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Restyling & Truck Accessories - May '15

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12 Restyling & tRuck AccessoRies | May 2015 restylingmag.com I n the Q&A below, Amanda Reeves, accessories manager for Sarasota Ford, Sarasota, Fla., offers insight into how the dealership and its aftermarket department, 707 Performance, approaches aftermarket sales and collaborates with expediters to deliver the right package to its customers. How has Sarasota Ford's approach to aftermarket sales evolved? The dealership has always had an after- market department in place. However, aftermarket sales decreased when the economy fell and the department was downsized. Most consumers were strug- gling to justify the purchase of new vehicle, so trying to add accessories was completely out of the question. We decided to get creative and offer our customers not only a unique product but also an experience they could not resist. Things started off slowly, but it wasn't long before we were getting noticed. Sales con- tinued to rise even while the dealership was undergoing a complete state-of-the-art remodel. When the brand new Sarasota Ford dealership was unveiled, a completely redesigned aftermarket department was introduced. We began branding our aftermarket department as 707 Performance in January of 2015 and so far we have had a great response. We chose the name 707 Per- formance because our address is 707 S. Washington Blvd. We wanted to create a brand that would set us apart from our competitors without separating us from our core business. We are not your average aftermarket department and branding ourselves has helped us gain national recognition and really made others take notice to what we are doing. We go far beyond tossing in bedliners and tinting windows. We are cre- ating unique vehicles that really stand out. When our customers purchase a vehicle that has been customized and tagged with a 707 Performance label, they feel as if they have just purchased an elite edition… and they have: a one-of-a-kind vehicle custom- ized by Sarasota Ford's very own in-house custom aftermarket department. What criteria do you use to choose a vendor for restyling and accessories? The criteria we use to choose a vendor can vary depending on the specific item or ser- vice we are seeking. We are open to using new companies that are developing new products because our goal is to always be 10 steps ahead of our competitors. One way we can achieve that is by having the best and newest ideas first. Sometimes that requires us to utilize a vendor that is relatively new in the industry. If working with that vendor proves to be profitable, then we will continue doing business together. However, at other times we are looking for products or services with long-standing, proven quality or a well-known brand that people are buying. For example, we typi- cally use BDS Suspension lift kits for our custom truck builds. They have proven quality and stand behind their product 100 percent, no questions asked. It is a brand people are very familiar with and is highly sought after. Our customers are confident knowing they are getting one of the best products on the market when purchasing a lifted truck from Sarasota Ford. When choosing a local vendor that would involve transportation of vehicles back and forth, insurance liability cov- erage is a must. We want to make sure the vendor has the ability to cover any damage caused while they are in possession of our vehicles or our customers. Having the vendor closer to the dealership is definitely a plus; the more accessible the better. Lastly, we like to work with vendors who are flexible and have the ability to think outside of the box. When trying to appeal to such a broad variety of customers, it's beneficial to work with vendors who can accommodate the "not so average" request, and believe me, we get a lot of those! Ulti- mately, we strive to work together with our vendors to build long-term business rela- tionships that are profitable for everyone involved. We look for vendors with honest work ethics, loyalty, and commitment to excellence. What's the biggest problem you run into with vendors? Fortunately for us, we do not encounter very many problems with our regular ven- dors because we have been working with them for so long. We have built business relationships together where both parties know what is expected and the end result is always an amazing vehicle and a happy customer. But if I had to pinpoint something, I would say the most common problem I have come across is vendors who over- promise. Vendors come into the dealer- ship on a regular basis trying to sell their newest product or service with this great sales pitch. Then, when you go to place your first order you find out they are not able to produce what they have promised. Either the product or service takes way longer to deliver than stated or it does not produce the results expected. When working with a dealership that provides so many customizable options to its customers, it can be difficult for some vendors to keep up with the demand. Of course, things don't always go as planned. When situations like this occur Sarasota Ford's accessories division, 707 Performance, provides a dealership's perspective on working with restyling shops. Dealership POV

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