An Open Letter to IPD
Now that my brake system appears to be in order, there is another point that I need to discuss:
Your prices are too high. I feel like a moron for having bought my front brake kit from you, and I am only consoled by the fact that I bought it at the garage sale where I received 10% off and free shipping, so hopefully the cost of shipping those heavy rotors and calipers ate into your outrageous margins. Yes, I realize you do a lot for the community, what with hosting the garage sales, building concept cars, and sponsoring events, but let’s think about this carefully.
This kind of above-market pricing for widely-available products only makes people turn away from you and move to lower-cost vendors for commodity parts (like master cylinders & brake calipers, for example). Why? Because, like me, they feel cheated when they find out that they paid more than double for a commodity part. (Caveat emptor you say? Only one more reason not to trust you in the future.) Sure, only IPD makes IPD sway bars, or carries XYZ imported part, but for how long? We both know that your competition for these non-commodity specialized parts is increasing across all Volvo models.
The question is, how many customers can you afford to drive away with your high prices on these commodity parts? Today’s 240 turbo driver is often tomorrow’s 850R / S60R / ??? driver (likewise with other less-sporty models), and they’re going to want parts (both specialized and commodity) for their new cars too. Another point to ponder is that Volvo enthusiasts (i.e. ‘nuts’) are often generational and familial. Look at my immediate family – last month we had 7 Volvos for four drivers! As much as you work to encourage customer loyalty with one hand (community involvement, excellent service, custom parts), your other hand (pricing of commodity products) is driving customers away.
So today, if I were to buy, for example, lowering springs, adjustable torque rods, chassis braces, stainless brake lines, custom wheels, or other hard-to-find parts (but not impossible to find!), am I more likely to go to IPD or one of your competitors? Before, it would have been an easy answer – IPD, of course. Now, however? I’m not so sure.
I like IPD, and it would be sad to see them fail after all their years of hard work and business growth, so I’ll wrap it up. The lesson here is simple: save your high prices for your specialized products that are hard to find elsewhere or can’t be duplicated. Their high pricing is justified by their limited supply, and the customer is typically left unoffended. Keep your commodity product prices competitive to keep people from becoming disgruntled. This is just basic Business 101.
A once and future Volvo driver