I, like many others, have been watching and waiting to see what's going to happen with Brexit. For most Americans, Brexit is some silly Anglo-European something or other that shows politics on the other side of the Atlantic are just as absurd as they are in the US. Most Americans will probably not be affected by Brexit - if and when it ever goes through. If you're reading this, however, you very well may notice some changes. Let's talk about that.
Possible Price Increases
The prices I have for the items in my online store are based on several costs, including but not limited to currency exchange rates, shipping costs, item cost, import duties, and so on. The cost of items can and does change without warning. Sometimes it's a few dollars here and there. Often when my cost goes up slightly, I don't change the price of that item. Rather, I leave the price alone and end up with a slimmer profit margin. It's not worth the extra hassle for me, or the extra uncertainty for my customers if I'm constantly changing prices.
Sometimes a price increase is substantial. When that happens, I'll adjust the list price of that item accordingly. Take the OEM stone guards, for example. The cost of these more than doubled without warning, which is why the price went from around $100 to the much higher price they're now at ($235 at the time of this writing).
Even though these are ongoing concerns I've dealt with for the 3+ years I've been running Redpants, I mention it specifically now because a few things can possibly happen that might have a drastic effect on pricing. One is that the British Pound can be revalued. The dollar-to-pound rate is actually very favorable right now compared to where it was a few years ago. Right now it's around 1 GBP = 1.3 USD, give or take a few cents in either direction. Previously, it's been as high as 1.65 USD or so. To put this into perspective, if that exchange rate returned, there’d be a 25% increase in the price of all OEM Aston Martin parts.
Regardless of exchange rate, the UK currently enjoys favorable trade relations with other European countries, some of which supply parts to Aston Martin. If trade agreements are changed when the UK leaves the EU, there may be new tariffs and other such unpleasantries involved. Aston Martin could pay more to get car parts, which means we owners will need to pay more to get those parts, too. And it isn't just paying more for parts...
Some Parts Might Be Harder To Get
There's a current dilemma in England about how the ports are going to function if Brexit causes them to remove the "loose" customs processes currently in place with countries for which England has EU-based trade agreements. Massive amounts of cargo is processed through British ports every day, and having to scrutinize each shipment to a higher degree will cause a chain of delays that will compound until the ports are clogged with rotting produce. Yes, that's a real concern.
I've been hearing of plenty of companies in England (Aston Martin included) that are stockpiling products to help soften the blow if their supply chains get disrupted. There have been occasional delays due to some parts being unavailable, but it's worth noting that the concern is even more pressing given the way Aston Martin's global supply chain works.
The English economy likely won't crash, taking Aston Martin Lagonda and its owner community down with it. It isn't impossible, just highly improbable. There may be some pain at first, hopefully short-lived. We'll get through it regardless. Just make sure you have your towel.
Redpants Tech Day - Austin 2019
Thanks so much to everyone that's signed up for the upcoming Tech Day I'm putting together with Aston Installations! If you haven't seen it yet, here's the event page:
There's a signup form at the end of the page. Please fill it out if you're planning to attend the rally or the Tech Day, or if you just want some work done on your car but won't be at either event.
A few people pointed out I was missing the "My car doesn't currently have cameras" option, thank you, and it's been fixed!
Exterior Lighting Packages
I *think* I'm all caught up on the dark smoked exterior lighting orders. Everyone should have received them, or received an automated shipping notification email. However, if you have not, please contact me and I'll get it sorted asap and should be able to ship out right away to take care of any pending orders.
Orders for light smoked are still being sent out. These have been far more popular than the dark smoked so they're taking longer.
Once I've verified that all pending orders have been covered, I'll be able to sort out shipment-ready inventory counts so the exterior lighting products are no longer an "order and pray" situation.
Replacement Oil Catch Can Hoses
The original upper hose I was using for my oil catch can kits might collapse in certain conditions, restricting airflow. The new hose is much stiffer and won't collapse. The lower hose is far too short so it doesn't have this issue. Please email me if you'd like a new hose sent out, along with a current shipping address.
Recent orders have included the new type of hose. The upper (long) hose is much stiffer than the lower (short) hose. You’ll be able to tell if they’re different. If they are and the long hose is very stiff, you’ve got the new hose.
New Product Listings
Brake caliper bolts are one-time use and should be replaced if you ever remove the ones currently on your car. Each caliper uses two bolts, so the bolts are sold as a pair. If you're removing your brake calipers, one order of bolts will cover one caliper.
The PCV valve for the V8 Vantage makes a buzzing sound when it goes bad. A buddy of mine at Aston Martin recommends replacing them as often as every 40k miles, depending on climate and driving conditions.
I’m not sure if I ever announced that I was carrying them, so I will now just to be sure. I’m starting to keep MAF sensors in stock. There, that was easy. It is not, however, easy to replace the MAF sensors.
Another item I may or may not have mentioned carrying are the ceramic spacers used for mounting the exhaust tips to the rear bumper. They can easily crack and crumble if disturbed, so don’t be surprised if you need a new set when changing your exhaust tips or something else back there.
Back in 2013, I went to Aston Martin's Centenary celebration in England. One of the things I bought while there was a picnic basket filled with all sorts of overpriced deliciousness. Fast forward a while and Aston Martin is still selling the picnic baskets, albeit without the food.
As sales have continued to grow, I’ve been rushing to keep up with fulfilling them as well as the ever-increasing influx of emails. I often put a lower count into my inventory system than I actually have on the shelf. This is to help reduce the chance of selling out of something that is listed as in-stock on the website and am then unable to fulfill the order in a timely manner. I’m ramping up my inventory purchases and keeping higher levels on the shelves but sometimes things do run out. Usually there’s more on the way and the delay is brief. Sometimes it can take a bit longer to get something in stock.
The other issue is that I sometimes don’t realize that a product is listed as “sold out” in the online store even though I have them sitting on the shelf. For example, I had six items listed as sold out today even though I have them all ready to ship.
If you see an item listed as sold out, please feel free to contact me to ask when I’ll be getting more in stock. It could be that it’s a delayed item, or it could be that I don’t realize they’re listed as sold out and I just need to update my inventory count on the website. Either way, I’ll be able to let you know of a delay for restock or I’ll realize that I need to fix the counts.
A Moment of Reflection
Earlier today I was chatting with a buddy at my day job. I’ve vented to him a few times over the last number of months about the difficulties I’d been facing. One of them - a major one - was financial. My last relationship was, uh, monetarily difficult. I’ve since recovered and rearranged my life and many things in it and now things are much better financially, both for me personally and for Redpants. January was far and away the best month for sales that Redpants has ever had, and I realized today while talking with my buddy that I did more in sales in January 2019 alone than I did in all of 2016 - my entire first year in business.
I took a moment to scroll back through my blog posts to find that commemorative entry. I thought I was going to have a sense of nostalgia as I reflected, reminiscing on what it was like back then. But no. Because everything I said back then is still true today. It’s almost scary how similar things are. I had to read the blog post twice because it’s all still so true. The only difference is that the growth has been real, ongoing, and substantial.
As always, thank you all for the ongoing support!