Enormis Mobile Specialties of Erie, PA, has been gradually shifting beyond its car stereo specialty to also become full car electrical specialist.
Car audio is now 20 percent of sales, down from 75 percent over a decade ago, but the shop remains the largest remote start dealer in the area, and remote start is about 30 percent of sales.
Owner Louis Norman said customers would come in for help with remote start and then complain of electrical problems. “As more and more customers were getting upset saying I took my car back to the dealer three times and they still didn’t fix it, I thought if the car dealerships won’t do it, why don’t we just do it. But we lacked the tools and so we got the tools.”
Basically, the shop chose not to pursue car stereo fabrication and moved into electrical repair instead. For one thing, it was located in an old car wash and didn’t have the space for a proper wood shop.
Norman invested in a Ford IDS diagnostic tool and the General Motors and Chrysler computers so he “could do what the car dealerships do and we do it better.” A typical customer comes in with a 2015 Chevy Tahoe and says I want fog lights, but the dealer wants $5,000 for the full package. “We get the fog lights, tell the computer that now the car has fog lights and we do it for under $600.”
He rearranged the shop so that there was less retail showroom space and more garage space, as Enormis’ expertise was now the main brand sold. The store is still expanding, and will add another 1,000 square feet to the garage. It is also considering buying a lot next door as the 20-space parking lot is often filled.
Norman said, “There are body shops, tire shops, but there are no electrical shops. Mechanics roll their eyes at electrical problems. No one does it.” So Enormis performs tasks like fixing broken window switches, gauge cluster repair, fixing heated seats, repairing transponder key issues, adding cruise control and more.
The re-positioning has helped Enormis get car dealership work, fleet and limo jobs, and work from used car dealers.
It’s a bit of a challenge for people to understand what an automotive electrical specialist is. So he sticks to an advertising schedule on both radio and TV, which works well in his market. “Some say ‘I tried radio once. You can’ t just advertise once, you have to get the momentum going,” he said.
Norman is also on the local news every week with a segment on car electronics. “We do two 2-minute slot between 6 am and 7 am and we talk about the electronics in your car.” He says it helps bring customers in to the store.
For car stereo Enormis handles mainly new radios and speaker replacement and basic installs. Brands carried include Rockford, JVC, Alpine, Hertz, Hushmat, and Phoenix Gold. He devotes about 400 sq. feet of retail space to the category.
Here’s another example of the shop’s role as an electrical specialist. A customer had an electrical problem with a Toyota and took it to the local Toyota dealer who wanted thousands of dollars to replace the engine harness. So they went to the used car dealer who contracted it out to Enormis. “We found the problem. It was a corroded plug and fixed it for $400. The dealer was ecstatic. So that’s where we’re going,” said Norman.
Norman claimed he hears car audio dealers complaining that someone comes in for a remote start and then the windshield wipers don’t work. “They’ll tell them, ‘it’s not our problem, go to the dealer.’ But I say, why did you turn them away? Why not fix it. You know what you’re doing and you just lost that work.”
The shop now models itself after a car dealer and bills $80 an hour for labor and keeps dealer service hours. Employees go home at 6 pm and are happy, many staying with the company for 15 years. He said, “We’re specialists. We read schematics on a car. And we’re done at 6, so if your car’s not done you can pick it up tomorrow. Car dealerships have no problem saying its 5:00 pm, see ya. With car stereo guys its ‘oh my gosh it will just take another 3 hours.’ Stop that guys its just ridiculous. You are experts at what you do.”