Posted: January 05, 2014
Powering Into A New Profit Center
How To Market Truck Performance To Your Towing CustomersBy Dan Sanchez
It’s a basic fact that truck owners, who use their vehicles for towing, most always need accessories like a new hitch-ball, T-connector or trailer brake. So while you make sure you have all the accessories for their towing needs, why do you have to send your customers away when they ask for one of the most common items on their list of must-haves? A cat-back exhaust and high-flow air intake system are two of the most popular accessories truck owners add to improve towing power. But many truck accessory stores don’t carry these products, mostly because they are not familiar with them enough to see the potential revenue these products can create.
“Many shops focus only on truck accessories and then hand over the customer to the speed shop,” says Jason Bruce, director of marketing for aFe Power. “Nowadays, simple performance products like intakes, filters, exhaust, tuners/programmers, etc., offer excellent add-on value and profitability. The typical jobber price for an intake is around $300-$400. With an exhaust, you are looking at a cost around $400-$600, while tuners average $400-$800. Why would you give product revenue, and installation revenue away to a speed shop?”
Aside from helping your towing customers get greater power from their vehicles and making a profit from it, adding air intakes and exhaust systems to your store’s inventory can also help you reach new customers. “Performance product offerings also can help engage a new customer segment. They provide the store with a chance to be the preferred destination for aftermarket accessories for a broader audience,” says Craig Kohrs, VP and General Manager, TMG Performance Products. “In addition, the wider range of accessories allows the store to engage in up-selling opportunities by educating the consumer about the advantages performance accessories offers them.”
So what steps can a truck accessory store take to making more profits selling performance truck parts? Air intake and exhaust manufacturers recommend that you first listen to your customers. “At the end of the day each business is unique and the business owner needs to understand the needs of its consumers,” says Kohrs. “Doing installs, whether tonneau covers or hitch receivers, offers an opportunity to pay attention to what type of aftermarket parts may already be on the truck being worked on. Chances are it’s going to have some aftermarket items already on it. Store owners should take note of those products and categories. Then determine if it makes sense for their business. An air intake that boosts engine performance and efficiency may be a very logical line extension for the shop that is installing towing accessories.”
Making business sense is one thing. But one of the biggest limitations to installing truck performance parts by retailers is the likely-hood of hiring a specialized mechanic to do the work. But most aftermarket performance parts are designed to be easily installed by the DIY truck owner, without requiring special tools or welding. So for the shop with a mechanic already versed in installing hitches and working around the vehicle, installation should not be an issue. “Most installations can be done with very basic mechanical knowledge,” says Bruce. “If you can turn a wrench and know how to use some lubricant, you can install most of these systems with a fair amount of ease. We design our systems specifically to make sure the average truck owner can install the products with confidence, without having to be a certified mechanic or welder.” “Not all aftermarket provider installations are the same and the difficulty of the installation can vary widely,” adds Kohrs. “By doing the upfront leg work however, each shop can make sure they carry the line or lines of performance accessories they are capable of installing and feel comfortable selling.”
To gain more confidence in the product line and installation, many truck performance manufacturers suggest working closely with warehouse distributors. This can give retailers the advantage of starting off with one or two orders, until they feel confident selling and installing a complete line of products. “With an intake system taking less than an hour, a tuner/programmer about 30 minutes, and an exhaust at around two hours, you are talking about incremental revenue that has very little risk in terms of problems, labor, etc,” says Bruce.
Another advantage to working with your warehouse distributor, is the confidence in knowing the components are of high quality and will fit properly on the vehicle. “Make sure you are selling and installing major brands,” says Bruce. These companies have invested huge amounts of money in engineering and product development. Going with no-name brands is a mistake that could cost you customers. Do your research (online, magazines, distributors) to find out what the top brands in each category are, and work with your distributor for inventory recommendations.”
Aftermarket manufacturers have seen sales levels increase for truck accessory retailers who have become more confident in selling performance products to their customers. “The incentives for providing the right performance accessories are wide.” says Kohrs. “Providing a high quality line of products that delivers on their promise leads to happy customers. Happy customers lead to repeat sales. Repeat sales lead to more profits and yet more sales through recommendations and positive word of mouth.”
TMG Performance Products
140 Blaze Industrial Pkwy
Berea, OH 44017
Advanced Flow Engineering
252 Granite St.
Corona, Ca 92879