Archive for November, 2009

Smart Dealers Use Facebook (Or How to Pimp a Holiday Sale)

November 30, 2009

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a Facebook junky and spend a lot of time on the social networking site. OK, it’s probably far too much time but that’s a topic for another, more humiliating conversation. For the sake of this post, let’s say I was on FB several hours a day over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) Over that time I saw many postings from people I’m friends with or businesses I’m fans of (FB lingo) but there were a handful that really stuck out.

During this holiday break, you couldn’t click a radio dial, open a newspaper or turn a channel without reading something about the retail orgy known as Black Friday and its post-consumergasm follow-up, Cyber Monday. Everybody knows that many retailers count on these two big holiday shopping days to push the books into the black. But did you know that many powersports retailers are also latching onto the idea that building sales programs and marketing efforts around these two days is a great idea?

And why not? Consumers of all stripes are conditioned to view these days as days to GO OUT AND SPEND MONEY. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Thanks and Christmas Wishes

November 25, 2009

Just a brief note to thank our readers for, well, uh, reading, and to our advertisers for supporting Dealernews. Without you folks we’d be unemployed bartending panhandling all the poorer. And I’d also like to thank the DN staff for all of its hard work — Arlo Redwine, Beth Silva, Cynthia Furey and Mary Slepicka, I’m talking to you. This includes all of our great contributors, columnists and regular photographers. You’re a very talented group of people and it’s a pleasure working with you all while cranking out this great publication. Cheers!

OK, enough with the Turkeyday Happy Sappy, I’d also like to float this suggestion should anybody be considering a Christmas gift for me this year. Here’s a little something I’ve had my eye on ….

Good Stuff at Roland Sands Design

November 23, 2009

I’m pretty much a sucker for most everything that come out of Roland Sands Design. The RSD aesthetic nails me on somewhat of a cellular level much like that from any great designer — whether it be furniture, architecture, can openers, bathtub plugs or motorcycles. If it were up to me, even the most mundane object would be of interesting design. (Why should we have to surround ourselves with boring things?)

But the bikes and parts produced by RSD are anything but mundane. Even RSD’s ad campaign featuring Estevan Oriol photographs of Justene Jaro and Rachel Sterling are  stunning. But I didn’t post this blog as another personal lathering of RSD, in fact I think I just officially went on a Tangent.

No, what I’m interested in is RSD’s new Blog It program. Enclosed in each RSD product package is a postcard that lets customers know if they take a picture or shoot video of their RSD-adorned machine, post (more…)

Last in Line: The Final Buell Rolls out of East Troy

November 12, 2009

The last Buell

Just got this pic and paragraph from the PR flacks at Harley-Davidson. Strange that they’d wait two weeks to send it out, but at least they’re recognizing the moment. First the PR bit and then a comment.

Last Buell Motorcycle Built

On October 30, a Buell Lightning XB12Scg rolled off the company’s East Troy, Wis. assembly line, the last of the 136,923 motorcycles built in the company’s 26 years of operation. Parent Harley-Davidson announced on October 15 that the Buell lineup of motorcycles would be discontinued effective December 18, 2009. Buell motorcycles will continue to be sold through existing dealers until inventory is depleted.

I feel fortunate to have had the chance to ride a handful of Buells. The XB12s is probably on my Top 5 favorite motorcycles list  (I’d also put the Ulysses on there too, but I rode the first model year version that had a bad steering lock issues) as it was a thoroughly fun bike to ride. Wicked and torquey and rumbly … there was no mistaking that you were sitting on a Harley. I also truly appreciate Erik Buell and visionary people like him. The motorcycle industry is filled with the most clever, entrepreneurial and just plain smart people that I’ve ever met or been around. They are tinkerers and engineers and machinists and admen and marketeers and sales people, all full of swagger and spark. Erik is at the top of that list. 

So, yeah, this picture and the accompanying paragraph leave me a bit sad.

Dealer Lab: Step Into the Laboratory

November 11, 2009

JoeDelmontThis article is from the October 2009 issue of Dealernews. Note change in fourth paragraph to correct information that ran in the original story.

How would you like to sit in on a management meeting while the team battles to turn around a faltering dealership — one that lost close to $1 million from its two stores last year? Would you find it more interesting if the managers were part of a new ownership team — one that has a proven track record of improving dealer performance?

