November '18

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38 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 "I 'd like to place an order for pearl leather in my customer's vehicle..." Wait a second. Pearl? Is this the same dealer who requested swatches for blue leather just a week earlier? Like many shops around the country, our leather department is growing. We're installing the normal, day-to-day factory- match colors, but are also experiencing an unusual number of requests for bold, vibrant colors as well. In the past, the bright interior colors we installed were primarily for muscle and sports cars, not mid-sized sedans. I can honestly say that this is no longer the case. MEET YOUR MATCH In years past when visiting our new car dealerships in Chicagoland, I'd ask the sales staff if they needed extra leather swatches for their desks to show their customers. I'd be stopped mid-sentence at times by a manager saying, "We don't want the sales staff to have swatches, because their customer may pick out something that doesn't match." It was a challenge to overcome, but I understand now why dealerships were playing it safe. Aside from sport cars, most of the vehicles on the dealership's lots and in showrooms had factory-match colors from the OEMs, which set the tone for what the leather interior should look like when upgrading. It's great when you have a dealership that centers its showroom vehicles off of custom designs and indi- viduality, but as every shop around the country servicing new car dealerships knows, many dealers hold back in fear of sitting on the car. They simply prefer not to take the risk. Thankfully, auto manufacturers have added a stylish twist to the average four- door sedan, which has changed the men- tality of what dealerships view as factory- match. For example, the 2018 Toyota Camry has an energetic red interior. The same dealerships that once backed away from trying a custom design are not only imple- menting the bright red leather on base- model Camrys and other options to look like the XSE, they are ordering the red for the Corolla and HRV as well. Having the manufacturers in on a trend only helps. We've done so many Camrys this year with red leather across the state of Illinois that I've lost count. Customers shopping the Camry also look at other makes of sedans in the class. This has led the sales departments from competing brands to offer the same leather colors customers like in the Camry. We have added the red in a Honda Accord, for example. And the trend doesn't stop there. A cus- tomer may have looked at Camrys with the red leather but would rather go with a bold autumn color instead, or even blue. Last week, we had a dealership call us to pick up a VW Tiguan and the customer signed off on the Katzkin pearl interior color. Bright white leather in a Tiguan! MAKE IT WHAT YOU WANT I'm impressed by the ideas customers walk in with and request when buying a new car. We're seeing an obvious trend at our shop, especially with younger car buyers. I take a lot of calls asking if we can change out the factory leather for a custom color. A s i d e f r o m a u t o m a n u f a c t u r e r s embracing the bright color trend, what else is contributing to these sudden requests to dump the factory-match leather inside the higher trim-levels? Bold Choice 38 THE SHOP NOVEMBER 2018 Bold leather colors are a hot new trend in our area. A By Courtney Pahlke Bright leather interiors are becoming more accepted at all levels. New-car dealer- ships are becom- ing more accepting of brightly colored leather upgrades, as well as contrasting stitching.

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