Advise and Consent

Dec 3, 2009

Suppliers are the lifeblood for restyling retailers and jobbers, getting product to those who are at the heart of the restyling industry. The warehouse distributors do their best to carry and ship an uninterrupted and timely supply so restylers can serve their customers’ wants.

Sometimes that product supply is strained because of market fluctuations: supply and demand. Occasionally, shipping woes turn what most often is an on-time product delivery system into a glitch. Nothing is perfect, even when we expect it to be so.

Yet when one considers just how many transactions occur daily among manufacturers, distributors, restylers and end users, what’s remarkable is how well, how finely tuned, how near perfect, the restyling circulatory system operates. WDs continuously monitor their part of the system to ensure as well made and vital a supply of product reaches the restyling professional.

But they do more. More to help restylers serve their customers even better. More to help shop owners maintain good business health. More to inform restylers of trends they may see on the horizon. To that end Restyling asked a couple of WDs just what kind of advice they and their peers could offer restyling jobbers and retailers, especially as the auto market adjusts to a new economic reality.

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If you were advising restyling retailers/jobbers about how they can be profitable right now and through the fall and into winter, what would you say to them?

Dealers are hungry for profits right now. Re-educate yourself on selling products and services with high ROI and low risk for the dealership. The products ranked highest in this category are still, and always has been, the simple pinstripe combined with vehicle protection products.

Color-keyed body side molding, wheel lip moldings, door edge guard and bumper impact strips can all be a very profitable program for the dealer and the professional installer.

Remember, these are not vehicle specific products. Regardless of the vehicle changeovers, these products always fit. Every “Cash or Clunker” sale should have generated extra profits with these value-added products.

Don’t forget the lease vehicles; all of these should have these vehicle investment protection products installed.

For fall and winter, get trained to install PPF products and offer that service to your dealerships. This market is continuing to grow at a fast pace. PPF products have weathered the economic storm very well-Rick Gagne, president, Trim West Distributing, Gresham Ore. and Auburn Wash.

I would encourage any restylers/jobbers to be diversified. We are actively working with our customer base to add more products and services to their business, the more diversified the better business will be.

The customers we see struggling are usually the ones who refuse to add or offer new products or services. For example, restylers who offer chrome accessories and spoilers along with stripes and graphics are seeing increases in their business every month.

The used-car market has been great for restylers who are selling accessories. The restyler needs to present this to these dealers as a way to make more money on the units they have in stock. We have several clients who call on wholesalers who put $500 worth of accessories on the units they take to the auctions and are netting anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 more per unit. – Lane Carter, sales and marketing manager, Restylers’ Choice, Cincinnati

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How are you, as a WD, working even more to help your restyling clients?

Trim West Distributing recognizes that the strength and success of this part of the industry is driven by the independent applicator/installer. Our part of that continued success is to provide preferred pricing, marketing material, sales aids and samples.

In addition, we have manufacturers’ reps willing to market direct to your potential customers with the sales leads returned to the network of applicators we support.

We try to make sure the professional applicator is well represented to his or her customer base.-Rick Gagne, Trim West Distributing

We recently launched our VIGOR (virtual installation of graphics on your ride) as a free Web-based software program. It allows our clients to show their customers what their vehicle will look like with graphics on it. This program is available in three versions, can be customized and embedded into a client’s website or can be run from our website.

We also have web-based look-up tools for our Chrome Effects products and our Wings Direct spoilers. Our Wings Direct website tool also allows our clients to create and print sales sheets. –Lane Carter, Restylers’ Choice

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What are the best deals out there that, come this fall, looking to SEMA and beyond, restylers should really be considering.

Asset preservation is the current trend. The sale of high-mpg or hybrid vehicles are on the rise. Because of that, we have seen a growing demand for protection products for the new vehicle: color-keyed body side moldings, paint protection film to name a few. These are products that the customers are actually seeking out. They want to protect their new asset.

Your car dealers need to know that you can help them and their customer base with these products. At the same time, help you are helping them with their bottom line.

Chrome restyling products are still running strong. More and more applications for auto- versus truck/SUV – are becoming available, and the trend is looking good. Be looking for more grille upgrades to be available for the auto market, as well.

Graphics in certain sizes, styles and colors are also seeing a bit of a bump. –Rick Gagne, Trim West Distributing

One of the things we are extremely excited about is our new disposable paint pinstriping system. This system uses reusable adhesive guides and disposable paint applicators that allow anyone to do painted pinstripes, regardless of experience or talent.-Lane Carter, Restylers’ Choice

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How can restylers prepare  become best informed  for the vehicles expected to be released for 2010?

Keeping up with current trends, product innovation and vehicle changeovers is critical to your success and ours. Your suppliers should be doing their best to help you in these areas. Be sure to ask them what new opportunity is out there that may be a fit for your particular market.

Also, read, read, read. Reading publications like Restyling magazine is one of many great resources to help you stay current.

We are in one of the most important transition times the auto industry has seen. Many forces are involved in the refacing of the auto industry. The ones who are best informed and most resilient will be the ones to successfully manage this transition.

2010 will be an interesting year. How the trends will unfold will be determined by the current issues at hand, like the cost of oil, the cost of money and employment recovery. Being quick to respond will be the key to next year’s success. – Rick Gagne, Trim West Distributing

We rely on trade publications, like Restyling magazine as well as their website and Twitter tweets? We have received a great deal of valuable information from RestylingLane Carter, Restylers’ Choice