As a consultant who regularly works with powersports and some marine dealers, the growth of P&A sales for our kind of seasonal businesses is a part of my everyday work. The focus is not just merchandising but all the elements that go with it. Retail is DETAILS, and the details need a looksee by owners, general managers, parts directors, parts managers and buyers as a team effort.
There is money to be made, and the times of survival are less and less appropriate. You cannot grow if you’re not willing to get in the game! The game is pay attention, look at your inventory, and find out if its quality or leftovers no one cares about anymore. Are you planning to stock ahead of the season or you gonna wait and wait for a 70 degree day to get off your duff? By then, all the best brands and products are gone.
If it’s me, this is what I would be doing:
- Do an inventory forensics. Don’t know what this is? If you do want to, ask me. It’s smart!
- Plan your space. You want to be stocked. On “essential” products, go wide and a bit deeper. Don’t send customers away on basic items.
- Look at how your products are targeted. Are brands and products targeted for higher turns and regional needs, despite margin?
- Plan your events for the rest of the year. Know that it’s likely you won’t be as successful if you don’t preplan, and reps are too booked to do your last minute open house.
- Clean, clean, clean. Remove clutter, old signs and stale inventory; it looks bad.
- Stop bellyaching about 2008. Tick, tock goes the clock; I don’t live in the past.
- Stop worrying, shut up and get busy! Bellyachers, retail is risk; if you don’t want to play, step aside. The play-it-safe method is shrinking your business. Step up and run; retail is a competition.
- Try new products. People like new goods or brands, not the “we can’t sell those products” goods. Sales jobs are for people of possibility; it’s your job to sell stuff, your opinion may or may not be accurate, so don’t use it as the rule for deciding what to stock or not. Remember: Anything can sell anytime and anyplace; if you think you can’t sell, then don’t go into sales; and friends want stuff for free or cheap, so look for what customers want to buy.
- Spend some time and learn to sell! It takes some work, but anyone can do it if they TRY. Learning a new skill is good for you. Owners and GMs must provide sales training to parts and service. It works well for Harley stores. Learn How to close a sale.
- Looking for ways to create sales. Try new products, brands, lifestyles, gender-specific items, add-on selling and promotion and communications to customers in the database (if you bothered to build a mail list through your point of sale machine).
Some dealers are already laughing and asking why I would have to write this kind of article. Well, because our enthusiast-based retail takes people who likely can’t work for someone and likes the sport and gets them in a business that has more to dos than they ever dreamed of. You can like motorcycles, boats, ATV’s and more, but you have to LOVE Retail and how retail works. Customers will support you if you make your store the most satisfying place to do business. Run smart and quit waiting for the perfect economy report; you may be waiting too long and by then, you’re done.
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.