Certified Autosound in BC Canada sells to 86 car dealerships. It brings in about $200K a year in expediting and expects that to double next year.
Co-owner Chris Cope offered tips during KnowledgeFest in Dallas this summer on how to win new expeditor business and keep the car dealers happy.
Here’s 10 of Cope’s top tips:
Tip 1: When you interview with a car dealership, bring a car to show off your work and bring the actual products you are pitching, so the dealer can see the quality. If your contact is rushed, and can’t see the products, book another appointment. When Cope approached the local Porsche dealer, he drove up in a Porsche that he borrowed from a friend to get their attention.
Tip 2: Be ready with a response when you are inevitably asked why the dealer should trust you not to make the same mistakes the last shop made. Cope said, “I haven’t gone into a dealership who didn’t say, ‘You guys mess things up.’ You have to be ready for that. And if you are prepared, it goes a long way. We do 200 cameras every month between the 3 stores. So, you talk about your procedures and policies and warranty. All of us know our competition, focus on the differences.”
Tip 3: Cope’s favorite message is, “‘I truly believe this will help you sell more cars.’ That’s their goal. We can help them sell a lot more used vehicles for sure. They make more money moving used cars than new cars.”
Tip 4: Post meeting, “I’m not high pressure. Usually the dealer, within a week, will have had five people come in and ask for services on the car. Let the dust settle. So, go back and visit in a week. It’s better than calling. Bring the guys coffee or something.”
Tip 5: “When you do the first job, take pictures and show behind the panels. Guaranteed, no dealer has done that before.”
Tip 6: Don’t always take no for an answer. For example, Cope has been working on a Mercedes dealer for 6 months. In his first meeting, they said, “Corporate doesn’t allow us to do anything aftermarket.” But Cope was familiar with a dealer that does work for another Mercedes dealer, so he knew it wasn’t true.
“If I’m hitting a road block and not getting anywhere, I’ll bring in the other options. I’m not afraid to do a tester job.” He might say, “‘See that used Jeep out there. It’s been sitting on the lot and it doesn’t have a backup camera. I’ll install it. If it doesn’t sell, I’ll take it out.’” (He’s in the shop enough to have scoped this out.)
He continued, “I’ve done that with radar. It always sells. It’s risky business. But I weigh the options… It’s worked out for me. I’m confident enough in our work. I check in every week everywhere. When it disappears, you say, ‘Pay me and we’ll do another one.’ Dealers like it because it doesn’t cost them anything. And it gets you off their back. And when it sells, it’s like ‘Hey Chris, you were right. That radar probably made that deal.’”
It pays to introduce yourself and present your sales pitch even if the odds are against you. In Cope’s area there are 10 large dealerships including Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Kia, and Toyota dealers, all owned by the West Coast Auto Group. And that group has its own detail shop where they handle accessories and audio. But it turned out “they were terrible at audio and wiring, so they called and said, ‘Can you help us?’ We said, ‘We’d love to.'”
Tip 7: If the dealer is the type that continually asks to do the job for less and profits are getting narrow, Cope cuts them off, although he says he’ll continue to “stop by and pay attention.”
Tip 8: Don’t limit yourself to car dealers. “It can be a Bobcat dealer, it doesn’t have to be just cars and trucks. Tractors, boats… My biggest client ever came from us working with a boat dealer.,” He added, “We do a ton of outside work. LED lighting, decks…that’s a huge market. A lot of people are scared to touch that. We added a rider on our insurance policy to cover it…Make sure you educate the salesmen at the dealership on what you’ve done so they can sell the extra features.”
“Harley is a huge category.” Cope handles Rockford audio kits. “Though to get into a Harley dealership, they are worse than Mercedes for saying no.” A customer of Certified Autosound actually worked for the local Harley dealer so Cope installed a system in his bike for free and promised him $100 for every job he refers to Certified Autosound.
Tip 9: Make a list of the five worst questions you’ve ever heard from a customer. ” This will happen every day to the salesmen at the dealership, but you won’t be there to explain it to them, so educate them on why a backup camera costs so much.”
Tip 10: Keep it simple. Don’t offer 10 different head unit options to the dealer. The customers and the salesmen will get confused.