Word on the Street

Oct 29, 2010

What are your thoughts on the current state of the street performance market?

Are sales trending up or down? Are new challenges putting pressure on the market in certain areas? Are there things shops can do to boost sales now and in the future?

Heading into show season, we asked suppliers of street-related products their views on what’s hot and where the opportunities lie in the street performance market. Here are some observations on the things shop owners should watch for when serving this important group.

Pypes Performance Exhaust
Hatfield, Pa.
Chris Casperson

What are your hottest-selling street performance items at the moment, and why do you think they are currently popular?

Pype Bomb axle-backs for Mustangs and Camaros are really hot now, and so are our universal-fit electric cut-outs. Despite the great performance that new muscle cars now offer, OEM exhausts doesn’t have a sound that matches the car’s looks or performance capabilities.

For 2011, we expect our 3-inch Pype Bomb Super Systems to address the needs of even the most demanding street terror.

With electric cut-outs, a racer can, with the cut-outs closed, quietly and eerily glide to a 10-second quarter-mile run or open ’em up at the push of a button and produce a killer sound. While driving home from the track, the same owner can pull next to a car full of teenagers and in five seconds overpower their 800-watt obnoxious subwoofer with his own exhaust music. Then, a block later, innocently, quietly and confidently cruise past the local police officer after closing the cut-outs.

Since it’s show season, what would you tell a shop owner who approached your trade show booth, asking about entry into the street performance market?

The first thing I would recommend is to know your market. Know what the usual selections for the standard applications are, and know what the hot products in the market are.

Check out the car magazines and Internet forums to find the pulse of your audience and get to know what they like and what they don’t like. Select products that represent good value. Superior engineering and high-quality materials are a great combination. Add fresh, innovative products and you’ve hit the trifecta.

What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the current street performance market?

I don’t see selling street performance products as that much of a challenge. There are a lot of great products out there, and a lot of consumers who want those products.

As long as there are open gas stations, those consumers will continue to be there! You just need to show them that you are knowledgeable about the products you promote and they will reward you with their business.

What are the one or two things your best dealers do to maintain consistent sales?

They continually look for new ways to help educate their customers. They manage to inform and excite their audiences with good explanations of product performance attributes and their aesthetic aspects.

A good explanation of what a consumer can expect from a product goes a long way toward encouraging the selection of that product and therefore making a sale.

BBK Performance
Temecula, Calif.
Brian Murphy

What are your hottest-selling street performance items at the moment, and why do you think they are currently popular?

Currently at BBK our hottest items happen to be our core product line, as we have been fortunate that the last few years has seen a rebirth of the American muscle car segment with the all-new Camaro, Challenger and now the updated Mustang with the all-new 5.0-liter V-8 and 3.7-liter V-6 models.

It was the original 1987 5.0-liter Mustang that launched the BBK company back in 1988 at a time when our team introduced to market items like cold-air intakes and throttle bodies.

Now, 22 years later, the stars aligned for our team at BBK with the rebirth of this pony car battle. In 2011 alone our R&D team is introducing more than 50 new products for these latest Ford, GM and Dodge offerings.

Since it’s show season, what would you tell a shop owner who approached your trade show booth, asking about entry into the street performance market?

At the shows we like to explain to shop owners that with BBK they are really getting a line with a great group of people and talents behind it.

It sounds like a sales pitch, but we really do consider our distributors (to be) partners in this ever-changing marketplace and we try to do the best job possible and look for innovative ways to make their experience with BBK the best it can possibly be.

What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the current street performance market?

The biggest challenge I see facing the aftermarket is the ever-increasing political position in America that our hobbies are something that should be in some way approved by or mandated by our government.

However, based-on the resilience of Detroit with ever-improving performance and technology, along with a big change coming to the Senate and Congress this November, I believe Americans are starting to stand up for their freedoms, which include the vehicle hobby.

Being a pilot as well as a car enthusiast, I feel strongly that our politicians should protect both these truly American-invented industries rather than burden them with more and more regulations.

What are the one or two things your best dealers do to maintain consistent sales?

The dealers we see consistently improving their businesses even during these challenging times are the ones that embrace not only new sales channels like the Internet, but also invest in the customer experience, which allows for better margins than those who give product away to drive sales, at the end only to lose money.

I feel strongly that our MAP policy at BBK and very competitive pricing ensures that our distributors can offer the service needed and still make a healthy margin.

STS Turbo
Orem, Utah
Rick Squires
President

What are your hottest-selling street performance items at the moment, and why do you think they are currently popular?

Our hottest-selling bolt-on turbocharger systems are currently the 2010-’11 Camaro turbo systems. We have single systems for the V-6 Camaro that produce 500 hp and twin systems for the V-8s that produce 650-plus hp.

Our STS single and twin universal remote turbo systems are also among our most popular products. Today’s educated consumers are really gravitating toward the high efficiency of turbochargers, and our universal systems are the easiest way to turbocharge any car.

