Power Profiles

Rochester Sports Center – Barrington, NH – July 26, 2004

Rochester Sports Center

98 Calef Highway, Route 125
Barrington, NH 03825

Robert Cicchetto

30,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1988; at present location for six years. Moved from 1,500-sq.-ft. facility to 12,000-sq.-ft. building, then added 18,000 sq. ft. two years ago. Carries Polaris PWC, jet boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles; Arctic Cat snowmobiles and ATVs; and Mercury boats (pontoon, fishing, pedal, etc.). “We’re not on the water — just a busy highway,” says Cicchetto. Largest-selling segment is snowmobile, “but ATVs are getting up there pretty quickly.” 21 full-time and four part-time employees.

Cicchetto’s greatest concern is pricing. “Powersports vehicles are still selling very well, but I’m starting to get objections to the higher and higher prices. I think some people are being priced out of the market. There’s no easy answer to that.”

“The Polaris MSX-150 has been the hot-selling watercraft this Spring,” says Cicchetto. “The Polaris Sportsman 700 EFI has been the hot ATV. We took on the Polaris jet boat last year, so sales have been a little slow, but I’m sure they will come along.” In warm weather Rochester moves life jackets and towables, while in Winter the fast movers include “color accessories” like skid plates and saddlebags so customers can dress up and personalize their snowmobiles.

The average Rochester Sports Center customer is his mid-30s to mid-40s. “We have a sales-tax advantage in New Hampshire — there isn’t one,” says Cicchetto. “So 40% of our customers are local but the other 60% is split between Maine and Massachusetts.” He calls Rochester “a rural city with not a lot of riding territory, and the snow has not been conducive to riding in our area the last couple of seasons. Our customers usually travel about three hours north to ride both ATVs and snowmobiles — they’ve developed a lot of ATV trails in northern New Hampshire.” As for trends, Cicchetto says he’s seeing more families buying multiple units: “Two, three, and four, including a couple of smaller ones for the kids. So that’s definitely growing.”

Cicchetto says his customers’ number-one concern is the lack of ATV trails and closure of the ones that exist. “It’s partially due to growth, but there’s still a lot of land that should be open. Landowners have issues with ATVs: land erosion, people not staying where they belong, and — to a lesser extent — liability.”

Rochester has three staffers devoted to parts and 10 to service. The service center is certified by both Arctic Cat and Polaris. “Our service manager is a Cat Master Gold Technician — the highest level — and he worked for Arctic itself the last few years as a service rep,” notes Cicchetto. “Service has definitely been our mainstay. We’ve expanded parts quite a bit by utilizing a 1,500-sq.-ft. a mezzanine in our main building that had been a used-snowmobile showroom.”

The Rochester Web site is under construction. “We’ve been waiting for years to get rochestersportscenter.com,” notes Cicchetto. “Somebody else had registered it and tried to sell it to me. I stubbornly refused. My son-in-law is in the computer business and has been following this for quite a long time. A month ago the person who registered it gave up, and we were able to get it. So we’ll expand into that rapidly now.”

“Just give the people a fair deal and take care of them with service,” advises Cicchetto. “If you service them properly, they’ll come back to you and sales will follow. Word-of-mouth travels fast.” That attitude has resulted in good repeat business for Rochester Sports Center. psb
—Julie Filatoff

If you would like to share your story with the readers of Powersports Business, please contact Julie Filatoff at filatoff@cybermesa.com.


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