177 North Lakeheights Road
North Bay, ON P1A 2Z1 Canada
24,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1971 as an RV/camping business; became an Arctic Cat dealer (snowmobiles and ATVs) in 1997. “We moved to a new location in 1995, but when we took on Arctic Cat, we had no idea it was going to grow to such proportions,” says Dan Carlson, Dave’s son and manager of the Arctic Cat division. Moved to a single location across the street one year ago. “Our strong reputation in camping has really helped us.” Largest-selling segment is snowmobile.” 22 employees.
“Last year was a good snow season in North Bay, but since we were founded the snowfall has been below normal,” says Carlson. “A lot of customers are considering buying ATVs now because they can use them more often.
Sizzling sleds at Carlson include the turbo-charged, four-stroke Firecat, the Sabercat, and the Bearcat. “During Christmastime, we sell a lot of T-shirts, caps, and jackets. For snowmobiles we move many D&D performance products and clutch kits.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Carlson estimates the average customer to be a 35-to 40-year-old male with a higher income. But Carlson has a wide variety of customers, and they’re all looking for good dealer service.
PARTS AND SERVICE
“With our short snow season, everybody wants to spend as much time riding as possible,” notes Carlson. There is one designated parts person, but when it’s busy, two others help at the counter. There are three designated, full-time technicians, but as many as eight people might be working in service to get sleds finished.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We run two race sleds and have 11 sponsors onboard. Last year we won the Canadian World Series Stock 500 Championship, and are looking to defend our title this year.” They’ll also attack the American racing series.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Don’t run down the competition,” advises Carlson. “Acknowledge that the competition is good, but tell them why yours is better. It’s also really important to give you customers what they want to buy, not what you want to sell.”