Prove it

Dec 2, 2009

Fun Customer

Everyone has had that customer who buys a lot of parts and always stops by the shop. He is “the guy” on the forum to know or talk to, and you hook up with great deals. If you don’t, he complains substantially then jumps ship to the next cool thing. What about when he thinks his internet expertise means he has some sort of business sense and can do what has taken you a matter of years to build in a week? My personal thoughts would be, you are not a business, you are not a tuner, and you are nothing but affecting the validity of this industry. Having your fast EVO, STI, or whatever hot car at the track then posting how cool you are and your times on forums does not make you a business person. It makes you a good driver and marketer. I am fine with good drivers, but when you take product A, B, and C and call it your Stage “Whatever” and charge a huge premium to unknowledgeable drivers, to me you are a rip off artist. Ordering parts from 3rd party wholesale distributors as needed to your home garage takes no engineering, business sense, or skill. You are more like a personal shopper to these customers, not a tuner. The companies that supply you the products are even worse. This largely gray market 7th party distributor system needs to be fixed. When will it be fixed? Who knows, but all you are doing is adding to these “fake forum business” people’s success. After they collect about $20,000 or more in customer dollars, they some how disappear with the money leaving a bad taste inthe consumers mind.

Forums

Buying a forum vendorship and having parts “in stock” does not make you the biggest or leader in that niche vehicle business. How many websites say we are the largest? You are NOT, what you are is good at web design. I know that when I look at certain forums and see the amount of dealers posting “in stock” items and price whoring the same part makes no sense for you as a business or what the manufacturers are trying to do with their product values. Like our customers who work hard for their toys, I know I don’t get out of bed to make $5. If you think it is ok and to win customers by selling stuff at cost, then when you are gone in 6 months, guess what happens? You have simply given the customer a marketplace and a reason to expect prices like this. So for the rest of us that have budgets, overhead, employees and such, we have to increase our volume to make up for your dipping the hand in the bucket of water creating unnecessary waves.

Quality

You know what else I don’t understand is the companies who claim to engineer, manufacturer, and provide the best products for the “said” market. There is a difference between making a prototype and sending it overseas to be made and simply taking cheap knock off Chinese intercoolers, hoses, coilovers, and other parts and selling them as the best. There is a reason you pay $2,500 for serious coilovers for your car. They are tested, engineered, and built to perform. If your coilovers cost $900, well no kidding they ride bad, the monoballs have wore out, and whoops, a sway bar link broke. I love drift cars, I love race cars, but when you sell suspension parts that are rebadged as So and So Racing from knock offs, you better have good product liability insurance. When that rod end breaks off or they snap under hard conditions, it is obvious why they cost $40 for the set on EBay.  It is never good to crash a car in racing or practice. When our time attack 240sx came out of the banked oval at Phoenix International Raceway and blew a tire, it tapped the wall at over a 100mph on the entire right side of the car. Guess what parts we had on it? JIC! JIC control arms, tie rods, coilovers and more. The rod ends were perfect and they took the impact bending slightly instead of snapping off sending the driver into a worse off condition.

Hatorade

So while you read this you are probably wondering why I am bringing out the big gulp of flavored hatorade. Some of you might even ask if we participate in similar activities. As a parts distributor, product manufacturer, and tuning facility, the Vivid Racing team gives 130% of effort everyday to offer truly a different experience for customers. When I hear or read what another one-man show is making claims about, it bothers me that consumers actually fall into this scheme. On a positive note, many of our end user competitors earn my respect for proving their power and validity of a real tuning company.

On a grassroots level, companies like Full Race who build their own turbo kits, and go out to local race events, provide a true honest tuner/manufacturer mentality. They hand build some of the best manifolds at their Phoenix facility. Many followers include the 240sx drifting market which proudly displays the Full Race logo on their cars. They don’t go out and tell people they are number 1 by buying cheap Chinese knock offs; they let their customers show that their products are far superior by communicating to the marketplace.

Competition

One of our biggest competitors, AMS, known for their superior EVO products just plain and simple walks the walk and crushes the others. They made a stern point with their drag EVO car and then they jumped into the time attack market proving that they can not only go fast, but they can brake and take turns like some of Japans top tuners. Manufacturing products out of their USA location, they focus only on the fine tuned elements of providing customers with a solution that has been proven time after time.

Another tuner/shop that earns my respect is Redline Motorsports. Most of you would not know of the Porsche specialist based out of Tempe, Arizona. But Robert is one of the most methodical and well respected people in the high-end performance vehicle game. His two-man operation will only use the highest quality parts. If you don’t want what he recommends, then he won’t bother to work on your car. And his resume of Porsche Cup cars, Ferrari’s, and more speak for themselves. His customers trust him by his experience and results. He does not need to put himself on the internet; customers will do that for him.

In The Mirror

So I guess now that I have laid the heat hard to what I think of some industry faults, how do the companies I am involved with, Vivid Racing and Agency Power, stack up to these issues. In everything we do, we only do what we can deliver the best. If we can’t give the customer fullest capacity of proper service, the others can have it. Our brand recognition speaks for itself, but is a constant reminder that to be on top you have to keep letting people know how and why you are there. Our vehicles bring several aspects of motorsports and lifestyle together proving their diversity. Incredible handling, strong power, and the ability to drive it to the office from home and back. When it comes to the products we sell and how we handle customers, we strive to only provide the most sincere and real solutions to gain that return business. If we can’t make it work, fit, or produce results, then neither will you so we won’t sell it. When you sell or represent junk or false claims, you are no different as a company.

Manufacturing products is way to show our diverse, creative and functional talents of being more then a “me too” type company. We make sure that products are functional, fashionable, what the market needs, and priced correctly. Nobody needs a fake $30,000 stage 2 setup for their Porsche or a $1,500 set of springs and sway bars just cause your fast at the track. People need solutions that make sense for what they intend to use the car for and within a budget that fits that demographic.

Reach Out

I am reaching out to you manufacturers and serious shops to help fix this epidemic to our industry. We need a place where consumers don’t have to think all shops are out to get them. Where pricing is not as important as service. Finally where we can all help innovative and differentiate products to help improve our industry. Advancing in technology with the cars themselves will keep this movement thriving for years to come. You can either disagree or agree with me, but take a look outside your normal business box, there is a whole lot going on that could affect you.