The formula for how auto upholstery shops price their convertible tops has always been simple: (Hours the Job Takes x Hourly Labor Rate) + MSRP = Price Quote.
However, in recent years a disturbing trend has thrown a wrench into our formula and aggravated trim shops across the county. Convertible tops are being sold online to retail customers at costs equal to wholesale.
Convertible-top supplier Electron Top Manufacturing Co recently published a memo titled “We do not sell direct” that highlights the problem:
Our industry had maintained a unity amongst one another (manufacturers, distributors and upholstery shops) that provided an opportunity for all of us to flourish and be successful. That “Unity” has slowly been broken by some whom are selling outside our industry and have ventured into direct sales. Most likely being driven by a financial catalyst other than survival and preservation of our “Auto Trim Industry” and singularly the “Bottom Line”.
Auto trim shops are entitled to every penny of their markup on materials. But with customers bringing in tops that they purchased on Ebay and inquiring about installation costs only, we lose that income.
To make up the difference, some trim shops have increased labor rates for customers who supply their own tops. But that doesn’t always help, as many of these tops are of cheap quality and require a lot more time to install properly – making it difficult to give accurate price quotes.
I commend Electron Top on their vow never to sell directly to consumers and hope that other manufacturers will follow suit. My shop has been installing Electron convertible tops for decades without any problems. Their product is first rate, their staff is knowledgeable and their customer service is second to none.
We want to hear from you: Have you experienced this problem? If so, what did you do about it? What can we do, as an industry and community of auto trim professionals, to combat this growing trend? Tell us in the comments section below.
— — —
The Hog Ring is the #1 online community for auto upholstery professionals and enthusiasts. Here you can browse pictures, read news and connect with others who share your passion for auto upholstery. You can even check us out on Facebook and Twitter!