Since it’s show season, what would you tell a shop owner who approached your trade show booth, asking about entry into the street performance market?

The automotive performance market is an exciting place to be and there is money to be made. However, the performance technician needs to be patient and a little on the OCD side-they need to be willing to spend extra time making sure that things are done exactly right and double- or triple-checked.

If you want to enjoy working in the performance industry, you really need a business plan that allows you to spend the necessary time on each project to ensure that it turns out a success and that word will spread about your ability to accurately bid and complete a job on time and build amazing vehicles.

If you want to work doing something that you love, you need to focus on the project and not on the clock. Unfortunately, most shops have to do maintenance and (other) work to pay the bills, especially as they are getting started in the performance work. Being able to switch gears between “knocking out” a heater core job and “surgically” installing a set of gauges into a $100,000 custom show car will be the determining factor of your success.

What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the current street performance market?

I see a couple of challenges. One is the government’s increasing push for cleaner emissions. This is limiting the horsepower options that are available that can meet these ever-tightening emissions standards.

As more states adopt an emissions program similar to the California Air Resources Board program, there will be fewer performance packages that will be legal to install on emissions-equipped vehicles.

I refer to the second challenge as: “Eating your cake and having it, too.” The performance customer of the past was more of a gear head who was willing to sacrifice just about anything for horsepower. If the car was fast, it didn’t really matter if it had air conditioning or power steering, and who cared about fuel mileage.

Today’s consumers in every market, not just the performance market, are much more demanding and they also want it finished in a couple days because their weekend warrior car and their daily driver have become the same vehicle.

What are the one or two things your best dealers do to maintain consistent sales?

In the past it was “location-location-location,” but I don’t think that necessarily applies these days. Our best dealers have followed in our footsteps because at STS Turbo we practice what we preach and have worked hard to establish “reputation-reputation-reputation.”

You first build the reputation of offering consistent high-quality service. You also have to hire competent and highly skilled employees that understand the vision of the business owner and have a passion for the performance market.

The second reputation is to align yourself and specialize in the installation of quality products from companies that have a good reputation and that are there to support you.

Lastly, practice what you preach and show that you and your employees are customers of your chosen product lines. Get out into the local and cyber communities and get involved, build relationships, help people and develop your personal reputation as the go-to person for technical information, reputable products and reputable service.

Rocket Racing Wheels
Chattanooga, Tenn.
David Coker
President

What are your hottest-selling street performance items at the moment, and why do you think they are currently popular?

The Rocket Booster line with four new sizes, specifically tailored for modern-muscle service vehicles such as the new-model 2009-up Challenger, 2005-up Mustang and 2010 Camaro are our hottest sellers.

With many manufacturers reviving beloved muscle cars, we wanted to make sure that newer-era enthusiasts had a classic line of wheels available that would continue to complement the timeless look and feel of the originals.

Since it’s show season, what would you tell a shop owner who approached your trade show booth, asking about entry into the street performance market?

Focus. Too many options can confuse customers to the point of delaying or walking away from a purchase. Carefully choose a handful of quality suppliers and focus on quality.

What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the current street performance market?

During difficult economic times, many in the marketplace incorrectly focus on price instead of value.

What are the one or two things your best dealers do to maintain consistent sales?

From large to small businesses, the biggest reason for success is focusing like a laser beam on specific market segments.

JET Performance Products
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Dan Nicholas
VP of sales/marketing

What are your hottest-selling street performance items at the moment, and why do you think they are currently popular?

V-Force Plus is the product. Besides the power benefits, the product allows real-time monitoring of your vehicle.

We also have it available for most vehicles including Hyundai, Scion, Audi, etc. So, with thousands of applications, it’s a product that allows a jobber to never lose a sale.

Since it’s show season, what would you tell a shop owner who approached your trade show booth, asking about entry into the street performance market?

Sell, sell, sell. The sales are there if you’re willing to put the time in. There is very good gross profit to be made with easy-to-install products.

Once you have the customer hooked, then have them grow with you. Suggested next steps: show off new stuff and build a relationship with them. Use social media-make them a part of your shop family.

What’s the biggest challenge you see facing the current street performance market?

Marketing. I feel that we as an industry are missing the boat.

There are so many consumers out there with vehicles that don’t know that simple changes to air/fuel will improve performance. But these are not the same guys that will read and study the magazines. They don’t know our industry and need to be led into it.

Face it, most people would prefer not to drive a stock vehicle. But they have so many other things going on that they don’t have the time to join our industry. We need to bring it to them.

What are the one or two things your best dealers do to maintain consistent sales?

Update applications is number one. We release new applications monthly.

Make sure that your employee doesn’t miss an opportunity when a customer asks about performance upgrades for his Kia, for instance. We offer something to give him more performance. Why wouldn’t you want to make a sale with every possible customer you talk to?