I couldn't think of a pic to use for this blog post so I went with a pretty one with lots of colors. It isn't completely random, though: I do mention a special offer on a set of wheels in the Redpants Updates section at the end!
My chat with Aston Martin
I mentioned in my last blog post that I've been chatting with one of Aston Martin's top executives. The nature of the conversation is one I find rather interesting because it has to do with Aston supporting independent operators ("indies") like myself. Yes, there's an obvious bias here.
The question is a simple one: How can Aston Martin support indies?
The answer isn't so simple.
Aston Martin Lagonda is a company with suppliers, franchised dealerships, lawyers, and an incredibly harsh operating environment. Making everyone happy is difficult, if not impossible. And, to complicate matters, there are customer expectations to meet. Making everything work as a business takes a ton of planning, coordination, and cooperation on so many levels that they have to calculate all the variables involved. Indies like myself are something of a wildcard in their equation. Things are supposed to be straight forward: Aston Martin has suppliers whose parts go to Aston's factory to build the cars. Those cars go to dealerships to be sold. Parts also get sent to dealerships to maintain and repair the cars they sell. Aston is, itself, a supplier: they send cars and parts to dealerships, and the dealerships perform maintenance and repairs with Aston's support.
But business in this industry never quite goes that way. Aston Martin's cars depreciate... badly. Service costs do not. And services with a premium tacked on, like those at Aston Martin's dealerships, compound a problem many owners face. In a nutshell, nobody wants to spend $650 on an oil change for a car worth less than fifty grand.
When I first bought my grey V8 Vantage several years ago, I intended it to be for sunny Sundays with meticulous dealership maintenance. Not only was this car an exotic (my first!) it was also my dream car. I was going to keep it pristine.
Obviously that plan went out the window.
(Side note: I'll have a blog post about how my immaculate car plan came to a crunching halt, along with information about diminished value claims, in an upcoming blog post!)
The first dealership-performed service on my car was the aforementioned $650 oil change. (No, I didn't pull that number out of my ass earlier.) The next service was over $1400. Not long after I had both upstream o2 sensors replaced to the tune of nearly $800. It was all just too much, and I decided to make a breakaway from dealership service.
Fast-forward a few years and I've got this website, showing people how to do work themselves, selling the parts and supplies they need, and making Aston Martin ownership more reasonable. The flip side to the work I'm doing is that it can take business away from dealerships. Customer that were beholden to their services can now handle maintenance themselves, saving literally thousands of dollars during the course of ownership. It takes a lot of money to keep a dealership afloat, so they aren't going to be happy to know that someone is causing them to lose business. So why would Aston's executives want to talk with me unless it's to reign me in? The bottom line is that I'm supporting the brand as a whole. Here's a lightly-edited excerpt from one of my emails to Aston:
The other question that comes up often is how my prices for parts and supplies can be so different than dealership prices. Here's another excerpt:
Aston Martin realizes that grassroots efforts like mine are driving a meaningful interest in the brand. When a person has trouble with their car and doesn't want to go to a dealership (for whatever reason), Aston knows it's far better that they find a resource like Redpants that is going to do its best to help them out rather than leave the brand as a jaded former-owner. So the conversation I've been having with them is how to accomplish this. I'd love to work more directly with Aston Martin, but doing so may upset Aston's franchised dealers. That said, I've talked to a few owners of dealerships and they aren't entirely against what I'm doing. (In fact, one of them - who I met at the British embassy a couple weeks ago - invited me to visit his dealership to discuss ways to get more involved.) But even so, dealerships typically don't want to lose business to outfits like mine, so they're going to prevent Aston Martin Lagonda from working too closely with me. Aston Martin wants to find ways to get more in touch with customers like mine, but in a way that doesn't alienate their dealerships. It sounds easy, but there are so many things involved that it isn't easy at all.
Needless to say, the conversation continues.
I've added a pre-order listing for my high-flow intake filters. They're still not available yet, but should be soon. Any orders received will ship as soon as the filters are ready!
I've also added a pre-order listing for air box delete brackets. I've been testing these and putting them through some severe situations, and they've been passing each test with flying colors!
Most of you have probably seen the video about the coilovers I was having made. To be honest, I'm pretty upset about it. Based on the video, they're exactly not what I want. I didn't see the video or know anything about what would be in it until it went live because I didn't want to cause any bias, so I was rather... surprised. I don't sell anything I don't endorse, so I won't be releasing the coilovers for sale until they meet my expectations. If that can't be done, I'll change course to another supplier (yes, I've already got one in mind). Tavarish liked the results, but they aren't what I asked for - not what you guys have asked for.
In case you've missed it, here's the video:
If you follow the Redpants Instagram and Facebook pages, you've probably seen the blue wheel special. That finish is Clare's favorite, so we want to see a set of wheels in that color on an Aston Martin. Although it's a stunningly beautiful finish, it's way outside the norm for what would be put on an Aston. So we've made a special offer: First person that orders a set of them and gives us pics that we can use for marketing gets a $500 credit for parts from Redpants!
Last, and definitely not least, Aston Martin's new performance sub-brand, AMR (not to be confused with Aston Martin Racing, the racing team), has just announced their initial product offerings! These include things like racing suits and helmets, titanium exhaust, aero kits, and most importantly a lightweight flywheel and dual-plate clutch package. I think the clutch package is going to be a huge hit, especially given the price. I'll be making listings for these parts soon!