November '18

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20 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 Collared, embroidered shirts with your logo are relatively cheap these days and convey a much more businesslike appear- ance than screened T-shirts. A portfolio with quality images of your shop, installa- tion area, sales counter and vehicles you've built speaks volumes. If you can afford a local graphic artist or someone on your staff can do it, create a printed brochure that you can leave behind with each of the contacts you meet with. Top rod builders often use them with potential customers who are trying to determine where to spend inordinate amounts of money, and you can use this same technique to influence a supplier that has no other means of determining who should be added or deleted from its dealer network. Remember that first impressions are often the key to winning the business, and your appearance and attitude may make the dif- ference between getting the lines you want or having to wait months or even years to displace someone else. Why the emphasis on appearance, when you have a ton of positive reviews on Yelp, on your Facebook page and on your web- site? Because, truth be told, most manu- facturers and their reps don't have time or resources to do background checks and instead rely on what they hear from their peers, which includes other manufacturers, WDs or dealers. What you literally bring to the table is what potential suppliers will use to evaluate you and your shop, and what it says to them is that you are more likely to be suc- cessful selling their products and repre- senting them than your competitor across town or in your area. In conclusion, knowing your shop, pre- senting it in a professional manner, having a winning attitude, and distinguishing yourself in a sea of competitors is how you'll turn contacts into connections. Put- ting this into practice, it becomes a part of your routine and gives you a much better chance of securing the brands you want. JASON SAKURAI heads up Roadhouse Marketing, a mar- keting, advertising and sales solutions firm dedicated to the automotive aftermarket. A fre- quent contributor to THE SHOP, Jason's byline appears in many enthusiast and trade publications, in print and online. Consumer events are where you can often find sales managers at work. Another good place for one-on- one interaction is at a vendor's open house. Plan ahead, work methodically and optimize your time.

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