Jun. 14, 2010 – Training Day 2010: An inward look

BELLEVUE, WASH. — Placing staff time and attention on slow-moving new unit inventory is challenging enough in a busy spring or summer atmosphere, but infinitely more difficult in a sluggish retail environment.
But how do just that to improve inventory turns, reduce floorplan expenses and thus improve profitability was one of the central issues explored during a lively discussion that was part of Training Day, a program provided by Powersports Business and sponsored by Tucker Rocky Distributing and V-SEPT that gives dealers free training at their stores.
The most recent Training Day event was held in a Seattle suburb at Eastside Motosports, a multi-brand dealership that is unique as it carries two metric brands and one European brand. The dealership is known locally for its sport bike enthusiasm and has sought recently to enhance that with even more track-day events and a more prominent role for its European brand, Ducati.
The entire dealership staff spent close to two hours with Jennifer Robison, Tucker Rocky’s national retail merchandising specialist, before the store opened to discuss a myriad of opportunities to improve sales and profitability.
One area of note: How the store handles its slower-moving inventory, particularly segments outside of the sport bike market that the dealership specializes in. These are segments where dealership staff may not be as passionate about in compared to the sport bike market.
“I’m not suggesting you change who you are,” she said, “but I’m suggesting you broaden your net.”
Part of broadening their potential clientele includes re-examining how slow-moving product is shown in the dealership. Robison suggested the store look at highlighting such units in a focal area of the store, perhaps with added aftermarket parts, to call more consumer attention to these vehicles. This process should be done with coordination between the parts and sales departments, something Robison says isn’t done enough by dealerships.
“This industry is really good at making all the departments separate,” she said.
Robison also cautioned the staff to ensure it keeps the correct consumer objectives in mind when dealing with its core, enthusiast consumers. Those objectives: provide knowledge and value and seek trust, but not necessarily friendship.
“The sales relationship isn’t as strong when you’re liked, rather than trusted,” she said, noting consumers are apt to take advantage of friends rather than those they trust.
In looking closer at retail objectives, Robison asked the Eastside staff to identify their top five retail stores and then note why they shop at those locations. Values like service, convenience and personnel connections were mentioned as reasons for the staff’s retail preferences.
“Retail is a grind,” she said. “It’s hard, but it’s a skill.
“When you learn how to master retail sales, you can do just about anything.” psb

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