Don’t Hide It

Dec 2, 2009

Working in an automotive parts warehouse for a summer during college was one of the experiences that helped direct me toward a career in the car world. And while some of those days seemed to drag on forever in that giant steel building with no windows, every morning there was still a rush of excitement walking into a place that housed tens of thousands of vehicle parts.

I see that excitement years later reflected on the faces of my sons whenever we visit the local auto parts store to recycle our used motor oil. They love going into the backroom to the oil drum and seeing the boxes and parts stacked from floor to ceiling, and talking about which ones will someday be on their own car or truck.

There’s a chance any excitement you might have felt stocking your shelves or storage area with specialty parts diminished long ago as you settled into a daily routine. But it’s important to remember that, for your customers, visiting your shop is still like a trip to the candy store – something they may anticipate all week long.

In the September and October issues of Performance Business magazine, we’ve taken a closer look at the importance of Point-of-Purchase displays and other showroom design suggestions, and how they can increase walk-in sales. Several industry experts offer lots of good advice, all based on a simple premise: the more people see, the more they’ll want to buy – now and in the future.

“In this economy, many customers are not ready for an immediate add-on or up-sell, but if you’re the one to show them what’s new and what’s available, and your price is competitive, you’ll get that sale – maybe not today, but soon enough,” notes L.J. Lobsinger Jr., national sales manager for Specialty Auto Parts USA Inc.

As an example, John Parman of Specialty Products Design recommends showing clients photos of past custom jobs as a way to highlight your skill and to help them understand price ranges. In my days in the restyling market, I met many successful retailers who used photo albums or wall galleries to show off the work they’d done and to plant seeds of future projects in the minds of their customers.

We all know that for many speed shops, “showrooms” range from small to non-existent. Often, performance parts are heavy or odd-shaped, and aren’t necessarily suited for simple end-cap displays.

But our experts advise giving some thought to the first impression people have when walking into your shop, with the understanding that if they come across a set of shiny braided hoses or a gauge cluster that catches their eye, the chances for an up-sell increase.

The biggest mistake many performance retailers make, Lobsinger adds, is “keeping old and dusty products on the shelf. How many times have we been in a jobber’s shop and there’s a bunch of old air cleaners sitting on a shelf with dust on them? Broom the dead inventory and keep your product mix fresh.”

After all, we work in an exciting industry. Make sure you don’t hide it from your walk-in customers.