“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” Several successful and influential people, including Henry Ford, Albert Einstein and Tony Robbins, have been recognized as originators of this quote. No matter the source, the sentiment remains the same. In context of the powersports industry, a dealer that still conducts business the way things were done in the '90s is NOT going to yield the same results today — in the year 2018. Resolve to change and better results in the New Year! Here are three paths to consider while paving the way to change: What you sell, to whom you sell and how you sell.
What do you sell?
Ultimately, dealers wants to sell “fun” and “transportation,” but these concepts often get sold in boxes — boxes that contain a new sport bike, a helmet or simply a widget. Anything procured from a manufacturer or distributor and sold for a profit is what you sell. The profits are what pays rent, utilities and payroll – plus a hundred other things before that first “net” profit dollar lands on the bottom line. Anyone at the dealership who is responsible for the “boxes” that are sold to customers should be constantly evaluating current stock and new products. If dealerships are offering a consistent supply of hot current items and fresh products to customers, business will flourish by maximizing inventory turns and profit margins. As an independent rep, there is little that confuses me more than when a buyer chooses to limit merchandise in a dealership from what distributor X and distributor Y offers without even looking to see products are available outside of these sources. Sadly, this misguided loyalty or perceived preference causes the buyer – and dealership’s customers – to miss out on some of the most profitable and innovative lines provided by independent reps and direct sell from manufacturers. Let 2018 be the year to take a fresh and scrutinizing look at everything you sell and expand selections, customer satisfaction and profits.
To whom do you sell?
Customers of the powersports industry are changing. The decades old trend toward the same customer buying bigger and more powerful bikes is aging out, and dealers are not seeing the same trend replicated with today’s young riders. Contemporary motorcycle customers are moved by practical and affordable transportation and safe and clean fun. Manufacturers are slowly coming around to producing more affordable entry-level bikes to try to attract the student-debt-laden millennial customer. In the mean time, a brisk and growing market of affordable used bikes is advancing customer appeal. How can dealers sell to these prospective customers? Perhaps host workshops like a do-it-yourself service clinics. Despite the fact that manufacturers and dealers continue to miss the mark with what women want (i.e., stop thinking pink!), female ridership continues to grow. Female riders tend to like the social aspect of riding – are you hosting any events? If dealers fail to reach out and build these markets, the result will not simply be that these customers will buy elsewhere – instead, today’s potential rider will not buy at all.
How do you sell?
The healthiest and most successful way to build the powersports industry is by creating a culture of freedom, fun and excitement within a safe, practical and affordable mechanism with a family feeling at the dealership. Hosting workshops, clinics, events and rides will help promote such an atmosphere with a strong customer base. Customers support the dealership with new units, parts, accessories and service sales. Customer should leave the dealership feeling like a member of the family community, not like they have just been sold something.
Ready or not, 2018 is here – most dealerships will have a little down time before the weather warms and business picks back up. Will you roll into 2018 doing what you have always done – or are you going to resolve to change and make this year your best year ever?
Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing seven different powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.