Archive for February, 2011

Business Seminar Helps Chinese Manufacturers

February 21, 2011

Panelists’ Message: U.S. Consumers Want Quality and Value

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 21, 2011)— Chinese manufacturers Sunday received several tips on how to successfully sell powersports vehicles and equipment in the United States. The seminar here was put on by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Advanstar Communications for Chinese exhibitors before a packed house at this year’s Dealer Expo.

Attendees heard from government and industry experts about what it takes to successfully sell powersports equipment in the U.S. market. Presenters included representatives of Sargent’s Motorsports Groups, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dealernews magazine. The program, entitled, How To Successfully Sell Powersports Vehicles in the United States, was moderated by Paul Vitrano, executive vice president of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA).

The key messages delivered by panelists were:

  • QUALITY PAYS. Attendees were told that American consumers value quality over cost and that they are willing to pay more for a better product.
  • OBEY THE RULES. Panelists, especially representatives of the CPSC, emphasized the importance of following U.S. government rules and regulations. “Government agencies balance their responsibilities of helping businesses with protecting consumers,” Vitrano said, “and they lean toward protecting consumers.” Penalties for breaking the rules are stiff and expensive, attendees were told.

Joe Delmont, contributing editor for Dealernews, told the audience that it’s important to build a brand, not simply try to export products to the U.S. under many different names to be sold by many different distributors. “That’s a prescription for failure,” he said.

Delmont, who provided a checklist of things to consider in looking at the U.S. market, told the audience that to gain 5% market share in a specific segment for a new China brand might take three years and cost as much as $300 million.

CPSC representatives Tanya Topka and Justin Jirgl described in detail the process of working with the agency that has been set up under the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). A key regulation developed by the CPSC under the law calls for action plans to be approved by the agency before a company’s ATVs may be sold in the U.S.

Gary Sargent, Sr., and Gary Sargent, Jr., have been selling and servicing powersports equipment in their Portland, OR. dealership for more than seven years. They emphasized the importance of building quality machines and backing them with quality parts.

Gary Jr., who runs the dealership’s service operation, told attendees that he prefers to use more expensive, quality parts on a repair job and be confident that it won’t fail.

“I want satisfied customers,” he said, “not unhappy customers who come back because a part failed.”   JD

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Bika Chik fashion show at Dealer Expo

February 20, 2011

It’s kind of a well-known fact that men’s motorcycle apparel exponentially outnumbers women’s apparel  — the complete opposite of how it works in everyday casual wear, where women’s apparel dominates. But luckily for us ladies — and judging from what I’ve seen on the Dealer Expo show floor this weekend — there are some great women’s clothing companies out there holding down the fort. Designer Jeanette Keller’s Bika Chik is one example. A few minutes ago, I caught its fashion show at the Fashion Forward stage, and besides all those cozy graphic tees, there were two things that stood out to me as possible hot-sellers:

Embroidered leather vest. This looked even better on the model than it does in this stock photo. It’s fitted, and a tiny bit on the cropped side, which makes it great for riding. The front has all kinds of edgy zippers and a small upper pocket design, along with two front pockets and a button-waist. The back is embroidered and studded with Swarovski crystals. Comes in black, in sizes S to XL.

 

 

 

 

 

Leather jacket with fringe. A little bit of fringe never hurt anyone. Just like the vest, it has an embroidered skull design on the back to bring some edge to the girly design. It currently comes in pink, but I wonder if Bika Chik will offer this in black as well, in the future. Comes in sizes S to XL.

A bonus: Prices are pretty affordable, too.

If you’re at Dealer Expo, you can find Bika Chik Wear in Booth 5653. Otherwise, contact the company directly by visiting www.bikachik.com and clicking on the “contact us” button.

— Cynthia Furey

Dealers: How you can jump on the mobile-shopping bandwagon for free

February 18, 2011

Hey dealers:
I’ve got an assignment for you that may propel you headfirst into this year’s top marketing trend: mobile e-commerce. Why should you care? In this morning’s Learning Experience Marketing session with Craig Cervenka at Dealer Expo, it was said that an estimated 75 percent of people will try mobile shopping at least once this year. 75 percent. If that doesn’t reel you in, how about if I tell you that your assignment will take just 5 minutes, and it’s free.

Here’s what you do:

Make sure your business is listed in Google Places.

1. Visit places.google.com

2. In the bottom right corner, click on “Google Places for Business.”

3. Create a Google account or log in, if you already have an account.

4. You’ll be redirected to a page where you can “List Your Business.” Just follow the directions on the page. If Google doesn’t have the information on-hand, you’ll enter your address, website phone number, and some other pertinent information.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: If a local customer Google’s your dealership name, or even a keyword like “motorcycle jacket,” you have a better chance of landing on Google’s front page for local results. There will be a map, your address, web address and phone number, all there for them to see. Also, Google automatically formats its Places pages for mobile screens (iPhone, Android, etc.), so you’ll get a nifty little mobile page as well.

