Vendor issues….CCC….What REALLY goes on? (kinda long-maybe boring)

Discussion in 'Politics and other "Messy" Stuff' started by Motoring Magic, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. Motoring Magic

    Motoring Magic New Member
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    Motoring Magic Owner, Ventura County's ONLY MINI s
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    I formed the idea for this thread reading the Trouble at NAM thread.
    THIS WAS MY experience, others may disbelieve or disagree, as human beings are known to do, however:
    As someone who has opened and (temporarily? permanently?) closed a MINI service business I have some direct experience with the issues caused by the explosive MINI industry growth in a soaring economy followed by the current economic crash. While I was operating Central Coast Coopers out of my auto collision repair shop, I got some rude, hard lessons in how business is conducted in the internet era, and especially the MINI parts business. I could cite plenty of instances where I was completely “thrown under the bus†by different MINI specialist parts companies, to my personal and companies detriment. There are some more flagrant than this, burned into my memory, so when I see a thread bashing a vendor, I do not participate in it, but I smile at how they have likely earned the bashing. In all cases, in 2005 at least, the parts manufacturers made you sign a price confidentiality agreement that states you WILL NOT advertise their parts for sale for less than 10% off THEIR advertised list price. In one of my cases, the part manufacturer was really really adamant about this-then loaded me up with a truckload of their product at 25% off their list prices. AND THEN proceeded to hold their own widely publicized sales selling the exact same parts at 30% off their msrp, undercutting not only my cost on the truckload of stuff I ordered from them, PLUS FREE SHIPPING! But when Shipping is added to each part ORDERED BY YOU, it’s another 3% or so you are expected to eat. As if that were not enough, they then started selling their product through another company at up to 50% off list. This secondary company posted huge sale ads on NAM at the exact time ALL this particular manufacturing companies owners and representatives were at SEMA and not available for comment. After liquidating their product however I could, I stopped selling or recommending their products and did whatever I could to convince a customer to use a different product. THEN they had the gall to send someone around to see me and ask why we had stopped ordering their products. I had already had several phone conversations with this VERY PERSON about the pricing B.S. and when he came around to see me face to face, reminded him of them. He looked me in the eye and denied their secondary company had in fact sold the products at far under my cost on NAM in widely publicized sales and went on record saying he could not understand why downstream sellers were upset. After a prolonged conversation, he changed his story to he did not know WHERE the seller was getting the product, so he had no way to enforce the msrp contract, which I immediately called B.S. on. I assured him I would not endorse or install another of that companies products, period.
    Manufacturer greed, pure and simple, causes a great deal of these issues.
    It appears to continue today, and, while my life’s path forced me to take a step back from MINI repair for some time and re evaluate my desire to work in the car business and focus on what made me the most money, I truly enjoyed working on the MINIs and sharing the ownership experience with all the great people I came in contact with. I still have a list of folks who continue to come to me for maintenance and mod work.
    Some of the vendors I did business with were great and treated their downstream sellers extremely well. Some of them did not. I am certain the present economy hasn’t improved this situation.
     
  2. PGT

    PGT Wheel Whore

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    Name names. I'll put $10 on Peter the wedding photog. :D He lied directly to my face way back...it was then I knew he was all marketing, no integrity.

    This isn't unique to the MINI community. I've seen it all over the parts biz.
     
  3. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    Actually that sounds like an Alta trick.
     
  4. Way Motor Works

    Way Motor Works New Member

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    #4 Way Motor Works, Dec 16, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
    I understand where your coming from man. Alta is one of the companies that I will name that has put all their dealers out the Alta business. This is one big reason I haven't sold any Alta parts in that last few years. If they abuse their own dealers, what do they really care about customers. Also there are many better products available.

    As for vendors that whore the price on parts. I deal with that everyday, and it sucks. I can only beat ebay, and home based businesses with my expert MINI knowledge, and great customer service. Those other companies, heck why am I beating around the bush. You all know that's not my real personality. That Autoxcooper guy is killing businesses like me, Detroit Tuned and Helix. He is working out of his house selling products as cheap as he can. Obviously not to make a living off of it cause he has a 9-5 job, this is just side money for him, why??? His advise is just his opinions or info that he has learned off reading the forums, and we all know that isn't always correct. Claiming that he's been involved in testing and producing parts, yeah right. Copying my prepressed control arm bushing service, just to steel customers from me. He's gone to MINI events and undercut me, DT,GRG and Helix on our installs cause it's just extra money, not primary income to put roof over your head or food on the table. And for any part sales he takes from us it just makes maintaining being a dealer for different brands harder, because they require you to sell XX amount to remain being a dealer.

    Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now, But please support vendors that do this for a living so we can maintain business. We WMW, DT, and Helix appreciate your business to keep us going.
     
  5. Dr Obnxs

    Dr Obnxs New Member

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    I've seen this over time as well...

    The manufacturer can sell at less than what a reseller can, even if they don't actually undercut the retail channel, they can make it so that the reseller channel can't really pay for thier time. Sucks all over and it's really bad in small markets like the MINI.

    Really, if people want to see shops and small manufacturers stay in business, the doing the short term best for the buyer by going for the very lowest price may in fact not be in the buyers long term insterests as the shop or manufacturer may not be around that long.

    Matt
     
  6. Motoring Magic

    Motoring Magic New Member
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    Motoring Magic Owner, Ventura County's ONLY MINI s
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    well

    while I worked pretty hard at staying out of the pissing contests continually going on over at nam, I kept my phone line hot trying to deal directly with the guilty parties. Peter was actually one of the best suppliers I did business with. But you also have to understand my business model-I sourced parts for my 05 S and used them and sold them based on how they worked for me. And yes, at the time the DFIC appeared to be the next big thing and I sold and installed several of them, after running one for awhile myself (still on my car as I type this). Craven is another supplier who is absolutely golden to their downstream sellers. Just as way has said above, I tried to build a successful service business, as that is what I am and do-service cars. Along the way, I tired to prove out a product on my own so I could honestly tell my customers why I thought they should or should not use a given product. Peter always treated me fairly, sent me business from people who inquired in my geographic area, and treated me well on the discount. Whether his products were as he claimed on any advertising was secondary to me, as I endorsed what I felt worked on my own car.
    OTOH, UNI-CHIP is one of the biggest farces in the MINI community, and I have 2 completely worthless brand new units sitting here on a shelf to prove it. They and Alta worked hard to sour the entire service comunity on products that were marginal in design, never held to a steady price point and always available somewhere else for less, with NO CUSTOMER SERVICE after the sale. To the retailer or the end user. I have lots of experience and wasted phone time with those two. As I mentioned, I managed to retain a pretty decent following of folks who are willing to wait and work around my other automotive work schedules to continue to have me do their repairs and mods. SO the business model used by waylan and Chad and helix and others does work, but it is always a tough fight with evil bay and the other crap artists always undermining your margins and promising the diy guy stuff that just is not true or going to work, then when it doesn't the crap artist blames the diy installer or whoever they chose to do it. I nearly signed a lease on a shop building to continue with CCC just as the economic meltdown began.
    I continue to consider setting up a storefront/shop but RE here in socal is hugely expensive, and the right spot has not appeared. I wrote this thread because I felt some folks might be interested in a glimpse of what it was/is like to do things honestly and up front to earn their dollar, but have it continually undermined by the very people you arre selling products for.
     
  7. PGT

    PGT Wheel Whore

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    A few years back on another forum, I was talking with a vendor about some two-pc rotors. The manufacturer posted a thread offering the same for a steep discount. Of course, I ordered from the manufacturer but ONLY after discussing it with the vendor. He was pissed....not at me, but at the undercutting they just did - the price to me was cheaper than his own cost from them. He didn't blame me one bit but he did stop selling their products (Racing Brake, for anybody that cares)
     
  8. Motoring Magic

    Motoring Magic New Member
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    exactly the point here

    so IF the manufacturer (whoever) can afford to sell the product for the steeply discounted price, why in the world did they not do it through the reseller network they had set up? that was and is my complete frustration in this. When Mattel has a huge overstock of some toy, it shows up at Wal Mart and TOYSRUS at hugely discounted prices so they can blow them out. It doesnt show up on an internet display board. If Wally and tru only make a penny per item instead of the usual 50 cents is unimportant, the chain of resale is intact. Also, the piddly 25% mark up in todays world is a joke-I had to replace the motherboard in my furnace yesterday-I have a friend who is in the hvac repair business and I work on his cars and he works on my junk. I went over to his supplier to pick up the part, which was retail $209.00, my friends cost was $96.00. Not only that, but the cheapest internet source was 175.00. The supplier was a little twisted someone "outside" the hvac repair network was picking the part up and saw the prices. While it is none of thier business whether I pay him retail or put brakes on his wifes car, the point was well made-we expect and protect a huge mark up on these parts. And again, I am not at all against DIY people, I started that way myself about 40 years ago. But if you have spent the time and Money to rent a space, BUY INSURANCE, learn your trade well, and SIGN the required price agreements, your suppliers should not just casually stab you in the back the way they do.
     
