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Our best is ahead of us in 2015

By Jennifer Robison

Jennifer Robison 2011Bye, bye 2014! Funny, I am not the only one who has said 2014 was not a great year for them personally or professionally! We all read the energy, and we all have this inner feeling that 2015 is going to shine and in a way we have not felt for many years.

My topic really is about shedding old attitudes that grew out of the 2008-09 times. In order to succeed in selling more products, we have to implement merchandising techniques more effectively, so we grow sales. Overall, I’m saying it’s all about LETTING GO!

Customers are returning; big-ticket purchases are moving up; luxury purchases are moving up. Look at the auto industry and how we are seeing a return to purchases of top-line vehicles with all the toppings to boot! I can’t tell you how many Tesla cars I see today. Ten years ago we would have laughed at purchasing a car like the Tesla, but now they are in the price range of a bottom-line Porsche!

In our own industry we have seen addition of BMW, Ducati and Triumph dealer outlets. We have many Japanese-brand dealers that are trying to add these Euro brands to lure customers. And guess what, the Euro brands are not cheap. One of my favorite bikes is the new BMW R nine T priced at $14,999! This is a silly price for what the bike is, but ITS SO COOL! When you look at Japanese models in a similar style, size for $4,000 less, you’re just not dazzled. The BMW feels better, looks better, likely rides better. We are seeing a growth in customers that want better products, top-line products, and products that are not cookie-cutter! In short, it’s time to sell “Glitter” again. We have the opportunity in our stores to show and stock products that say, “I’m awesome, and you will love me, even though I might cost more.”

1-15 Jen FirstGear

How does this relate to product merchandising? It’s time to stop thinking that just offering the bulk of our inventory to cheap and bottom-price-point-focused goods in stores is going to get sales growth and new customers. If your store just took on a new Euro brand, you’re going to need apparel, helmets, communicators and other performance products to satisfy your new customers. You may have little experience with higher-end buyers, but don’t freak out, thinking you can’t sell these goods. Your Euro brands will want you to have a space in the store for that brand that is just for the bikes and OEM accessories. Great, do it! Make it look good, but nearby is a great place to add some aftermarket goods to capture up and add on sales.

Here is the key …

Keep it simple, clean and focused; top-line shoppers are not like other product buyers. If you overwhelm the space with images and too much product, you may lose their eye. Choose products from a brand that fits the customer’s lifestyle and needs. A $200 jacket is not what a 20,000-mile-a-year rider wants. If you see multiple customers coming in wearing an Arai helmet, then maybe you should find a way to offer those goods in your store. Don’t fear big-ticket items; don’t fear brands you perceive as beyond your customers reach. It’s easy to think that perhaps you and your staff cannot either afford it or justify the cost personally, but remember, this is about customers and not you.

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This image shows 20 Arai helmets. This amount gives you selection, shell shapes and takes up only an 8-by-8-foot space. If you turn these helmets in a year, you’re likely to boost profits above what you would get for the same space used for $99-$150 models. Plus, you let customers know you are in that business. Luxury products turn higher $$$ (don’t just focus on margin).

Another luxury brand that is coming up fast is the Roland Sands Designs. This product has mass appeal with its vintage designs and fresh approach to what cool riding gear can be. A brand like this one appeals to the young, the old, men, women, Euro, Japanese and American motorcycle enthusiasts. It’s priced above what many of you are used to selling, but ITS what I call “Glitter Selling.” It’s fun, sexy and most importantly, different! This kind of product you do not want to just hang on a basic 4-way fixture in the middle of your other goods and hope it sells, because it won’t. Make sure you feature this product in a place of honor in your store, a place with high visibility and accessibility. You will sell one for every five to eight regular middle price points, but that’s okay. Luxury products are not for the masses! They are for people who strive for different.

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Here is my action list:

  • Look at the 2015 season and the bikes you plan to sell.
  • Have products to fit these lifestyles.
  • As always offer low, medium and higher priced goods as it makes sense.
  • Don’t blend high-end goods and brands with low price points; feature high-end goods prominently.
  • Have FUN selling expensive goods. It’s easier than you think, and the dollars will flow in!

Again, 2015 IS NOT going to be like past years. Step up; get in the game; have fun and kick some sales booty!

Thank you all! J Rob

Jennifer Robison’s career began in 1987 when she served as a service writer/parts sales for a high-end import auto dealer before becoming one of the first generation of Harley-Davidson Motorclothes managers at a Northwest dealership (1991-2000). From 2002 on, Jennifer has been with Tucker Rocky Distributing. Jennifer has educated the Tucker Rocky sales force and dealers about the powersports apparel business and powersports retailing. Jennifer’s expertise is in powersports retailing, merchandising and display, promotions and in-store marketing. She has lectured and written about powersports retailing and continues to perform dealer educational workshops and seminars across the United States.

Contact: jrobison@tuckerrocky.com
Website: www.tuckerrocky.com 

One comment

  1. Well... I guess from your assessment if you are a metric ' cookie cutter" dealer you should just throw in the towel.
    If we are doomed as metric dealers then who is going to launch the next generation of riders. ? Is BMW going to do the missionary work with 1400.00 dirt bikes to give the new riders the first taste of 2 wheeling ?
    As a metric dealer since 1972 I am offended how the magazines and industry pundits have written off this segment of the industry. /have you met the nicest people on a Ducati ?

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