Two new Web sites take advantage of the Internet’s flexibility to bring buyers and sellers together electronically. The two sites have been developed and are being operated by Alex Baylon, long-time powersports industry marketing executive at Motonation, among others.
Theperfectrep.com is a site that enables participating dealers to purchase sale items, closeouts and overstocks from manufacturers and distributors. Sellers can list their items on the site free; dealers pay a one-year subscription fee of $9.99. First-time dealers can get a free 30-day trial. The site, launched in May, carries about $4 million in inventory, says Baylon.
Here’s how the system works: Baylon contacts distributors, OEMs and aftermarket companies to determine if they have products to sell. The items can be slow-movers, overstocks, closeouts, or even fresh items that the seller wants to use as part of a sale.
Baylon then posts the items on www.theperfectrep.com. Subscribing dealers can access the information using a login and password.
To complete a purchase, the dealer simply clicks on the link for the sale item. The link takes the dealer to the seller’s website where he fills out a customer application and completes the transaction. Baylon doesn’t get involved in the sale and he doesn’t warehouse inventory. All transactions take place directly between the buyer-dealer and the seller.
Baylon’s main focus is regional distributors and smaller manufacturers who sell direct to dealers. “The big guys, like Parts, have a good rep force, and they do a good job of keeping dealers up to date,” he says.
The site is, in effect, a portal for dealers, conveniently putting them in touch with a large number of wholesale sellers. “Think of this as the powersports version of the coupon section in the Sunday newspaper,” he says.
Using the same approach, Baylon set up a second site to bring together employers and job seekers. It’s called www.motorcycleindustryjobs.com. The site is basically the same as the Employment Section of your local newspaper or monster.com, except that is specializes in job openings for the powersports industry. Each ad has a link to the company, so applicants can easily submit an application.
Baylon launched this site May 11 and had about 120 listings in the first 90 days. An employer pays a flat fee of $100 for a 30-day posting. There is no charge to job seekers.
“I figured our industry needed something for people to find work,” says Baylon. “This is working well; it’s a good success story.”
Kawasaki, Household Extend Deal
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. has signed another multi-year, private-label financing agreement with Household International, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc.
Household has extended credit through Kawasaki’s private label credit program since 1989. Kawasaki’s dealer network includes more than 1,500 retailers.
Household International, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc., is one of the top 10 financial services holding companies in the United States. Household Retail Services is the third largest issuer of private label credit cards in the U.S. The business has more than 60 active merchant relationships, including Best Buy, Levitz Furniture and Saks Fifth Avenue.
kawasaki expands internet effort
Kawasaki, the company that took the lead in OEM Internet marketing when it launched buy.kawasaki.com in April 2000, says the site is doing very well and plans to expand its Internet presence.
Buy.kawasaki.com sells accessories and apparel direct to consumers but it splits the profits with its dealers on a 60/40 basis. As part of the ordering process, consumers must identify a participating dealer; 60% of the profit is then assigned to the dealer. Kawasaki handles all the order processing and fulfillment.
No machines are sold on the site. Parts information is downloadable so that consumers can bring the printouts to their dealers for easy ordering. There have not been any major changes to that site for more than a year, according to a Kawasaki executive.
“Most of our work recently has been done on our new B2B site,” says Roger Peterson, Kwasaki’s vice president of information systems, “and we’re continuing to add a lot of information to that password-protected site for dealers.”
Buy.kawasaki.com draws about 20,000 visitors daily, says Peterson, and the company’s main marketing site, kawasaki.com, draws about 46,000 persons each day. About 3,000 each day use the online parts catalog.
While buy.kawasaki is a success, says Peterson, it’s more about driving traffic into dealerships. “Originally,” he says, “we thought it was about accessories sales. Now we feel it’s more about consumer convenience and marketing. So much traffic ends up not purchasing on the Web site; we feel we’re driving traffic into the dealerships, but we just don’t know how much.”
From a marketing perspective, Kawasaki branded both sites in 2000 but it’s changing that approach. In the future, Peterson says, the company expects to simplify its communications by directing consumers to the kawasaki.com site which will have a link to buy.kawasaki.com. “It’s more about getting back to a single brand,” he says.
