What Your Customers Want
The lighting market is quickly changing to incorporate a raft of new applications and functions, and to cope with changing technologies.
Therefore, there are several key items the counterperson needs to keep in mind when discussing the ins and outs of this complex market with customers.
Like many components today, the lighting market is teeming with new part numbers, as entire modules are being outfitted with more advanced lighting systems, new technologies, and optional retrofits. It is becoming more critical than ever for the counterperson to keep up to date with trends, as well as the various applications being affected.
Establishing what features and benefits are important to consumers, and how they will use the product, is important to help guide them to the right product. For example, with headlamps, most manufacturers agree that the three most critical factors in the decision process are visibility, safety, and style. Customers need to be sold on all three of these factors.
Undoubtedly, the style trend du jour is the cool blue light created by Xenon lamps. From the pimp-my-ride set to high-end luxury vehicles, these headlamps are the pinnacle of style. However, counterpeople need to be wary of the various aftermarket conversion kits available. Every headlamp is granted its type approval, together with the light source (halogen or Xenon) with which it is intended to be operated. It is completely legal to engage in the retrofitting of Xenon headlamps when they are sold as complete sets, which include type-approved twin headlamps, a headlamp levelling device, and a cleaning system. If done properly, legally, and professionally, the overall lighting advantages can be phenomenal, and the trendy look is achieved. Unfortunately, there are products–Xenon retrofit products in particular–available on the market that are prohibited in Canada. While these lamps often look cosmetically like the legal kits sold by reputable manufacturers, they often lack the safety features that make legitimate kits legal, such as levelling devices and cleaning systems. According to manufacturers, unauthorized, illegal “conversions” of halogen headlamps to Xenon are both dangerous and prohibited because the incorrect distribution of Xenon light can increase glare up to 100 times–putting other drivers in extreme danger. Given the risks, counterpeople should always ensure that they are only providing their garage customers with approved conversion kits.
That said, some lighting manufacturers are also offering a no-risk alternative in the form of halogen headlamps that emit a similar-looking light to HID. Counterpeople should be ready to discuss these types of alternatives, in order to help installer clients reach their style-driven customers.
Interior lighting is going to become an increasingly low-sales marketplace given the projected domination of LED technology in this field. As with exterior lighting, LEDs can be reasonably expected to last for the entire life of the vehicle, thus making the replacement market tough.
However, manufacturers still have some useful suggestions on how to maximize what opportunities do exist today, revolving largely around the theme of customer education. Given that LEDs are a reasonably new technology, time spent teaching a client is rarely time wasted.
Take the opportunity to talk with customers about the increasing complexity of in-cabin electronics. Interior lighting is becoming more and more important to the end user, given the growing convolution of mobile electronics that demand greater interior visibility. Some newer LEDs can provide 20% more light inside the cabin, making the use of those devices easier.
One aggravating problem with the new interior lighting market is that it is changing so rapidly that printed materials often go out of date shortly after they appear. Given that this situation is bound to continue for the next several years, manufacturers suggest that counterpeople make greater use of websites. According to one manufacturer, it isn’t a bad idea to have the websites of your twenty top-selling products readily available at the counter. There is a good chance, if an application didn’t make it into a print catalogue, that there is a news release about it on the website. In short, any advantage you can utilize in the quest for an answer will go a long way in terms of overall customer satisfaction.
Task lighting is a slightly different animal altogether in terms of sales, simply by virtue of its different end-user.
While the bulk of the upselling and convincing a counterperson does revolves around giving techs and service writers tools to better inform their own customers, when it comes to task lighting, the end-user or customer is usually the technician himself. Therefore, a slightly different sales approach is required.
Be sure to discuss the comparative advantages with the customer: as many shop owners are still unfamiliar with new LED technology, they may be hesitant to take the risk. Take the time to go through the advantages, such as a 50,000 hour service life and vastly improved light quality.
The bottom line is to avoid relying on yesterday’s LEDs to drive your task lighting sales. Former incarnations of the LED worklight were clunky and troublesome devices that, despite their longer life, simply did not provide a very consistent light.
According to manufacturers, that has changed, and the new LED work lights have been dramatically improved. However, LED work lamps–even the newest–still come with their own set of issues, such as scratched lens covers; don’t forget to go through the potential drawbacks and their solutions.
In many cases, manufacturers have identified the problems, and have ready-made solutions that counterpeople can utilize.
Dos and Don’ts: Lighting Sales
Do watch the growing LED market for updates. There will be a lot of new designs in LED tail lamps over the next few months. Watch for LED headlamps: they are coming. LED tail lamps use much less electricity than conventional tail lamps, and with no filaments to wear out, they may last the life of your vehicle.
Don’t overstate the prevalence of them just yet. The LED lighting market is still just beginning to take off. There is a lot still to be done with LED technology in terms of styling, performance, and safety.
Do take the time to talk about interior lighting with customers looking for headlamps. Interior lighting is becoming more and more important to the end user, given the growing complexity of mobile electronics that demand greater interior visibility.
Do be sure to discuss the comparative task light advantages with LED customers. Take the time to go through the advantages, such as a 50,000 hour service life and vastly improved light quality over former models.
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