When your profession involves tearing into customers’ dashboards, a 5 star rating on Yelp is hard to come by. Yet the car audio shops below all have 5 star ratings with over 100 reviews.
We talked to a handful of them and found that the secret sauce is less about a fancy waiting room (although that helps) and more about being the expert, finding the right system for the customer at a fair price and delivering it as promised.
Unlike many stores, most of these shops answer the phone consistently and politely. One store owner has the phone ring into his personal cellphone.
We looked at shops in the top ten cities. If there are more of you outside the top ten markets with 5 star ratings and over 100 reviews, drop us a line at [email protected]
Also, it is interesting to note that only San Diego and Los Angeles had 5 star shops with more than 100 reviews (out of all the top 10 most populated cities). New York had none, nor did most of the other top cities including Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, and Dallas. We did see one qualifying shop in the 10th largest US city, San Jose.
One of the top rated shops in Los Angeles, Evolution Motorsports is owned by Alonso Valenzuela and has a 5 star rating with 168 reviews on Yelp. The phone rings directly into Valenzeuela’s cellphone and he’s on the phone all day. He’s also an installer, so he works long hours and claims he’s never sat on his couch at home for more than 5 minutes.
The shop is modern and clean. There are two other employees plus a window tinter. Valenzuela says, “I’m very passionate about my company.” He checks every job while in progress and at its conclusion. He greets every customer and says 98 percent of the people who come in the shop buy from him.
For Joe’s Stereo in San Diego (5 stars, 158 reviews) it’s not about a fancy shop. Ali G. describes it “very down to earth.” The waiting area is a bench and some seats. “Whoever comes here, they come for the service and they know their car isn’t going to have any problems,” he said.
The 10-year old shop has 15 to 16 employees. It does everything from upholstery to car stereo to tinting and custom work. Ali says, “It’s West Coast Customs but in San Diego.” If you want a fish tank in your trunk, you can get it here.
The employees are cross-trained and everyone does a bit of everything. They give customers rides when needed and warranty installs for the life of the car. The motto is to keep it old school and take care of customers one car at a time and not rushing, said Ali.
If you read the reviews for the Cutting Edge in San Diego (5 stars, 180 reviews) you will hear a lot about the owner’s dog who hangs out at the store. “He gets 5 stars all by himself,” says owner Joel Hinson. This is an upscale shop that serves coffee, cold drinks; with leather seating in the waiting room along with WiFi, DirectTV and possibly a visit from the dog–a Bijon poodle mix. Hinson has a friendly, laid back demeanor that actually makes you want to come into the shop and talk to him, so he’s good at bringing in customers off the phone.
The shop is organized, clean and inventories are up to date. It provides a lifetime warranty on its work.
Six people work at the store including two installers and two window tinters. Top brands are Pioneer and Viper. Hinson said people like to keep their cars cool and running for their dogs in the summer.
Showtime Audio also made the list with 5 stars and 111 reviews. We wrote about Showtime here.
Other top Yelp ranked shops with more than 100 reviews include:
5 Stars, 312 reviews
4761 Century Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90304
Phone number (310) 677-2000
Serving Whittier and the Surrounding Area
Phone number (562) 789-0600
5 Stars, 274 reviews
Serving San Diego and the Surrounding Area
Phone number (619) 200-0459
Responds in about 1 day
5 Stars, 166 reviews
210 San Jose Ave
San Jose, CA 95125
Phone number (408) 781-6661
Note: Yelp ratings were tabulated as of late December.