1151 North 1st St.
Hamilton, Mont., 59840
If the shoe fits, wear it, right? Sometimes finding the shoe that fits just right, that Cinderella slipper, is half the fun. Hamilton Polaris/KTM owner Dave Olson applies this philosophy to powersports vehicles at his Montana dealership with an extensive test track he encourages customers to take advantage of “It’s used daily,” Olson said. “We’ll take out three- or four four-wheelers and let them try different models and ccs. It gives them a good opportunity to try things out and see which way they’d like to go.” Being able to test a number of rides not only gives customers a better feel for what fits them, but also cultivates goodwill between Olson and his customers. He grew up riding and racing in Idaho and eventually started working in a repair shop and figured at some point he would open his own store. The test track is only one aspect of Olson’s Polaris and KTM dealership, which opened in 2000. A new facility was built for the dealership in 2002. In Olson’s 5,000-square-feet facility, he sells motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and utility vehicles. Family plays a large part in the business: his wife works there and his young son and daughter often are found there as well.
Hamilton Polaris/KTM just made the move to tag every advertisement with “Protect your rights to ride,” a public message for a cause Olson is passionate about: access. Through involvement with off-roading and snowmobile clubs in the area, he has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for years to protect riding rights. “It’s something that really needs to be addressed in this day and age,” Olson said. “We’ve spent a lot of time with [the Forest Service] to protect access. If we don’t, they’re going to close us out. We will lose that ground and ability to ride.”
Unlike much of the rest of the country, the Bitterroot Valley in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, where Hamilton Polaris/KTM is located, had strong snowfall for the winter and snowmobile sales were “very, very strong” there for the first part of the year, Olson said. ATV sales also have been strong and Olson has been pleasantly surprised that KTMs have been moving well so early.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Customers want to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. Under increasingly strained economic conditions, consumers are becoming more economically minded and are learning more about things like price, extended warranties and financing, Olson said.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Accessories are such a pertinent part of Hamilton Polaris/KTM’s business, the dealership has set goals to put X amount of dollars into each unit, whether it's in winches or racks. Service at the dealership is designed to be accessible and so are its techs. Olson has it set up so customers are always talking directly with the tech working on their vehicle, instead of a service writer. That way, customers get a first-hand account of what’s going on and are free to ask questions.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Hamilton Polaris/KTM just kicked off a three-month long television advertisement campaign using the “protect your rights to ride” tagline. The dealership’s commercials always feature Olson and his family to promote riding as a family fun event. A Ranger will be given away at the end of the event in May. Hamilton Polaris/KTM also does a unique twist on a direct mailer with the Hamilton Polaris Press. It goes out yearly and highlights upcoming riding seasons, with items to spruce an ATV, coupons and an invitation to an open house.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Keep a close eye on what the market is doing in your area,” Olson offered. “Don’t get over inventoried. There’s a lot of pressure from manufactures to buy, buy, buy. Protecting yourself is more important than protecting the manufacturer.”
— Lisa Young
Hamilton Polaris/KTM – Hamilton, MT – April 2, 2007