerships asked for it. Auto Action says getting into any new market like leather requires a commitment, including training an installer or hiring one.
Shops today may have little choice. President of Auto Action Jared Cohen, says car audio stores must expand to other markets to be viable in the future. Forty percent of his business is now in leather, sunroofs and restyling accessories although he admits to stumbling a bit at first.
“We looked at it and said, we’ve got to figure this out.” He teamed up with a local restyle retailer and now has 5 locations doing leather, and accessories. “We can go to a dealer and say Mr. Dealer, we can take your base model Camry and put in a sunroof, custom leather and paint the wheels back and put black film on the sunroof so you are going to make more money than on a higher line vehicle and the customer saves money and you can’t be shopped because it’s a one-off vehicle,” said Cohen.
Quick Roadwire video with West Coast Customs: http://youtu.be/mhUYNlH1LuI