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Fab Shops + $$$ = ???

jeff

Moderator
Ok... I'm back from a 3.5 month vacation - yeehaw. During that time I had hours and hours to just sit and think. I'd sit on a beach and drink... think... drink... think...

Why the hell isn't there a better way of getting GOOD information to potential customers. There's Fabtech selling bazillions of lift kits to who-knows-who throughout the world. CST is still clawing its way up the mountain, RCD appears to have a pretty good thing going... Camburg continues to grow in the SoCal market (and a few miles beyond), Kreg is doing God knows what (always bitchin' just seems aloof sometimes) and managing to kick ass to boot. SI is making themselves a nice name (Plank is probably racing his you-know-what off in heaven) and The "WFODAN" Baja Shop Ranger is probably the most downloaded and kickass display of off-road insanity on the entire Internet. Off-Road magazine is finally realizing the power of the prerunner - I found it at my local market magazine rack in Hawaii and was floored when I saw an "IP" blip somewhere in the first few pages. Everyone from the backwoods Bubbas to the show-n'shine crowd are building "prerunners" - and God bless em' for it.

Here's where I shift gears... 1-2

All this $$$ is being spent by consumers... even with the economy taking a crap, $$$ is still being dumped in large wads all over the off-road industry. A lot of these people spending HUGE $$$ don't own stocks, so the NASDAQ and NYSE don't apply to them the economy. When the market has a bad day OC Bro doesn't worry, he's still got a fat stash somewhere. The economy out west is still fair. I bet the Off-Road EXPO will be HUGE. Oh yeah, did I mention people are still spending $$$ ??? If you can sign your name you can get a credit card.

2-3 speedshift (no clutch)

Why aren't customers better informed? How is it that this HUGE "prerunner" craze isn't being milked for everything its worth? I don't mean selling out and building junk just to make money, I mean why not go after a bigger chunk of the country. Why do customers still not know that there is another choice besides Fabtech? Why aren't you little guys bar-coding or even assigning unique part numbers to each product you sell? Are you filling up that UPS or FEDEX truck everyday with shipments? If so, why aren't you filling up two or three UPS trucks? How come 90% of the world thinks a Fabtech equipped vehicle is "the most bitchin' ride" ever? Sure, Fabtech makes a great product (grin), but why oh why isn't there a better and easier path of communication between you, the little guy (anything smaller than Fabtech right now is still little), and your customer? How come Camburg isn't selling his products in Summit Racing. That goes for everyone selling things out there... why limit your market to SoCal or the west coast? There are plenty of guys willing to drop $100,000 to get a race quality truck or SUV built that reside in the US - they'll pay to have it transported back and forth. Think I'm kidding? I don't know how, but somehow somewhere in Europe a guy told his friends about a CST long travel system that was built for the new GM 2wd fullsize trucks. I got e-mails from all sorts of people asking "HOW CAN I BUY YOUR PRODUCTS OVERHERE" - oh wait, we can't ship to Saudi Arabia because we don't know how to hire an outside import/export company to handle the shipping... The euro's are finally getting RALLY inspired cars to catch on in the US, why not get the US prerunner overseas and show them how its done. Expand expand expand.

3-4

The websites I see, including the ones I've helped create, ALL fall well short... Kregs new site might just whip the llamas ass... but as of now, EVERY off-road related manufacturers site falls short - including Race-Dezert.com. In my personal opinion there needs to be ONE big ol' mamma jamma of a site. More than just three or four people need to get involved. Like SEMA, what the hell does SEMA do for the little guy? Sure, the little guy can go to a SEMA show and display his or her latest and greatest poop, but does backwoods Bubba or show-n'shine Sammy get to see that stuff? Have any of you watched the tough truck competitions on the TV? I love that stuff - why isn't CST or STU building a kit for some weekend warrior that can get BIGTIME airtime on TNN? How about Camburg? We all seem too west coast (left coast to some easterners) for our own good. Back to the website idea... isn't there a way to get each fab shop to spend a few bucks, maybe more, for online advertising? I mean building the best damned prerunner and off-road racing related site... take a big sponge and absorb ALL of the little websites into one big premiere site! You could have Klaus, John B., Jen, Greg, Jerry, Kreg, Dan, Bob Sheaves, and everyone else that currently has a favorites folder FULL of fragmented websites pull together to form one well-tuned website. You could set it up with the MAJOR manufacturers - if they sponsor any time of off-road program I'm sure they would at least offer something beneficial. How about a quantity discount? Need tires? How about a group buy from a BFG / Goodyear retailer? Need to know what the difference is between a Rancho 5000 and a SAW bypass is? Can you even mount a SAW bypass on your vehicle? Need to know who can install a SAW bypass on your 88-98 GM IFS truck? Where the hell is Dynatrac and Currie? Why aren't they on RDC telling people that a professionally built and prepped rearend is better than a junk-yard timebomb? Want to setup your own rear-end gears? Here's the tools you'll need and why it pays to know what your doing. On and on and on and on. The website would have everything - including a personal touch like prerunners.com and RDC - it wouldn't have that whack-ass OFF-ROAD.COM feel. Everytime I try to get information out of OFF-ROAD.COM I get a busted or out-dated link. Oh yeah, they are the number one off-road site on the net. Where's the competition?

