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Shop owners, WDs netting higher margins with K&N’s new premium array of aftermarket filters

Monday, December 17, 2018 - 09:00
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K&N Engineering, a longtime provider of specialty and racing filter applications, is rolling out a new lineup of aftermarket filters exclusively designed for distributors and repairers serving drivers within the do-it-for-me marketplace.

“While we enjoy tremendous market share in the performance filtration market, we have learned that over 70 percent of filtration sold in North America is installed on a consumer’s vehicle,” says senior sales director Dennis Grau. “Our Professional Series filter line includes oil filters, air filters and cabin air filters that combine filter performance and long life. The K&N Traditional Aftermarket program also includes our washable air filters and cabin air filters; both lines feature our million-mile warranty.”

Founded in Riverside, Calif. in the early 1960s by Ken Johnson and Norm McDonald – both now retired – with an initial emphasis on motorcycle and championship-caliber off-road and track racing products, K&N (for Ken and Norm) has expanded over the years to encompass a 400,000-sq.ft. complex of 10 buildings. Facilities are also located in England and The Netherlands, with the company marketing 5,000-plus products into more than 30 nations.

With a lineup aimed at cars, standard and heavy duty trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, watercraft, agricultural and earth-moving equipment, outdoor power equipment and other applications, K&N’s in-house operations include engineering, product design, manufacturing, warehousing, test facilities, purchasing, sales, customer service, marketing and corporate offices.


The company’s manufacturing capabilities are wide-ranging, such as air filter production, CNC machine shop, tube bending and welding, powder coating, roto-molding, carbon fiber production, air intake assembly, packaging and related fabrication.

Several initiatives are being developed – including point of sale materials, an Authorized Dealer designation for participating shops and a motorist-based media campaign – to position the company’s products as the primary filter brand carried by the installer channel.

Covering all makes and models, “the financial benefit to the shop owner is increased margin when selling our filtration products.” And being able to offer the peace-of-mind guarantee “allows the shop to charge a fair price appropriate for an ultra-premium product,” Grau notes.

“Today the average new car is financed for 70 months,” says Grau. “Shops who understand the customer is keeping their car for nearly six years embrace our washable filter program. These shop owners earn industry-leading margins using our million-mile warranty to make the sale by saving their customers hundreds of dollars over the length of time they own their vehicle. We also show shop owners how to develop a loyal customer base when the consumer returns to the shop to have their filter washed.”

A significant portion of the company’s marketing efforts are now being directed toward the DIFM segment. “We have campaigns launching with specific calls-to-action that include, ‘Ask for K&N products at your local installer.’ We expect to drive a significant volume of impressions around these campaigns throughout 2019.”

Individual repairers can accumulate desirable “K&N points” under the Professional Technicians Rewards program.

Fleet accounts and program groups are being addressed as well. “When we show the fleet owner the cost associated with buying as many as 13 disposable air filters compared to one of our re-usable filters they quickly realize the benefit of our program. Some of our fleet customers reports savings up to 70 percent over the life of the vehicle. Our program is designed to deliver incremental sales and margin growth for our program group partners and the members within their organizations.”

Local market planning

Valuable instruction can be obtained through K&N University Field Training Clinics along with a package of educational videos. “We do not want our video training series to be viewed simply as a K&N commercial,” says Grau. “We will provide the shop owner and their technicians important technical information that will teach filtration as well as provide tips on how to sell premium filtration. One glaring opportunity is training the market on the negative results of not replacing the oil, air or cabin air filters on a regular basis.”

He goes on to point out that “49 percent of consumers will purchase premium filtration if they are provided with an option at the time of purchase. Our Business and Productivity training program includes helping our WD customers and shop owners understand how to sell premium filtration. The goal of our field and video training is to provide the tools to make the premium sale and realize the margin benefit of K&N.”

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The company’s Local Market Planning effort consists of working with WDs to assist them in identifying growth opportunities among area fleets and service centers.

“We meet with our customers to establish a joint sales target for the year. During this meeting we also establish our plan for the year relative to field support, promotional calendar, training programs and new business targets,” Grau reports. “We implement the program immediately and schedule quarterly business reviews to review our progress and implement corrective actions if appropriate. As a premium filter supplier, this program is helpful to reach our customers’ sales and margin objectives for their filtration program.

Grau says K&N tries to support WD customers with strong field support. The K&N team makes calls on service providers and fleets on behalf of its customers. "We also offer the market an exclusive product lineup that can only be purchased through traditional warehouse distributors. Additionally we have a unique pricing system to simplify the sales process throughout the distribution channel,” he adds.

Stocking expertise delivered via the Customer Line Maximization program “ensures that our customers have the appropriate inventory relative to SKU assortments to meet the needs of their customer base. We also help our customer manage their inventories,” Grau says. “For example, if an SKU isn’t producing the desired turns we would rather return the product and replace it with an SKU that will sell better – a slow-moving item does the customer and K&N no good.”

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