The exhaust market has seen a resurgence of sorts over the past few seasons, with the reintroduction and continued expansion of muscle car models from all major OEs as well as growth in the standard replacement category. Significant improvements in the size and breadth of the performance exhaust category have also had an effect.
1. Keep an Open Mind
For the retail customer, the performance market should certainly command the bulk of your attention, due to its attractiveness to the consumer as well as its profit potential, but don’t write off the dedicated DIYer looking for a quiet daily ride.
2. Be Brand Smart
As noted, brand can play an important role in making the sale. Even if performance numbers are identical, customers may demand a specific appearance, logo, and brand. Look for clues on this, but don’t give up too easily if the brand they come in looking for isn’t something you have on hand. They may be easily swayed by the numbers, but if not, look for how you can fulfill their request.
3. Performance is in the Eye of the Beholder
Performance customers can come in many shapes and sizes, as can the object of their affection. There are traditional muscle car enthusiasts who look for brands and sounds that they might have grown up with, and the compact performance lover who is still looking for something to provide a boost in look and sound.
4. Know Standard Replacement Upgrades
No, this is not a contradiction. Compared to the products you might have had access to only a few years ago, the quality and variety of options in the standard replacement category have expanded. Stainless steel has made its way into the replacement category, of course, but there are also options that provide shifts from OE sound and performance without being hardcore performance parts.
5. Know Your Cats
As the catalytic converter market has expanded and emission technology has improved, replacement catalytic converters have had to keep pace. Ensure that you know which units you have access to that can keep Check Engine lights off and customers happy.
6 Don’t Get Too Technical
Years ago, most people doing custom performance work on their cars were themselves mechanical experts. This aspect of the business has certainly changed dramatically, with the proliferation of performance exhaust systems for everything from SUVs to minivans. Today, you have to be prepared to sell performance parts to a wide range of customers, using an even wider range of selling points. Sell based on factors customers can understand and appreciate, like increased horsepower or fuel efficiency, and you’ll be more likely to keep them interested.
7 Use The Web To Educate
Today’s customers are technology-savvy, so you should be prepared to direct consumers to various manufacturers’ websites, as well as provide them with other high-tech data involved in the process. While it may still be important to shy away from the shoptalk, today’s tech-savvy customer will appreciate some of the more technical data if it is presented online or in some other multimedia format.
8 Utilize Manufacturer Programs
With so many performance buyers researching their purchase online prior to a shop visit now, many manufacturers have taken notice and now offer to actually provide the contact details for jobbers in the region of the customer doing the initial search, in order to lead them to the right places. Normally some sort of membership with the manufacturer is required, but for a small fee, customers from your local area who are looking into a particular part can be led from the massive corporate manufacturers’ sites right to your door.
9 Stainless Steel Should Shine
People looking to get into customized exhaust parts do it for both the performance and the appearance qualities. So if you are displaying what should be a fantastic-looking high performance stainless steel system, make sure it sparkles the way it ought to.
10 Establish Installation Partners
A key attribute of the performance exhaust market is the installation itself. By virtue of your place in the parts food chain, you are inexorably linked in the memories of retail customers to whoever eventually installs the part. Should the customer ask, always have an established shop’s name and number at the ready.
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