4-5

Ok - here's another idea... when was the last time all of the fab shop guys sat down and talked about what's working and what isn't? I mean a meeting, mafia style, where everyone that is involved in off-road lift and prerunner construction gets together. Get Deaver, King, SAW, BFG, everybody... especially your material suppliers. Ever thought maybe those metal guys could give you a better deal? How about a better way of ordering materials? Every other major industry has these meetings - the airline industry is cut-throat and those bastards meet regularly to figure out how they can increase the revenue while they decrease overhead. Remember the A-TEAM ? You gotta have a plan. How many of you fab guys have an actual business plan for 5-10 years down the road. What about next year? Do you have any projections for what your PROFITS will look like next year? What happens if the prerunner craze goes the way of Disco and your forced out of business? Look at King shocks - they are taking names and kicking asses - National Spring Co. is so backed up you might get your springs next year if you ordered yesterday. SEMA - something like SEMA, only more helpful. Do any of you business owners know what the total prerunner market is? You can't make sense of it if you can't measure it.

Cooldown

I learned something living in Hawaii - it's a first class resort state run by a 3rd world government. Just like the west coast off-road and performance suspension scene - first class products with a third class mentality. What do you think? When I say YOU, I mean you... if you got to this part you must have SOME type of opinion... are you a customer? Are you the poor bastard sweeping up the fab shop trying to learn the trade? Are you the fat cat with all the pimp toys sitting in your cush chair? What the hell do you think about all of this?

Challenge Fabtech. Show your customer that a "Your Name Here" lift system is better than a generic TrailMaster or Rancho type lift kit. How come you have to live in SoCal to know anything about a prerunner. Have you ever driven a bitchin prerunner across the country? No? Then you have NO IDEA how people swarm to them in parking lots, amazed at what they see. Where can I get something like that for my truck they ask...

Don't just read this and reply to it... think about it. Think about what you want to do to your truck or SUV. Does your buggie need work? Are your shocks properly setup to work with your suspension? Is there a website or source of information online that has answers to ALL of your questions? How can YOU MAKE YOUR COMPANY MORE CUSTOMER FRIENDLY?

I now await your replies in a hushed terror.
 

Waldo

Safehouse
I didn't think real hard but man you have a lot to say. There are a lot of good points that you make. I feel that in this "American Dream" country that we live in, many companies want to make their $ by themselves and only by themselves. They might collaborate with other companies but it is for their financial gain in the end. There is nothing wrong with that because if you can't market and produce your products in an efficient manor you won't be making any money. Fabtech has grown hand over fist because they had business plan after business plan. Dave also spent and spends a considerable amount of $ on advertising in major publications that reach Backwoods Bubba. So he calls and gets a kit. I went to Fabtech many years ago when they had a singel bay shop in an indutrial park. They had only 3 employees including Dave. Now, if a company doesn't want to deal with mailorder (or sell out to make just lift "kits") then that is their choice. Go to any off road publication website and order a "Media Kit" and they should include demographics. You will see that Bubba in the mid west is the primary reader and he owns a 78 4X4 Chevy superswamper mud runner. Prerunners are limited to west and a little bit of the east coast thanks to CORR. My felling is plain and simple...you need to spend $ to make $! The more people you have on your side the better.

Peace out =:)

BRAAAAAAAAP!

