Sales of custom bike parts, Indian pilot program spur growth
While weather conditions and economic instability have some dealers throwing up their hands, Vern Eide Motoplex of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is hard at work making 2017 another success. Within minutes of entering the multi-line dealership, it’s clear the “Eide Effect” is alive and well, from its smiling employees to the energetic atmosphere.
Steve Nunn, Vern Eide Motoplex’s general manager, said the dealership has seen overall growth in 2017, despite a late start to summer riding. “We’ve been really affected by summer seasonality in the first three months, but we have rebounded. Our motorcycle business, even during the first quarter, never missed a beat, and that’s where we’ve had a lot of our growth,” he said.
The dealership’s service department had a slow start with fewer riders out due to weather. The parts department has remained strong thanks in part to Vern Eide’s partnership with Rusty Jones Customs. “Everything with RJC goes through our parts department. With the RJC growth and the unit sales growth that we’ve had over the last three years, that’s been the biggest impact in that arena.”
Since news of Polaris’ plan to shutter its Victory line spread in January, Vern Eide has sold all but two of its Victory bikes. Rusty Jones Customs continues to make aftermarket parts for both Victory and Indian, allowing the dealership to build on its relationships with Victory owners. “We just finished a Victory build. We’re not afraid; we know that the demand is still out there from Victory owners. Those bikes are still going to be out there being driven,” Nunn said. “However, we know there is a shelf life. That’s where our huge product of Indian motorcycle parts, which Rusty launched in Sturgis, is going to be exciting.”
Jones’ recent custom build of a 2017 Indian Chieftain is debuting at the 2017 RJC display in Sturgis. The bike’s signature look features a new fairing that Jones designed. “Indian has been a growth area for us, and the Rusty Jones parts have been a growth area for us,” Nunn added. In fact, the number of authorized dealers who sell Rusty Jones Customs has grown to more than 40 in the U.S.
Much like motorcycles, Nunn said the dealership’s PWC sales have grown. Vern Eide carries all three major watercraft brands: Yamaha, Kawasaki and Sea-Doo. “We are slightly up from where we were last year. We’ve seen a longer hit as far as traffic,” said Nunn. “It’s been a good year for watercraft, but much like our motorcycles, we did have a slow start.”
Sea-Doo’s Spark and Trixx models have been the top sellers among PWC. “The Spark has definitely been a hit, and the Trixx performance models — we just can’t get enough of those.”
While Polaris remains the overall top-sold brand at Vern Eide, Nunn said other brands, such as Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki have seen growth. “Polaris still outsells everything 2 to 1. But we’ve seen growth with other brands as well,” he added. Vern Eide was ranked No. 2 in its region for Honda sales in June.
Nunn said the company has plans in the works to purchase the building the dealership’s housed in, so more space can be used for its growing inventory. “We can’t modify the building until we own it. The plan is to turn the entire showroom into an all-year-round motorcycle showroom and then do something additional for off-road. We’ll have a warehouse, kind of Costco-feel, using the warehouse as a showroom with the ability to separate by brand.”
With the rise in internet research, customers are coming into the dealership more informed than in the past. “We treat everyone as though they have all the knowledge and that they are here to teach us,” said Nunn. “It’s really all about what happens once the customer shows up at your store. I think because of how we value that customer when they do show up, it really encompasses our business principles, our Eide Effect, throughout the whole building.”
The dealership works to remind customers “where the fun begins” by hosting several events per month, including bike nights and motorcycle rider safety courses, and continues to support numerous local community groups. In fact, Vern Eide partnered with the Bellator Titans Motorcycle Club to raise $50,150 for Children’s Miracle Network and Camp Bring It On this year.
Vern Eide Motoplex now serves as a pilot study for Indian. The dealership carries parts, like seats and windshields in different sizes, for customers to demo. Nunn said customers “can now walk over to the wall, take the demo seat off, ride it on the spot and know that it’s going to work, rather than order it and hope it works. It’s that convenience aspect, that’s something we’re excited about that Indian has provided for us.”
“The internet cannot give you the same experience as coming and trying it out,” said Nunn. “Having that product on display and available for the consumer to utilize — we’re hoping there will be big things to come from it.”