Oct. 5, 2009 – Yamaha sticks to core strategies

By Neil Pascale
Yamaha’s strategy for strengthening its industry position, including focusing on customer satisfaction and dealer profitability, remains unchanged in this challenging economy.
That was part of the message dealers heard from Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A. Motorsports Group President Henio Arcangeli during the company’s recent 2010 product introduction. Yamaha held its annual dealer business event in a series of simultaneous meetings at 26 different U.S. locations on Sept. 8.
Although the company’s strategy remains intact, it did announce some significant changes.
In an effort to continue to improve inventory levels, Yamaha is reducing its 2010 lineup in terms of models and color offerings by 35-40 percent across its different platforms, the company told Powerports Business.
“With the industry being not what it was two years ago, it’s only logical that we would reduce the number of models the dealers carry in order to make it easier for them to run their business, reduce complexity and help improve their overall profitability,” Arcangeli said.
Another change was the format of the actual dealer meeting itself.
Unlike in past years when it held a national dealer show, Yamaha held a series of simultaneous district and regional dealer meetings. The meetings included a welcome from a district or regional manager as well as video of Yamaha executives explaining changes or additions to the company’s different product lines. Yamaha added a number of new models, including substantially different YZ250F and YZ450F motocross bikes.
The meeting also included a keynote speech from Arcangeli, who reviewed the company’s strategy it unveiled a couple of years ago. That strategy called for Yamaha to take a leadership position in the industry by developing leadership products, working with its dealers to provide “excellent execution in the marketplace” and focusing on customer satisfaction, Arcangeli said.
“We believe it was the right strategy two years ago, and it’s the right strategy going forward,” he said.
Part of that strategy, specifically the execution in the marketplace, resulted in the formation of Pro Yamaha, a program that rewards dealers for meeting customer satisfaction objectives that in turn can drive repeat business. In his speech during the dealer meeting, Arcangeli encouraged dealers to commit to the Pro Yamaha program. “We further believe from the data that we have that being a Pro Yamaha dealer is the right thing for the dealer base from a profitability standpoint, a customer satisfaction standpoint as well as a repurchase standpoint,” he said.
Arcangeli also voiced optimism about retail sales, believing the industry’s first-half new unit sales that dropped more than 40 percent from a year ago could rebound going forward.
“Recognizing that it’s been a difficult period for all us, but there are a lot of signs that indicate the economy has hit bottom and our belief is that we’re well on our way to recovering over the next few quarters,” he said. “With that, as the general economy recovers, we believe our industry will recover as well.”
Still, Yamaha has moved to align its 2010 inventory to more closely match the expected retail demand.
“Our inventories right now are substantially less than they were last year at this time in many of our products,” said Arcangeli. “The overall inventory situation will continue to improve through the end of the year, which bodes well for our dealer partners as well as for us.”
Whether Yamaha will continue to address dealers in simultaneous regional and district meetings or return to a national dealer show isn’t known. Arcangeli said Yamaha has tried different meeting formats, including an online-only meeting, and “there are pluses and minuses to all of them.
“What I personally like about this meeting is it does allow our field staff to interact with our dealer partners in a closer way, to promote more discussion and dialogue,” he said. “From a cost standpoint, not only for us but our dealer partners, it’s allowed them to reduce their expenses and expose more people to our message, which we believe is very important.”
Bob Starr, general manager of Yamaha’s national communications, attended the Houston, Texas, regional meeting and felt dealers were more at ease in discussing different issues with Yamaha personnel at the smaller venue. “The interaction with dealers, I thought, was fantastic,” he said.

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