When compared to nationally well known stores, Westside Motorsports views itself as a Macy’s. “We’re not the most expensive, and we’re not the cheapest,” said Scott Schmidtman, the store’s owner. “But we probably have the biggest selection with fair pricing and good, cheerful customer service. We’re that middle market department store of products.” The dealership carries motorcycles and scooters from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Moto Guzzi as well as ATVs from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, BRP and Polaris. It also offers PWC from Yamaha and Kawasaki and snowmobiles from Ski-Doo, Yamaha and Polaris. In addition to its wide range of products, Westside Motorsports offers motorcycle training courses at the dealership through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. “We always have a nice tie between people getting their endorsements and people in the market looking to buy maybe their first motorcycle or first motorcycle in a number of years,” Schmidtman said, adding they’ve been offering the courses since he and his wife bought the dealership in April 2003. The main building is about 18,000 square feet with an additional 7,200-foot warehouse. Schmidtman says the number of employees fluctuate, but usually there are about 25 staff members.
“The economy. We need a healthy economy so more people feel it’s safe to buy major units that we sell,” Schmidtman said. “The other side of that coin is they can get the financing they need.” Unfortunately, Schmidtman says he has yet to see any signs of improvement in the economic situation.
The models at Westside Motorsports take turns in the spotlight, but Schmidtman says for the most part small and mid-sized cruisers are the most popular. “We sell more street motorcycles than anything,” he said. “ATVs are real strong as well. When you look at the profiling, street motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes are very closely matched in terms of volume.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The dealership’s customer trends largely reflect those of the market as a whole, notes Schmidtman. “We’re seeing all the same dynamics going on here,” he said, referring to decreased new unit sales and the difficulties for consumers to obtain financing. Westside Motorsports also has seen a decline in attendance at some of its motorcycle training safety courses. “Certainly the weekend courses are the most desirable for scheduling and those have kept up a pretty good pace,” Schmidtman said, “but the weekday courses have fallen off quite a bit.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
To keep up with the six brands the dealership offers, Schmidtman says the dealership has good-sized parts and service departments. “With the decrease in sales, parts and service are becoming more important,” he noted. “This time of year, we just struggle to be able to keep up with the demand. Sometimes people are scheduled farther out than we’d like.” The farthest the dealership has had to schedule service customers out is four weeks. “We’ve been at maximum production back there in service for several weeks,” he added. There are four technicians, and Schmidtman says it can be challenging to keep them up to date on all the brands. “It’s a fare amount of work to keep everyone up to speed and capable of providing timely service,” he said, noting the high demand for service is about average for this time of year.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
A local publication found at supermarkets has been a home run for Westside Motorsports. Schmidtman says the dealership will get anywhere from 1-6 pages in RV Wheel Deals to showcase its latest sales. “That’s a major part of our advertising,” he said. “We try to do questionnaires at the time people buy something to find out what advertising they’ve seen. That one has the best response rate.” The dealership also advertises in the Yellow Pages through both print and the Web. Another key tool for attracting customers is the dealership’s Web site. “We try to keep updating that so there’s a reason for people to keep checking back,” Schmidtman noted. “We have an employee in-house who works on the Web site and some of our print ads. She’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“During a tough economy like this, you just have to whittle down your expenses as best as possible,” Schmidtman said, “and also pare down your inventory to a more sensible level that better fits this economy.”