Before Re-Sauce – Part 1 Prestige Car Audio - Retail
By Gordon Dutch
I have been asked by a number of people who have been reading our business blogs, if I would give some more background on my own previous history and business experience. Never wanting to disappoint, please see part 1 below from me and if anything within these personal blogs strikes a chord with what you need in your business, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
I started my gainful employment in the 80’s working briefly for a local law firm. At the time, I was playing in a band and gigging all over London. We then decided to try and break the big time and so I left the law firm and we made a record. Unfortunately, like so many bands we never got the big break, but we had some fun doing it. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy doing all the contract work at the law firm, although later in my business career, that legal experience did come in very handy!
After my main band split up quoting artistic differences; all very Spinal Tap! 😊 I went to work for a chain of Independent electrical stores as a salesman and loved it. I really enjoyed meeting all the different people that came in the store and I learned a lot through that experience of how retail worked. It taught me how to open and close a sales opportunity. It taught me how to upsell, cross sell and attach accessories and how to incentivise people. It was excellent experience that, again, stood me in excellent stead for later in my business career.
The family chain of stores I worked for then sold up to Rumbelows (who for those that don’t know them, they were a bit like a Currys/Best Buy of the day). By then, like many other young people, I had taken a great interest in high quality audio and fast cars and so, in the early 90’s, I left to go and start up my own business in Car Audio. Back then, Car Audio was booming, literally…
I opened a shop called Prestige Car Audio with two guys called Bob Hobson and Barry Copeland, and we made quite an impression. Bob and Barry were both fully trained auto electricians and Bob had an incredible passion and knowledge of how acoustics worked and the effect that the car itself had on sound. Coupled with my musical and sales background, Barry’s install capabilities and a strong work ethic, we became very successful. Our deep knowledge of car audio ensured that the systems we installed sounded much better than the ones being installed by other local retailers, even if they used exactly the same products. You might ask how that can be, and it is very simple. If you use the right cables and specially built enclosures for your speakers, you can make massive improvements in sound quality. We invested in some very high tech specialist car audio computer modelling programs (and this was in 1990!) and also purchased a Real Time Analyser (RTA), which allowed you to look at a detail ‘reaction’ to the sound system once installed and ‘tweak’ it where required. Using custom made sub bass enclosures allowed us to replicate a big sound from relatively small standard speaker allocations in cars of the day. Without sounding big headed, we were quite a long way ahead of the curve in this approach and using high end US brands for amplification and sub bass speakers, when most other people were just using a pair of 6 x 9’s bolted to the car’s rear parcel shelf.
Due to the quality of the sound systems we were delivering, we had a lot of referrals and repeat customers, which was perfect. I always remember someone telling me at the time, for every one customer you upset, they tell 100 people. However, for every one customer you please, they might tell two people. I figure social media will have massively changed that ratio by now, but referral and repeat business, to me, is still critical to most successful businesses
At that time, there was a big Car Audio movement in the UK and all over Europe, and a whole load of organised competitions were set up, culminating in a grand final in Rome, where the best from the UK qualified and were pitched against the best from all over Europe. These competitions were judged not only on the sound quality, but to make sure the installation was safe and well presented. Having dominated the UK scene with our own cars and those of our customers, the pressure was on. However, I am pleased to say that not only did we win the highly coveted Professional category with Bob’s legendary Beemer, but many of our customers who all drove to Rome with us as well, also won - making us all the official Car Audio Champions of Europe! Our success not only made the front cover of most specialist car audio press of the day, but even made the national press and national TV. Back then you didn’t have social media, or even the internet, and so this was as big as it got. However, later on I wondered what would have happened if the internet had been around then, as I think the results would have been huge.
Having been featured so heavily in all the major car audio and car magazines of the day, like Max Power, Fast Car and many others, we not only attracted some serious audio customers, but a whole host of well heeled and celebrity clients. As we were based in London, we had a lot of the major football clubs close to us and a lot of famous TV and music personalities. We ended up doing a lot of work for these people, which was great fun meeting them all. We then opened more shops and a trade division doing car security and other products supplying many garages across London.
So what did I take away from this my very early business career. How to open and close a sale. How to upsell and cross sell, attach accessories, diversify successfully into other areas. How to read and understand a legal contract and how to build and manage a successful business, including taking care of the cash… and of course how to recognise your USP’s and Press & PR them to the hilt.
I hope you have enjoyed part 1 of my personal business journey and if you have, then please do watch out over the next few weeks as I take you through my personal evolution from retailer/installer to distributor and eventually manufacturer.
Images shown are of The Phoenix Gold Outlaw Demo car (circa 1994!) – This was a Porsche 944 that I drove daily for 4 years. All the sub woofers and kit were hidden by the mountain ranges and if you touched the car, a gun came out and said “Go ahead punk make my day!” The car featured at the London Motor Show and many other major events.
The other image is of the late great Keith Chegwin and was taken during filming of the Big Breakfast TV program on Channel 4 . We built a 1000 watt CD sound system into a little mini jeep, it sound amazing and still drove 😊
Here’s what our Industry Colleagues say about us...
Peerless-AV would like to pay tribute to the incredible work Gordon and his team have done since 2009. It’s sales and brand awareness since we launched Peerless-AV EMEA in 2009 has been massive. Gordon’s strategic leadership and incredible work ethic, along with the dynamic leadership of a best-in-class team, which he assembled, has led Peerless-AV to the forefront of the AV businesses.
Global President & CEO of Peerless-AV