There are two things unusual about the showroom of Cartronix in Valparaiso, IN.
One is that it has every single display offered by Avidworx; 15 to be exact. The other is that you may see installers working on a car right in the middle of the showroom.
Cartronix used to have a demo car in the showroom. Then one day it ran out of room in the bay while it was working against the clock on a Lamborghini. So the installers moved the car right onto the showroom floor, cordoned it off and worked on the wiring right there. Customers started taking pictures and selfies with the car. So the shop tried the public installation again with a 1957 Bel Air and it soon became a regular practice.
“We have the glass garage doors anyway, so you can see in the bays,” said owner Eric Carter, adding, “Customers love it if we park their car in the showroom. We’ll work on a car in front of clients,” he added.
Cartronix set up the new Avidworx displays in March. It had just moved to a new location in the same town about 2 miles from the old. It doubled its square footage to 5,000 feet with the move and then it recently added another 1,500 square feet of bay area for detailing and window tinting.
When Carter decided to move, “Everyone said, Eric, you’re crazy,” he said. The shop is off the beaten path, about 150 yards in from the main road, so you can’t see it from the street. They said, “Eric, you’re going to fail. But the result is that he has more walk-in traffic than in the old location, said Carter.
He moved behind a Harley Davidson dealer that holds a car and bike show every Friday night and draws crowds of up to 2,000 people. Cartronix stays open late on Friday nights and employees take turns going out and distributing fliers at the show.
Bike audio installs are up needless to say. In the old shop Cartronix worked on a bike every two weeks, now it can do 7 a week.
The shop now has 8 employees including Carter, where three years ago it had three. It has one large bay with 18 foot ceilings that fits 5 cars at a time.
The interactive displays in the showroom include dedicated displays for Sony, Hertz, Hushmat, Race Sport, Compustar, Audison and Audiofrog. Then there are displays for marine audio, radar detectors, backup cameras and collision avoidance.
Business is up since the displays went in, with May sales hitting $95,000 and June was on track for the same at the time of this writing. Sales year to date are up 22 percent over last year in an election season where many retailers are seeing unusually slow or sporadic sales.
Audiofrog sales doubled with the display and Carter is selling more upscale $500 speaker pairs.
“The first customer that came in and saw the displays was an older gentleman with a budget of $250 for a new radio. We started showing him radios, and we said, while you are looking at radios, why not look at speakers. We gave him a tour of the store and other displays and he said I want this and this and his budget went to $2,500.
The shop also relies heavily on social media marketing, especially Facebook. It employs Modern Media Geeks and 1Sixty8 Media for search engine and social media help and web site management. The shop has 15,000 Facebook fans and spends time talking to customers and answering questions over Facebook.
A final tip: Cartronix swears that its sales went up when it put air freshener in the showroom—tropical scent. When the freshener runs out and they don’t replace it, sales go down. Worth a try!