~Waldo~
 

sbro

Well-Known Member
I agree with all points metioned above, especially with the fab shop websites. I would have no idea what kind of quality shops like Camburg offered if they just had some generic "made by a 3rd grader" website. I hope the Donahoe website is worth the wait, its been "coming soon" for months. By spending a few bucks on professional design, it can show potential customers the quality without having to drive all the way to the shop or (god forbid) calling them.
On a side note, if there are any shop owners out there interested in getting digital/streaming video on their site, send an e-mail my way> [email protected]"][email protected][/url] . I've been doing it for years, and would be willing to accept fab services as payment :) Sorry for the advertisement, just thought I'd throw that offer out there.
 

cleartoy

Well-Known Member
I think that you made alot of great points. I think politics is really the only thing standing in the way. If there was an answer an set of directions or reciepe for everything you wanted to know, the cost of products and services would plunge. People would be able to make stuff on their own. When i say that, i mean people like me, that cannot weld, dont have a tube bender or notcher, or chop saw.

Hell, if i had all the above mentioned tools, and know how, id be able to make an awesome pre runner for the cost of materials alone! Instead, i have to align my schedule with the local fabricator(whoever that may be) and pay lots of $$$$ for services i can not do.

I do agree that for people that want to semi do it thereselves, access and shipping to a bolt on "kit" really needs to be looked at.



Got Sand??
 

Waldo

Safehouse
This question is to Jeff and any other shop owners or fab doers out there. I am interested to know the percentage of business that is generated for you via the internet. Is that business mail-order or walk-in? Do you know if you web site gets hits from other contries? I am not internet savy but can you track where your hits are coming from?



BRAAAAAAAAP!

~Waldo~
 

Jerry Zaiden

Well-Known Member
We get 96% of our hits from the USA. Next in line is Japan with .6%. We get an average of 3400 page hits and 880 daily unique a day. Our highest rated amount of page views is 3,898 (day) 84,392 (month). Uniques are 997 (day) and 20,606 month. We use hitbox for the tracking. Most of our hits come from the west coast in the 72%.

Jeff, how many .COM's are doing well right now? How many buy your parts online company's have come and gone?
 

Gabe Lara

Well-Known Member
Jeff,

You have certainly made alot of good points, but I think the main thing is $$. It makes the world go around, and if alot of businesses aren't going to make $ off of an idea, its maybe a tough decision to put alot of money into something that they will reap little return.

Exposure is not what it used to be, but as we can see, that is changing, and we are on an upswing. True, the Expo will be HUGE, bigger than any SCORE show (remember them?) and that will show how popular desert racing has gotten. SEMA? Well, as you can see, any of the true fab shops are VERY specialized in what they do, and any of the SEMA associated businesses seem to cover a more general market...Which is not a bad thing, because we have all had a "bolt on kit" at one time...

Alot of teams are integrating media into their race teams, just take a look at the EJR ProTruck site, and Tony B. just announced the Herbst site upgrade as well. Perhaps someday we'll be where NASCAR is. Just take a look how Klaus and the Boyz have made RDC grown with leaps and bounds within the last 2 years. I can remember when the links section had just 3-4 sites listed.

Good post, though. I'd like to see a bit more on this thread.
 

Junior

Well-Known Member
Re: Fab Shops $$$ = ???

Great points. I have never been to an IP meeting but I am told that there are tons of prerunners there. I can tell you from personal experience that decent prerunners parked around here get lots of looks, some crawl unders and even a few pull overs off the nearby streets. For most folks, contingency is the best part of any SCORE Race. Before I became such a vital member of EJR Racing I wouldn't go to a SCORE race unless I was able to attend contingency.

How about a Southwest Prerunners Tour? Similiar in style to the Hot Rod Power Tour. You might be able to get the fab shops, King, BFG, Fox etc to sponsor it. Get a couple of hundred Prerunners to travel out of So-Cal and set up a contingency type deal at each stop along the way. You could start out small like a trip to Phx maybe or Parker and let the event grow each year. Each stop would have a sponsored BBQ, show and shine, demo's by vendors and maybe even demo's by some of the prerunners. (jumping?)



Junior
EJR Racing #244<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by Junior on 09/27/01 10:08 AM (server time).</FONT></P>
 

sbro

Well-Known Member
Re: Fab Shops $$$ = ???

My .02:

I work at a non- off road related .com mailorder. It deals with skate/snow products, but this information still applies. This company I work for also has six stores in So. California. On almost any given day, the website will generate more revenue than any one store. We only ship domestically, and do not deal with international orders. I think it would be a really good idea for fab shops to start selling specialty parts through a website. Maybe have a picture of your custom radius arm, but include an order button next to it. I know that mass orders means mass production, which in turn reduces quality. However, there wouldn't be an extreme demand for these expensive, high quality products. It would most likely be just enough to hire a couple new fabricators and keep them busy all day.
 

jeff

Moderator
Re: Fab Shops $$$ = ???

