Today’s market can be rough, and that’s evident by the number of companies trying to keep up with modern trends and demands. But not Hot Rides LLC of Ewing, New Jersey and Morrisville, Pennsylvania. These guys keep a tight grip on what’s happening across the automotive industry. Since opening in 2010, they’ve been rapidly growing with the kind of success that’s deeply rooted in a solid foundation. “If you look at our chart it looks like a tree,” says owner Steve Bivens. As a man whose been in the game for well over 20 years, it’s safe to say Bivens knows a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. And with his own company on an upward trajectory, he’s in a great position to offer advice.
What is Hot Rides LLC?
“I’ve been doing this since 1986,” says Bivens, who “worked at a WD for two years and then went to the retail side. I worked [there] for 20 years with another company and then decided to open my own shop.” Hot Rides LLC is a shop that covers all bases. “We do full automotive accessories: truck, car, and the performance side,” adds Bivens.
On its list of provided services, Hot Rides LLC sells a wide variety of aftermarket goodies, specializing in window tint, lift kits, wheels and tires, exhaust parts, tuners, car stereos, alarms, and remote starters (including the installations). About the only thing these guys don’t do is machine work. Instead, that business is directed to a dedicated local shop, who in turn refers business back to Hot Rides. These sorts of supportive relationships are a major key to success, but aren’t the only trick up the company’s sleeve.
How Does the Company Stay on Top?
So, what does Hot Rides LLC do to draw in so much business? “Promotion, promotion, promotion,” says Bivens. “I believe in advertising—it works. A lot of people think it’s too expensive—no, it’s priceless. You have to do it.”
Bivens has taken advantage of several platforms to get his business name out there. He’s used television, radio, print and, of course, social media. By doing so, he constantly keeps a live feed in the community, making sure that they know who to turn to for automotive accessories.
The use of social media as an advertising medium is important, especially considering it’s free exposure. All you have to do is set up a page for your business and actively keep up with it. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, Bivens has a tip. “If we’re on lunch or have 15 minutes, we write a few posts and time bomb them throughout the day,” he says. This saves him from over-saturating news feeds and he can set the posts to release during high-traffic times. It’s free advertising and it’s easy! How much better can it get? Bivens shares that by using promotion to his advantage, Hot Rides came out of the gate on top and now shows no signs of stepping down.
One more trick of the trade that Hot Rides LLC uses to keep people in the store is an attractive environment. “Where’s your favorite place to go shopping?” asks Bivens. “Forget about cars, where do you go? Maybe you buy something, maybe you don’t. But you walk in there and you’re always comfortable… I stepped back and thought about where I like to go shopping. I take attributes that those stores are projecting and I try to make it my own,” he explains.
In his showrooms, Bivens keeps displays, television sets, and other accommodations like seating and drinks for his walk-ins. He welcomes customers to use his floor as a work environment, or simply as a place to ogle at the machinery and items he keeps in-house. He totally immerses them in a comfortable but appropriate atmosphere. With that in mind, Bivens says that spouses and children rarely, if ever, leave because of the level of hospitality that Hot Rides brings to the table. And that’s key. “It’s non-stop every day at both locations. It’s really amazing,” he says proudly.
It’s All About Balance
That doesn’t mean the company is without its obstacles. Bivens made it clear that at both locations the hardest task to tackle is getting enough skilled workers to take on the amount of business being drawn in. “They’re like white rhinos; they’re hard to find,” he laments. “We’re willing to pay, but you have to be willing to work.” He says that he regularly keeps employees working overtime, meaning there’s never a lack of opportunity for employees to earn extra cash.
By keeping a tight relationship with local businesses and not trying to tackle every single trick of the trade, Hot Rides LLC balances the workload. The company does what it specializes in—and it does it well. Plus, by taking advantage of all available media outlets and keeping communication lines open with its clientele, Hot Rides ensures it will stay at the forefront of the automotive industry. With certainty, this company is one for ambitious retailers to look at for inspiration.