August 13, 2007: Improving a dealership selling

These articles recap some of the opportunities uncovered by Gart Sutton & Associates’ powersports specialists during actual consulting visits.
These opportunities are followed by recommended actions. The goal of this series is to provide you with ideas to help improve your dealership.
This series of three articles was a follow-up to an initial assessment visit. The consultant reviewed the status of the recommended actions from the prior visit and assisted the dealership with implementation of the solutions. Additional opportunities were uncovered and another set of recommended actions was developed to take the dealership to the next level.
Dealership Details
This multi-line powersports and power products dealership is located in a fast-growing resort town of 100,000. The nearest major city is located more than three hours away. The healthy local economy is fueled by recreation and oil. For the past 10 years, the dealership has been in a 15,000-square-feet facility. They have outgrown this facility and have purchased land for a new facility. They plan to make this new site a stand-alone for a major brand, while keeping the remainder of the products in the existing facility. They also will add power products to their product lines. The dealership sold more than 1,500 major units in the past 12 months. The following are some recommended actions that were provided to the dealership from a previous visit — others were shown in the July 23 edition — and their current status:
Credit applications
Recommendation: Encourage salespeople to complete credit applications to speed up the F&I process.
Status: Although this was partially implemented, it was found that the applications were incomplete and there were issues with security of customer information. The GSA consultant recommended the following procedure: Following the closing of the unit sale, the customer is introduced to F&I, which answers payment and rate questions and completes the credit application. F&I then turns the customer over to P&A for riding gear and accessories sales (next step in the customer path process). Once the customer has experienced every department, they are returned to F&I for the final paperwork and F&I sales.
Follow-up system
Recommendation: Institute a 48-hour follow-up system for all major unit customers and incorporate a referral program.
Status: No referral program has been developed. The GSA consultant discussed the importance of developing and promoting this important sales tool. Unit sale 48-hour follow-ups are being tracked on the GSA follow-up log system. However, they are not connecting with every customer within 48 hours. There is little customer contact after this.
F&I process
Recommendation: Implement a menu presentation process for F&I and ensure all products are presented to every customer, every time.
Status: F&I continues to be the weak link in this dealership. No menu presentations have been developed or utilized. Without this process, F&I will continue to under perform the benchmarks for F&I sales per vehicle sold.
F&I log
Recommendation: Use an F&I log to track penetration levels on F&I products.
Status: No F&I log has been implemented. This is a key piece of the follow-ups for additional sales on products such as extended service contracts.
Recommended Actions
From the second visit, GSA consultants developed the following recommendations for the dealership’s owner and general manager:

  • Institute an F&I menu presentation system along with the F&I log.
  • Develop and implement a process for following-up with missed opportunities for extended service contacts.
  • Develop and implement a performance gear safety checklist to ensure customers have the opportunity to acquire the proper riding gear. Provide unit goals to the P&A department and measure their performance.
  • Institute a customer path tracking log. Managers should review this log during weekly meetings to uncover any issues.
  • Develop and advertise a vehicle sales referral program. Have the referral program printed on the back of all business cards.
  • Utilize the post-sale follow-up system for all major unit customers. Incorporate the referral program into the process, using a 24-hour follow-up call, 10-day, handwritten “Thank You” letter, 30-day phone call and quarterly follow-up letter.

    Author, speaker and educator, Gart Sutton has been retained by every major powersport manufacturer/distributor. He is a speaker for national motorcycle conventions and state dealer association events. Visit

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