By Sam Dantzler
I just finished back-to-back trainings in two completely different arenas, with one completely synergistic theme. The first was at Hattiesburg Cycles, as Glen Myatt and his team in Mississippi newly acquired the Indian franchise. Indian has been a hot topic of conversation in our 20-clubs as of late. The second was delivering a speech at the Cobalt Boats Dealer Show in Branson, Mo. Cobalt plays in the “runabout” stern-drive space in the boating world, with boats ranging from $40,000-$1 million, and with an average selling price of $80K.
As I stood on Glen’s floor (a beautiful, 70,000-square-foot facility), the dedicated Indian space (about 5,000 square feet) jumps out at you. Designed mostly by the manufacturer, the space is that of a motorcycle “shop” (as opposed to a “dealership”), on a very high-end platform. Classic photos and merchandising displays abound, and there is a feeling of old school meets deep luxury. The bikes are draped with white-wall tires and distressed leather options. To be honest, I am much more of an “adventure-bike-meets-naked-sport-bike” guy, but I was particularly enticed by this display. I got a chance to stand there and just sit with the feeling this display offered me, and it simply felt like something I wanted to be part of. I wanted to have one of those bikes, ride it around the Colorado mountains, enjoy the comfort of the upgrades, embrace the peace of mind it gives me and listen to the wind and nothing more.
Cobalt’s motto is “Compromise Nothing.” From the double-stitched upholstery, stainless gauges and lack of plastic components, they really do it right. Employees in all departments on the factory line are empowered to use the “What would Pack do?” approach. Pack St. Clair is the founder of Cobalt, and if the employee thinks Pack would do it over, that employee scraps the mold and starts again. No imperfections, ever. Mind you, their boats cost more than their counterparts, and they’re worth every penny.
At Cobalt’s dealer show, they had a fabulous display. The carpeted platform allowed easy access back and forth between the eight boats being exhibited. Lighting and trim enhanced each one to perfection. What happened next, I suspect, is not unique to me. I simply boarded one of the boats and was overwrought with emotion. I ran my hand down the stitching and took in the smell of the upholstery; the smooth edges; the perfect contours; the luxurious feel — the magnetism of the boat was extraordinary. My mind started wandering to my family and how many outings we’d enjoy together on this boat; how I would teach my daughter to wakeboard; how my wife would love the sound of the waves lapping along the side as we ate her hippy lunch. Mind you, I’ve worked with Cobalt for a couple of years, but it wasn’t until this trip that it really hit me. This trip I let it sink in.
I constantly train that our emotional brain will override our logical one if the emotion is present. We (humans) eat fried foods instead of salads because it feels good. We have addictions (coffee, alcohol, gambling, food, etc.) because they feel good in the moment. We do things that fly in the face of logic on a daily basis, as logic takes a back seat to the emotion of the moment. At both the motorcycle shop and the Cobalt show I was consciously aware that all logic was surrendering to the emotion of the moment. Even knowing this was happening, being consciously aware of my loss of control, I couldn’t get my logical brain to kick back in to say “No.” Ultimately it was a long walk, my wallet and my wife that provided the impasse necessary to turn away from these toys, if only for the moment. …
Take note of what vibe you’re giving the customer. The manufacturer has a responsibility to create the product and initially create a demand. But it’s the dealer and employee’s responsibility to fuel the fire (read: emotion) of the independent transaction. Even if consciously aware of the brain shift from logic to feeling, customers are biologically wired to seek out people and things that make them feel good. Focus on the emotion of the transaction … focus on charging that happy good feeling your customer gets when he’s locked eyes with the toy of his dreams … focus on changing that customer’s life. Your sales numbers will take care of themselves, and emotion = margin.
Sam Dantzler is the founder of Sam’s Powersports Garage, a membership website dedicated to best practices and all-staff training. He can be reached at email@example.com.