Power Profiles

Killeen Power Sports – Killeen, TX – Feb. 12, 2007

Killeen Power Sports
3701 East Central Texas Expressway
Killeen, Texas 76543
Jim Foster
Jim Foster is independent and stands his ground, both of which have helped sustain him in a place that has its definite slow periods. Foster’s dealership is located minutes from Fort Hood, the largest military base in the nation. Half the dealership’s business comes from military personnel and their families. Half the base’s active members are in Iraq and they rotate duties with the other half. When one half is getting ready to go and the other is still away, virtually none of Killeen’s sales come from the base. Foster started with a single-line Suzuki dealership in 1976, but now handles Honda and Polaris products in addition to Suzuki. His business philosophy aims for specialization instead of a little bit of everything, or “gourmet instead of buffet, trying to run one dealership as best I can,” Foster said. “I’ve tried to hold back on taking on any other lines to keep from fragmenting lines any more than they already are.” He is a student of the business, taking part in an RPM 20 group, which has kept his enthusiasm up, he said. The store, which has ATVs, motorcycles, scooters and utility vehicles, retails about 1,000 units a year. Killeen completed a new facility in July 2005, with 30,000 square feet in two stories. The showroom is housed on the lower level, with the majority of the upper level used as a warehouse.
The big box invasion has Foster slightly worried. Low prices draw people in and encourage the 20 percent of people that buy out of town to buy there, Foster said. “They’re in the buffet business, not the gourmet,” Foster said. Having a powersports-retailing big box store nearby “does tend to cause you to reduce margins to compete with them sometimes.”
Killeen Power Sports sells more motorcycles than ATVs. Sportbikes in the 600cc-1,000cc range are the most popular, followed by cruisers. Though the dealer offers ATVs from all three of its lines, quads make up only about 15 percent of business, Foster said.
“I think by elevating the quality of our offerings, we seem to be bringing in a more quality customer,” Foster said. “People are willing to spend the money and pay the price if you have it in stock. Although the Internet does offer some discounts, availability of products is more important than price. If a guy is looking for a tire and I can put it on right now, he’ll buy it. Customers are willing to pay for convenience.”
When designing the new store, instead of going for the usual long parts counter, Killeen instead chose four separate parts kiosks. With the kiosks, customers can look at the parts screen with the clerk and pick out the parts they need. Apparel also plays a big role at the dealership. Several employees are dedicated to apparel only. Killeen keeps so much in stock “it’s kind of like going into a department store,” Foster said. He credits the dealership’s variety and volume of clothing in stock for making it the No. 1 accessory sold. Off-road gear is most popular, along with sport bike leathers. The dealership also has one of the few boot rooms in the country, with a separate department where people can measure their foot, try a boot on and walk out with it.
Killeen Power Sports advertises once a week in a local newspaper, but relies on powersports-related pursuits to spread the message to those who want or need to hear it. One way it does this is by allowing a motorcycle safety instructor to hold a course at the dealership. The instructor does the advertising for the course and gets people into the dealership. The motorcycling community also does a good job of spreading the word, Foster said.
“They have to enjoy the business if they’re going to remain in it,” Foster said. “They should get in somebody’s 20 club as quick as they can and learn about the business and compare how it works with others around the country.”
— Lisa Young

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