Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2014   by Auto Service World

Top 10 Retail Exhaust Tips

The performance exhaust market seems to be constantly in motion – going from the fast and furious tuner market, to modern domestic muscle, to trucks and SUVs, seemingly at the drop of a hat. Here are 10 key retail tips that will help you get the most out of every retail sales opportunity.
1 Be The Place To Go
Establish your shop as the premier place to go for the performance enthusiast. Manufacturers are happy to provide your shop with signage material and display pieces that will clearly identify your store as a serious provider of specialized performance parts. Such material can provide a competitive advantage particularly in terms of retail sales, as the right image can place your shop in the top-of-mind category among potential customers.

2 Identify Your Customer
Identifying the target customer doesn’t take as much intuition as you might think, as there are some clear signs for those who take the time to look for them. Training your counter staff to pick up on these cues is a key step towards improving sales figures in this exceptionally profitable segment. The process starts with examining the kind of vehicle the customer drives. An interest in aftermarket parts could indicate an initial interest in customization that your counter staff should pick up on. At the very least, it’s a way to begin engaging the customer in a conversation on the benefits of a performance exhaust system.
3 Customize Your Approach
Customers are interested in a given performance muffler for dramatically different reasons, and the counterperson needs to be astute enough to approach each sales opportunity from a number of different angles. Horsepower, fuel efficiency for dollar savings, environmental concerns – all are reasons for a customer to upgrade his OE system. So it is vitally important that the counterperson identify why the individual client is interested, and sell him based on that area of interest.
4 Use Point-of-Sale Materials
Performance exhaust manufacturers are among the most active product suppliers out there when it comes to building customer knowledge. Utilizing POS material has the added bonus of identifying your store with recognizable brands and respected manufacturers, allowing you to take advantage of their marketing dollars and public image.
5 Need vs. Want Selling
It is far easier to sell people something if they need it than if they simply want it. If a customer comes in a because his muffler is sending sparks flying, you have a very motivated buyer on your hands. The flipside is the customer who has just purchased a new car, but is looking into a performance system for it. This customer demands your attention, and deserves your time. Treat this customer well, and you’ll likely have him as a customer for all of his customizing whims.
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 the customer can understand and appreciate, like increased horsepower or fuel efficiency, and you’ll be more likely to keep him interested.
7 Use The Web to Educate
Today’s customers are technology-savvy consumers, so you should be prepared to direct a consumer 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
So many potential performance buyers research their purchase online prior to a shop visit that some manufacturers have offered to actually provide the contact details for jobbers in the region of the customer doing the initial search, so as 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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