Kawasaki finished 2011 with the No. 1 motorcycle market share position (excluding scooters) among the Japenese OEMs with Bill Jenkins as vice president of sales. Jenkins attributes the company’s success to teamwork from the sales, marketing and product strategy crew at Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
Since moving into his current role in April 2011, Jenkins has yet to stray from the top. Jenkins, who joined the company in 1988 as a district manager, has guided Kawasaki back into dealer favor. Dealer inventories have been reduced by some 40 percent over the past two years thanks to direction provided by Jenkins. The company’s new bi-monthly ordering system is a boost to dealers, as is a product lineup that is stronger than ever, according to many dealers.
Jenkins continually points to the company’s mission statement that — among other things — calls for brand building that will yield retail growth, greater customer retention and financial success at the retail level.
Ensuring that dealers are profitable with the Kawasaki brand and that customers have a premier experience with their products also drives Jenkins on a daily basis.
What is the biggest opportunity for the industry, and how can the industry take advantage of it?
Let’s face it — the motorcycle and ATV industry has seen a 50 percent downward trend since 2008. The biggest opportunity we have as a group is to work collectively to reach and excite potential customers from all demographic groups to reinvigorate consumer demand for our products. One method would be to consider collective annual new product launches similar to EICMA of our European counterparts.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position and how have you dealt with it?
One of the biggest challenges for me over the last two years is to get a sense for the direction in which the entire powersports market is headed. The powersports market volatility over the past couple of years has significantly challenged the planning process for us at KMC and all of the OEMs. I rely on a combination of factors including MIC data, dealer feedback and close monitoring by our field sales staff and ongoing contact with them. It is extremely important that we identify any significant leading indicators so that we can determine future market trends, consumer demand and product needs, which in turn, will yield greater profits for our dealers and KMC.
What’s the best advice you can give to others in the industry?
Remember, we’re selling fun! This is an industry that has always been dependent on recognition of the “fun factor” and “excitement,” inherent to the category. If we all keep sight of that and focus on understanding consumer demand and familiarizing ourselves with the products the meet that demand, we will be headed in a profitable direction. Oh, and take time to enjoy the ride!