SEMA Member News -- March/April 2009
Tools, Programs and Reference Materials Provide Benefits
This Tundra Workforce Truck from A.R.E. was on display in the
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, TORA
Select Committee members offered some interesting perspectives. Common
to almost all of the responses was an emphasis on training and
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 TORA designs and produces for its members. TORA members may visit www.sema.org/TORA to order this and other reference materials.
The TORA continually works to produce practical, informative tools
that the TORA member can use for quick reference in his or her
workplace. CDs and reference sheets are produced and updated by TORA
members and SEMA staff and are available free to any TORA member.
Technical CDs cover topics, such as “CHMSL Wiring Schematics,” “Altered
Vehicle Heights” and “Why Colors Vary.”
There is also a compilation of TORA-related SEMA webinars available.
The latest additions to the TORA 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 TORA-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
TORA membership is networking. TORA membership provides instant access
to more than 400 member companies that share your interest and passion
for the light-truck accessories industry. An TORA 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.
Select Committee Elections Go Electronic
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!