This season has presented our industry with a big challenge: poor weather. For us Northerners, it’s been cold, wet and just plain gray and dreary. Customers are very reactive to this. Bad weather keeps customers at home, while a sunny day makes the floodgates open and the people want things now.
It’s the nature of retailing, especially retailing to a kind of activity that typically is done outdoors. One thing that I routinely find occurring in stores is low or no new inventory at the start of the season. (How, when and how much inventory to have is a challenge when we have a short season, and cash flow – we all know – is so important.) So what is a successful strategy?
- Never wait until the sun comes out to purchase your current seasonal inventory. By then, the best, most popular, or newest products are gone, and you can't purchase them.
- Set up your store in early March or April. By doing that, you give yourself more selling time to get retail dollars.
- If you purchase early, and the product(s) have an issue (sizing, color, fitment, usability, etc.), you have time to deal with that with your supplier
- It’s also good to be prepared because no one has a crystal ball and knows when the weather will become consistently good for your region.
- Lastly, you can mark down the leftovers and unsold items in the height of the season to reduce inventory. (Also, you can have garage sales at the tail end of the season for additional clearance events.)
If you have little on-hand inventory, and your season is just starting:
- Try to purchase items that fit a wide audience of customers.
- Some of you should carry less casual wear, toys and items that riders don't need. (Those items can sell slowly and have low dollar return on investment.)
- Carry more helmets! Most dealers make great sales and profits from this type of product, so put your money to work better with more selection of helmets. (A bonus is this product is less seasonally effected.)
- Look for products that have real value to customers, such as gloves, helmets, raingear, mesh, waterproof saddlebags, windshields and exhaust systems. These items serve a strong purpose and have strong profits.
- Getting this late start, also means you should stocking items that would carry into fall riding season.
Don't forget to make sure your stores look full but not cluttered. If your products from last year look old and shop worn, and sizes are not filled, put them on sale, and don't try to pass them as new fresh inventory. Customers will know!
Shine up those product presentations! A dull showroom is the best way to loose money.
Stay tuned because FYI, just found out you all can get a chance to speak with me in person two ways this summer. At Tucker Rocky’s summer sales meeting, I will be offering classes for dealers, and I will also be presenting at Powersports Business’ Profit X Sept 25-27 in Las Vegas!