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Options plentiful for dealers at IMS

Dealerships take different tactics at Minneapolis show

Throughout the Minneapolis International Motorcycle Show, dealerships’ employees could be seen talking to potential prospects. They were explaining the features and benefits of the brand of bikes they carry — as each was pitted up against a competitor’s brand across the aisle — and they were explaining to those potential customers why that unit should be purchased at their dealership.

But not all dealers took the same path to IMS. While nearly half a dozen had their own booths, many took an invitation from their OEM partners to work the OEM booths.

Bristow’s Kawasaki and Polaris made the trek to the Minneapolis Convention Center to set up a booth during the IMS.
Bristow’s Kawasaki and Polaris made the trek to the Minneapolis Convention Center to set up a booth during the IMS.

OEM representation

Mike Killeen, sales and finance manager for Indian Motorcycle of the Twin Cities, was excited to again join Indian at its booth for this year’s local IMS show. As the only Twin Cities-area Indian dealership, working the OEM booth provided him with the perfect opportunity to show off the bikes with a minimal investment from his store.

“The manufacturer’s here, and they want a dealer presence, so we come out and inform people on what we have to offer and hopefully generate some leads and get some business out of it,” he said.

Though the St. Paul, Minn., dealership has only been carrying Polaris’ iteration of the Indian since Polaris acquired the brand, the dealership had been an Indian store under the brand’s previous ownership, so the staff fully understands the Minneapolis/St. Paul market and how the IMS show affects riders.

“The IMS shows generate tons and tons of hullabaloo, and people get excited about it, so we try to catch on to that and keep people interested and also drive business by getting contact information and hopefully selling motorcycles out of it,” Killeen said.

The goal is to take leads back to the store and get riders buying new bikes before spring hits, or as soon as the weather breaks.

“Minnesota has a limited riding season, but yet they have an exorbitant amount of licensed motorcyclists, so it is a motorcycling state or community. Once we’re able to do some riding, then we’re able to get people out on the Indian Motorcycles, and in doing that, invariably when they get off the bike, they’re excited, and they’re happy. The most common phrase that we hear is, ‘Wow. It wasn’t what I expected. It’s better than I expected,’” Killeen said. “It’s better than the competition in most areas, and we’re very happy to offer that to the consumer.”

Running on its own

Selling only pre-owned bikes stops Simply Street Bikes, of Eden Prairie, Minn., from working an OEM booth, but the dealership always has the IMS show on its must-do list.

“You couldn’t ask for your core demographic from a marketing standpoint anymore than this. It’s all motorcyclists, and it’s such great exposure for us,” general manager Derek Stutz said. “It’s fun to come out and meet people. We see so many of our customers come down here, and it’s just kind of making our footprint in the motorcycle marketplace in Minnesota.”


Simply Street Bikes has had so much success at the show in the past, that this year the dealership doubled its booth size to add more apparel. It also partnered with Scorpion, which sent Roger Hendricks to help work the booth on Saturday.

“The past few years we’ve brought small amounts of apparel, and we’ve always gotten the requests of, ‘You guys are the only guys who have stuff here that is actually name brand stuff versus leather 50 percent off or whatever else.’ But we found it a good opportunity to actually get here and be able to sell gear at a good discount,” Stutz said.

The dealership not only uses the show as a sales and marketing opportunity, but it also uses the crowd to help prepare its employees for busy days at the dealership.

IMS attendees in Minneapolis were treated to a seminar on “How to Pick Up Your Bike.”
IMS attendees in Minneapolis were treated to a seminar on “How to Pick Up Your Bike.”

“A lot of our new employees, I bring them down here, and I train them our elevator pitch,” Stutz explained. “So that way it’s that repetition that kind of gets us built into their heads. So they can explain it to somebody in 30 seconds, get them to spin the wheel, maybe win something and sign up for our email list and get some stickers and coupons and a lot of other stuff.”

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