Some dealers have integrated mobile and home installation into one successful business. Could you make the same leap?
By Brett Solomon
Long ago, there were the home hi-fi retailers and the car stereo shops. They had two totally different business models and, usually, two totally different customer demographics.
But in an increasingly converged world, the models are intersecting.
These days, home and car installations share more and more of the same product categories. What's popular in the custom home is often just as popular in the custom vehicle—iPod integration, surround sound, high-definition video, computer network control. Moreover, mobile and home installations tend to mimic each other very closely, in that both involve highly-trained installers putting themselves into kama sutra-like positions to run wiring into impossibly small areas.
Some smart retailers have capitalized on this crossover. Some mobile electronics retailers are entering the world of custom home installation with great success. Some high-end home retailers are looking at adding (if they haven't already) a mobile installation bay at their back warehouse to better serve their best customers.
After all, wouldn't the customer want to enjoy the same quality of entertainment experience in the car that he or she enjoys in the home?
John Whitacre works on both sides of the fence. He's the marketing director at Maxxsonics, which recently purchased German loudspeaker manufacturer MB Quart. Most of Maxxsonics' product offerings are in the mobile electronics realm; it's the parent company of HiFonics, Crunch and Autotek.
But Whitacre also runs a successful custom A/V business, Cherokee Digital of Hoffman Estates, Ill., which, says Whitacre, "specializes in existing homes and small commercial applications, avoiding all new construction under one million dollars in value." This focus on retrofit is largely due to Whitacre's years of experience in car audio, where installers spend most of their time integrating wiring into vehicles with existing wiring harnesses as opposed to running wire from scratch, as in a new home.