While we cannot cover this topic depth in this piece we can certainly provoke some thought. Is what you have become aligned with where you want to be? Your value proposition, the reason your customers come to you instead of going elsewhere is crucial to your survival as a business.
Is it price? Are you known as the shop that discounts everything? You are not alone. If you are selling on a discounted price model, then you have to do a lot of volume to make up for the margin dollars you are not making. If you don't, then you will be wondering where all your money went at the end of the month after you pay your bills. Some shops slip into this category by accident. Selling on price is one of the easiest ways to sell, and a lot of customers are trained to beat us up a bit on price so it is easy to give in and add a little discount. Be careful here, if you are not set up to sell volume you may be giving away much needed profit dollars and setting yourself up for more discounted sales the next time that customer walks into your store. The good news is that sales training, product knowledge and a little bit of confidence go a long way towards pulling your staff away from discounting.
Is it service? I admit it, I have no sense of style. I'm in favor of uniforms so I don't have to constantly face my shortcoming. So when I had to dress it up a bit for a recent event, I knew I needed help. I skipped the Marshall's and TJ Maxx stores (because they are set up to sell on price, not to help dress you) and went straight to Men's Warehouse where I was promptly greeted and helped by a young hustler who asked me qualifying questions so that he had a roadmap of where to go with me. He started with the shoes, matched a belt, upsold some socks and topped it off with a nice shirt off the Closeout rack. Did I ask for a discount? You bet, because that is what I am programmed to do. But I was totally prepared and expected to pay retail for the service that he provided me as I watched him try to accommodate my request and preserve his margin at the same time. In the end there was no discount and I still left a happy customer who will return again. This is becoming harder to do in our business, but it is more necessary than ever if you want to survive in today's marketplace. Being educated on the products, asking questions, engaging the customers, selling products that have strong MAP policies, holding the line on discounting and a genuine desire to help people are all traits of a service oriented dealership.
Is it something else? Do customers come down and hang out because you have an environment that draws them in? Do you find your shift working customers coming in to check on a bike they know won't be ready for a week but end up hanging out for a coffee and chatting with you? Is your store set up to accommodate female riders the same as your male ones? Are you the dirt guy? The street guy? The V-twin guy? Your value proposition may be different for each customer. You are in control of it, and if what you want it to be is different than what it really is, it is your duty to change it.
Napoleon Tetreault is a sales representative with Tucker Rocky, an aftermarket PG&A distributor in the powersports industry. He works with powersports retailers on merchandising, profitability and management of the parts department as well as the education of dealership personnel. His experience includes being the GM of the largest indoor motocross facility in the US, owner/operator of a regional distribution company and current role with Tucker Rocky. He can be reached at: