Selling Driver Safety And Liking It

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ADAS Steve Witt

If you embrace driver safety “it will be your strongest profit generating category within 24 months without a doubt,” said Steve Witt of American Road Products at a KnowledgeFest seminar.

“I’m here this morning to tell you that if you care about your business, you had better embrace the safety category,” he said.

Why? While car audio is declining, driver safety is growing by 260 percent this year.  The margins can be 50 percent of MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) and the products are not yet widely installed in cars on the road.

Plus the government is about to spend a lot of money advertising backup cameras, specifically as part of its mandate that all cars on the road include backup cameras by June of 2018, said Witt.

It is a different kind of sale than music and entertainment. And your key audience is soccer moms in SUVs.  But you are already selling them remote start and window tint, so it makes sense to add safety to the sales pitch. And here’s another reason why you should, said Witt.

You now have the opportunity to be the hero of your market.

35,000 people die each year in accidents and over 2 million are injured.  “So your store can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Doing nothing is part of the problem,” he said.

Three quarters of all accidents are due to driver inattention.  But if you get a warning only 1.5 seconds before an incident, you can prevent 90 percent of crashes.  Sp lane departure and crash warning can save a lot of lives.

“It is the antithesis of what we’ve all done for 30 years, If selling entertainment is selling happiness and fun, in selling safety you are selling fear and money.  So you sales pitch is not how wonderful the sound stage will be. But all you have to do is say, can I ask you sir or ma’am what’s your insurance deductible?”

Insurance rates are climbing so people are raising their deductibles to keep prices down.   The average cost to State Farm for a backup claim is $2,200.  If you want to install a $600 backup protection system in a Ford truck, the customer says he doesn’t have the money and you say, ‘what’s your deductible.’”

“So your approach has to shift away from the fun and entertainment, but we have to move into this category aggressively and quickly because …with the OEMs, we probably have 5 to 8 years to grab a hold of this and make the kind of money and higher margins we did with audio.”

There’s a second category in driver safety that can be your biggest cash generator says Witt.  We’ll bring that to you in Part 2 to come….




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  1. A&M…listen to me. You want to know where I would spend money? Me as a customer of yours? Software. Real software. Real software for this industry. Vehicle and product software. All in one solution. Metra sucks huge. Real software that someone who has never heard of a certain type of vehicle can input specifications and retrieve reliable and accurate product information. Everyone is trying to fix this industry by providing or trying to recreate something that’s already been made and is so over and done. SOFTWARE. A window I can open on my store computer,set a new hire in front of and teach how to navigate without them having a huge knowledge of vehicles and trim levels built since 1989. Software for business’s like mine. And let’s up the ante’… make that software so that when said vehicle is inputted and sales is determining what is needed let’s make it so we can order said product and it automatically when ordered generates an invoice and links to our inventory. One stop shop,buy,ship,inventory,sell and done. You keep looking for product to boost sales. Killer software is key. Provide and sell software that is current and up to date about all product and vehicle application. That would sell way better than some silly assed idea about stocking more lights.

  2. And another thing……we the 12 volt “selling entertainment” professionals disappeared many years ago. “Entertainment” was awesome when cars came with either nothing or general nothing radios and utility paper cone speaker(s). It’s 2016..everybody even kids of kids now have heard stereos and subwoofers and loud and on and on. NO ONE IS IMPRESSED WITH ENTERTAINMENT OR QUALITY AUDIO ANYMORE! They’ve heard it. Not worth the investment. Can’t remember the last time anyone mentioned a crossover. It’s done. Move on…nothing here to see. Rear seat entertainment? Give me a break. That is another forgone conclusion. Smartphones are where the world is. iPads,iPods,etc etc. No one really wants to get all happy about installing a utility,let alone incredible rear seat video system when the kids at large who may be stuck back there on this years family vacation have at their disposal $129 handheld 500GB movie and game producer.

  3. “Car Audio” has been declining since the late 90’s. Non existent for practical purposes from a business standpoint these days in my market. OEM replacement when defective is still viable and that is what car audio is these days. Safety is ok and is seldom a driving sales force. We have been installing backup cameras for years. Not a single sale has ever come from asking a customers deductible. It’s not an add-on sale. It IS the sale that they came for. And like broken OEM audio replacement,……..backup cameras are what a customer contacts us for in the first place. It’s not an upsell. There’s nothing fun about it. No one really cares unless they want it. Remote starts are still the only lifesaving product for those of us still surviving. In the early days remote starts were an expensive luxury. Now they are commonplace and expected….especially since many of the OEM crowd now offers them as a standard feature. Extended range for OEM remote start is a call we receive more frequently.
    Cruise controls still sell. Springtime and new utility and contractor vehicles start to move…there is the cruise market. They call us. Have a Ford Transit in the bay as this post about backup cameras was made. This Transit has a bulkhead installed and not a window in the rear. Small mirrors not at all what one would need for backing up. Prime candidate for a backup camera. I even commented about the horrid visibility after test driving the cruise. So the sales approach we should take is “What’s your deductible?” To whom? Vehicle is sent over by salesman from HUGE DEALERSHIP.COM…..all he cares about is selling the vehicle. And once you broach the subject and add that since this vehicle has no internal rear view mirror and the tiny 4″ display on the dash doesn’t support….well basically anything at all….how would you like to move into a bluetooth headunit/screen and backup camera? let’s see….$300 headhunt….kit, plugs, camera….installation…oh maybe another $600……
    Soccer Moms. Where are all of these elusive creatures that the aftermarket yearns for and sales seems to think this is the heart of business? Lines of SUV’s waiting to throw money your way because “Soccer Moms” buy tint and don’t want to run over kids? Nope. Not around here. Not in my town.

  4. I welcome any 12V specialty retailer to call me and have a conversation about selling safety products. Selling safety today is not just about back-up sensors and rear view cameras. The category has 8 sub categories that use advanced “machine vision” and DSP technologies. Remember the 2AM in the bay tuning time alignment and phase correction to have that amazing sound experience in your customer’s vehicle? Now your installers connect a lap top to the ECU of the safety system to calibrate camera FOV, angles and DSP correction to deliver an amazing RELIABLE driver experience…and you get labor $$ for being able to do it. Phone lines are open 888.918.8800 or 562.889.5018.

  5. Selling safety is an additional part of a retailers go to market plan. Headunits, sound systems, video, RSE, remote start and security are all viable but with the 7 year decline in overall units, the specialty retailer must always reinvent what value he/she will deliver with installation excellence. The category mix in the store must have safety products to build a sustainable business plan that delivers healthy margins AND keeps installers employed. Failing that, the business is not a specialist. The best part of embracing safety is that the advance technology products require new installation skills and know how that ONLY a specialty retailer can provide. This is the pathway for business and employee growth that will strengthen the market position and the P/L. It’s a willful decision to grow, maintain or fade away…

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