2016 wasn't a banner year for the powersports industry. Regular stats reported by PSB throughout the last year show little to no growth and in some regions, negative growth. It isn’t easy to be optimistic after a year of lacklustre sales and profits but times are a changin’ and we’re all going to feel it so if you’re prepared, you can capitalize when it arrives.
This blog is not the place for political opinion, and I won’t bother you with mine, but there is no denying that there is an air of conservatism through most of western democracy. It started with Brexit and then followed by the election of a US President with no previous political experience. Many people are expecting more changes with the French and German elections this year. The common denominator in all cases, are people who have had enough of the current situation.
So what does this have to do with you and your business? Quite a bit, actually. The pendulum of economic and social policy have swung as far left as it could these last few years and in 2017, the pendulum will start swinging towards the right. Globalism is not as popular as it once was and protectionist policy is on the horizon. So far, the markets have reacted favorably and interest rates have increased for only the second time in the last 10 years but with expectations of further increases in 2017 as the American economy continues to gain more traction.
This is reason for great optimism for powersports dealers. As the economy grows, so does consumer confidence as more people go back to work which gets more people to start spending again. With this opportunity in front of you, are you ready to show consumers why they should do business with your dealership? Now is the time to decide of you want to be proactive or reactive. For those who want to be proactive, keep reading.
While I can’t go into great detail in a blog article about fundamentals and strategy for being proactive, I can offer some observations for you to consider and get you thinking about how you and your business can approach the coming year. Let’s not forget the expression: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Your business must have goals and a strategy because if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know how and when you get there?
This is a great time to determine what are the goals are for your dealership this year. To help you determine those goals, you need to review the last year to see where you did well and where you didn’t and what needs to be worked on. Were you getting your fair share of business in your trading area? Do you have a comfortable level of inventory or do you have too much non-current stock? Were your inventory turns within industry guidelines and were margins healthy enough to pay your bills and produce some profit?
A proactive business doesn’t wait for customers to walk through their door and buy something. They go out and after that business. What about you? Do you have booth space at your local motorcycle, sportsman and local trade fair shows that are happening over the next few months? Many riding enthusiasts belong to organizations as this lifestyle is community minded. Is your business affiliated or to some extent, supporting those organizations? Those members tend to support those who support their lifestyle and passion.
Branding and marketing are equally important in letting people know who and what you are. Affiliating your dealership with these organizations help with branding but that is only part of the solution. What else are you doing to attract new customers? It’s important to know that the millennial population is now larger than the boomer population. Millennials respond to different media than boomers do so is your business taking the required steps to use the media millennials respond to?
Training should be part of your strategy this year. Are you willing to invest in your staff by providing training so that your business can provide the best consumer experience your dealership can give offer? This is what will have your customers coming back and telling others about their experience and this is where your growth can come from as a growing number of people rely on reviews in determining where to shop. Training will help maintain and increase your customer base.
I wish everyone a Happy and most prosperous New Year.
Bruce Marcia is the director of Bruce Marcia and Associates, a retail management consulting firm that specializes in assisting and supporting dealerships in the RV/marine and powersports industries. As a recognized troubleshooter with over 30 years of experience in inventory finance, dealership general management and as a district manager for a major OEM, Bruce has had the unique opportunity to understand and learn from all three important fields that make these industries function.