September 4, 2006: Shopping PG&A from a consumer’s viewpoint

This series of articles recaps a portion of the opportunities that were uncovered by Gart Sutton and Associates’ powersports specialists during consulting visits.
These opportunities are followed by recommended actions that address the issues.
The goal of this series is to provide you with ideas to help you improve your dealership.
The first of this three-part series looks at a dealership from a consumer viewpoint.
Dealership Details
This multi-line dealership is located in a rural area that draws from surrounding communities and an established rural market. They recently moved into a new, highly visible facility, resulting in rapid growth. They have nearly doubled sales to more than 1,200 units per year. Their existing systems and procedures are not capable of supporting this volume. The focus of this report was the needs assessment of their parts and accessories departments. The goal for the recommended actions was to (a) improve displays, inventory levels, tracking systems and efficiency in the P&A department; and (b) install the processes necessary to make these departments into more profitable contributors to the dealership’s bottom line.
Accessories Displays
Accessory displays are grouped in front of the parts counter area, blocking the view of the counter from the main showroom. Merchandise on display is dusty and disorganized. Some displays contain open spots with empty display hooks in place. The free-standing displays are old and in poor condition. Helmet and accessory boxes are visible in several areas.
There is no defined path through the clothing or accessories displays, nor any logic in the location of the displays. Customers were observed wandering through the displays, but no one was available to assist them. No clothing or accessories items are displayed on the showroom floor with the units. No units have accessories installed.
Parts Department
The counter top is covered with parts books, computer terminals, counter displays and a cash register. Much of the glass-front counters are covered with posters, some outdated, obscuring the shelves inside. This is just as well, as the shelf displays are disorganized and contain old parts in beat-up boxes. The walls behind the parts counter have posters, but little merchandise. Customers were backed-up waiting to have the staff look up or pay for parts or accessories. The phone was seldom answered in less than six rings. When it was answered, the greeting was often unprofessional and gruff.
The parts storage area is dirty, disorganized and has boxes piled up in the aisles. There are boxes with parts that have not been received into their system for more than three days. The parts manager said, “They will get checked-in when someone has time to do it.”
Recommended Actions

  • Merchandise displays must be clean, organized and updated frequently. They must always reflect seasonality.
  • Replace damaged or outdated display fixtures.
  • Locate displays throughout the showroom area. Create displays that relate popular items to specific models on the showroom floor.
  • When items are sold out of a display, replace them or remove the hardware and rearrange the display to compensate.
  • Remove all boxes from the display area. Merchandise must be on display in order to sell. Remove merchandise from the boxes and store back-ups in storage areas.
  • Install popular accessories on showroom units to increase display area and help with customer visualization.
  • Ensure that at least one staff member is available in the display area at all times.
  • Relocate displays to ensure parts counter is visible from the showroom area. Install existing parts department signage above the counter area.
  • Create merchandise displays on the wall behind the parts counter. Include impulse items.
  • Add a cash wrap and cashier to relieve this task from the parts staff.
  • Remove non-essential items from the top and front of the parts counter to expose displays of impulse and high-performance items. Displays must be clean and frequently revised.
  • Add an additional parts terminal on a kiosk for parts look-ups.
  • Phone calls must be answered promptly and in a professional manner. A telephone phone greeting policy must be developed and enforced.
  • Parts storage areas must be clean and organized to improve efficiency and prevent accidents.
  • All merchandise must be received into the computer on the day of arrival. No exceptions. Items should be stocked or displayed within 24 hours. One person (plus a backup) must be assigned to this duty and be held accountable. psb
    Author, speaker and educator, Gart Sutton has been retained by every major powersport manufacturer/distributor. He is a frequent keynote speaker for national motorcycle conventions and state motorcycle dealer association events. Visit

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