Going into this year’s Power 50 dinner, we at Powersports Business were already excited. Not only had we received twice as many applications as we did last year, but more winners also RSVPed for the dinner, meaning we’d have a room full of the top dealers in North America.
But as AIMExpo week began, our excitement about the Power 50 dinner grew because we found that in the third year of the program, dealers have really begun to embrace the Power 50 and to take ownership of it. After all, we created the Power 50 for dealers. We want it to be a program to recognize the top dealers and allow them to use their Power 50 status to show their customers why their businesses are the ones to buy from.
On Wednesday of AIMExpo week, I ran into the crew from Crossroad Powersports at the PSBI@AIMExpo Kickoff Networking Reception, and they were already talking about Thursday’s dinner and how excited they were to be included in the Power 50 for the second year in a row.
Then on Thursday morning, I saw Mike Ratz of Logan Powersports Group at the Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo, and he informed me that his team was confident that they were winning the No. 1 trophy, and he told me I’d better have it polished before he stepped on stage. Of course we don’t tell dealers where they land on the list, so he had no idea we had already chosen him as the top dealer of the year.
Once the dinner began, the excitement and anticipation grew. Dealers quickly worked the room, making sure to take the opportunity to network with the other top-notch dealers in the room, as well as meet our sponsor representatives from National Powersport Auctions (NPA) and EFG Companies. And when I visited the Freedom Powersports table, they were sure to remind me that they were the “O.G.s” (a.k.a. Original Gangsters) of the Power 50, earning a spot on the list each of the three years we’ve run the Power 50. It was during those pre-dinner conversations that I realized dealers have really begun to respect the Power 50 program, and they’ve made it a list they feel they need to be on year after year.
Of course there were even more signs of excitement throughout the night. Even dealers who attended the event by themselves earned a few shoutouts and high-fives from their tablemates. I heard an audible “Woo!” followed by a fist bump as Brian Cox and Joe Farber of Simply Street Bikes walked to the stage to accept the Best In Class award for their standout service department. And Neil Noble took the opportunity to snap an on-stage selfie while accepting his group’s No. 3 dealer award.
Because of this excitement, I honestly had butterflies as we began describing the No. 1 Dealer. You could hear a pin drop in the room, as the dealers eagerly awaited the result. And as Ratz stood up to accept the award, he was slowed as others dealers gave him high-fives, handshakes and pats on the back, and cheers could be heard from throughout the room.
As dinner concluded, and in days following, we received a lot of positive feedback. But the real sign that showed me dealers are 100 percent committed to the Power 50 was the number of dealers who told me they’re going to step up their 2016 application and really show us who and what is behind their businesses, because so many are shooting for that top spot.
We hope to see even more applications in 2016 and more butts in seats at the dinner. If you haven’t applied in the first three years but would try to make the Power 50 list next year, send an email to PSB editor in chief Dave McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll be sure to send you the link as soon as the application is ready in just a few months.
Liz Keener is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s three-times-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis, Power 50 dealership honors program and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.