10964, 90TH Ave.
Mecosta, MI 49332
Located halfway between Big Rapids and Mt. Pleasant in central Michigan, Lakeside Motorsports has been operating since September 1998. Aside from its strong multi-line powersports operation, owner Ed Richter also has a booming boat and marine business on site. Lakeside carries BRP; Honda ATVs and outboards; Polaris (except Victory); Yamaha ATV, snowmobile, PWC/Jet Boat and Outboards; Johnson and Evinrude outboards; Manitou and Bennington pontoons; Rinker boats; Smoker Craft boats; Crestliner boats; Alumacraft boats. Lakeside has two locations; one houses most of the operations as well as the new powersport and boat showrooms. Four miles away a second location handles the large used inventory as well as the boat-rigging department. Sells primarily ATVs, though snowmobile sales are decent. Thirty-four employees, four of them part time.
“My biggest concern is these off brand ATVs, motorcycles and scooters coming to the market and being sold at non-powersports dealers,” says owner Ed Richter. “And not giving the customer service they need, not being able to get parts and souring the consumer and giving them a bad taste so they get out of powersports end of it altogether. It’s not going to help the industry. Our store will not carry anything like that.”
“BRP Outlanders,” says Richter. “I did very well there, and we do very well with Polaris Rangers. I would say those two that stand out in my mind. The Yamaha snowmobiles are doing really good. I think it’s because of that new design; and we do very well with Ski-Doo REV platform.” In parts, Richter says he sells a ton of snowplows and lots of Ranger accessories such as windshields and cabs.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We have the resort [vacationers] that buy from us because we give them excellent customer service,” says Richter. “On the ATV industry, I would say what we have is your outdoorsman that wants a four-wheel drive 400-500cc quad to get around with. My personal belief is that these quads are getting pretty big and pricey that we’re going to price ourselves out of the market before long. A $10,000 ATV, I think, is a little out of line.”
“I’m not seeing a lot of that right now,” says Richter. “Not much at all. We don’t have a whole lot of riding area close to us, so that’s why I’m not seeing a lot of that. We have the resorters and tons of hunting acreage. But as far as a riding area the closest one is 30 miles for ATVs. With snowmobiles, obviously, we have a trail system 10 miles from us.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“Service is pretty good sized, so I’d say probably 20%,” says Richter. “We really go out of the way there, because we give them excellent customer service. We also have seven service trucks and we’ll go out and bring them in so the customer is not inconvenienced. We go to the customer’s house, pick up the boats, bring them in for winterization and storage. ATVs, we’ll deliver. We do on the site repairs on marine products, but not on snowmobiles or ATVs, but we’ll pick them up.” Lakeside has three pick up and delivery people, eight techs, a service manager and a service writer. Four people work the parts department. As for parts and service operations Richter says he pays close attention. “Honestly, you just have to track it really well,” says Richter. “Make sure your reorders are not out of line. We also buy non-current clothing and use it like a grocery store as a price leader to get them in the door. The concern I have is the price increase with all the oil products.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We run billboards very heavy and we do a lot of TV advertising,” says Richter. “We also hit the trigger magazines and do newspaper and radio ads. We hit them all the way around. We do a couple of trade shows and set up booths there and that seems to work pretty well for us. We also have an annual open house every year the first Saturday in December and that goes over very well. We have specials on parts and accessories and have a hog roast and it draws a big crowd. We also do a spring open house [geared] towards our boats and PWC. We do direct mailers at least twice or three times a year.” Lakeside’s Web site is fairly new, and the company is producing it in house. “We just started on the Web in June or July but I think you have to get involved in it,” says Richter.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Have inventory; have one for today and one for tomorrow,” says Richter. “We’re very heavy inventoried around here, we stock more than anybody. Also give them customer service. You got to have repeats, you can’t live on one time deals.”
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Lakeside Motorsports – Mecosta, MI – Dec. 5, 2005