12305 West State Highway 77
Hayward, WI 54843
Hayward Powersports began 31 years ago as a Polaris snowmobile dealership and horseback riding stable in the vacation hotbed of Hayward, Wisconsin. Bryon Schroeder purchased the business in 1999; dismantled the riding stable business and expanded the Polaris line to include ATVs and Ranger. A marine business followed, along with the addition of Bombardier ATV, snowmobiles, PWC and jet boats. Business is equally divided between marine and powersports. Boat lines include Lund, Ranger, Bennington, Weeres and Gillgetter. Marine engines consist of Suzuki, Evinrude/Johnson and Mercury. Hayward Powersports also carries nine brands of trailers for boats and powersports uses. The facility encompasses about 70,000 square feet, with about 15,000 feet of showroom, 25,000 feet in the shop and the balance in outbuilding storage. The vast majority of the 24 employees are full time.
“Aside from the trails, what else is there?” asks Schroeder. “There are trails and there are machines. It is certainly a misunderstanding by the public that is going to affect trails, and if we don't have trails, we don't have a sport. Government intervention is also a huge, huge issue, but it's pushed by the environmental people who misunderstand and are misinformed.”
“We are in a utility area,” says Schroeder. “There are very few sales of sport bikes. It's the Polaris Sportsman line, bar none. Now that Polaris came out with a Sportsman 500 EFI, I'm sure that is going to take over the market. We were selling a lot of Sportsman 700 and 800s, and the 800 is a very popular ATV, but that is a limited market. Bombardier came out with an 800 this year that I'm sure is going to sell.” Schroeder also says that helmets move briskly and about half of they ATVs he sells have plows on them.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We are located right on a trailhead and have a big rental business,” says Schroeder. “Two up ATV rentals are very popular and sales are right there with them. The bulk of my customers are 45-55 years old and they want a ride. They want the comfort. I think that will progress the sport, if we can make it nice and easy for them to go out there.”
“We have a continuous battle for trails,” says Schroeder. “I'm the president of the Sawyer County Snowmobile Alliance, which is actually the largest single owner of grooming equipment in the world right now. We have been aggressive enough to combine the ATV and snowmobile clubs, so we're working together. If there was a number one threat in our area, it is the small townships that are controlled by [only a few] people. They don't know about the sport, they don't understand the benefits. That is the most frustrating thing, to go to these township meetings, and there are three people on the board.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“We have $1.5 million worth of parts here,” says Schroeder. “Polaris thinks we're crazy. But I have to have them here because people are on vacation, and when people break down, they want it fixed now. They don't want to wait to get back to their [home] dealer. We're able to get them in and out of here. You won't believe what we'll do to go get somebody out of the woods or off the lake. You don't make any money selling products. It is service and all the things that go along with it. We sell a lot of machines, but we service a hell of a lot more [parts and service]. If there's any one thing we emphasize here, it's communication. [Customers] get upset by lack of communication. They don't care if you are bringing them bad news, just bring them news.” The service department consists of nine technicians, a service writer and a service manager. There are two full-time people dedicated in the parts department, along with a part timer.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
We do lots of open houses,” says Schroeder. “We probably have 6-7 open houses a year. We've been very successful with TV during sports in the news. Radio is big. Billboards are so-so. We also are major sponsors of so many different activities. We get involved in the community. Like I said, I'm the president of the Sawyer County Snowmobile Alliance. I'm the president of the Musky N'Snow Snowmobile club. There are 15 different clubs under the alliance. Every one of my staff is DNR trained [to teach] ATV and snowmobile classes. All of the DNR ATV classes [in the area] are conducted in our showroom.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“You don't make money on every person,” says Schroeder. “I think that if most of the other dealerships quit worrying about selling a price, life will get easier. I advertise Hayward Powersports, not products. Consumers are educated; they're on the Internet. All I do is promote my business.”