13824 Lake Drive
Forest Lake, MN 55025
John and Barb Waldoch
Waldoch Sports was founded in 1980 as a Yamaha and Ski-Doo dealership. Situated on a large parcel of land, Waldoch used to host a national qualifier for 3-wheeler racing back in the early 1980s. The site now hosts the Haydays Grass Drags each September. The current building is about 6,000 sq. ft., between showroom and parts. There is an additional 2,500 sq. ft. of shop and 9,000 feet of fenced outdoor storage. Waldoch employs 12 full-time employees and 4 part timers. Carries Yamaha full line, except outboards; Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and BRP ATV. Also carries John Deere lawn and garden.
“Our insurance,” says John Waldoch. “We had an incident with one of our drivers and our insurance has gone up in the last two years about 120%. I’ve shopped it, and even the guys that are shopping it for me are saying, ‘We’ve got to get this out of the way.’ Insurance is nothing more than a loan, once something happens and your insurance triples, now you’re just paying it all back. And until you get it all paid back, you can’t go get a better rate anyplace.”
“The Yamaha Apex and Attak, both of those are actually 50/50,” says Waldoch. “And the Ski-Doo Renegade 800. Now, I’m just saying that for Spring Break and Power Surge. Come fall now, it usually shifts, and it already had. In early fall, people are asking for 800s. Once we get into the November time period, they’ll all be asking for 600s. In parts, it’s Star accessories. Unfortunately, Haydays was 90 degrees and 89 degrees respectively, so nobody was looking for their 40-below winter jacket. When it’s cool at Haydays we sell a lot more clothing. There is no real gadget that people are looking at right now. Parts sales for three year old and older are good. Whether people are getting them ready to sell or getting ready to ride them.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“In our area we really haven’t had snow since 1997,” says Waldoch. “Customers are coming in asking for crossovers, they come in, ‘Yeah, I want the (Ski-Doo) Renegade,’ or ‘I want the (Yamaha) Attak,’ If you went up to northern Minnesota this last year for some of those snowfalls, you were out West. Unfortunately we are hearing them talk about giving up on snowmobiling. They are wanting to come in and trade in their sled on an ATV or motorcycle. But also, they are optimistic. We’ve had a few who say, ‘I might buy one, I might not.’ If we get an 11-inch snowfall on December 10, they’ll be buyers.”
I think the whole world is facing that,” says Waldoch. “A couple of developments have gone in and that has had a little affect. The club that’s in Lino Lakes, that takes care of the trails, they’ve really done a very good job on the property. The clubs have been able to overcome the issues that are out there. It was kind of a negative when they closed the trails in Washington County, which we’re just on the edge of in Anoka County.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“I would say, because when things are slow, it seems like service is what keeps things going,” says Waldoch. “Probably 35% of our (bottom line) is from service. Two years ago we added a guy with 30 years experience as our service manager. And right now we’re in the process of hiring a guy with 25 years experience to take over to lead the parts department. We’re probably the last bigger dealership in the Twin Cities to not build the Taj Mahal. To spend a half million dollars on the building to sell the same product I’m selling now, I’d just as soon have better help. When you’re paying good help a lot of money, things do get slow and that money still has to be paid. Our service department, up and down over the 25 years of being here has really been the key to Waldoch Sports. I have a Tuesday morning meeting with the front-end parts people, and with the service people I have a Thursday morning meeting. Whether we just talk about how the hunting trip went or some issue we have at least everybody’s looking at each other. You can sense at breakfast if there is some tension.” Waldoch employs a full time service manager, with three full time techs and a part time tech. There is also a full time setup person. In parts, there are three full timers and three part time employees.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Perhaps the biggest promotion that Waldoch does is the Haydays. Dubbed “The Official Start of Winter” in the Midwest, Haydays draws a huge snowmobile crowd every year. The effect on Waldoch is hard to quantify, but it does create instant recognition of who and where Waldoch Sports is. “There’s nobody in the snowmobile business that doesn’t know where we are,” says Waldoch. “Haydays was pretty good. This week we had three people who were here this weekend come in and buy something.” As for advertising, Waldoch does a lot with print. “In our little local papers, we are on the front page, which I’ve been on for a number of years,” says Waldoch. “That has been pretty good locally. With John Deere, we do group advertising, which I love, because we’re always in the bigger papers. Of course, we do demos, and in the John Deere industry, they welcome demos, because that’s how they sell product.” Waldoch also does demos on some powersports equipment at sales staff discretion. “At Haydays, Yamaha did almost 300 demos of snowmobiles and Rhinos,” says Waldoch. “That was very good.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Concentrate at what you have as a task,” says Waldoch. “That’s been the secret to our success; just keep doing what we do best. Don’t get caught up in the fact that, ‘Oh, you know what they’re doing down at the other end of town? We should do that, too.’ But what happens, when things aren’t doing so well, then it doesn’t work anymore. Just focus at what’s at hand.” psb
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Waldoch Sports – Forest Lake, MN – Oct. 17, 2005