Power Profiles

Thompson’s Motorsports – Terre Haute, IN – Oct. 16, 2006

101 1st. St.,
Terre Haute, Ind.
Robert Thompson, Chad Thompson, Scott Jaeger
Business Profile
Thompson’s, which started in 1973 as a Honda dealership, is on the verge of a considerable expansion for its powersports side. The dealership, located close to Indiana State University, sells cars and a full selection of powersports vehicles in its current 40,000 square foot facility. But the ownership group purchased 22 acres to build three new facilities, one of which will be a 40,000 square foot building for only powersports. Thompson’s current plans are to have all three dealerships online for the summer/fall of 2007. Currently, the dealership sells Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs and scooters. Thompson’s also does a large preowned business, selling one used bike to every three new bikes and hopes to get that number close to two new to every one used. The powersports portion of the dealership has 22 employees.
Greatest Concern
Two concerns come to mind for Sales Manager Scott Westfall: ensuring Thompson’s is constantly prepared to appropriately handle consumers and overcoming poor decisions consumers made at other dealerships. “Reverse equity is a big concern,” Westfall said, noting many consumers fall victim to hidden, inflated fees and then can’t get out from their purchase two years later when they want to trade up. To appropriately handle consumers, Thompson’s aggressively trains its different departments, using internal and external training.
What’s Hot?
UTVs have been huge for Thompson’s. “I’m ordering three times the allotted amount everyday and getting most of them,” Westfall said, “but we still can’t keep a 30-day supply on the ground!” He said sales of Rhinos and Mules have been equally hot.
“The high-end helmets have really been a big benefit this year,” Westfall said, noting the company made a commitment this year to bulk up its Arai and Suomy lines. That commitment and training its staff so they could show consumers the reason for the price difference paid off. “For a long time,” Westfall said, “the only thing we thought we could sell” was a middle price range helmet or less.
Customer Buying Trends
Westfall said they’re averaging $1,300 to $1,400 in accessory sales for the UTVs. Surprisingly, that number doesn’t just include winches and other popular utility parts. More and more of that total accessory amount is including riding apparel, like leather jackets, gloves and helmets.
Parts and Service
Consumers regularly sign up for their first service on the day they purchase their new motorcycle or ATV. That’s part of a process Thompson’s calls a “Departmental Path.” The system, which aims to connect consumers with each of the dealership’s profit centers, starts with the sales department. Once the consumer has picked a new vehicle, they are introduced to the business manager, then begin walking the “path.” The consumer is brought to the accessory department, then the parts department and finally the service department, where the first service is scheduled.
Promotional Home Run
This July, Thompson’s hosted a two-day freestyle show at the dealership. They marketed the event with traditional cable TV, radio and print advertising. Plus, they augmented that by printing fliers and having staff post them at neighboring businesses. The result? More than 8,000 consumers showed up to watch a freestyle motocross team and a freestyle street bike team perform. The event also included special edition Thompson’s T-shirts, food and drink vendors as well as fire trucks and clowns for the kids. “It mostly was for awareness,” said Chad Thompson, one of the owners. “It wasn’t about making money that day.” Still, Westfall said “that following Monday, the rest of the month and following months were fabulous.”
Words of Advice
Both Chad Thompson and Westfall preach the importance of the basics. “People walk in your door and they don’t get greeted or feel welcomed. We saw that happen here too, and after replacing 90 percent of the staff (for various reasons) over the past five years we have those type of basics covered now. That’s the first big phase you have to work on,” Thompson said. “Great customer service is so hard to find when shopping for anything today.”

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