Typically, it is retailers who end up moving into manufacturing, but two national sales managers from leading 12 volt brands have joined forces at a Tint World franchise in Orlando.
You may remember about five years ago, Pete Muller formerly of VOXX, Dual Electronics, Kenwood, and other suppliers, switched from the supply side to open a Tint World in Longwood, FL (North Orlando). With a second Orlando-area location launching in two weeks, he hired Susanne Basile Pomerantz, a long-time veteran of NAV-TV.
The Longwood store is one of the top performing Tint Worlds in the country, said Muller, whose gross annual sales are about $1.5 million. Car audio and window tint both are about equal in sales and the leading categories.
Pomerantz will help manage customer service at the Longwood store, while Muller will focus on the new location. A third store in South Orlando is also planned.
What are some of the advantages of a supplier moving into retail? Since Muller already had many relationships in the industry. he was able to put together a first rate team in Longwood. “It has also helped with supplier relationships, having been a supplier. I’m able to get the lines I need here. These include brands not typically carried by most Tint World franchises such as JL Audio, Kenwood eXcelon and Sony ES,” he said.
Originally, Muller expected much of his business to be in expediting, and planned to draw on his experience working with successful expediting retailers at VOXX. However, the business shifted to high-end and exotic cars.
“When we first started, I thought dealership business was the way to go, but within the first couple of years, we got away from servicing standard car dealers and the only dealerships we work with now are high-end… like Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche… The rest of our business is retail and mainly customers with exotic cars,” Muller said.
How do you break into that rarefied market? By buying a Ferrari, of course. “Like many people in our industry, I got into this business because I have a true passion for cars. I bought a Dodge Viper, completely customized it, and started going to local car shows… because it was something I enjoyed. Then I bought a Ferrari, and now a Porsche 911 Turbo. Just being in the local car community, people saw the things I was doing with my cars. I joined the clubs,” Muller said, noting by the way, “There are tax benefits when purchasing vehicles for the business and using them for marketing.”
“We install paint protection film, vinyl wraps, window tint, ceramic coatings, as well as an equal amount of car audio, lighting, and other vehicle customizations,” Muller said. “Some of the audio jobs involve installing a subwoofer in the passenger foot well or other less conventional locations, as a lot of exotics don’t have a standard place to put a subwoofer enclosure.”
Many of the cars at the shop on a weekly basis are in the $300K+ range and some have price tags as high as $5 million. As Muller notes, “We have very high insurance coverage.”
For a shop of this caliber, the key to success is simply to make sure every customer leaves happy, which again, is something Pomerantz will be helping to maintain at the original location. “Whatever it takes. If someone is less than happy with the outcome of anything we do for them, being able to figure out the problem and how to solve it; we want to make sure that everyone always leaves with a completely positive experience.”