The Market According To Sony

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Sony's Rick Kojan

Sony’s Rick Kojan and Anthony Tozzi gave a keynote address at the recent MRI dealer show, presenting Sony’s view of the aftermarket and Sony’s current strategy.

Kojan, Sony’s Director of Sales for Aftermarket Car Stereo, has been with the company for 30 years. He was always a car guy, but in 2011 he was happily managing sales for Sony’s SLR cameras, as Sony was about to surpass its competitors with a new mirrorless camera.  Instead of enjoying the success, he was kicked over to aftermarket car audio, which he claims “was a mess. Honestly, we were a mess.  We created the mess. We needed a new blueprint for us and our distributors.”  Kojan said he went to CES in 2012, embarrassed at the rumors circulating that Sony Car Audio was going out of business.

That mess was started because “We turned into the deal of the day. We were chasing revenue.”

Sony began chasing profits instead.  It converted to a strict Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy with consequences for even national accounts, he said.  Last year the company was awarded Vendor of the Year, by the Mobile Electronics Assn.

As for the state of the industry, it’s at about $800 million, he said (we assume that’s wholesale). It used to be at $1 billion.  But, “it’s a big business; it’s not going away, not going anywhere any time soon.”

Sony's Rick Kojan
Sony’s Rick Kojan addressing MRI dealer show

Then he gave the following advice to retailers:

Is the customer always first?  ‘No,’ he said, Your employees should come first. “If you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers.”  He was quoting Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Airlines.

He held up a phone and said this is the key to selling CarPlay/Android Auto.  Use the customer’s own phone to play his music in a car demo.

Have music playing in the store.  “We walk into a lot of stores and it sounds like a library.  We are in the music profession, guys.”

Have Hi-Res FLAC recordings on a USB for use in demos.  Retailers say, ‘Well, the customer doesn’t ask for Hi-Res.”  Dealers must take the lead in educating consumers to the benefits of Hi-Res.

Resist the race to zero pricing. “We want you to make money.”

Think positive.  The average age of a car on the road is 11 years.  “There’s plenty of opportunity for business out there.”

Anthony Tozzi
Anthony Tozzi

Tozzi who manages the distributor sales network for Sony encouraged dealers to invest in marketing their businesses. “You don’t do marketing to get business tomorrow. You do marketing to get business down the road.”   Retailers tell him they tried Facebook marketing for two weeks and nothing happened.  Marketing results happen over time. The ads make your store top of mind when someone is ready to make a purchase.  “How often do you see the same ad every day.  Did you buy from them the first time you saw it? ”

Here are some other words of wisdom from Tozzi:

“Always invest in your employees. If they are not a good employee, try working with them and if you can’t, get rid of them, even if they are an installer. Long term, you are better off without them.”

Invest in your retail facility. There’s a whole lot of stores that look terrible …a hole in your display board is nothing to you, but to a guy walking in the store for the first time, that display board looks broken.

To get the demo car done, put it on the schedule. You’ll make more money on it than getting that next job.  It may take a half day to work on it, but in the end, it’s better for you.

Don’t be afraid to push your staff.

Diversify into lighting and other areas.  Don’t just sell car stereo.  Sell solutions. When a customer comes in you can expose him or her to things  outside the car stereo bubble.




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