A few things are happening over the coming weeks and I wanted to take a moment to go over them.
A little over a month ago I posted a few teaser pics of my friend Sydne doing a photoshoot of my car. After the shoot we went to lunch and chatted about ideas - she'd been wanting to start a new project, something with potential to grow into a business that she could work full-time. Much of what she said she wanted to do echoed what I myself had gone through in starting Redpants (though I'm still far from being able to do it full-time!)
The past month has been an insanely busy one, and I wasn't around much to be the friend that I should have been for her. But that didn't slow her down. Sydne has been hard at work - I pulled up her new website a few days ago and was amazed at how much she'd accomplished in so little time. I was so amazed, in fact, that I wanted to share her work with my readers as well.
But this also led me to another idea.
As automotive enthusiasts, we love looking at our cars. Not just in person, but also in pictures. Redpants' website features the work of a few very talented photographers. I have the gallery to show their work, but I want to give them the attention they - the photographers themselves - deserve. To that end, I'll be featuring articles about photographers whose stories are worth reading as much as their pictures are worth viewing.
Battery Mounts Shipping Soon!
My lightweight battery mounts are nearly ready to ship, with deliveries to begin at the beginning of March. I'm really excited about these and will post another announcement when they've finished production. But I wanted to mention it now because the beginning of shipments will mark the end of the Pre-Order Sale. Normal pricing will begin, as well as more accurate shipping quotes built into the ordering process. (I got bit pretty hard by that flat-rate $5 shipping fee last week....)
Redpants vs the dealerships
Okay, that's a bit misleading. Clickbait-ish, even. But it makes an important point. The end of the Pre-Order Sale means normal pricing in Redpants' online store. I want to take a moment to discuss what I'm doing with Redpants as a business.
I've been a gearhead for as long as I can remember - my whole life, really. I started drawing cars as soon as I could hold a crayon. Eventually I started modifying cars when I was 19 years old, a hobby I could finally afford on my massive E-2 paycheck as a young Marine with no bills aside from a car payment, insurance, and cell phone. As online forums brought a flood of information about working on cars, modifying them, and the online retailers to supply parts, I found myself drawn to those communities and becoming heavily involved.
That continued when I got into Aston Martins, but finding information wasn't so easy. Actually, information was sparse, even for somewhat simple things. When I bought my Aston, I did as I always do - I got involved with the online community and learned as much as I could, taught myself what I needed, and shared what I discovered. I came up with new projects, like my oil catch can kit, that nobody had done before and I offered those to other owners. My friends told me I needed to turn my work into a business. I considered it, as it's something I'm very passionate about and owning my own business has always been a goal. But the idea became serious when I started getting messages and emails from people all around the world thanking me for the DIY guides I've made and posted on the forums.
I realized it was a "now or never" moment in my life and decided to take that proverbial leap of faith.
In doing so, I run the risk of taking away business from dealerships. Well, not running the risk - actually am. I have friends that work at dealerships, including a few at Aston Martin dealerships, so I felt the need to clarify what I'm doing.
I thought about it long and hard and eventually divvied up Aston Martin owners into different groups, based on how my website will affect them and dealerships. (Cliff notes: Redpants' detrimental direct impact on dealerships is minimal, but the overall beneficial impact on the brand - and by extension the dealerships - far outweighs any negative effects.)
Owners that want to save money because dealerships are too expensive
It isn't the dealerships' fault that their prices are so high (not always, anyway). Astons are a very low volume marque and dealerships have to charge premiums in order to survive. For some owners, the cost of ownership is too high when using the dealership, so they find their parts and service elsewhere. In this case, they come to Redpants and dealerships lose money. On the flip side, finding lower-cost alternatives keeps these owners in the brand, so the brand as a whole (and by extension, the dealerships) are better off.
Owners that want to work on their cars themselves
There are plenty of Aston owners that like getting their hands dirty. Maybe it's the sense of accomplishment, maybe it's wrench therapy. Whatever the reason, DIY owners - myself included - love working on cars. Dealerships aren't going to get labor money from these owners, but they can get parts sales by selling parts and supplies to DIY owners. Dealerships might lose money to third party retailers like Redpants, but it's a very small number of owners that prefer to work on their Astons themselves. If the loss of business from this niche has a material impact on a dealership, I don't mean to sound harsh but I can't help but seriously question the viability of that dealership to begin with.
Owners that don't have a dealership within a reasonable distance
This was the case that surprised me. A couple months ago I got a message from a guy that thanked me for my DIY guides and YouTube videos. His nearest dealership is several hours away and shipping his car was rather expensive, not to mention the dealership premiums for service. He said his local indie mechanic was hesitant to work on his Aston until he showed the mechanic my videos. I originally created Redpants for DIY owners, but a group I ended up helping the most are owners far removed from dealerships that otherwise wouldn't have a viable option for service. For these owners, owning an Aston is much more feasible that it would be if they had to rely on a distant dealership, and the information and parts I (and others like Redpants) supply helps the brand as a whole.
Prospective owners worried about the lack of Aston-specific information
I get asked all the time about owning an Aston Martin, especially by Porsche owners. Most are worried about buying one because there just isn't much information about them. Everything you could ever want to know about Porsches is out there and accessible. For Astons? Not so much. Just having access to information helps assure prospective owners that modern Astons aren't the money pits they were once known to be. This leads to an increase interest in the brand, again to the benefit of dealerships.
Ultimately, my goal isn't to take business away from dealerships. My goal is to increase interest in a brand that I love. Dealerships might lose a little business to companies like Redpants, but are better off in the long run as the brand itself is strengthened.
Aside from a few sales during the course of the year, I won't be posting or offering discounted pricing for the products sold on Redpants. I'm sure that'll lead to some people cross-shopping for betting prices, and that's fine. My aim is to make Redpants a one-stop shop for owners that need parts and information. Sure, you might be able to find a part I sell for a lower price elsewhere if you look around. But that takes time, and there are usually concerns about whether or not a part is the right one. How much is that time and effort worth? Alternatively, customers can come to Redpants, buy the parts they need, and get in-depth instructions (with pictures and videos!) showing how to install them. It's value-added and for most Aston owners it's worthwhile to pay the extra few bucks for the right part from a reliable source, let alone getting the comprehensive guides.
Along that same vein, I'm not interested in engaging in price wars. If you find a lower price elsewhere, by all means go for it. I've even linked to another store that could be considered a competitor given a few overlapping products. (See? I did it again!) Having said all that, the work I put into the DIY guides and videos, plus the cost of operating this website, are paid for by my online store. The better Redpants' store does, the more DIY guides and videos I can make, and the more parts I can develop.
So I hope my readers and customers understand that I don't have the time or energy to haggle over prices. They are what they are. I'm too busy working to offer higher quality products and services and, believe me, that's plenty demanding itself.