Sept. 22, 2008 – Powersports industry: the business of selling fun

The next time someone calls on your dealership and tells you they are from the car business and that they know just what you need to know, leave and get back to taking care of your customers and your business. And, be sure to wash your hands.
I have written before that we are not the car business and have made an effort to note the difference. The chasm is wider than ever, particularly when it comes to promotion and sales process.
Everything in the auto world these days is about the deal. Employee pricing, rebates, zero percent loans, etc. That is all that is advertised, nationally and locally, and when you do finally make the truly dreaded trip to the auto dealership, that is all you hear. Given the disdain and downright contempt the public holds for car people, those who survive in that business have to develop a very thick skin and in return develop their own contempt and distain for customers. It shows in the way they talk about customers and the terms they use.
Granted we used to teach an automobile-based sales process, as that was the best available and it certainly worked better than having no process at all. That is, in fact, how I came to be in the motorcycle business. In 1969, I was a hot shot young sales manager in an automobile dealership in Seattle and was recruited by Suzuki to travel the Northwest as a district manager and provide training and automobile business insight to dealers. Later, as a dealer for 10 years and via Lemco and Associates for the following
24 years, the message was softened and molded to the motorcycle business, where customers and dealers actually liked doing business with each other.
It was not until 2004 that it finally occurred to me that we needed to make a complete break with how the car business did things in the way of promotion and sales processes. I have written a lot in the past two years about the need to provide a quality experience to every customer and how we had to take the focus on the showroom away from price and on to the fun. That “Next Level” process has now been implemented in the dealerships I have a financial interest in and many other dealerships that I have been in contact with. Where the process has been maintained, success has been universal.
It is not an easier way to run a dealership. It does require more in the way of staff and does required constant oversight. The increased costs have been more than covered by increased business, which has come in spite of an overall downturn in the market place. Margins are maintained and in most cases increased as it is continually proven that, when it comes to the products we sell, it is not about price.
My daughter Laura has put together a 28-page manual, using what has been written here and elsewhere by me. We are offering that manual, via e-mail to anyone in the industry who would like a copy. Contact Laura at to receive a copy. There is no charge, but you do have to ask.
Many of my old friends and former clients still are clinging to the messages of the past. Some continue to do quite well, but they are swimming upstream and the going will continue to get tougher. Laura has done a good job of putting a good summary of just what is needed. As a motorcycle dealer in today’s market you owe it to yourself, your staff and your customers to take the 30 minutes it takes to read “The Next Level.”
I also will be making a presentation at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis in February as a State of the Industry keynote speaker. There are many events in the industry that I will take note of. Not the least of which will be the revelation that there is a great deal of additional business available to us when we keep making it fun to visit our dealerships and easy to buy when you do. I will also be at the Expo for the duration of the show, manning a booth for the National Council of Motorcycle Dealer Associations (NCMDA). I will be available to discuss at length just what it takes for implementation and maintenance of the Next Level. I also will share specific information on sales and margins attained in real dealerships along with the staffing and pay plans required. No charge and no sales pitch, other than to beat severely on you if you are not an active member of your state dealer association.
Dealer principals need to make it a must to attend this year’s annual meeting of the NCMDA, which will be held immediately prior to the Indy Dealer Expo, as there is really a lot happening in many states that you need to hear first hand.
Cheers, Ed. psb
Ed Lemco has been involved with the powersports industry for more than 30 years. Lemco, the former owner of Lemco Management Group, is the founder and executive director of the National Council of Motorcycle Dealer Associations. Lemco currently operates a call center for dealers in St Croix.

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