In the past, when customers walked into Leo’s South in Lakeville, Minn., they would see cruisers positioned with other cruisers, sport bikes with other sport bikes, ATVs with other ATVs, and so on. But that all changed last summer.
The dealership made a big shift, transitioning to a brand-by-brand layout, rather than grouping units by segment.
“What we wanted to do is give each brand its own defined area,” said Wayne Bedeaux, owner of Leo’s South, a member of the inaugural Powersports Business Power 15, a dealership recognition program.
Bedeaux had considered making the switch in the past, but recommendations from the dealership’s two biggest-selling brands finally spurred the change.
When BMW assigned a new DSM to Leo’s South, Bedeaux was informed that his dealership wasn’t quite living up to BMW’s brand-specific expectations, so Bedeaux positioned the brand in the front of the dealership, where the bikes can sit alongside BMW apparel.
BRP also proposed that Leo’s South create a BRP-branded area. Leo’s was one of a handful of dealerships approached to test a branded layout for BRP, and Bedeaux was happy to oblige, as BRP makes up the largest portion — 26 percent — of his sales. BRP sent a merchandising expert into the dealership; Bedeaux purchased additional fixtures, and BRP was set up in front of the window opposite of BMW.
“We did a lot of pre-planning and thought and laying it out on paper,” Bedeaux said.
The smaller brands were more of a challenge, as Leo’s carries eight others in addition to BMW and BRP. Most of the other brands need smaller amounts of showroom space, so the smallest were lumped together and others may still be moved.
Figuring out where to put apparel was also a hurdle. OEM-branded merchandise fits nicely in the brands’ sections, but aftermarket apparel wasn’t as easy to place. Those aftermarket brands that are attractive to some brand’s customers have been positioned near those sections. Olympia jackets, for example, are hung near the BMW section.
“It won’t be all Kawasaki product that sits behind the Kawasaki brand; it may be similar items,” Bedeaux explained.
Unfortunately, because wall space is limited, some apparel had to be moved to the rear wing of the dealership, but Bedeaux said customers are already learning to venture into the area. One of the benefits to having apparel toward the back of the store is that the vehicles are all clearly visible from the front and are no longer blocked by 5-foot-tall fixtures.
Overall, Bedeaux said the new layout has worked well, and customers have even offered unsolicited favorable comments about the change.
“They like the layout. If they’re a BMW customer, they can see all the BMW stuff together,” he said.
And if customers don’t know what they want, the new showroom makes it easier for salespeople to find specific units.
Bedeaux says so far the layout has worked well for his dealership. Besides a little shifting here and there, he plans to keep the branded sections for the foreseeable future.
“We have so many brands,” he said, “but each brand is important to us.”