As many of you are now aware, California has shut down non-essential business as have states including Pennsylvania and Nevada. We will be reporting on industry advice and reaction to this unprecedented event shortly.
Earlier this week, we gathered ideas that might be helpful to retailers and present them here:
Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) holiday. So far there’s a lot of talk on this subject, but most retailers and suppliers we polled felt it would not help sales and only cut into profits. Several suppliers said they would be open minded if dealers wanted a MAP holiday, but aren’t convinced of its benefits.
Some retailers are also suggesting suppliers allow them to pay by credit card without a surcharge. It effectively buys the dealers some extra months to carry product and keep the doors open.
Suppliers such as AudioControl and Focal are holding training webinars. Now that installers may have some downtime, the goal is to use the time wisely and take the training many retailers had little time for in the past.
Cash is king right now, as one retailer put it. If you pay in cash, ask for a discount.
Another retailer pondered the idea in this time of social distancing of charging a DIY’er for FaceTime with an installer where the installer leads the end user through the install.
Many retailers suggested keeping installers busy fixing up the shop if there’s downtime in the bay including deep cleaning and painting the shop.
Is it time for dealers to also sell online? Is the pandemic a warning that a retailer that is not online is at risk of losing too many sales?
Mark D’Elia of SoundFX in RI said no. At a time like this customers are buying food and supplies. “Massachusetts had 20,000 applications for unemployment on Monday, and had 20,000 for the entire month in February.” He said, “Normal car audio shops can’t afford to sell product on line. It takes a lot of resources to have an online store. It’s expensive to build and maintain. We looked into it…and you have to have the inventory to back it up.”
See comment below by Robert Heiblim.
Here are some other basic guidelines for shops suggested by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Send an email blast, post on social media and your website that you are implementing hygiene practices, such as wiping down counters frequently to reassure customers. (See CarToys website for a sample announcement here).
Operate in shifts if need be to cut down exposure between employees.
Develop a plan in the event your region implements a “shelter in place” policy that curtails most business.
The CTA has posted a COVID-19 resource site for the consumer electronics industry here.
Call your insurance agent to see if your policy covers your current situation.
Check with your credit card provider if it is waiving interest so that you can borrow more freely.
Advice by entrepreneur Mark Cuban:
To help avoid layoffs, look for alternative business services you can offer. “Since you have holes in your schedule, it’s a great time to experiment with new lines of business and see what sticks,” he said.
Brainstorm not only with your peers but with your competitors. “They are all in the same boat. Try to figure out the best way to reignite the industry.”
Clean up the parts of your business you’ve been neglecting. See more advice from Cuban here.