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Posted: October 31, 2013

The New Evolution Of The Restyling Market… Retail Sales

Ron Leslie of Katzkin discusses how restylers can partner with truck accessory retailers to increase business together.

By Ron Leslie, VP, Restyler Sales, Katzkin Leather

In this business, you’ve got to evolve, because the market evolves. If you compare the product mix 30 years ago versus today, it’s dramatically different. Everybody was doing T-Tops, wood dashes and gold packages. For restylers today, leather and sunroofs are core products, and they’re offering more high-end electronics. So it’s an ever evolving business.

The OEMs are also stepping up their game. The days of just gray and beige don’t cut it anymore. Interiors are light years ahead in design, features and comfort, and the OEMs use leather as a draw to sell top trim-level vehicles. But there will always be the base and mid-level trim lines where we can create aspirational vehicles. For example, Chrysler is using high end leather in SRT models. We’ve expanded our ultra high-end Tuscany line from a few colors to all the major colors. Now restylers have an opportunity to create the same look by putting high-end leather in a Charger that’s not an SRT.

Increasing category and brand awareness among end users is an important objective for our organization. The partnerships we’ve developed with restylers and car dealers for fulfillment is growing at a rapid rate. In just one year, consumer requests to have a leather kit installed in a new vehicle, which come in via our website and collection sources, have increased by over 300 percent. We’ve also developed an icon that our restylers ask dealers to put on their website. When a customer goes to a dealer’s website to look for a car, the icon appears next to the image of a particular model, indicating there’s a leather option. Now consumers learn they can add leather that may not be available from the factory on the trim level they want to buy.

At the SEMA Show, we’ll introduce the first-ever, fully integrated point-of-purchase display to sell leather to the end user through dealerships. The objective is to educate the consumer about the product and decide if it’s something they want. Most restylers do a great job selling product to dealers. They have little interaction with end users, but many want to get more retail business. By the same token, truck-accessory retailers have invested in their showrooms to drive floor traffic and can do lifts and other complex installations faster and better. But if they try to offer leather or sunroofs, the manufacturers will likely recommend working through an expediter that does a lot of business in that segment. Some people may not be comfortable with that. But if you have owners who can work together, it makes sense to form marketing partnerships. Restylers have the sales organizations to target dealerships. Truck-accessory people know how to get retail business. It’s a great marriage.

Edited by Ellen McKoy

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