Holmberg’s father began selling snowmobiles in 1967at the present location, half an hour south of Boston (halfway between Beantown and the Cape). Carries Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Bombardier and E-Ton ATVs, Husqvarna forest and garden equipment, and Honda lawn and garden equipment. Largest-selling segment is snowmobile. Sells 250 to 300 units per year (of which approximately 180 are snowmobiles), with an annual gross revenue of $2.5 to $3 million. Six employees in summer, 11 in winter.
Holmberg’s greatest concern “has always been environmentalist groups that are extremely organized. The average snowmobiler or powersports enthusiast wants to enjoy the sport. He doesn’t necessarily have time to get organized and fight. My customers ride somewhere other than where they live, so it’s harder to get involved at a local club level.”
“Any Ski-Doo on the new Rev chassis has been the hot seller,” says Holmberg, adding that most models are on that platform now. “We sell a lot of Quest XT ATVs.” Bob’s ATV clients use the machines to hunt north of the dealership.
“We don’t have any organized snowmobile trails. Most customers live in the Boston area, then have second homes in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. They trailer their snowmobiles or ATVs.”
Holmberg says the dealership is “one of the largest in the state when it comes to Ski-Doo clothing, parts, and accessories. We supplement with other aftermarket items, but we concentrate on the Ski-Doo brand. In fall, snowmobile maintenance items are the big sellers. In winter, it’s are parts to repair any type of damage. It varies depending on the seasons and the conditions.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Holmberg says there isn’t a typical Bob’s customer, but customers tend to be “blue-collar workers in construction. Construction has been very strong here over the past six or seven years. Those guys work all summer and have time to play in winter. We’ve been in business for over 36 years, so we draw customers from more than an hour away.”
Holmberg reports that the Massachusetts House of Representatives is looking at a bill proposing to ban the sale of two-stroke vehicles. “I don’t think it’s going to pass, but it’s looming out there,” he says. “It would certainly put me out of business if that bill went through. But my business depends just as much on legislation in New Hampshire and Maine, because that’s where a lot of my customers ride.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
In summer Bob’s Ski-Doo has two full-time and one part-time service technicians; in winter, two full-time and four part-time, “so I always have three mechanics on duty. Up front it’s myself and a dedicated parts person. We also both handle vehicle sales. And my sister takes care of the clothing. The biggest change we’ve made recently is upgrading our dealer management system. We’ve had Lightspeed NXT since 1998, and we just installed a faster version. I think it’s a great system — it works well with a number of manufacturers.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“A lot of people ask, ‘How can a snowmobile dealership survive south of Boston, where there are no snowmobile trails?’ We do well because we specialize in Ski-Doo snowmobiles and have a good selection of clothing, parts, accessories, units — everything,” says Holmberg. “I don’t want to say we ignore attracting new customers, but we have much better luck focusing on existing customers — sending direct mail to our database and word-of-mouth seem to be the best forms of advertising. If you cultivate your existing customers, new ones seem to follow them. A number of people say, ‘I bought a sled from your father back in 1972,’ or, ‘My father bought sleds from your father.’”
198 Washington Street
North Easton, MA 02356