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Aftermarket for all ages

October 11, 2010
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As a business owner, you have a vested interest in ensuring the longevity of your detailing shop.

You likely got into the business because you excelled at your craft, people trusted you with their automobiles, and the promise of financial success was within your grasp.

If your bottom line is lacking and current market pressures coupled with environmental or other legislations have got you searching for other revenue streams, look no further than aftermarket offerings.

Tailored offerings

A shop owner can tailor his or her aftermarket offerings to suit each demographic within a target market. A detail shop can essentially become a mini-mall for clients.

By offering various aftermarket services you can satisfy the needs of both a retired widower that drives a 1999 Cadillac DeVille and a younger 30-something software engineer that is driving a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX.

Entrepreneurs shouldn't be too quick to bet their business's success on simple services and basic offerings.

Within today's consumer segment lies a group of strong impulse buyers who are always looking for something more.

With careful planning and research, any detail shop owner will begin to realize the benefits of offering aftermarket services and products.

People love to personalize

Americans love personalizing their automobiles.

Detail shop owners should feel encouraged; the market is rich with products and ready consumers.

Some of the most popular and well-known aftermarket items available today include:

  • Alarms;
  • Audio systems;
  • Car covers;
  • Performance products;
  • Wheels;
  • Tires;
  • Glass repair/replacement;
  • Hitches;
  • Lighting;
  • Tinting;
  • Plating; and
  • Dent repair.

These are just a few of the more popular add-ons and options currently being offered by detailing shops across the country.

4 key questions

You don't have to pay to get answers to some of the most important questions about your customers, simply look around to gather the information.

The answers should influence your choices of aftermarket items to offer your clients.

Ask yourself the following four questions:

1. What are the hot vehicles selling in the area now?

A drive to half a dozen dealerships will provide that answer.

2. What are the aftermarket items currently being offered by area car dealerships?

An aftermarket item is really popular when it starts being offered by dealerships and beyond that, if it stays popular, you can bet it will be offered as a direct option from the factory within a couple years.

3. What resources can you put towards starting an aftermarket program?

This includes time, money, personnel, floor/counter space and marketing.

4. What are the environmental and financial conditions in your area?

Answering the aforementioned questions and other important ones can qualify or more importantly, disqualify certain aftermarket items.

Once you have a better idea of what items can meet your clients' needs, you will be able to further increase your bottom line.

The search is on

You need to search out suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors for those products and in some cases enroll in training sessions.

The Internet is a great place to start. For instance, a Google!" search for 'paintless dent removal' turns up over 54,000 results. Another Google!" search for hail will show you the states with the most frequent hailstorms.

Paintless dent removal (PDR) and hail are a good business combination.

Trade publications, such as the one in hand, are a great place to look as well. There's a reason that people advertise their products in trade magazines — to reach clients just like you.

They have a proven product that they have done their research and development on to ensure its success.

Trade shows are another fabulous way to get your hands on certain products, see them in use and meet key people from the companies you are considering doing business with.

Car shows — both small and corporate types — provide a great opportunity to browse around to see what vehicles are creating the most interest and why.

Your use of that information, coupled with your own customer research can create a winning combination.

Creative questioning

Many times business owners are reluctant to simply ask questions.

While looking at a car that has a sizeable crowd standing around it at a car show, take two or three minutes to ask people that are walking away what they didn't like about the car.

Ask them what it was that first attracted their attention.

While talking with a vendor at a trade show, ask how many other clients stock their product in your area.

Ask if it is possible to have a protected territory for a product.

When a client comes in to have their vehicle detailed in your shop ask them if you offered window tinting, electroplating or premium car covers would they be interested in finding out more about the product or service.

With your clients, it's best to ask the question in person, but when that's not possible a simple postcard follow up after their visit which provides an incentive to visit again coupled with the question is a great way to get feedback.

When you have the right information, the right attitude and the right product mix aftermarket sales are possible.

The aftermarket is yours for the taking so take your first step today.

Blake Corkill is a freelance writer with an extensive auto detailing background. Blake is located in Ontario, Canada and can be reached by email for questions or follow up at