444 Washington St., Route 20
Auburn, Mass. 01501
It’s not always easy to harness passions one has as a teenager and turn them into a lifelong career. When Mike Wade was young, he was interested in how things work, especially motorcycles. So when he was finished with high school, he took to repairing bikes in his basement. That pursuit eventually led to a Suzuki franchise, which in turn led to an opportunity to buy out the local Honda and Yamaha dealer. Now, 30 years later, Wade has brought his dealership, Motorsports International, a long way from the basement. Traversing through a couple of different locations and learning how many different powersports products run, Wade has ended up in a prime spot to not only sell machines, but meet new people. The dealership just moved into a new facility two years ago. Wade was lucky enough to land a highly visible spot on Route 20, an important non-freeway option in Massachusetts, running across the state and further westward. “A lot of major roads intersect in the town I’m in,” Ward said. “It makes it easier for customers to find us and get to us. It gets to be like one-stop shopping.” At 34,000 square feet, the facility carries lines from Arctic Cat, Can-Am, Honda, Ski-Doo, Suzuki and Yamaha.
Finding qualified help, a problem that has plagued a number of industries in New England in recent years, is one of Wade’s top hang-ups. It’s not just his dealership, either. “You can’t find a dealership here that doesn’t have a problem finding qualified help,” Wade said. Another area that Wade sees as critical for a thriving industry is access to riding areas. He has been active with his dealer association to prevent land closures and state legislation that would be detrimental to riding access. “It’s not like when I was a kid,” Wade said. “Some state parks we rode in, we can’t anymore.”
Sport bikes and cruisers are tied as the store’s best two-wheel sellers, Wade estimates. Most recently, he has noticed a significant number of buyers who would usually buy a larger bike are now trending toward more mid-sized rides. Though he hasn’t done any formal research, Wade speculates the move is because of higher fuel costs and a more appealing price point.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Customers are buying into more of Motorsports International’s F&I offerings, Wade says. That could largely be because the dealership is pushing this high profitability revenue center. “Just like everyone else, we’re on a decline as far as sales are concerned, so we want to make every dollar we can on the sales we do produce,” Wade said. Many of the sales the company is getting have been for scooters, especially Suzuki Bergman models, Wade notes.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Motorsports International fields five full-time service technicians, most of whom have been with the company several years. All are highly skilled, but a couple techs have taken it to the next level. One tech is one of the highest Honda-certified techs in New England. Another was one of only 13 in the nation chosen to go to California to compete in a Yamaha skills event. The key to a successful shop, Wade says, is keeping efficiency and productivity up. Motorsports International has achieved that with the longevity of its service employees and the help of its parts manager, Wade says.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
This year, the dealership added ATV demo rides to its annual open house, which increased customer interest in the event, Wade says. Open houses are “a lot of work, but it gives back to the customers that have supported you throughout,” Wade said. The dealership also reaches out to established riders who might not be familiar with the company. Its local STAR Riders Ch. 291 holds rides every Saturday that leave from the store. Motorsports International also plays host to other riding chapters during its open house.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“It’s not the number of units you sell, it’s the amount the bottom line shows,” Wade said. “Most dealers want to make a small fortune in the motorcycle business. Some start with a larger fortune, but they run their business to lose money and pretty soon they’re out.”
— Lisa Young
Motorsports International – Auburn, MA – June 30, 2008