1127 West King Street
Cocoa, FL 32922
10,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1979; at present location in Cocoa (50 miles from Orlando, 67 miles from Daytona Beach) since 1982. “A lot of our business consists of repeat customers,” says owner Tim Buffaloe. “The kid who came in 25 years ago and couldn’t see over our parts counter now brings in his son to buy a dirtbike or an ATV. That’s one of the fun parts of being in business so long — seeing that develop and keeping the business coming back.” Carries Yamaha’s full line (PWC, motorcycles, ATVs, generators), Sea-Doo PWC and jet boats, and Bombardier ATVs. Largest-selling segment is off-road motorcycle. 10 employees.
Buffaloe says his greatest concern right now is fuel prices. “The price of fuel could possibly affect future sales in recreational items. Whereas personal watercraft or ATV sales may actually be hurt from higher fuel prices, some people may end up turning to a streetbike or a scooter versus a car because of that — and the ease of transportation — like they did back in the 1970s. It’s a double-edged sword. On one side you may lose, on one side you may win.”
Burning up at Beach: The hot-selling watercraft is the Sea-Doo two-seater RXP “musclecraft” with a four-stroke, three-cylinder Rotax engine, while the best-selling off-road motorcycle is the Yamaha YZ250F. Buffaloe says the dealership moves a lot of YZ parts and Yamaha Road Star cruiser accessories.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Buffaloe estimates that the typical customer is 30 to 35 years old, with an annual income of $60,000 to $80,000. “In the mid-1980s, the ATV segment was really strong, then it faded away. Then ATV sales started to grow again. The personal watercraft segment got really big in the mid-1990s, then it, too, faded away. We are starting to see PWC sales pick up again this year.”
The only anti-powersports issues that Floridians are facing, says Buffaloe, are waterways with idle zones. Many times that’s due to the presence of manatees, the slow-moving, walrus-like creatures prevalent in the Sunshine State. In fact, PWC and other boats are often banned from manatee habitats. “We educate customers in the store with videos, and walk them through the owner’s manual. Also, we urge them to take either the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons safety course.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Beach Sportcycles’ parts and accessories department has one part-time and two full-time employees, and four staffers in service. Buffaloe says his first priority when hiring a service technician is whether the candidate is a recent graduate — or even an earlier one — of AMI or MMI, both of which have campuses in Florida.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Profit is not a four-letter word,” notes Buffaloe. Does he think that other dealers sell their products too cheaply? “At times, yes. They get scared about local situations and the local economy, and start chopping prices. You’re going to make somebody happy who’s getting the lower price, but upset a customer who paid a higher price previously. Cocoa is a small town. A lot of people go the same movie theater, shop at the same grocery store, and attend the same benefit ride or practice on the same motocross track on the weekend. The first thing they ask each other is, ‘How much did you pay for that?’ If it’s similar to the price they paid, everybody’s happy. But if one guy paid retail plus, and another guy got his vehicle at a huge discount, then the one who paid more is unhappy. You have to be straight across the board and take the good times with the bad. Try to make each and every customer happy, no matter what.” psb