Hey brick and mortar dealers, the retail clock is ticking, and the season in on us; what are you waiting for to get your showrooms in shape? Products need to be in stock, and merchandising needs to be up to date now! I have been on tour this last month from Bangor, Maine, to Bakersfield, Calif. I know many of you are actively getting this accomplished, and yet, many are not. There is a reason that a retailer needs to have the newest season’s product on hand as early as possible – it’s called selling at retail price or darn close.
Brick and mortar stores have to be in selling condition and properly merchandised by March and no later than mid-April. From April to late June you can get retail dollars on most products, especially products like novelty apparel or helmets featuring graphics that are only offered this season. Once July hits, it’s time to start marking down all seasonal items (products that are not in the basics or essentials category). If you wait until May to make purchases, you have lost one to two months of the retail window.
Inexcusable reasons for late showroom resets
Waiting on weather – Weather can break in January or May with that first sunny warm week. It’s never dependable to say, “It’s always nice in April here; we will stock up then.” Don’t wait on weather; it’s likely you will be unprepared when the weather breaks, and your suppliers will already be out of the merchandise you desire.
Cash flow issues – You will improve your cash flow if you become proactive in your retailing rather than continually reactive. Start earlier; give yourself more time to get retail dollars and be aggressive about selling your products at retail until the end of that season.
Lack of leadership and knowledge – Some managers are not aware of when or how to ramp up hot, seasonal products. Selling retail is an art and takes effort. You need to use knowledge of rider trends, lifestyles and uses, combined with setting strong visual merchandising needs, marketing what’s new to customers and driving a department of employees.
It’s May! Take time this week to walk your showroom eliminate stale and sale products from main displays and fill them with fresh new products. Stock basic needs for riders and for vehicles first, then if space and dollars allow, add fluff products. Reset your showroom walls first, then match them with complementary floor displays.
It’s always recommended that before you make product purchases, you should have a meeting with your sales manager to make sure your accessories support what vehicles are selling to new and used bike, ATV, UTV and PWC buyers. I have found that too often there is a lack of communication in this regard. The sales department may be selling double the amount of cruisers as in the store’s past sales history, yet some parts manager are still not acknowledging that business and lack stocking the accessories for cruisers like luggage, rain gear or leather apparel.
Jennifer Robison’s career began in 1987 when she served as a service writer/parts sales for a high-end import auto dealer before becoming one of the first generation of Harley-Davidson Motorclothes managers at a Northwest dealership (1991-2000). From 2002 on, Jennifer has been with Tucker Rocky Distributing. Jennifer has educated the Tucker Rocky sales force and dealers about the powersports apparel business and powersports retailing. Jennifer’s expertise is in powersports retailing, merchandising and display, promotions and in-store marketing. She has lectured and written about powersports retailing and continues to perform dealer educational workshops and seminars across the United States.