10828 S. Virginia St.
Reno, Nev. 89511
Gerow purchased Reno Suzuki in 1989 and has transformed it from a store with six employees to a dealership with 63 employees. The current six-acre facility has a 58,000-square-foot main building, which includes the retail and service areas, and a 24,000-square-foot storage building. The dealership carries six franchises, including Yamaha, Suzuki, BRP, E-ton, Aprilia and Schwinn. ATVs continue to be the dominant product there, but Michael’s also carries motorcycles, scooters, PWC, snowmobiles and sport boats.
The state of Nevada’s recent decision to stop titling of off-road vehicles has led to more cross-the-border ATV sales, said Pam Herndon, the general manager of Michael’s Reno. Herndon said the industry in Nevada is trying to get titling for off-road units reinstated as well as asking the state to require the registering of such vehicles. Herndon would like to see such registration fees go toward the protection of the state’s current abundance of off-road riding areas.
Herndon said Reno is starting to see some good snowmobile sales, but noted Can-Am ATVs as the hottest product. “The two-up ATV has been a great home run,” she said. “And they’ve done just a great job of getting the (Can-Am) name out there and some wonderful advertising with their infomercials.”
On the PG&A side, Herndon said Rhino accessory sales have been fabulous. “People who want to buy a Rhino deck it out,” she said. “That’s the largest growing segment of our accessories.”
Customer Buying Trends
Herndon sees a much more family oriented customer base. Instead of seeing the customer just looking for themselves, she said “we’re seeing a lot more people coming into the sport and including the rest of the family members. If dad gets one (a new unit), the kids get one.”
Parts and Service
Michael’s Reno has a policy of establishing the consumer’s first service appointment at the time of the new unit purchase. Herndon said they’ll talk to the consumer about their riding habits and then make a guess as to when the first service is needed. They’ll make that appointment and then call the customer before the service date and ensure the product has been used enough to merit the first service. If the product hasn’t been used enough, they’ll reschedule the first service for an appropriate time in the future.
Promotional Home Runs
Live radio broadcasts from the store during high drive times has worked well, Herndon said. The dealership does about 25 of these per year, with about 30 percent of those tied to specific events, like the annual fall snowmobile open house. Herndon said the dealership ensures the broadcasts are done by a variety of radio stations. The dealership also does traditional newspaper advertising and sends out a quarterly newsletter.
Words of Advice
“I think customer service is the only thing we can do different than anybody else,” Herndon said. “We all have similar products and deal with the same manufacturers or same aftermarket companies. But it’s how we deal with the customer that can be controlled. It’s the only thing that we can do hopefully better than anybody else.”
— Neil Pascale
Copyright 2006 Powersports Business