If you’re lucky enough to get Justin Jackrel to sit down for a few minutes for a conversation, you’ll quickly find he’s an energetic, enthusiastic entrepreneur with a focus on making the powersports industry a healthy business now and into the future.
Jackrel, president of Charleston, South Carolina-based scooter company Bintelli, has focused on making his dealers better businesspeople since he launched Bintelli in 2005, but he’s amped up those efforts even more over the past year.
In May 2016, Jackrel launched Bintelli’s Coffee Talks. The monthly video series, available only to Bintelli dealers, offers advice and tips dealers can implement into their businesses. In each episode, Jackrel calls in select Bintelli staff to discuss specific topics, as requested by dealers. Those subjects addressed in the past have included: flooring, dealership relocation, Craigslist marketing and more.
Then, in late summer, Bintelli started its Flagship Powersports program, aimed at bringing young entrepreneurs into the powersports industry. Flagship Powersports walks participants through the entire process of launching a dealership. The stores start with Bintelli and Bintelli-imported Adly scooters, but the hope is that some will eventually blossom into more segments of the powersports industry.
“It’s important because we want to see the brick and mortar industry continue to thrive. As a whole, powersports dealer ownership is aging, without many new dealerships opening on a regular basis. We continue to see amazing dealerships close due to owner retirement, or unfortunately, death, and retail customers are having a harder and harder time finding a shop to buy and service their vehicles,” Jackrel said.
If those initiatives weren’t enough to keep Jackrel busy, in January of this year, Bintelli hosted its first dealer meeting. The event brought 60 dealers aboard a cruise ship to learn more about Bintelli, network with other dealers, learn best practices in a variety of areas and relax while visiting the Bahamas. You can read more about the dealer meeting in an upcoming issue of Powersports Business.
Of course, Jackrel has also paid close attention to the market and has also brought new models to his dealers as well. In the summer of 2015, Bintelli became the U.S. importer of Adly scooters. With that addition, and the growth of Bintelli’s own scooters, Bintelli relocated from Florida to Charleston in order to quadruple the size of its manufacturing facility. And at this year’s dealer meeting, the company announced its new electric bicycle lineup and electric youth ATV models. This is all in addition the four models of 49cc scooters and three models of 150cc scooters Bintelli has already brought to market.
“If brick and mortar shops continue closing, we have no one to sell to, and retail customers have nowhere to go to buy or get service,” Jackrel said about Bintelli’s efforts to improve dealerships. “It’s important as a manufacturer that we do everything in our power to help continue to grow the size — and quality — of the industry’s dealers.”
He added, “Our entire team at Bintelli is dedicated to improvement of the industry. This year, our focus with our dealer network is twofold: to increase their profitability and improve their customer satisfaction. We use these two goals in all of our planning and educational components.”
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position, and how have you dealt with it?
As the president of Bintelli, the biggest challenge has been handling our growth. We were the only powersports manufacturer named to the Inc. 5000 list last year, and the constant growth over the last decade brings its own challenges. Our staff size has increased by 67 percent just in the last six months — great for our long-term success, but requires a lot of time for training. Another challenge has been facility size and layout. Our products are large and take up a lot of space. With 100-plus dealers nationwide selling multiple lines of our product, we often find ourselves looking for more storage areas. Just this past week we installed additional racking systems, which will expand our electric bicycle inventory by about 500 units in order to aid our dealers in keeping these fast-selling units in stock and ready to ship. I’m often told that these are “good problems to have,” but they still present challenges. Having a great team around me has been a huge help in pushing past these challenges to continue supporting our dealer family the way they deserve!
What’s the biggest opportunity for the scooter segment, and how can the industry take advantage of it?
I’m going to answer that with more than just scooters. The industry can take advantage of a lineup like ours by simply trying them, accepting assistance and embracing that they can be making a lot of money — and support their local community — if they would try new things. There’s a great opportunity for dealerships to diversify. Sure, I understand that you’ve only sold motorcycles or “Big 4” brands for the last 10-plus years, but not going with the flow and trying new things is what’s causing a lot of dealerships to close and struggle. There was a time that Honda wasn’t a Big 4 and had to fight to get into dealerships. We see how that turned out. Every product line we offer (scooters, e-bikes, ATVs, golf carts, and go-karts) are desired nationwide and are easily sold if they’re stocked and promoted properly. The No. 1 thing the industry can do is try new things. We are always surprised at the amount of resistance from dealerships to learn and grow their offerings, with many refusing to even have the discussion on new programs available to them. As manufacturers and distributors, we don’t make money on a regular basis unless we have a product that sells, which is why we work so hard on the resource and education side. Our goal is to make our dealer family profitable and in turn, continue to be profitable ourselves.
What is the best advice that you can give others in the powersports industry?
The best advice I can give is to continue improving and evolving. We at Bintelli feel a major shift coming in the industry. Retail customers are looking for value, and the quality level coming out of Taiwan and China (if managed properly) is starting to get pretty darn good, especially for the prices offered. Dealers who evolve and buy into a commitment of continual improvement will be those who make it through this transition. Maximize your efforts by offering a diverse lineup of different price points and product types. Diversification allows for more market capture and allows you to run a more stable and profitable dealership. I’d also love to see this notion that “all Chinese products are crap” dispelled. Sure, just like any country, there is definitely crap coming out of China, but there are also amazing products as well, especially at the price points they offer. We at Bintelli have reps that work at each factory for us, not for the factory, to work with QC on the ground on a daily basis. In addition to our QC on-site reps, we make several trips to the factories each year and work with our factories daily. There are a lot of amazing Chinese and Taiwanese brands, and I’d love to see the industry try them out more. The day of selling 49cc scooters for $2,000-plus on a regular basis are coming to an end. We fully load our products with name brand components, and our electric vehicles are actually built in Charleston with many components made in the USA. With dealer profits on our EVs averaging $2,000-plus per unit sold, the dealers who are diversifying are making a lot of money. Use the past as a guide, but continue to evolve and improve. We’re ready to work together to ensure the brick and mortar powersports industry is one that continues to thrive for decades to come!