Welcome to 2012. I hope you’re wearing your helmet and are geared up for what will be an interesting ride this year. If you recognized growth last year, (I mean ANY growth) congratulations! I am hoping we are far enough removed from the highly successful years (where the consumer could fog a mirror and qualify for any bike on the floor) for everyone to realize the current growth pattern.
Right now, everything we do is basically like climbing stairs, more effort than just moving forward and considerably more than walking downstairs. Business success should be measured one floor at a time as you clear that flight of stairs. Be sure to benchmark these flights, and be real with yourself and your staff, so everyone recognizes the collective achievements.
If you are recognizing net growth of 10 percent, 20 percent, or more, you are doing well. If you’re pushing 30 percent or more, you are doing a lot of things right; congratulations! If you’re not hitting these numbers, then it is time to reexamine your plan top to bottom’ if you are somewhere in the middle examine the pieces. There is no lightning in the market right now, and your year will be built one flight at a time; what will matter most is how you pace yourself through this election year.
I see 2012 playing out much the same as last year. I think we are rolling into a relatively good first quarter and will recognize a very strong second quarter this year. After this it is going to be a mixed bag that will primarily rely upon how distracting this election year becomes and how much consumer confidence is lost in the presidential election shuffle.
Plan an aggressive start in marketing and unit sales to capture as much early season business as you can. Emphasize your service and accessory deals later in the year to keep the cash register ringing as consumers will be less willing to part with dollars in late 2012. If you are not already juicing your unit sales using accessories to incentivize deals versus discounts and selling units on added value versus discounted pricing, now is a good time to consider it. This will also help your bottom line as $250 in accessories only cost you typically around $150 at dealer pricing, but the value to the consumer is enormous.
Average PG&A purchases are up considerably as consumers are continuing the trend of fixing up what they have and buying more accessories as opposed to purchasing new units. Make sure you have marketing strategy, staff and product to capitalize on those tax return dollars and that early spring fever to maximize your gains this year. You will have to turn up the volume on your marketing and service toward the end of the year to be heard over the election noise, so plan to get aggressive and run plenty of specials. Oh, and by service I mean on your selling floor, behind your counter, in your service area and especially online. I wish you good selling and much success this year and hope I see you in the stairwell.
Tim Calhoun is the executive vice president of LeoVince USA, a dealer-direct manufacturer of exhaust systems. Its Italian parent company is the world¹s largest powersports exhaust manufacturer.