Power Profiles

Coleman PowerSports – Woodbridge, VA – Nov. 10, 2008

Coleman PowerSports
14105 Telegraph Road
Woodbridge, Va. 22192
Kim Coleman
Last night’s big game, today’s weather, the newest bike or the latest sale – customers visit Coleman PowerSports to talk about pretty much anything and hang out. The dealership’s barbershop-like atmosphere has customers lingering longer than perhaps they intended, but that’s precisely what Sales Manager James Wells wants. Anyone who knows Wells, refers to him as Big Man. His nickname reflects his laid back, humorous personality, which spills over to his customers. He says he wants customers to enjoy their time in the dealership, whether they’re buying or not. “I want the customer to come in here, buy the product comfortably and let them come back just to hang out and talk,” Wells said. “My sales history has been strong because I love this industry and I love this company. That’s what I put into all my salespeople.” The homey atmosphere, however, isn’t reflective of its size. Being one of five stores, Coleman PowerSports has around 40 employees. The showroom alone is about 10,000 square feet. All that room is needed for all the product lines the dealership carries, including Suzuki, Yamaha, Aprilia, Ducati, BRP, E-TON and KYMCO. While the store does a lot of new unit sales, the preowned market is also a significant segment.
Financing. “The traffic and the interest in the product is still here,” said Kim Coleman, general manger of Coleman PowerSports,“but right now we can’t get that same customer financed who we could get financed last year.” One reason for that, Wells says is because some sources have stopped financing recreational vehicles. To overcome some of those issues, Coleman says they’re urging their finance managers to do a more thorough job of customer interviews. “Find out if there’s a co-signer available; is there an additional down payment available; a lot of times we’re putting them on used vehicles that they can better afford,” she said. “We’re seeing it across the board in all departments. (Customers) come in to service and get a $400 estimate, and they’ll ask, ‘What can I get done for $200?’ They don’t have the money to spend.”
Coleman PowerSports added the Can-Am Spyder last year, and it has been a success for the dealership. “The Can-Am Spyder has been one of our strongest units,” Wells said. “Everybody loves that because it’s new and innovative.” Along with the three-wheeler, Wells says sport bikes have been popular. “This year has been the small-mid class because of gas prices,” he noted.
The customer buying trends have dwindled because Wells says people are pinching their pennies these days. “They’re wheeling and dealing more,” he noted. “In ’99 it was unheard of to come in here and ask for something less than retail. More and more people are coming and basically trying to save every dollar they can.” To overcome the penny pinching, Coleman PowerSports has been hosting numerous clearance and discount sales. “We give our customers just about any discount you can think of in sales all through the dealership. That has started a buzz, and it has definitely worked to our advantage,” Wells said. “We try to think outside the box, come up with good sales, not the catchy ‘get you in the door’ sales, but a ‘get you in the door later’ sales,” Wells said referring to repeat customers.
Coleman PowerSports puts a lot of effort into its accessories department. Wells says they have a veteran in charge of it, and his enthusiasm has added value to the department. “He’s taken a hold of the accessories department and tried to make it the same kind of experience you get in the sales department, which is the comforting, come back atmosphere,” Wells noted. “They take a strong initiative the same way we do in sales.” Coleman added, “One of the big differences between us and our competitors is we believe in accessories so we stock and dedicate a lot of floor space to them.” The dealership also puts an emphasis on its service department. It created a pre-paid maintenance program to bump up certain customers in the service line. The program comes with priority service, free inspection and 10 percent off accessories.
“We’re very big on events,” Coleman said. “We feel we need to give the customer a reason to come in.” Coleman PowerSports has two locations in Virginia, and between the two stores, they hold about one event every month, whether it’s an auction, bike show or block party. One of the biggest attractions are the auctions. “We have done that for a very long time. (The auctions) have a huge following,” Coleman said. “That one and now our block party, where we stay open until midnight, are our two signature events.” Both events are held once a year, but the block party can be an all day and night gathering. “On the nights we’re open until midnight, we have some people who come by for lunch and then later that night to watch the show,” Coleman said. “We like to bring in entertainment. We will have DJs or live bands. We’ve done a local sport bike stunt show and Dyno shootouts. We always serve food whether we partner with a local restaurant or we bring out the grill and cook ourselves. We try to make it all about fun.”
“Treat your salespeople and your customers with 100 percent respect. That’s your best point of advertising,” Wells said referring to word-of-mouth.
— Karin Gelschus

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