Full-time marketing manager also driving traffic
Running a dealership can spread attention and resources in many directions.
“Taking care of customers, keeping up with the manufacturers, all the other things you have to do, marketing sort of gets pushed to the background,” said Will Stephenson, the owner of Team Powersports in Garner, N.C., for the past 12 years.
But that isn’t happening any more.
With a positive response to the limited marketing he had done, Stephenson decided it was time for a bigger commitment.
“We spent more on marketing in 2011,” Stephenson said. “When everyone was kind of retrenching, we put the gas on, and it paid off.”
In fact, it paid off so well that Team Powersports had overall growth of 37 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. Stephenson said 2011 was the dealership’s best year ever. Part of the investment for Team Powersports was in staffing, as the dealership hired a marketing manager last year.
“Marketing has been a huge aspect of what we’ve been doing at the store,” Stephenson said. “E-blasts, taking better care of our radio and other advertising, planning events — it has made our year more of a success,” Stephenson said.
The successes in 2011 took their roots a little earlier.
“We did some things in 2010 and saw the improvements, and that was when we didn’t really know what we were doing,” he said.
Hosting successful events at the dealership helped convince Stephenson to try more aggressive marketing techniques.
“A lot of our marketing is event-based and trying to get people to the store and keep them coming back to the store,” Stephenson said.
Facing an Internet-savvy group of shoppers that has already done price shopping online, Stephenson said it is important to try to convince customers that his dealership can provide quality service, if not always the lowest price.
“We try to make our customers realize we’re worth it,” he said.
Riders can now learn more before their purchase by using the Garner dealership’s test track for a supervised demo ride. At the beginning of 2011, Stephenson decided to give customers more access to the test track.
“People can compare and ride,” Stephenson said. “We sent out a lot of e-blasts to come and compare. The demos have helped.”
Many of Team Powersports’ customers in 2011 took a liking to Polaris products.
“One of our lines we had the most growth with was Polaris,” Stephenson said. “The Polaris ATVs and side-by-sides have done very well for us. I don’t think we anticipated it, but we stocked up on the floor. We kept a lot of four-wheelers on floor throughout the year and that improved sales.”