The Old School Car Stereo Dealer

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Depot Auto Sound White Plains

Walk into Depot Auto Sound, White Plains, NY and you are in the year 2000.  The store is cluttered, there are boxes scattered on the floor, the lighting is low but the walls are jam packed with some of the best brands in car audio.

The shop is a contradiction; high end product but scaled down presentation.  And for now owner Harry Lichtman likes it that way. It tells the customer his money is going toward good installation work rather than merchandising, he said.

Depot Auto Sound does just fine.  Its sales flattened when the recession hit in 2008 but have actually climbed between 8 to 15 percent each year since.

Depot Auto Sound
Depot Auto Sound

But the store had no proper replacement for its yellow pages outreach, so it took our CEoutlook Challenge.

Lichtman is a stickler for finance and managing the basics of business. In fact, he went to night school a few years ago for the equivalent of a Masters in Entrepreneurial Excellence.

While his financial ducks are in a row, he admitted that he could use some help with getting noticed on the Internet.

Up until about 4 years ago, the yellow pages still worked for the shop which had a 7 to 1 return on the money invested in listings.  But those days are over.

Under our Challenge, with two days of digital SEO consultation from Modern Media Geeks,  Lichtman learned that the store was visible in local search for only a 3 mile radius.  And window tint and ignition interlock systems weren’t listed at all.

Depot Auto Sound Owner Harry Lichtman (left) with Consultant Jon Dewar
Depot Auto Sound Owner Harry Lichtman (left) with Consultant Jon Dewar

What was worse, a local shop was grabbing all the attention on the web because it had great SEO visibility.  CEoutlook Challenge consultant Jon Dewar of Modern Media Geeks, said,  “He doesn’t get his fair shake. In remote start, car alarms, tint, another guy looks like he’s the big guy. Online, the other guy looks the part and has the digital footprint but when you go there, it’s a ghetto shop.”

Again, much of the error is in LOCAL search, which is critical as 70 to 83 percent of all searches for products from sandwiches to car audio are now initiated on a mobile device. “If you own and rule that, you get the opportunity,” said Dewar.

As part of our Challenge, the shop was properly registered for local search on Google, Yahoo, Bing and YELP, and on local maps.  It was set up on Twitter and Instagram and now Facebook is enhanced.

The store is getting a new web site that is mobile compliant.  The old site was static and although it was technically mobile compliant, it was formatted so poorly it was unusable on a mobile phone.

Depot Auto Sound garage
Depot Auto Sound garage

Obviously, there are other aspects of the shop that could use updating, but Lichtman would like to focus on one thing at a time.

How was he able to avoid a down turn in the recession?   White Plains is located 35 minutes from New York and so it includes wealthy bedroom communities as well as lower and middle class communities. Depot Auto Sound caters to them all, and charges by the job, rather than the hour.  It has four installers and two other employees who do a bit of everything including sales.

Ignition Interlock is treated as a separate business so traditional audio is about 40 percent of sales, remote start is 25 percent and lighting is 5 percent.  The rest is window tint, radar detectors and “other.”

Brands carried include Hertz, Audison, Kenwood Excelon, JL Audio, K40, Compustar, Sony and PIAA.  The showroom is about 1,000 square feet and there’s a separate 2-bay garage, that at the time of our visit, had a Jeep with a $4,800 install in the works.

Lichtman likes to keep his numbers close to the vest, but he would allow that the shop does over $500,000 a year.  If you ask him why he’s successful, he says it’s about treating all customers with care and respect for over 30 years.

“I’m not a high volume guy. I specialize in everything. I’m like Whole Foods. I have the best of everything unless you don’t want the best and that’s okay.”

We’ll let you know how the changes in store’s digital footprint impact sales over the next couple of months.

 

 

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