Some of you may not think that, but the first warm sunny couple of days in late January through February, and the game is on! Why? Because football is over, and most of us are ready to put winter behind us and focus on being outdoors soaking in the sun. Want me to prove it? Look at your sales department’s unit sales for February; many of you will see a significant spike in street unit sales.
As parts manager, you may not pay a lot of attention to that info, but it’s absolutely necessary for the parts managers to know, so they can plan purchases on supporting products from tires to helmets. P&A goods need to be on hand to support sales of new and used units. For example, let’s say your store sold 18-22 sport bikes in February for the past two years, that would tell me as a buyer that I have to be stocked up on riding apparel, luggage, accessories, tires and anything that a sport bike rider would need and or desire in February, not late March or mid-April. You need to be on target! That information also tells me that sales departments needs to have events and marketing promotions in February, March and April, rather than wait until June for the regular run of the mill open house. Ideally, I would say events, fliers, promos, any communication to encourage customers to shop you should start in February. You want to encourage more buyers to think of your store over your competition.
How do you plan your strategy?
- Look at sales history by month (new and used units) for the past three years.
- Based on the sales by category, set your showroom and purchases to support unit sales. For example, if your sales info says your sales are 60 percent ATVs in the nearest season, then 60 percent of the showroom may need to be geared towards stocking ATV products for the unit and rider, based off lifestyles like hunting, landowner, agriculture, industrial and sport.
- Purchase goods and brands that support unit sales with in a three-month window, which is February, March, April for spring.
- Reset the showroom to support new products for the top-selling lifestyles.
- Place all noncurrent or last season products on deep sale and clearance. (10-20 percent is weak; beef it up because that stuff has to go for cash flow.)
- Build fresh displays. Your visual merchandising is a very important strategy. If customers can’t see what’s new in your store, you’re sunk! Clean it up, and wow it ASAP!
- Promote P&A! If you stock new products and brands and you don’t promote them, you are crazy or lazy. Make a flier, call customers (personal touch is big) and use Facebook to promote your merchandise. Take photos and load new goods on Facebook and your website. Have an early season launch. Whatever you do, DO SOMETHING! Customers that aren’t in your inner circle or weekly regulars don’t know you have invested in new goods or what they may be.
Final words, 2013 is going to kill it, rock it, or whatever for a lot of us! Customers want to ride; they want to escape today’s world and distract themselves. Be ready, be ahead of the season, and get out of your own way for some of you foot draggers. You and your team are directly responsible for how successful you are, so what’s it going to be? FYI, a lot of customers prefer the store buying experience; don’t send them to your online competition due to a lack of your participation in the retail game.
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.