This Tundra Workforce Truck from A.R.E. was on display in the LTAA booth at the 2008 SEMA Show. It is a prime example of how a truck can be outfitted with aftermarket products and marketed as a commercial or work-truck package.
Major shifts in automotive buying trends have caused hardships at all levels of the aftermarket. But while some automobile-focused businesses may have to contend with moving from larger to smaller cars, those in the light-truck aftermarket have to contend with a mass exodus of the buying public from light trucks and SUVs altogether. These factors combine to produce challenges unparalleled in the history of the aftermarket to date, but they also open unique opportunities. When polled on the challenges and opportunities in today’s market, LTAA Select Committee members offered some interesting perspectives. Common to almost all of the responses was an emphasis on training and education.
Product training, sales training, inventory control and cash-flow management are just some of the topics to be included in business people’s lists of “must-attend” courses and seminars. As the economy tightens and credit becomes more difficult to obtain, consumers will be ever more vigilant about where and with whom they spend their dollars. Product knowledge, competent and courteous salespeople and professional installation give customers confidence about a company and its ability to be there in the future. They will also be more likely to return when times are better. Now is the time to give your business and your staff the refreshers or updates needed to ensure that the best service is being provided to your customers.
Diversification and new market possibilities were also high on the list of opportunities. An installer with a shop adequately equipped to install truck caps and bed covers can easily add cold-air intakes, exhaust kits, computer-chip upgrades and wheels and tires to its list of services. Offering those upgrades will not only invite new business through the doors, but also keep old customers coming back when they trade their SUVs for smaller CUVs or passenger cars.
While the market for pleasure trucks may have dwindled, the commercial world will always need trucks. Perhaps there is an opportunity to market commercial or work truck accessories to dealerships that previously ordered dress-up or performance upgrades. With a good package, the dealership might land a contract to supply fleet vehicles to a municipality or other business. Also, don’t forget that performance upgrades, such as intakes and exhaust, often correspond to increases in fuel mileage. This can be another selling point when pitching a commercial package to a dealership or business owner in need of a well-equipped truck.
The “Why Colors Vary” CD is just one of the many tools that LTAA designs and produces for its members. LTAA members may visit www.sema.org/ltaa to order this and other reference materials.
The LTAA continually works to produce practical, informative tools that the LTAA member can use for quick reference in his or her workplace. CDs and reference sheets are produced and updated by LTAA members and SEMA staff and are available free to any LTAA member. Technical CDs cover topics, such as “CHMSL Wiring Schematics,” “Altered Vehicle Heights” and “Why Colors Vary.”
There is also a compilation of LTAA-related SEMA webinars available. The latest additions to the LTAA tool bag include the “Pick-Up Bed Dimensions Sheet” and the “Keyless Entry Wiring Sheet.” The first is a compilation of pickup bed dimensions and provides a one-stop reference sheet, which ensures that the salesperson or installer has the correct application when ordering or installing a truck cap, bed cover, truck rack or bedliner. Likewise, the “Keyless Entry Wiring Sheet” provides simple instructions on where to tap into a vehicle’s wiring when installing a keyless entry system—without the need to purchase expensive shop manuals for each application or spend hours on the Internet searching for the information. This is a true time savings for the LTAA-member installer and is available completely free of charge. Both of these reference sheets are continuously updated as new models appear and are available electronically in PDF format.
Beyond the tools and webinars, the single most important benefit of LTAA membership is networking. LTAA membership provides instant access to more than 400 member companies that share your interest and passion for the light-truck accessories industry. An LTAA membership is the perfect way to network with other retailers, installers or manufacturers to discuss successes and failures. There are great opportunities to have conversations about what is selling, marketing programs that are working, education opportunities and so much more.
Final balloting for this year’s Select Committee elections will be done electronically using a Zoomerang survey. The Zoomerang survey ensures that only one return can be processed per e-mail address, and only those e-mail addresses to which a ballot was sent may send a return. It also eliminates the need for members to open an envelope, make selections, pack up the return envelope, put it in the mail—you get the picture. In these critical times, just as with our government elections, we’re hoping for a record turnout. Watch for the Zoomerang, and send your response!