March 8, 2010: A valuable resource you may not be familiar with

Honestly, I would love to be able to stand up, hold my hand palm up, and state for the record, “I’m a believer.” But really, I’m not.
For some reason, I can’t get excited or convince myself to hold more staff meetings.
Oh, I definitely know the stated benefits they offer: More staff communication usually equals more buy-in, which in turn improves morale and in time, better business performance. I’ve read that. I’ve been preached to about that. I still can’t buy it.
The problem? Well, there are a few. First, staff meetings seem to take too long. Second, it’s difficult to find the time to orchestrate these things so that the time spent isn’t just a social gathering but an educational one as well.
Sound familiar?
Still, it’s like the eternal pledge to diet right after the holidays, it makes too much sense to stop trying to find a solution. So try this on: There’s a resource, available at no cost to you, that will help you meet those educational wants. Plus, it’s easiest enough to access that you can ask your department managers to collect this information and present it during a staff meeting.
So just like that, both meeting obstacles are overcome. The meeting does not have to be long because the resource provides the information in a short, to-the-point manner. Secondly, the ease of using the resource means staff — rather than you — can handle it. And really, it may make the most sense to create a rotation system with your staff to handle this information, where the sales manager does it one week, the parts manager the second week, the F&I manager the third week, etc.
So what’s the resource? It’s an educational online platform that Powersports Business has created called “Industry Insiders.” Now for a lot of you, this site is hardly news. Traffic on this site has rapidly increased during the past six months, so it’s not uncommon for us to see more than 2,000 views per week from the industry.
Still, it’s a resource that some dealers are just beginning to discover. For others, they may have seen the word “blog” associated with it and thus view it as more of social networking — online chatting — rather than an industry informational resource. Please don’t make that mistake and miss the educational opportunities.
Let me give you an idea of how this resource could work to your advantage. “Industry Insiders” includes a number of astute voices that touch on different parts of our market, and more importantly different profit centers in your dealership. So for your PG&A manager, we have a national retail specialist from Tucker Rocky that provides insights on improving retail merchandising. As well, we have two separate aftermarket company executives that speak to different market opportunities. Tim Calhoun, the U.S. manager for LeoVince, offered one such opportunity in a recent post, “If you cannot afford to stock those exhausts, apparel, helmets and other premium or higher-end products, don’t give up the sale. Present these products virtually! Offer an alternative in-store electronic purchasing experience with a computer on the floor — preferably with a really big monitor.”
How to stock without stocking is a timely subject in the current marketplace and is a terrific subject to discuss in a staff meeting.
So too could your major unit sales manager find relevant topics in “Industry Insiders.” We have an executive from one of the leading customer follow-up companies discussing real-life feedback from disgruntled consumers. Such examples could be worthy of a 10-minute discussion to make sure these instances don’t occur in your dealership.
Also, we have an Industry Insider discussing sales trends he sees as his company, Pied Piper Management Co., works with several OEMs to chart retail sales practices in dealerships. In a recent post, Fran O’Hagan, the president of Pied Piper Management, advised dealers to not “make the mistake of taking customer feedback for gospel when it comes to measuring how your salespeople are selling, and then deciding how to improve the sales process used by your dealership. The facts show that while customers are very aware of some pieces of a dealership’s sales process, many of the most important sales steps are just not obvious and not important to motorcycle shoppers.”
“Industry Insiders” also provides an F&I compliance expert in Assurant Solutions’ Mike Boolos, who just recently posted about “four steps you can take to establish an effective compliance program to help protect your dealership.” If that’s isn’t an incredibly important topic for a quick staff meeting, I’m not sure what is.
Plus, there are matters of discussion that may be of importance to you alone — an attorney who specializes in dealership acquisitions and related matters provides insights that I have not encountered anywhere else.
Marketing is another topic of interest on “Industry Insiders.” In the future, we’ll provide more discussion on this area, especially those online components that many of us are still investigating.
All in all, I’m thinking may be just the thing to convert you into a staff meeting believer. Or at least a practitioner.

Stay tuned
Many of you know of or attended our dealer educational conference &?expo last September in Indianapolis following the MotoGP. We’re expecting to release details of the 2010 event here in the next couple of weeks. For those of you who don’t remember the event, it marked the first time an industry event has focused solely on improving dealer profitability in all profit centers. Stay tuned for 2010 details!

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