  9. Elwood

    Elwood New Member

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    Ahhh. The life of the small business owner! It looks so easy when you start it.

    I had all the same issues when I opened computer stores in the late 70s and early 80s, but then it was people selling out of their garages when the mfgs demanded a store front. At least I didn't have to deal with the internet .... yet. I finally gave up when I realized that my YEARS of experience and knowledge had no monetary value to clients. They would listen very carefully to my ideas and recommendations so they could write specs to send out for bids. Sigh. At least I learned before the retail computer world fell apart thanks to companies like Dell that used a radical new sales model. They called it Direct Sales at the time, as I recall.

    There are lots of people out here that value the time and expertise of companies like Way Motor Works, Detriot Tuned, Detailer's Paradise, and Helix. There are many others, too!! Many of us are willing to pay actual money to take advantage of your involvement in this community. We will do everything we can to support you! Just don't let the carpetbaggers and sharks win!
     
  10. Way Motor Works

    Way Motor Works New Member

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    That right there is why in the MINI world people are more than just customers. Thank you guys. Another reason I love my job.
     
  11. mike@MynesTuned

    [email protected] New Member

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    Sometimes the dealers needs this markup to stay afloat and many big suppliers will require a lot of docs to get set up with them as a buyer; so natually they are weary of 'outsiders' coming in and finding out about their biz. Those are the suppliers that you need to find and deal with b/c they won't sell to the public thus won't stab u in the back :)

    I love it when people DIY on a project, get stuck in the middle of it and call your shop expecting free 'tech support'... that's when you tell them to call your vendor - not us... it may sound mean, but kindness doesn't pay for your bills at the end of the day...

    And as there's also this old saying, 'no good deed goes unpunished!!!' Learned that the hard way many a times :eek6:
     
  12. goaljnky

    goaljnky New Member

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    At this point I have to chime in on the "free tech support". My 9-5 is the head of a help desk. I also manage several small to medium size companies as a systems admin in my off time. For the past few years I've stopped taking own individual computer repairs due to lack of time and the headaches associated with it. One of the things that absolutely bothers me the most is when people approach me during work hours to ask advice about their personal computers. What makes them think that they are entitled to receive for free a service that cost others $80/hr? Or why do they think it is appropriate for me to troubleshoot their personal issues while I am on company time? Drives me absolutely nuts. As a friend of mine said: "They are not asking you to help them move a couch. They are asking you to give away for free something that you make your living at."

    It took me a while to come up with a proper reply to unwanted inquires. Now I just quote my hourly price, let them know that there is an hour minimum and ask them when they want to start.

    As for the vendor issue. Those who undercut their own dealers are simply short sited. A stable distribution network is essential to the survival of any manufacturer/supplier. If they don't see that and don't build their business accordingly then they will not last much longer then the dealers they are undercutting.
     
  13. mike@MynesTuned

    [email protected] New Member

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    ^^^ good one. I did Help Desk for 4 years and know exactly what u talking about... it was a medium size sw company and you know what, when it comes to normal computer stuff, the sw engineers are the 'dumbest'... I remember one time a good buddy of mine asked me to fix his wireless network. He said that some of his other Intel engineer friends have spent many many hours trying to get his wireless network to 'talk' and the network printers to work. It took me less than 30 minutes to fix everything.. At the end, he gave me this dumb look and ask me "why don't u go work for Intel? those guys can't get this to work after many tries..." I told him what i do is not difficult stuff; it just requires some common sense... that was a funny 'life moment' :)
     
  14. goaljnky

    goaljnky New Member

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    Oh yes. I occasionally hire programmers for various projects. Their lack of understanding the hardware involved is a never ending source of amusement. At least I know I have no clue how to write software.
     
  15. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    So let me throw this one out there while you guys are on the subject. I used to always tip my waitresses and bartenders 15%, no more, no less, until I dated a few girls that had worked those jobs. They explained how low the pay is before tips and then how much of those tips are taken out for hostesses and busboys, too. Now I start at 20% and round up. I stopped ordering sodas or tea, though, so I pay about the same.

    I've never run a small business or a shop or dealt with customer service, so my question is to you guys, how can I be a better customer? I'm not funded by a race team, I'll never make money from driving cars, and though I love driving, I have to make a lot of my decisions based on the financial considerations. Is there a right way to support my local mechanic, but also get the most for my money?
     