Well said everyone. This is the whole reason I wrote the post. Here's what a bunch of people don't quite understand or are unwilling to accept about the internet, ESPECIALLY people with current brick and mortar storefronts. I can go back and track customers that have asked questions regarding specific products... such as "can I tow a boat to the river in a truck with a long travel kit installed" - I'd help sort the details out online - saving both the company and customer time. That customer might not purchase the long travel online using the e-commerce website, but he or she certainly decided to go with "X" company based on service and information provided by the website. I do some work for a couple sports related companies... Golf - Inline Hockey - Archery - Skateboarding --- I don't want to float my own boat but I was instrumental in getting these companies online. A specific inline hockey product currently stands atop the entire industry in one important yet often overlooked component of Inline hockey equipment... The PUCK. By selling direct to the customer the company is able to supply the customer in areas not serviced by authorized dealers - sounds like a SoCal fab shop scenario eh?

I have proof that CST and STU have both missed the boat with the website... I had orders for product that they couldn't deliver - a waiting list 20 guys long that had PREPAID for long travel systems for both the Ford and Chevy. As soon as the list got to 20 guys I told everyone else that the backorder list was too long and that they'd have to wait MONTHS to get the system... I had to delete approximately $200,000 worth of orders last year due to the inability to deliver the ordered good. Don't believe me? Neither did Kevin or Chris. You know what CST was spending on advertising in that time period in national magazines? How about one small ad in OFF-ROAD magazine. That is ZERO online advertising - no prepaid banners, no fancy gimmicks, it just drew thousands and thousands of viewers because people all over the US and the world are looking to modify their trucks and suvs.

Anyway... Everyone that has replied has good points. The egos are pretty big in this industry - so is the potential to do SO much better.

Aloha
 

Ryno

Well-Known Member
Jeff-

I'm glad you went to Hawaii. Reeeeeeeaaaaallly glad. =) Yes, I'm one of those guys you mentioned that wants SAWs on his 88-98 GM IFS truck. I am also one of those guys that has $$$, but not in the market. Here in SoCal, there is a thriving economy of construction. We can build anything we think of. Huge freeways; 22,000 sq ft (twenty two thousand square feet of House) Homes in Coto de Caza, with elevators, and remote control everything from blinds, to TVs, to lights, etc. Needless to say, if I wasn't in construction, I'd be a welder and fab guy as soon as I could set down my tool bags.

Breath

Ok, yes, all the fab shops need to come together, and help each other. No doubt. They can all benefit from this in a major way. More $$$$ for everything. From tools, to ads, to R&D. I put a post on here about 4 days ago about long travel for my GM IFS. I also sent you a post on the STU site about 3 months ago. To no avail, I have gotten no response from anyone here, and you told me it could be done. Wanna make more $$$$$??? Someone needs to make a kit for the 88-98 trucks, and the 99-present GM IFS trucks, that will make the 4WD work. Something like the Total Chaos kit. They are selling those kits faster that they ever dreamed of making them. There's all Ford and Toy guys out there right now. But, look at class 8, either Chevys or Fords, a couple Dodge boys, but highly outnumbered. I think I speak for alot of guys out there. We see all these Ford guys, with their fullsize 4x4 trucks, and getting lots of travel, and tons of parts, and we get a pair or upper A arms? WTF?

Again, Jeff, thanks for going on vacation, and thanks for the post. You, in turn, have made me think. There's more money than anyone can imagine out there, and it's theirs for the taking. I hope everyone out there in the Off Road industry, especially the little guys, go out and get theirs. Bubba sure wants to have a sweet truck, and he has no problem selling a cow or two for a trick setup on his fullsize SUV.

Ryno
 

Donahoe

Well-Known Member
Waldo, 99.9% of our business is word of mouth. Once we have a customer we tend to keep them. We have never really tried to push product sales becuse for one we never really mass produced any products. Now with the start of our new company "THE EDGE" we are starting to. Our new superduty line is going like gangbusters across the county, and You will start seeing it everywhere but Like anything it takes time. The new website will be up by the expo.. Or at least that is what has been promised.


NEVER LIFT!!!!!
 

Waldo

Safehouse
Kreg, I remember Jerry telling me that they receive a ton of business form word of mouth and from "tech boards" on-line. Nothing can beat a good reputation when it comes to business. You provide quality products/services for the value, you have customers for life. It is nice to see that most of the people who own companies, like yourself, often give recommendations to other companies and shops for business. That my friend is down right professional courtesy! Looking forward to the new site.

BRAAAAAAAAP!

~Waldo~
 
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