Auto Sound Specialists has more competition than most car audio specialists. It’s located in Union City, CA near San Francisco where there is a car audio shop on each side of the street for miles.
It’s a quality shop that builds a SEMA or CES demo almost every year, but sales were still not at the peak levels before the recession and it lacked a strong web presence.
So owner Kenny McCardie took our CEoutlook Challenge.
After nearly a week of consultation with Jon Dewar (Auto Sound Specialists added two days to the contest’s two) here’s what was accomplished.
It was found that the shop is not fully taking advantage of window tinting and an ad was placed for a full time tinter. Also the shop ordered a plotter and software to streamline window tinting and a display to show off heat rejection.
“In the Valley everyone wants and needs window film for skin protection and to protect the interior of the car. There’s a lot of really nice cars out there,” said McCardie. The shop carried only one window tint price point so they added two more for a good, better, best, selection. Dewar expects to at least double the shop’s current window tint business.
Auto Sound Specialists was not properly registered with search engines and is converting to a mobile friendly site. Previously, if you googled “car stereo,” from the San Francisco region, Auto Sound Specialists was somewhere on the second page of results. Now it’s at the top for car stereo for a local search, said Dewar and McCardie.
Although the shop does have one window tint tech, Auto Sound wasn’t registered with search engines under window tint. Now it is number 3 in a local search for window tint, it said.
Three weeks ago Dewar also began publishing posts for the shop on social media including Facebook. Facebook reach has gone from about 5 views to 600 per post.
“My objective was to learn how to get more business through social media channels and to look at the business and see what areas we can improve,” said McCardie
The first thing they did was jump in the car and drive around to every shop that McCardie considers a competitor, and then every car audio shop in the area. Dewar shopped some of the competition and called others.
Dewar said of the area, “This is the most competitive market place I’ve ever seen.” There’s about 20 main players in car stereo, not counting trunk slammers in the tri-town area outside San Francisco with about ½ million people.
Auto Sound Specialists already does a very good job in most categories. “They have an amazing staff. Like none other, and I get around..” Dewar said.
Manager Joe Oliveira has been with the shop since it opened 13 years ago. “He’s what I’d classify as a lifer. Whatever the daily tasks are they get done… He lives and breathes this shop. He’s a fantastic employee, he does amazing work…but he’s so humble.”
Ruben Ramirez is the lead installer, described as “an amazing tech…If a customer job needs to get done in 2 days he’s here early and stays late,” said Dewar.
Monique Gonzales runs the place and answers the phone with a smile, every time.
The shop is known for custom installations, especially in muscle cars. About 40 percent of its revenue is from custom work. It’s currently creating two cars for SEMA this year. McCardie also restores classic cars at the shop and is now looking to break that off as a separate business.
In addition to custom car audio, traditional car audio is about 25 percent of the business, window film is about 10 percent.
When the recession hit, the shop lost about half its business. It’s now worked it’s way back up another 20 percent.
“Initially in the recession, it hurt us like everyone else. We scaled back but would not sacrifice quality of labor and materials,” said McCardie. He lost some customers to the cheaper shops but now they are returning. “We know it because they tell us they went to another shop and now they are back.” So he’s ready to invest again in marketing. He’s hoping with window tint, he’ll make back that remaining 30 percent lost from the shop’s peak in 2008.