Methods to our madness

by

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews June 2010 issue.

You’ll notice something different about the Dealernews June issue.

It’s been a Dealernews tradition to feature a Top 100 dealer on the cover, with an accompanying story highlighting the dealer’s history and best business practices.

Over the years we’ve profiled some really smart businesses managed by some very sharp individuals. For all the things common among dealers, there’s an equal number of trendsetting retail practices that make these dealers stand out among their peers. They are recognized not only by Dealernews, but also by their OEMs, distributors and, most importantly, their customers.

This issue marks a new direction. We’ve decided, after lots of soul-searching and querying many people (including our dealer-heavy editorial advisory board), that our covers and our coverage must not only portray Top 100 best practices, but also mirror the sometimes stronger, more critical issues affecting the powersports retail community.

The man on the cover is not a Top 100 dealer. It’s Don Becklin, founder, CEO and president of Motorcycle Superstore, one of the industry’s most successful online retailers. Becklin and Superstore are illustrative of a subject that’s critical to the survival of nearly every dealer — selling online. Businesses like Superstore are now as much a part of this industry as racing and oil changes.
So if you feel you’ve been smacked upside the head by seeing “your business opponent” on the cover of Dealernews, we hope your eyes refocus in time so you can read about how these e-tailers operate. Ignore them at your own peril or complain about them all you want, but they’re not going away anytime soon.

We talked with Becklin and a few others about the role e-commerce plays, and the Achilles’ heel that gives traditional dealerships the competitive edge. Read the roundtable discussion starting on page 14 to get some insight, and visit www.dealernews.com/ecommerceroundtable to read the complete transcript. (You also can read short profiles on RevZilla, BikeBandit and the e-commerce platform launched by Go AZ Motorcycles owner and GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons. Parsons is a new player, but with a multifranchise destination dealership in Scottsdale, Ariz., he’s already a major stakeholder.)

Our Top 100 dealer profile for this month starts on page 36. There’s a method to our madness: J&W Cycles in Missouri has won the Top 100 prize every year that the competition has been in existence — 19 times. Will they make it to 20, a perfect score? We can pretty much guarantee them a cover (and more) next year if they do.

Which reminds me: The 2011 Top 100 competition is now underway. Go to the Top 100 page the website starting Monday, June 7, and you’ll find a link to our online “nomination form” (previously called the entry form). Create an account and work on your entry over the summer. Your information will remain confidential until you hit “submit.”

But remember to hit “submit” by Oct. 1, the final entry deadline (yes, it’s earlier this year). All dealers who submit completed nomination forms by Oct. 1 will be entered into the new Top 100 Consumers’ Choice Award program hosted by our sister property, the International Motorcycle Shows. Consumers across the country will be voting for their favorite dealership in October and November on http://www.motorcycleshows.com. We’ll award the Consumers’ Choice Prize during the 20th Anniversary Awards Gala in February in Indianapolis.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

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