Located on a major highway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, Seminole Powersports is in a prime location. It moved to that site, which includes the 44,000-square-foot building, several years ago. Co-owner Kirby Mullins has not only expanded the manufacturers it carries, but the dealership’s brand as well. “We have (people) who eat, breathe and live Seminole Powersports,” he said. “We’re a 26-28-year business that’s, quite frankly, a fun place to work. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, youth. Just because of the nature of the business, we hire a lot of younger people. I see ex-employees wearing Seminole Powersports T-shirts. We give a lot of T-shirts away, promos. We try to encourage that as much as possible because it’s free advertising.” The dealership carries Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, BRP, United Motors and KYMCO.
“Short term, it’s obviously credit availability,” Mullins said. “The cost it takes to keep inventory on the floor.” Another short-term concern Mullins mentioned is the lead ban on youth motorcycles and ATVs. “Long term, not to beat up on my manufacturers, but I think the manufacturing and distribution process for our OEMs is just archaic,” Mullins said. “For us to have to order once a year in some cases and actually guess what we think the economy and customer buying trends and habits is just thinking back to the 1950s.”
The dealer sells about the same amount of motorcycles, ATVs and PWC. More specifically for PWC, Mullins says the Sea-Doo RXP and RXT get a lot of attention. Then for cruisers, the standout vehicle is the Vulcan 900, which Mullins called “a great unit.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Due to the economy, more people are buying preowned units. The preowned side makes up about 30 percent of the store’s sales. “Because of the downturn and the economy,” Mullins said, “55-60 percent of our new vehicle sales have just evaporated.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“Parts and service is keeping our head above water,” said Mullins. “We do a big Internet business. We ship a lot overseas to South America, Africa, Western Europe because the weakness of the dollar. We have a nice book of business through our international eBay and e-commerce sites.” While the dealership does a fair amount of online business, Mullins says there isn’t as much profit there because of shipping and hard costs like staffing. “It may not be the most profitable thing, but it does give us a little more leverage with returns,” he said. “We get some privileges and discounts other dealers don’t (because of) the kind of volume we receive from our overseas business.” The dealership services all makes and models, including Harley-Davidson and Suzuki, which it doesn’t carry. “We want every customer to know where we are and what we’re all about,” said Mullins.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Conventional advertising for Seminole Powersports is unusually expensive being that the dealership is so close to Orlando and has to compete with companies like Disney. The dealership, however, has still managed to make quite the brand of itself. “We have logos out there that have been trademarked and copyright protected as well as some taglines: ‘No. 1 investment,’ ‘Ride the adventure,’ ‘Live the dream,’” Mullins said. “People have caught on. It’s not like a Winston or Coca-Cola, but locally we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done.” To promote its brand, Mullins says the dealership does a lot of grassroots marketing. “That’s everything from track days to loaner bikes to charity rides,” he said. “We’ll take our truck and trailer and park it at the mall. It’s a big billboard. People say they see us everywhere.” A partnership with Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser, however, was the most successful. They made 250,000 coasters that had the dealership’s information on one side and Budweiser on the other. “People say they see those everywhere. It’s very inexpensive and they’re at every restaurant, sports bar, pub, VFW. Anybody that sells Anheuser-Busch products, we give them a stack of these. We’ve gotten some great feedback on that. Bang for your buck — that was hands down the best.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Get out in the community,” Mullins said. “It’s all about branding and being an enthusiast, enjoying what you do, hire people that enjoy riding and who can talk the talk and walk the walk. It’s pretty easy to turn a business person into an enthusiast, and it’s just as easy to turn an enthusiast into a business person.”
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business