— Cynthia

The Trench: Joe Rocket’s latest all-climate offering

February 1, 2011

Our man Steve Blakeney over at Sullivans Inc., just sent us the latest offering from Joe Rocket and upon first glance, it looks pretty cool (or warm).

The Joe Rocket Trench is a combo bit of kit that features a mesh, armored jacket surrounded by a trench coat-length waterproof outer layer. The inner jacket also sports a removable fleece vest. Oh, and there is a rain pant included that’s stored in a pocket on the outer layer. When combined together, the three pieces look like an all-climate riding solution.

Here’s some of the details from Sullivans:

Trench coat (outer layer) features:

  • 100 percent waterproof
  • Waterproof pockets
  • Reflective stripes and logos
  • Adjustable cuffs
  • Built-in straps that ca be used to secure jacket to legs
  • Built-in storage straps for rolling up and affixing jacket to motorcycle
  • Rain pan included and stored in integrated pocket.

Mesh jacket (inner layer) features:

  • Grade A C.E.-rated protectors in shoulders and elbows
  • Removable spine pad with pocket for optional C.E. spine protector
  • Removable warm fleece vest
  • Multi-point SureFit custom adjustment system
  • Internal face shield pocket
  • Snap Loops for attaching jacket to belt
  • Reflective stripes and logos
  • Available in sizes small through 3XL.
  • MSRP is $249.99

We are a giving bunch

February 1, 2011

Growing up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, I lived across and down the street from a bar that was a hangout for a well-known motorcycle club.

It was the kind of place where a midnight brawl meant that my friends and I could go out the next morning and find billiard balls in the gutter opposite the bar. Cops kept close tabs on the joint, if I remember rightly, and it was always jumping on the weekends.

We mostly avoided the place, but as it is with things dark and dangerous, there always was a strong urge to poke around and maybe peek inside during the safety of daylight. Motorcycles. Bad dudes. Fighting. What boy wouldn’t want to check it out?

Once a year, on the marquee outside there was an incongruous message alongside the dates of Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs’ next appearance. It read something like “annual toy drive” or some such, and it always seemed odd (to my juvenile mind) that a rough-and-tumble place like this would have anything to do with toys.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the toy drive this motorcycle club held every year around Christmas was reflective of something quite common to the motorcycling world as a whole. Sure, the club existed on the fringe of the general two-wheeled brotherhood, but its members were doing the same thing many other riders were doing everywhere — giving and supporting their communities.

Motorcycles and other powersports activities attract a wide range of personalities, but there is one trait that seems to be almost universal, and that is, as a whole, we are a very giving bunch. Toy drives. Charity runs. Supporting veterans groups. Fund-raising events at dealerships. There are countless small events all over the country raising money for local organizations and groups. And then there are the biggies, the mega-events known far and wide — Oliver Shokouh’s Love Ride for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Ride for Kids events benefitting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

In 2009 alone, the Ride for Kids activities nationwide raised $4.4 million for the nonprofit focused on finding the cause and cure for childhood brain tumors. Some of the top fund-raisers contributing to that amount were held by powersports dealers. Nielsen Enterprises in Lake Villa, Ill., landed the top business spot with a contribution of $126,857. Bob Henig, owner of Bob’s BMW in Jessup, Md., personally raised $59,012. Not a bad haul for either one.

When motorcyclists come together to give back to their surrounding communities, stuff gets done.
Take this month’s cover dealer, J&W Cycles, a Top 100 dealer for 20 years straight located in Washington, Mo. Owners (and brothers) Bob and Jimmy Jones not only serve on several local boards, they’re also behind a popular motocross race held each year and the local Town and Country Fair. Bob is also president of the chamber of commerce and Jimmy serves on the board at MMI, and the dealership supports several local charitable organizations.

The Jones brothers’ commitment to community even earned the dealership the Top 100 Best Community Involvement Initiative award in 2007. Reading over the list of activities and groups they support leaves one wondering how they have time to run a top-notch dealership, let alone get any sleep.

Examples of giving and charitable work can be found at all levels across the spectrum — from the bad-boy motorcycle clubs of my youth to the outpouring of local support offered by the Joneses, owners of a 34-year-old dealership.

So what’s the motivation? Hard to say or even guess, but it likely falls somewhere between laying the groundwork for good karma and pure altruism.

One thing for certain, the Jones brothers’ commitment to community has earned them and their dealership an esteemed spot in their local area and a loyal customer base, which is a pretty good payoff for simply doing good deeds.

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

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews February 2011 issue.