October '21

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OCTOBER 2021 THE SHOP 33 industry, Stankovich has had plenty of great experiences and successes. One of the people he credits for this is Mike Zim- merman of Airheart Sales. "He was truly the first rep to come in and meet with us and introduce me to the manufacturers that I grew up with as a kid, seeing their decals and parts at PAW (Performance Automotive Warehouse) and Super Shops," Stankovich says. "Mike gave me tons of advice on what to bring in and when I should bring it in. He truly had my best interests in mind and was a great part of our success." One of the key challenges he grapples with is finding and keeping good employees. "Most kids have no idea about Chevy 454s or Ford 460s, and really don't care, since they can tune an LS with the flick of a switch," Stankovich says. Furthermore, he believes schools have failed students by not offering auto shop classes, and points to minimum wage increases as a deterrent to teaching new mechanics with no experience. "I've been lucky over the years and have been able to keep a few people here and there, but eventually they can't afford California real estate and taxes, and move out of state," he adds. SPREADING THE WORD Another issue DMP Fasteners ( faces is vendors who don't use—or don't enforce—MAP pricing policies. "The fact is, I can sell a part for the same price as a big online retailer and make a profit—but not when there is not a MAP policy in place," Stankovich explains. "It is nearly impossible to do if I want to match pricing. Shipping is another hurdle, with the costs going up—and especially this year, since everyone has been home due to COVID and is ordering online. Our freight has skyrocketed. We try to do minimum free freight orders where we can, but it's still a challenge." One thing Stankovich celebrates is the name he's built for himself and his company. As a result, his marketing efforts focus nearly 90% on referral advertising. "Word of mouth is by far the best," Stankovich says. "We do also use email blasts, but we've found that print ads don't give a good enough ROI." His preferred social media platforms are Instagram and Facebook Groups, he adds. While Stankovich loves working on vehicles, he is very happy with his choice to direct his business mostly toward retail sales and away from installations.

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