Dual handlebar throttle controls a welcome addition
Ron Seidner, owner of Bert’s Mega Mall in California, didn’t know where to begin after seeing the 2015 Yamaha WaveRunner lineup. The mid-August unveiling at the Fontainebleau oceanfront resort in Miami was a long way from his 230,000-square-foot supersized dealership in Covina, Calif., but he was ready to have them on his showroom floor.
“Pretty much the whole lineup has me excited,” Seidner said. “They completely redid every make and model with a lot of features and benefits. They really filled the gap where nobody else can knock them for not having the right product. I just got back from the Polaris dealer meeting with 27 new models there, and this is kind of a follow-up to that. I was kind of blown away. I thought we’d have 1-2 new models, not 9-12.”
Seidner knows a thing or two about retailing watercraft, with his store capably contributing to the industry-wide 30 percent rise in sales through August, compared to the year-ago period, according to the Info-Link Bellwether report. In fact, Seidner’s store last year became the No. 1 WaveRunner dealer in the world for the first time. Prior to that, he had been Sea-Doo’s No. 1 dealer in the world for 15 consecutive years.
“The last couple of years Sea-Doo had the advantage of saying they were the only one with a brake system,” Seidner added. “That’s no longer the case. It’s completely flipped. Yamaha’s motivated to make it happen and do some different things. The fit and finish of a Yamaha? People don’t complain. The product does a lot. Product is key; it really is.”
Seidner figures his newly renovated store — with updated carpet, paint, fixtures, showcases, parking lot, customer lounges and indoor neon signage — will help facilitate sales of all three of his store’s PWC brands for 2015.
Chad Deising from Anderson Marine in Madison, Tenn., is in the midst of a sizable expansion, and he plans to capitalize on sales of Yamaha’s boat lineup that an includes an innovative new articulating keel (essentially a rudder) for the 24-foot models.
“It was a long time coming for the 242 with the articulating rudder,” he said. “It’s a great thing for slow speed steering. It was a huge factor that customers would bring up when considering the competitors. This will eliminate objections. The interior upgrades were amazing. The new helm is out of this world. All I can say is look out competitors! I am absolutely thrilled with this show. It’s the best dealer show I’ve ever been to. They were a long time coming, and I can’t wait to get back and start making some phone calls.”
Destin Lesesne, who came to the show from Lake Blue Ridge Marina in Blue Ridge, Ga., appreciated the all-new look of the WaveRunner VX series.
“I like what they did with the new VX, stepping it up a little bit with the FX hood on it,” he said. “It’s a good looking bike, and I think it’ll sell well, and we’ll have a fair margin.”
Lake Blue Ridge Marina has sold through its WaveRunner orders for the past five years, even buying 10 percent deeper each year.
Here’s how principal Greg Surdyke of Surdyke Yamaha in Osage Beach, Mo., described the model launch: “They’re reacting to the needs of the industry and what we’ve needed. We’ve got to go after entry level; we’ve got to after high performance; we’ve got to go after middle of the road, and we’ve got to have good looking colors. We can’t just let Sea-Doo have all the hot colors. I’ve been screaming for some bright, neon grab-you colors, and this is what I’m seeing as I walk through the display room here. I’m really excited.”
Surdyke was glad to see his suggestions come to fruition. The introduction of the V1 and its mid-$7,000 price range for the entry-level buyer is ideal.
“Believe it or not about four years ago I was talking to the Japanese guys at Yamaha, and they asked me what I thought of the entry-level product,” Surdyke said. “I told them I thought the VX was perfect, but just lower the price. We don’t need to change it; it works great; keep it. Maybe I got lucky, and they took that advice. I’m really excited about the new VX, the VXR, the VXS. They are going to go from a mediocre seller to a big seller; I guarantee it.”
The 2015 WaveRunner lineup will allow Surdyke to retail more WaveRunners into the marketplace, just as he’s done since the store opened in 1987.
“I’m sure I’ve put a couple thousand VXs on the water in the Midwest, so now I’m going to get them back on trade after seeing all these. Here we go, back to the start,” he laughed.
As for the new RiDE dual handlebar throttle control system?
“We’ve been fighting customers who come from the Sea-Doo dealer and say, ‘You’ve got to have brakes. Do you guys have brakes?’ We were like ‘What brakes?’ Now we’ve got something better than brakes,” Surdyke said. “We’ve got a very controllable watercraft. We hit a home run with this; I promise.”
Surdyke, whose brother, Tim, owns Surdyke Harley-Davidson in Festus, Mo., has seen unit sales of WaveRunner lag a bit in the past few years, with “units down but dollars up. We’ve been way up in used sales. We captured a lot of the used personal watercraft sales in my market, and there’s good profit in that. I paid my salesmen extra if they took one in on trade, as opposed to selling one without a trade, and it worked. People will say ‘Nah, I’ll just sell it myself.’ But my salesmen are motivated. They say ‘Oh no, you don’t want to sell it. We can give you a very good trade value.’ They sell the benefits of a trade, and it worked out.”