April 5, 2010: Seeking a closer manufacturer-dealer connection

An exhaust manufacturer that has shifted a higher volume of its business to dealer direct has established a new dealer program that aims to establish a closer tie between retailer and manufacturer.

The manufacturer, LeoVince U.S.A, started the program this spring with an eye to keeping it at a relatively small number of dealers for the first year, at around 300 nationwide.

The program essentially provides the Italian exhaust manufacturer with a floor display in a high traffic area in a store and the dealer a number of incentives, including product discounts and marketing opportunities.

“We’re basically saying, ‘We want presence in your dealership and for that, we’re willing to invest in you,’” Tim Calhoun, executive vice president of LeoVince U.S.A., said of the company’s “Forza” or power dealer program. “The way we’re going to invest in you is we’re going to set you up with a three-pipe display and over a six-month timeframe, we’re going to give you the ability to earn back the cost of those exhausts on that display.

“What you’re agreeing to do is sell off of that product hanging on the wall as opposed to selling that product. You’re going to maintain a presence in your dealership with our product and our brand. For that, you’re going to be recognized as one of our top dealers on our Web site. Also as a Shopatron retail-only manufacturer, we are driving sales back to these dealers.”

Other incentives for the dealer include:

• Different levels of discounts depending on the volume of the order;

• Growing margins as a dealer increases their sales;

• A program that provides 50 percent off a demo exhaust that could be used in a demo program or on a floor model;

• 50 percent off an exhaust to reward key dealership personnel or a key customer;

• Free etching on the LeoVince Unlimited exhaust systems for six months;

• Race support for dealerships’ riders.


Calhoun says LeoVince isn’t limiting this to one type of dealership, noting it could work with a store that caters to on-road racers, off-road enthusiasts or street stunters. The best fit, he said, would be dealerships that have a presence in motorcycling beyond the showroom floor and a commitment to performance.

“We want a dealer who wants to be better trained in how to sell a product, who wants their staff to understand the ins and outs of all exhausts and that is willing to create a buying experience for a consumer. It is always strong when dealers have a relationship directly with the manufacturer. If they have questions or problems, we make that all go away for them,” he said. “And that’s what manufacturers can do better than anybody. We understand our product. It’s all we sell. It’s all we do.”

Calhoun says the program was established with the challenging economy in mind. Thus it does not require a certain stocking level for the dealer beyond the three-exhaust floor display. The investment, Calhoun points out, is in floor or wall space and on the staffing end.

“There are dealers that commit to certain brands, and they live it and breathe it,” he said. “When you walk through the door, when they sell you apparel, they’re putting you in Speed & Strength first. When they sell you helmets, they’re walking you to the Arias first and then working backward. When they sell exhausts, they represent our brand as the premium exhaust, and if you want to buy something else, they’ll work you back into it. But they’re always going to represent that (the LeoVince product) as the premium piece.”

LeoVince U.S.A. changed its distribution system last year as it discontinued relationships with a number of national distributors to move more of its business dealer direct. However, the brand continues to be carried by national distributor Tucker Rocky.

— Neil Pascale

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