Six Tips to Determine Which Audio Shop is Best for You
You’ve decided to upgrade your vehicle with either a new stereo installation or sound system. You have an idea of what you want and how much you’re willing to budget towards it. Now comes the hard part…where do you go to get it installed?
The options for car audio installation in your area is more than likely very high if you live in a big city with a dense population. Big markets like Los Angeles or San Diego will have an overwhelming amount of choices to get new speakers or car stereos installed. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to perform your own vetting process so that you know you’re in good hands. The following tips will show you how to compare car audio shops and help you narrow down your choices.
Tip #1 – Try to Stay Close to Home or Work
Depending on what type of car audio installation you get done to your vehicle, the shop is going to have your ride for at least a few hours. That means you’re going to be without transportation for as long as they have your car. Try to pick a shop that is as close as possible to the location that you plan on spending your day – either home or work. When your car is finally ready, you’ll only be a short walk or Uber ride away from getting your vehicle.
Tip #2 – Reviews Speak Volumes
Although reviews aren’t the end-all be-all of how a business is operated, they are a good indication of what customers think about their quality of service and products. Once you’ve narrowed down by location, look at the shops that are ranking highest in reviews. Don’t just go off of star rating. Take the time to read some of the customer feedback that they’ve written. This will paint a better picture of what customers have actually experienced with the shop. If you see complaints about quality of install, pricing, or other negative comments that are from the past six months, keep searching. High-quality recent feedback is what you’re looking for in a shop.
Tip #3 – Look at the Website
In 2021, every business that wants to be taken seriously should have a good website, including car audio shops. A website is the first impression that most businesses make with customers, so it should be a good one. If the website is slow to load, poorly formatted, or doesn’t detail clearly what their products and services are – that’s a bad first impression, and you should look elsewhere. Businesses that put in the effort to make their website professional and clean will probably do a good job when it comes to servicing your vehicle.
Tip #4 – Pre-Shop and Estimates
For most people upgrading their car audio, they have an idea of what they want, but they haven’t made a final decision. People that want a new stereo, for instance, probably have a list of three potential stereos in mind that look good to them. Do your research and price those out. This is the “parts” portion of “parts & labor.” Once you have your wish list of products picked out, give the shop a call and ask for an estimate on your new install, complete with labor and any other fees. Do this with at least one or two other shops so that you can compare who is charging what. If you notice that a shop is charging significantly more for product or installation, it may be best to go with the competitor that costs less.
Tip #5 – Visit the Shop In-Person; “Try Before You Buy”
By this point, you should have an idea of what you want, an estimate of how much it costs, and a fairly good indication of how well the shop is run based on customer reviews, their website, and so forth. Now comes the next big step, which is visiting the shop in person. If you can, set up an appointment with an associate so that they can show you live and in-person the products you’re interested in. This is critical when selecting something like new speakers or subwoofers, because you’re not really going to know how it sounds until you hear it. Trying before you buy is one of the most important steps in the shopping process. If you’re not happy with how the product sounds in the shop, you won’t like it once it’s in your car. Don’t buy anything sight unseen (or unheard, in this instance).
This is also a great opportunity for the sales associate to detail any features or benefits that may be part of the product. If everything appears to be on the up-and-up, then you should be able to move forward confidently with your install after one final step.
Tip #6 – Final Estimate, Warranty, and Guarantee of Work
You’re close to getting your new stereo or car audio upgrade. Now all that’s left is to make sure everyone is on the same page and your purchase is protected. Before signing off on the work order, you want to get a final estimate from the shop that gives an itemized list of the charges. That’s going to include parts, labor, and anything else related to the install. There should be no hidden fees.
Also, the product should be under some type of limited warranty just in case there’s a product defect. The last thing that you want is to be left holding the bag on the new stereo just because it’s faulty. Discuss what your warranty is with your sales associate so that you know you’re covered.
Finally, there should be a guarantee of work or services rendered for the install. In the event that your stereo or new speakers are installed wrong, the shop needs to commit to you that they’ll rectify the issue at no additional cost. This needs to be put in writing. A handshake agreement won’t do.
Once you have your estimate, warranty info, and guarantee of work bases covered, you should be able to move forward with scheduling your appointment for your car audio install.
Get Your Car Audio Upgraded Today!
If you’re ready to start comparing car audio shops, the fastest way is to Google search “car audio near me” or other similar term. That should bring you back a healthy amount of local shops in your area along with all their customer reviews so that you can review them. Remember to take your time and be diligent with your research process.
There are going to be plenty of car audio shops in your area, but only a handful are going to hit that gold standard of quality of service and product selection.