A 22 year old running a new shop and a 32-year old with first rate business practices can show us what the next generation in car audio retailing will look like.
Mauro Perez started Wild West Customs in Casper, WY when he was 20. He had worked for a nearby shop and decided he could provide better service.
Perez has always had a passion for vehicles, and said there aren’t a lot of car audio shops around Casper. Plus he found customer service lacking at many of the shops, not just in car audio in the area.
“A lot of businesses around here treat customers poorly. It made me decide I wasn’t going to be like that and I would really be there for the customers. It’s working really well. It’s been all word of mouth,” he said.
He sells Elettromedia, Digital Designs, Kenwood and Pioneer and is the in the process of redoing his 1,500 square foot shop, so he can give customers a full tour of the bay and showroom.
Last winter, he installed 200 remote starts on his own, and he has since hired an installer who is 19 years old.
Both of them went to the Mobile Electronics Show (KnowledgeFest last month) to learn more about the business. So did Rick Arnold who started Street Smart in Flowood, MS a few years ago at 28.
Arnold was laid off from a local shop. He took a lien against his car, motorcycle and home to borrow money for a business and spent a full two years visiting what he said amounted to 100 12 volt shops around his state and neighboring states to find what works and what didn’t. Out of all those stores, he was impressed with only one that was 200 miles away. “Everything in our area is slap in a speaker with dry wall screws. I wanted to bring something nicer to the table,” said Arnold.
During that time he read every business book he could find and then opened his shop, which made it to ME Magazine’s Top 50 last year.
Just about everything in the shop was built by Arnold, and he uses that in selling to show consumers his attention to detail and craftsmanship.
He got started in business working for a cabinet maker when he was 15. A car audio shop owner saw his work and hired him at 16.
Arnold is also a musician and his shop is filled with guitars and other instruments that serve a s a conversation starter. They also figure into his demo. “I ask, ‘can I show you what your system is going to sound like without a subwoofer?’ I’ll say, ‘This guitar has 6 strings. It’s a full system, but without a subwoofer it’s like cutting out the top string.’”
Arnold has worked with sales trainer Del Ellis, and he follows best business practices such as giving a tour of his facility, selling his store brand, rather than product brands and selling experience rather than features.
His shop is 3,000 square feet and he expects to build a 7,500 foot location in the next 3 years. He has 3 full time and one part time employee. The bay holds 2 full size cars and a smaller vehicle like a UTV.
Brands at Street Smart include Elettromedia, Audiomobile, Arc Audio, Viper, Pioneer, Kenwood Excelon and Wet Sounds. There’s an 800 sq. foot fabrication area sealed off. “That’s our pride and joy and where the majority of investments are. We are constantly upgrading. Our router table is on wheels so we can can move it around the shop and lock it in to places on the wall.”
His typical installs are “anything from a radio to a custom system.” “We cater to the larger musical experience,” Arnold said.