Honda Kawasaki Sea-Doo of Americus
109 Thomas Drive
Americus, GA 31700
Mike and Teresa Houston
A tip for dealers looking for a new location or an additional store: it’s all about location. High visibility means higher sales than if you’re tucked away in an old corner of town. Mike Houston took that piece of advice 28 years ago when he was ready to open a powersports dealership of his own. He didn’t know it then, but his corner of the world a half-mile off Highway 280 would later in life be surrounded by Wal-Mart and Lowe’s and get thousands of cars passing by every day. “We were the first one here years ago,” Houston said. “(Proximity to the national retailers) helps drive traffic.” Honda Kawasaki Sea-Doo was born in 1980. The 7,200-square-feet dealership holds ATVs, motorcycles, PWC, scooters and UTVs. In addition to Honda, Kawasaki and Sea-Doo products, the dealership carries Can-Am and E-ton lines.
In the last year, the down economy has had a significant impact on sales and profitability at Honda Kawasaki Sea-Doo of Americus. “The economy always affects us immediately,” Houston said. “In the past year or so, it’s been a noticeable difference.” Floorplan costs are the biggest thing that have been holding him back from greater prosperity, but Houston believes he has the systems and procedures in place to come out on top.
In anticipation of the prime riding season, customers are buying cruisers at Americus. Year after year, cruisers are usually the top product category for the dealership, which carries Honda and Kawasaki cruisers. “It’s just a good looking bike,” Houston said of cruisers. “People like the sound. They like the ride.” To go along with the high volume of cruisers it sells, windshields, pipes and backrests are the store’s most popular parts.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
With the economy in turmoil, customers are starting to get creative about the financing options they use, Houston says. People are definitely researching how they can make their dream bike come true without breaking the bank. Honda Kawasaki Sea-Doo of Americus handles financing paperwork for its customers and has a dedicated credit department for the job. In particular, customers are looking for good interest rates and manufacturer rebates on products. “The same bike is hundreds cheaper than it was six months ago” thanks to financial incentives, Houston said.
PARTS AND SERVICE
The parts and accessories department is one of the bright spots for Americus. The division is stable or increasing compared to last year, Houston said. He attributes the growth to carrying a wide variety of products. The service department
hasn’t fared as well. To boost business, Houston has started running promotions such as while-you-wait oil changes. The dealership has three full-time technicians. They have been with the company an average of 14 years. The department does full water testing for all watercraft and offers customization for street bikes.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Group rides not only bring powersports enthusiasts together, but can also build some loyalty for dealers who host or plan such outings. Honda Kawasaki Sea-Doo of Americus gathers groups every year to ride motorcycles to Thunder Beach and Panama City, Fla. The dealership also organizes ATV and UTV rides at a riding area 35 minutes away from the store.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Clean out inventory,” Houston said, with an eye to surviving the economic downturn.
Copyright 2008 Powersports Business