I thought you might. I recently had the opportunity to listen in on this very scenario in an hour-long session — the first of many. It was educational and filled with surprises.

It’s all part of a new, multimedia sponsor-supported dealer educational program called Dealer Lab, brought to you jointly by Dealernews (and its numerous digital outlets) and PowerHouse Dealer Services. PHD is run by Bill Shenk, and is a recognized dealer training organization and provider of powersports dealer 20 groups. EBay is a major sponsor of the project.

Here’s the situation: Shenk, a former dealer, has been helping dealers improve their operations for 10 years as a consultant and as head of PHD. In July, he had an opportunity to put his ideas into practice when he took over management of Florida Motorsports, which has stores in Naples and Punta Gorda, Fla. (He also has an agreement in principle to buy an ownership interest in the store.) The dealership wasn’t in good shape — in fact, it really did lose nearly $1 million on operations in 2008.

(more…)

Modern Selling: Creating a Friend

November 3, 2009

By Guido Ebert

Research shows that the two main reasons consumers often dread visiting motorcycle and automobile dealerships are 1) the disrespect inherent in being ignored while on the showfloor, and 2) the way in which salespeople tend to descend upon them like hawks on a field mouse. Polar opposites, but equally harmful to the selling process.

I make it a habit of visiting the five local dealerships near my home in the Minneapolis area. While I’m greeted like a long-lost friend at three dealerships — Hitching Post Hopkins, Leo’s South and Scooterville — at the fourth dealership, I often spend 20 minutes walking the showfloor, milling around the Ducati, Triumph and KTM sections, without anyone speaking with me. At the fifth dealership I’m followed around like I’m a thief on the prowl, explained every vehicle or product I stop to take a look at, and never left to simply enjoy the practice of “browsing.”

Ignoring the customer has obvious drawbacks and has long been taught to be among the top reasons for losing a possible sale, but is attempting to capture and control the customer — considered a “must-do” in many sales textbooks — any better for the selling process?

Some sales trainers working in the industry now say selling shouldn’t be a matter of controlling the customer, but a matter of creating a fan of (more…)

Credit Crunch Keeps Lid on Dealers

November 2, 2009

JoeDelmontIf you’re waiting eagerly for 2010 to bring your business a boost, I’ve got some disappointing news for you. There isn’t going to be a big industry turnaround next year, and your friendly local lender probably isn’t going to give you as much money as it has in the past. Tight credit — in both commercial and retail segments — is going to keep the lid on spending and will continue to make it tough to run a business.

Even if lenders decide to turn on the money machine, there are indications that consumers aren’t willing to take on any more debt. That means if your prospects can’t pay cash for a new machine, they’re probably not going to buy one.

Let me be clear about this: I don’t think that the motorcycle industry is going away, and I don’t think that riders have lost their passion for the sport. I do think, however, that the salad days of fast sales and gushing credit that we’ve enjoyed for the last half-dozen years are gone for a long, long time.

Don’t look for any improvement until 2011 at the earliest, unless the credit (more…)

Arai, Shoei Unveil Models, but How Are High-End Sales?

November 1, 2009

Opener[1]The embargo on Arai’s new RX-Q street helmet ends today, and I’m thrilled to see the Dealernews.com article on it comes up No. 2 in a Google search. (Click here to read it.) The folks at Arai stopped by our office a couple of weeks ago to give us a presentation, and left us with information and images. They didn’t donate samples because they only had a few, including a size medium straight from Japan. I tried it on, and (surprise, surprise) it felt great. Qualitywise, this will be another winner hitting the market in late December or early January and retailing for roughly $675.

Does the price sound kinda high? Arai says it’s positioning the RX-Q between the Profile and Corsair-V. In fact, the company is marketing the model as a Corsair-V for the street. I think the helmet is a knockout, but how eager are dealers right now to stock this price point? Tucker Rocky president Steve Johnson told me this past summer that sales of high-end brands are suffering the most. He even mentioned Arai as an example.

Then again, Arai’s timing may not be as bad as it seems. I just heard on TV that the recession is technically over due to the rise in GDP. And although unemployment will remain high for a while, people who haven’t lost their jobs should feel more confident they won’t — and may start spending again. (more…)