  16. goaljnky

    goaljnky New Member

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    I think it's a trust issue. I trust my local guy. He is a friend first and a mechanic second. But I also had a similar relationship with the previous mechanic. I knew that I will not be overcharged for the work performed and that no unneeded work would be performed. I buy my parts through them as for the most part they charge about the same as a vendor.

    But sadly, at the end of the day I have to consider my personal situation first. At this point in my life my budget is always tight, so I try to save money where I can.
     
  17. MINI Fireman

    MINI Fireman New Member

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    Support those vendors who best support the MINI community. Constantly chasing the lowest price will only run them all off eventually. Thanks to WMW, DT, Helix, GRG & anybody I missed.
     
  18. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    :Thumbsup:
     
  19. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    If the price agreements are not enforced all it does is allow folks like the AuoXcooper guy to set up there own website selling anything and everything they want with little to no overhead or start up costs and undercut all other vendors on price. If they are unable to under cut the vendors who are in the business of selling and installing the parts then they have no real value to the community.

    I will not and never will support those vendors. I was a customer of Central Coast Coopers and was sorry to see it close.
     
  20. andyroo

    andyroo New Member
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    I've worked for a major suspension shop for Subaru Impreza since 2003 (part time now). We also do some Mitsubishi EVO and the occasional Porsche or BMW. It's a small shop, 3-5 people. When I got my Mini, we thought about exploring the market, but we've got a lot on our plates as it is. Maybe someday, but i just don't have the time to do anything now.

    Most suppliers know their stuff is being whored out at prices way below required pricing....and don't care. They've overextended their dealer network and have zero accountability. You can rat dealers out for going below allowed pricing and occasionally you'll see a price change on a website because of it. But so many of these dealers just don't list prices at all on forums...all you see is a PM or call for price. There isn't much they can do about it then, but you KNOW they're undercutting price. IMO it says a lot about the manufacturer when they allow this to happen. You don't see Ohlins letting people sell their stuff out of their house, and that's one of the reasons we like them.

    We don't do as many installs as we like, so we NEED to sell parts. Having only generic parts that every Joe Schmo is selling for dirt cheap was bad news...we're known for good support, knowledge, and service, but a lot of potential customers are only looking at price.

    So we made a decision years ago that we HAD to design and build our own stuff if we were going to survive. Started slow, had a few of our own parts and continued to sell everything else. We've been expanding our range and even added a couple dealers around the country. It's been great for a variety of reasons: more control over quality, supply, tech support, pricing, etc. It is scary at first because you do have to get everything exactly right and you are responsible. But you get to make awesome parts that kick everything else's ass....we've learned that a lot of the popular stuff out there just plain sucks.

    We require dealers to have a good knowledge of the product and suspension in general as well as a physical shop. They must post prices on forums (no PM for price crap), and they must meet our pricing guidelines. No exceptions. We try really hard to keep our dealers happy because it benefits us a LOT. We try and get our dealers to work together too....if one gets an order for a set of our springs that they don't have in stock and we're still waiting on the next run, we'll hook them up with another one of our dealers that does have them in so they can work out a deal. In reality we'd like to pretty much stop selling directly to the public as much as we can. Essentially we'd have parts on our site at full pop + shipping and that's it. That's the plan at least, still a long way to go to get there. We do still sell some stuff from a few select manufacturers that we like and probably always will.

    What Alta did is horrible. I already had a bad opinion of them due to their poor quality parts and lack of suspension knowledge, but this is really bad. I knew once they posted their 50% of sale that it was gonna hit a lot of vendors hard. I can't see why anyone would bother selling their crap at this point, it's not like you can't get better quality stuff elsewhere.

    I really HATE getting calls from people asking about which suspension set-up to get....discussing options and ironing out complete set-ups to fit their needs, then seeing them post the next day about the great deal they got from some ******* shop on the exact same suspension we talked about. That pisses me off a lot. And many of these people have the nerve to call us for tech support later because the shop they got it from can't tell a coilover from their own ass. But we remember, and kindly tell these people to go **** themselves. :)

    Sorry for the language.

    Just be honest and loyal. If you buy something from a competing vendor for a cheaper price, that's fine....but if you talk to me for 45 minutes about what to get and then buy it from someone else for 5 bucks less, that sucks.

    Also, the more a person buys from us, the more we throw in random discounts. There's nothing set in stone and it might not be much, but sometimes it is. And we try to give great service to everyone, but we do take care of repeat customers a little more.

    - Andrew
     

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