Remote start sales are off to an unusually early and strong start at many dealers, although some shops are still too busy selling car audio to make the annual switchover to remote start, they said.
At Abt, IL and Sound of Tri-State, DE the audio season, which usually ends in September, is still going strong so that the shops are not advertising or focusing on remote start yet.
But at some other leading retailers, remote start sales are up significantly for this time of year. Sound Warehouse, UT says remote start is up 20 percent and SoundFX, RI says remote start is up 30 percent, even while audio sales are still going strong.
John Samp, Dept. Manager and Buyer at Abt said, “Audio usually cuts off in September. I’ve got audio still booked all the way until mid-November. This is like off-the-chain, like never seen before chaos.” He added, “I bought heavy in remote start; enough to float me through February…” But he notes that the season could go either way. If Congress passes new stimulus payments it could create a boom in remote start, but if COVID-19 spikes this winter, people may stay at home and drive less. In that case, demand for remote start might fall. “It’s a catch 22,” said Samp.
SoundFX also said its car audio sales hit a wall in September and the shop typically spends the slow month prepping remote starts. But this year, both audio and remote start are seeing a surge, said VP Operations Mark D’Elia.
Mike Mango owns four Car Essentials (BoomerMcCloud) stores based in Albany, NY. He’s also seeing audio sales boom well past the typical cut off, while remote start sales are picking up earlier than usual. The chain will sell as many as 4,000 remote starts during a good season.
Sound of Tri-State, DE is deliberately holding off on advertising remote start because audio is selling so well. “We do not want to fill up our bays with basic $199 remote start systems, while we are still backlogged installing bigger ticket AV systems,” said President Mehdi Naramanian. So the four-store chain is seeing fewer remote start sales than last year at the moment.
With remote start sales going strong at Sound Warehouse, Dean Magnussen said, “I’m just worried we don’t run into the same issue with remote start that we’ve been experiencing with audio,” referring to product shortages.
Retailers are already reporting shortages on certain Directed products, but new owner VOXX, expects Directed to have good stock supplies by the end of this month. VOXX VP Vehicle Security, Telematics and ADAS, Joe Dentamaro confirmed, “When we acquired the company [Directed], they didn’t have inventory in key models and we had to scramble to get that done, with all the things going on in the pandemic. ..We’ve worked with our suppliers, all the factories, to put in millions of dollars of orders and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to air freight inventory…In September inventory started coming and we believe we will be in a good inventory position at the end of October. …It’s just been a full court press to get Directed factories back up to speed.” Dentamaro invites dealers who have questions to call him directly at (248) 719-2633.
Compustar is selling through inventory and receiving new shipments “constantly,” said Marketing Director Justin Lee.
Photo: Mickey Shorr