On the dealer side, Peterson said Kawasaki has about 1,400 dealers and more than 90% of them are online. There are about 5,200 dealer sessions daily; on average a dealer will sign on 3.5 times each day, up from only about once every three days in 2002. At the beginning of 2003, Kawasaki required dealers to use the website for electronic communications.
The new dealer site has much more content than the old one and features a unique parts exchange program that was added in January. “A dealer can return ordered parts on the website, as long as they are still active parts that we have in inventory and as long as he replaces them with purchases for the same value,” says Peterson.
Kawasaki also has web-based product training and testing for sales people.
Changes at lemco
Lemco Management Group, Inc., the dealer services company based in Denver, Colo., has offered a new roadside assistance program for dealers and is making several personnel changes, says Laura Lemco, vice president of sales and marketing.
Lemco’s new 24-hour roadside assistance program provides an additional revenue source for dealers at the same time it provides an important service for riders. The program includes priority in the dealer’s service department and free towing up to 150 miles from the originating dealer.
The company doesn’t provide a formal service package for dealers, says Lemco. Rather, it helps dealers put together a package that works best for them. “We tell them how to do it, help them with forms and handle the calls, and they administer it.” Lemco has contracted with a nationwide service to handle the emergency roadside calls and dispatch assistance.
Dealers benefit from the program, she says, because the prepaid maintenance program gets the dealers their money up front. There is an additional charge for the roadside assistance package.
On the personnel side, Barbara Quarles has left the company and a replacement is expected to be announced this month. David Pearson has been named a trainer and moderator. He will handle dealership management development programs, training seminars and moderate dealer 20-Clubs. Pearson spent 10 years in the banking/financial industry prior to switching to the powersports industry 15 years ago.
Pinnacle offers extended plan
Pinnacle Protection Plans, Northville, MI., has extended its coverage of motorcycles and ATVs with the addition of its Premier Protection Plan.
The plan, introduced in February, basically provides “bumper-to-bumper” coverage on powersports vehicles. “We cover more parts,” says Nick Trost, national sales and marketing manager. “We have more extensive coverage than most other policies. We’re trying to provide coverage that’s greater than even what the OEMs provide.” The response, he says, from dealers and consumers “has been great.”
Dealers benefit from the program because they can receive better CSI scores because consumers are happy because more components are covered. The program costs more than normal coverage, by about 10%-15%. Dealers receive that boost on the front end of the contract.
Warn UsesInternet Phone System
Warn Industries has installed an Internet-based phone solution from ShoreTel to simplify and enhance voice communications, integrate multiple sites, and improve customer service. The two separate phone systems serving Warn’s headquarters in Clackamas, Ore. and a manufacturing facility in Milwaukie, Ore., can be managed from a browser-based interface, the ShoreTel5 IP PBX system. With a single voice system, call loads can be balanced across the two locations, and their receptionists can cover for each other.
Warn now is adding its technical facility in Livonia, Mich., to the ShoreTel network, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and experimenting with softphones that turn the laptops of field salespeople and other mobile employees into full-featured desktop extensions.
“Once you’ve figured out how you want calls routed to best serve your customers, the ShoreTel contact center is easy to set up,” said Matt Bailey, Warn’s contact center manager. “I can go in and make routing changes, add groups, or change the auto-attendant menu. And I’m not a telecom guy.”
ShoreTel, Inc. (www.shoretel.com) has operated since 1998. Warn Industries, Inc. was purchase by Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV) in October 2003 for approximately $325 million in cash. Dover Corporation is a diversified industrial manufacturer with over $4 billion in annual revenues and is comprised of over 50 operating companies that manufacture specialized industrial products and manufacturing equipment.
Warn, with annual sales in excess of $150 million, operates as a stand-alone company within the Dover Resources segment.
MMCS To add website
Motorcycle Management Consulting Service, (MMCS), of Costa Mesa, Calif., is working on a new Web site and expects to launch it later this year. The company markets and administers the Aftercare mechanical repair agreements on new and used powersports machines.
The web-based business system won’t replace the existing claims process, says Julia Beemer, vice president, because personal communications is so important. But the new site will provide a much great interactive capability, she said. PSB