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"More than anything else, we sell revenue," states Aaron Bennett, vice president of operations at SKYE International.

SKYE was founded in 1992 with an eye on gaining a share of the growing A/C service business. Combining a unique approach with simplified product operation, the company was able to capitalize on the refrigerant change in the mid-90s to establish its brand and grow. Although SKYE is best known for its air-conditioning system products, growth through new service categories has brought the company full circle in staying true to a founding principle.

"Up until October 2003, our only offering was a semi-automatic A/C unit," states Bennett, who joined the company late that year. "We had an established product in that category, so the next step was to take things horizontal in providing new products that could provide additional maintenance-type functions. This allowed us to grow the business by expanding into other categories and services that help drive shop revenue," he explains. Capitalizing on new service opportunities not only helped start the company, but has also fueled its resurgence.

Throughout 2004 and into the early stages of 2005, SKYE either already has, or will introduce equipment for transmission, coolant, power steering and brake fluid flush n' fill, as well as engine decarbonization. With these offerings in place, SKYE can then begin to offer new and different options within each of those lines.

"Our goal is to provide value-based products in a number of different service categories and in a variety of configurations, with different price points," states Bennett. "This allows our distributors to sell SKYE products for different services, and at a number of different levels. So, regardless of the customer type, they will always have something from us that they can sell".

"We know that we can't be a 'me too' company, so our goal is to provide quality products with good margins that are easy to use and easy to sell," he concludes. This led to the development of an automatic transmission fluid exchanger and fully automatic 134a A/C service center in 2004. This year, plans are set for the introduction of power steering, coolant and brake fluid service units.

"In order to capitalize on the service opportunities provided by preventative maintenance, we have to be a preventative maintenance company. This means staying fresh and diversifying from more than just A/C," explains Bennett.

Distributor Support

When it comes to the development and sale of SKYE's products, the company relies on one primary selling point- value. "We truly believe that our products provide a better price and quicker return on investment for the shop. This translates to fewer features and more manual operations, which is in direct contrast to the growing number of fully automatic service units," states Bennett.

"However, we feel the use of fewer electronic controls provides some significant benefits," he continues. In his opinion, they include:

  • More manual operations usually means the product will last longer because there are fewer electronic controls to wear out.
  • SKYE units are less expensive to repair and can usually be done in the field by the user. This translates to less downtime and less revenue lost by the shop.
  • Both of these factors also translate to fewer worries for the distributor after the sale.

    To further help the sales and promotion of a growing product line, SKYE has unleashed a fleet of 5' x 10' trailers that distributors can access in showing and demonstrating all of SKYE's products.

    "Show n' Sell is a great sales tool for our product lines, especially when you consider the amount of money that you're asking the end-user to invest," states Bennett.

    "These trailers get them looking at everything, and they get the technicians involved. Granted, they're not the ones actually buying the equipment, but usually they will use it more than the shop owner. So it's important that they feel comfortable with the products and the brand name. There's no way a flyer can match that impact," he concludes.

    Additionally, when distributors call (682) 647-0077, Bennett pledges that his staff will answer the phone by the third ring during regular working hours. "They're no longer waiting on hold for 45 minutes for a technician or product information," states Bennett. "We welcome customers calling in here so we can help close the order. We feel live phone support makes a difference."

    The moves that SKYE has made in expanding their maintenance-focused equipment offerings should confirm the growing role that these products will play in a distributor's business. With parts (100,000-mile spark plugs) and vehicles (current average vehicle age is just under 9 years) lasting longer than ever before, now is the time to begin understanding how to sell this equipment, and deciding which lines best match your customer's needs.

    Get those return-on-investment calculations ready'the distributor who plans on being around tomorrow will need them today!

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    In order, here is how SKYE grew their product offerings to provide a wider range of preventative maintenance and service equipment.

      1. Skye Blue A/C'manual A/C service center. 2. TransJet'Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) exchanger. 3. CoolJet'Coolant exchanger. 4. PowerJet'Power steering fluid service center. 5.Storm'The company's first fully automatic A/C service center. 6. FuelJet'Engine decarbonization machine. 7. BrakeJet'Brake fluid exchanger.
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