September 20th 2019

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EPARTRADE Exclusive: Hot Tips For Racing Retail Store Merchandising Strategies from Allgaier Performance Parts

In this EPARTRADE exclusive, Mike Allgaier president of Allgaier Performance Parts, Allgaier Racing Shocks and Hoosier Tire Midwest, and Susannah Stapp, office manager and jill-of-all- trades, offer their insights into professional retail presentation at Allgaier Performance Parts. The retail speed shop sells racing products in Springfield, Ill., Indianapolis (Brownsburg), Ind., and Plymouth, Ind. Hoosier Tire Midwest is the largest racing tire distributor in the world.
 
Allgaier starts at the beginning, relating “My wife Dorothy and I started our business as D&M speed shop in 1971. Hoosier asked us to change the name to reflect the Hoosier presence, and drop the parts business. About 19 years ago, someone asked why we didn’t sell parts,” he laughs. “We decided to get back in the business about 3 years ago with the Springfield store, and then added Indy a year later. When we started, we decided to take parts to the track in our area—no one did that. Now our main focus is on our dealer sales.”
 
Allgaier lets Stapp take the story from there. She says when the new performance parts stores opened, they started with quarter midget parts. “No one was offering those parts, despite this being a racing capital of the world. The niche really took off. Now we have drag parts, modified parts, mini-sprint parts, everything on the shelf. People can come in Friday, buy what they need, do rebuilding Saturday, and still race Saturday night. Without the parts we carry, they’d have to buy online and have the part on the trailer, or they couldn’t race again over the weekend.” 
 
Asked her best advice when it comes to merchandising racing products in a retail environment, she replies unhesitatingly that her philosophy is to “make it colorful, make something catch the eye, move displays around so nothing stays stagnant. A different view of the products makes customers go over and check out the displays.” 
 
The most common mistake she sees in other racing retail stores is not keeping things clean. According to Stapp “A lot of times retail stores have machine shops attached, and there is grinding dust and things stacked around the shop. Our showrooms are white walled, with grey shelves and very colorful products. The stores are very clean and bright, with good lighting. They’re places people want to come in to. We get a lot of compliments.” 
 
Stapp also has a strategy when it comes to impulse sales. “We keep an area up front with new items, and display them in specially built, lit counters. You have to keep it convenient for customers. This way, they can see these items while they’re waiting for their invoice to be written up. We take our cue on that from big box stores.” 
 
Stapp believes if a store is well-organized and easy to shop, it leads to more sales. “All the time, we hear ‘I didn’t know I needed this, but it was right here, so I purchased it.’” Aisle signs, “just like at a big box store,” indicate where to find parts such as suspension, exhaust, or tools; but the store also cross-merchandises. “For example, if you’re in the brake line aisle, we have some fittings right there. We group things in multiple places if necessary, so you’ll see the other items you might need to do a job all in one place.”
 
Along with their excellent word of mouth, to promote store traffic, Stapp says the company uses a lot of social media. Currently they focus on Facebook and Twitter, but targeting Instagram is a goal. She hopes to get a college intern to help. “I think you need all three social media sites, because racing is all age groups, and each site skews to a different age group.” 
 
Along with social media, Stapp explains “We try to promote through the series that run our tires. That’s kind of a built-in glory for us. People come in to get their tires, and while they are being pulled, they can wander around the shop and get things they need for the next trip. We also sell T-shirts in the stores, and we sell some on-site at a race.” 
 
The company sometimes uses the tees for promotion, but has an even cooler promotion planned: stacks of items signed by NASCAR Xfinity driver Justin Allgaier, owner Mike Allgaier’s son. “We have that built-in appeal of Justin racing, being seen in races on TV. People want to come here to the place his family owns, and get the opportunity to receive an autographed item.”
 
Allgaier Performance Parts also advertises on the Indianapolis race track (Lucas Oil Raceway, in Brownsburg, Indiana), which Stapp describes as “a stone’s throw away.” 
 
But the most important ways to promote the store is by providing good customer service, she believes. “Have knowledge of what you’re selling, be engaged with the customers, encourage them. If they say they won last weekend, be supportive and enthusiastic. Make them see you appreciate their business, be honest and helpful, and build them up on social media because it builds you up, too. When they come to you, they want knowledge they might not have, so if you help them out, they’ll return and keep coming back,” she says.  
 
Additionally important: keeping the parts on the shelves. “If it’s there, they’ll buy it. They can walk in and walk out with what they want, have it on the car, be ready to race. That’s Mike’s goal from the beginning. The customer doesn’t have to get something shipped in.”
 
Offering her take on the racing industry today, Stapp sees no dark skies ahead: crowds and car counts are good. “Even when the economy was down, people are so passionate about racing, they made a sacrifice somewhere else to keep doing it. And today, racing has bounced back tremendously. With so many other entertainment choices around though, it’s important to engage younger kids in racing, so it becomes a passion of theirs, too.”
 
By Genie Davis
 

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