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Side-by-sides driving dealership to big sales

By By Kate Swanson

Team Carolina Powersports showing impressive growth

Experience and integrity are two important factors that play into a dealership’s success. Tony Cozzone, owner of Team Carolina Powersports in Lancaster, S.C., has been in the powersports industry for many years. Cozzone had been a motocross racer and an avid motorcycle rider all his life and in 2009, after a stint in the corporate world, decided to open Team Carolina Powersports. The dealership has been named to the Powersports Business Power 50 list in both 2014 and 2015 due to its exceptional business performance and approach to customer service.

Team Carolina Powersports has been in business since 2009, offering Polaris and Yamaha vehicles to the greater Lancaster, S.C., area.

Team Carolina Powersports has been in business since 2009, offering Polaris and Yamaha vehicles to the greater Lancaster, S.C., area.

“I was at a crossroads when my wife and I decided I needed to make a career/life change,” he said. “We have slowly built the business up, and this year we are looking for a slight bump in overall business.”

The dealership carries Polaris and Yamaha products and has seen a large increase in sales with both brands. “The top brand we sell is Polaris, and we do the best with their Ranger lineup,” Cozzone said. “We are in more of a rural market, although we are technically a suburb of the greater Charlotte market. I have a lot of customers who have larger tracts of land, and the Rangers tend to be the market leader for those customers.”

On the Yamaha side, however, Team Carolina experienced a 350-percent sales increase in 2014, and that number has continued to be high into this year. “We had some good months with Yamaha vs. last year. I am one of their top side-by-side dealers in my district, and I think that helped,” he said. “Overall, Yamaha is coming back with some better products — introducing five new side-by-sides since 2014 and class-leading motocross, cruiser and street bikes has helped.”

With 60 percent of its sales coming from the side-by-side segment and 30 percent from ATVs, Cozzone said that the dealership falls in line with the Southeast powersports region’s overall statistics. “Side-by-side business is still a major growth segment,” he added.

Other improvements that the dealership made in 2014 included upgrading its DMS and moving to a new web provider.

“We were selected by DX1 and Polaris to participate in their initial pilot. I think moving to that system has helped streamline my business and made me more efficient,” he said.

Being part of a team, Cozzone recognizes employees for their outstanding efforts and accomplishments during monthly team meetings. One employee, crowned the “Queen of Powersports,” has really helped the business since she began as sales manager.

“The one and only Vicky Tunall! She has been with me pretty much since day one,” said Cozzone, who has seen Tunall’s skills in action for many years. “Vicky is the nicest person you will ever meet and she knows everyone. She makes her customers feel at home and loves to joke around with them.”

Tunall also has a rich powersports background, racing motocross for more than 30 years. She has even been known to challenge those who give her a hard time to a race or two in the dealership’s parking lot. “She challenges them to a race, and then wheelies her ATV across my parking lot as their jaws drop in amazement,” he added.

It’s no secret that Team Carolina is able to have fun with its customers, but that experience doesn’t just begin when they enter the dealership. Cozzone said Team Carolina has used social media as another way to reach customers over the past few years. “We have also embraced social media and are constantly trying new things. I was the first dealer that I know of that had a Facebook page two years ago. The key is engagement. We try and let our customers know we are involved with them and are interested in how they are riding and enjoying their toys,” he said.

The dealership posts pictures of its customers purchasing units, but also encourages them to send in and tag pictures of themselves out enjoying their Polaris and Yamaha units. Team Carolina has also redesigned its website to work well with all devices, especially smartphones.

“I have seen a 150-percent increase in people hitting my website with mobile devices,” Cozzone said. “Social media has become so intertwined within our daily lives that if you are not using these products to promote and attract customers, you are missing out.”

“We are a family-run business, and my staff understands that my customers are the lifeblood of my dealership. We do our best to provide 100-percent customer satisfaction. I make myself accessible to my customers — I am the owner, and I work in my business every day. If there’s something we did wrong, or could do better, I need to know about it and do my best to fix it,” said Cozzone. “We’re not a high-volume dealer. Every deal matters and counts. I truly appreciate [my customers’] business and spending their hard-earned dollars at my dealership.”

PSB managing editor Liz Keener and Tony Cozzone of Team Carolina Powersports at the 2015 Power 50 awards dinner in Orlando, Fla. Team Carolina has been a 2014 and 2015 recipient of the Power 50 award.

PSB managing editor Liz Keener and Tony Cozzone of Team Carolina Powersports at the 2015 Power 50 awards dinner in Orlando, Fla. Team Carolina has been a 2014 and 2015 recipient of the Power 50 award.

That same customer appreciation has been channeled into numerous events at the dealership as well. Cozzone says that the dealership tries to stay involved with the community, support local riding areas and local law enforcement.

Team Carolina is located 20 miles from the largest ATV and UTV park in the Carolinas. The dealership hosts a lot of events at Carolina Adventure World, displaying Polaris and Yamaha units in the park.

“We support all the major ATV/UTV events in our state, as well as support the local riders,” he added.

For Cozzone, his dealership’s mentality is simple: Be honest and take care of each customer.

“My integrity is everything,” he said. “Many dealers use unethical practices to lure customers into their stores. The number mentality is not how we do business. I want a lifelong customer, not just a one trick pony.”

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