Unique business angle
As well as producing software solutions that are the envy of the tuning world, the ECU specialists at EcuTek have put together a business strategy that is designed to nurture relationships between the developer, the dealer and the end user.
It is a carefully thought-out model that protects the intellectual property of EcuTek, helps generate profitability for its dealers, and delivers software of unrivalled quality to the end-user customers.
In order to better understand this healthy business model, we thought it a good idea to explain a couple of its key elements.
In contrast to other ECU tuning firms, EcuTek does not market its products directly to the end user; they can only be purchased through the network of authorised EcuTek dealers.
This makes it impossible for a customer to run their engine from a map that has not been properly calibrated for their specific car, and it avoids any accusation that EcuTek products are in any way 'off the shelf', hit and miss, or anything but 100% suited to the car that's being tuned.
Were a customer whose car is fitted with a typical 'plug-and-play' ECU solution to visit a tuning company in the hope of addressing any shortfall in performance, most of the profitable engine-tuning work would already have been done, so all a tuning firm could subsequently charge for is a token amount for the potential extraction of those final few percentage points of power, and yet in doing so would take on the liability for the entire tuning package.
Retaining the supply of EcuTek products within the EcuTek dealer network therefore improves the revenue stream to each approved outlet, the only exception to this rule applying to some features of our RaceROM packages, which have been specifically developed to allow end users to create their own maps within fixed safety parameters preset by EcuTek technicians.
Any EcuTek dealer who creates an ECU calibration for a customer retains the right to security-protect the program such that it cannot be altered or even viewed by any other party. Most of EcuTek's competitors relinquish that right, however, by releasing off-the-shelf maps.
Enabling dealers to cement strong ongoing relationships with their customers was the prime motivation for us to build this security feature into the programming kit. For instance, it gives an EcuTek dealer the opportunity to put together an incremental package of hardware and software tuning that returning customers can progressively have installed, in stages as and when they can afford it. This gives tuners the ability to earn additional income from the further development and renewed protection of each ECU calibration.
EcuTek appreciates that there are circumstances in which it is not feasible for customers to regularly return to the same tuner, particularly if they are geographically remote or they move out of the immediate area.
But a well-thought-out business model allows for such eventualities by appointing certain dealers as regional Master Tuners and granting them the authority to sell Retail Programming Kits to the end user under licence.
This creates the facility for a customer to remotely tune ('e-tune') a car by personally installing a ROM program developed by the supplying dealer, and it opens up the possibility of downloading data-logs from the car's ECU and clearing diagnostic trouble codes too.
Thanks to the inclusion of the aforementioned EcuTek security measure, though, it does not allow the customer to either edit or create their own ECU 'tune'.
In practice this means the Master Tuner begins the process by sending a Retail Programming Kit to the customer, complete with an appropriate ECU calibration. The customer then installs the software, runs some logs and emails the result back to the Master Tuner.
The company checks the tune, tweaks it if necessary, then returns the revised ROM to the customer in a process that can be repeated until both parties are fully satisfied with the results.
Here again we see the model that allows a tuner to reap the financial benefits of customer retention, ongoing ECU development and the supply of hardware tuning components. It also allows the turning firm to reach geographically distant customers.
As an extension of that principle, EcuTek has made it possible for Master Tuner dealers to recruit sub-dealers to extend their reach and grow their business. For a low investment cost, the Master Tuner agrees to provide technical support to a sub-dealer and to supply them with ROM files to flash-in to customer cars using ProECU.
This makes for a mutually beneficial relationship: not only does it boost the earning potential of the Master Tuner through sales of licences and ECU calibrations, but it also promotes the growth of fledgling tuning businesses by allowing them to tune cars affordably and without risk – by relying on the experience of the supplying Master Tuner.
As the sub-dealer gains confidence it becomes possible for them to purchase the licensed software from their parent Master Tuner and start tuning for themselves.
EcuTek Master Tuners have the potential to grow their business organically through the active recruitment of a sub-dealer network. Earnings can therefore be made by selling fresh licences and software to the network, and in selling ready-calibrated ECU tunes to each sub-dealer.
This is probably the most powerful property EcuTek provides to its tuners. Custom Maps is a feature that allows the tuner to create an impressive number of personalised strategies within the ECU, the list being limited only by the skill and creativity of the tuner.
For example, this feature can be used to develop bespoke nitrous injection maps, water injection systems, customised levels of traction control, and to introduce safety protocols such as boost-capping or per-gear rev limits.
It allows each tuner to introduce unique products to their customers and market them accordingly – for example as John Smith Tuning Traction Control.
Existing dealers are at liberty to buy EcuTek software and licences around the clock, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, from the EcuTek Tuner Shop (our web store at www.ecutek.com/shop). And because there is no hardware to be shipped, the service is virtually instantaneous.
The only exception to this is the purchasing of Retail Programming Kits or kits of upgraded injectors, which of course need to be packed and shipped. Even then EcuTek's turnaround is commendably fast, with a maximum three-day wait between order and delivery.
And finally, you will doubtless be reassured to hear that in a recent survey 98% of EcuTek dealers rated the company's support framework as either 'good' or 'very good'. Now that is what we call a fine result.