Located in a rural part of Wisconsin, Schauer Power Center sells a lot of ATVs, UTVs and snowmobiles. The dealership carries Arctic Cat, Polaris, Suzuki and last year it took on Yamaha, which gave the dealership a boost in sales. Sales and Finance Manager Larry Roberts says the dealership was up about 20 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. This year they’re down, but their numbers are close to last year’s. There have been a few dealers near Schauer Power Center that have closed, and Roberts says it has helped their business slightly. “Our floor traffic was down, but now that the other dealers went out of business,” he said, “it does seem as though it’s picked up a little bit.” One characteristic Roberts says Schauer Power Center prides itself on is its personal touch. “It seems like a lot of dealerships have gone real big box, and they lost that personal touch with people,” he said. “We like to think of our dealership as more of a family oriented place where you can come in and get everything you need. The parts guys know your name when you come in, that kind of thing. We like to provide the best possible customer service.”
Even though Schauer Power Center is nearly matching its business from last year, the economy still has Roberts concerned. “People have slowed down their spending,” he said. On a positive note, Roberts says they’ve seen a slight increase in floor traffic thanks to a Honda dealership near them recently going out of business. “There seems to be a flux of people asking for Hondas and Honda parts in the area,” he noted. “We’ve been doing our best to help those people out. We don’t carry it, but we’ve been working with our aftermarket parts suppliers like Parts Unlimited to get them aftermarket replacement parts and that kind of thing to keep their machines up and running.”
Polaris’ Sportsman ATVs sell really well, says Roberts. The Yamaha Grizzly models also are hot sellers. ATVs are the most popular vehicles, but Roberts says UTVs are catching up. When the weather is right, snowmobiles are equally popular. Roberts says the past two years they’ve had good snow, and it’s helped their sled sales. “Being in Wisconsin, we’re very weather driven,” he noted. “In the winter if it snows, people flood in. The last two years we’ve had snow here, so people don’t have to trailer their sleds to northern Wisconsin.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
More people are researching online for product info, including price and availability. To accommodate online shoppers, Roberts says Schauer Power Center upgraded its Web site and made it more user-friendly. “We made it so people can order stuff online, and we’ll ship it directly to them,” he said. “We’ve been doing that for the last year and a half. It’s been working really, really well.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Being in a rural area, Roberts says they sell a lot of accessories for their ATVs and UTVs, including winches and snowplows. “We stock a lot of accessories, but we have a huge hard parts inventory too,” he said. “We stock more hard parts than anyone I’ve ever seen.” Like the parts department, the service department plays a pivotal role in the dealership. Roberts notes the owner is very service-oriented. “He always has a hand in the service department,” he said. The dealership recently hired a new service manager who has experience in the marine and RV business. The dealership has two full-time technicians and two part-time techs, but Roberts says they’re currently looking for another tech since business is up in that area. The dealership also has a full-time and part-time employee for parts.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
For the first time, Schauer Power Center is putting on a Sportsman’s Fair, which is scheduled for Sept. 11-13. The local county fairgrounds are right across the street from the dealership. Roberts says they’re building a racetrack for the event so people can test-drive ATVs and UTVs. The dealership also hosts numerous rides throughout the year, including the Star rides with Yamaha.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Stay strong and be aggressive with advertising,” Roberts said. “The unemployment rate is at
9 percent, but nine people out of 10 are still working and looking to spend. It’s going to turn around eventually.”