Forget about winning — just entering the Top 100 Dealer competition is no easy feat. The application itself is arduous, requiring entrants to submit information about the vehicles and products they carry, the size of their store and all of its departments, and estimated gross revenue per square foot.
Entrants must submit their best examples of customer service and community involvement initiatives. They have to detail how they motivate their employees. They are required to submit a mission statement, and then detail how they fulfill that mission each and every day.
They have to describe their service departments, their accessories departments, their marketing departments and their
e-commerce and Web activities. Entrants submit images — lots of images — showing the best of their stores. They attach samples of print collateral, digital files of commercials, PDF documents of media campaigns.
Indeed, once you complete and submit a Top 100 entry, it stands to reason that you can use this same file as a basis for loan applications, city permits, employee handbooks, franchise petitions, and more.
So for all who submitted a Top 100 dealer entry for the 2011 competition, and many of you did (entries were up 56 percent this year), well done. The competition was the tightest in recent memory. And if the rest of the dealer community is doing half of what you all are doing each and every day — well, then, the powersports industry is going to be in good shape.
Two unique awards launched in the 2011 competition, both recognizing an effort related to the competition itself. The new Consumer’s Choice Award, sponsored by our sister property, the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows, is awarded to the Top 100 entrant that secured the most consumer votes in a balloting process conducted on www.motorcycleshows.com in November and December. The 2011 Consumer’s Choice Award is given to South Texas Suzuki, a Lytle, Texas, dealership that received 37,000 (no, that’s not a typo) votes in the competition. Congratulations to a dealership that knew how to rally its troops.
The second is the new Vehicle Brand of the Year award. We launched this award with a specific mission: to give the OEMs a real incentive to support their dealers who are working hard every day, and detailing their achievements through the Top 100 entry process. The Vehicle Brand of the Year award goes to the “winningest” OEM — that is, the franchise listed most often by the Top 100 dealers.
For 2011, the Vehicle Brand of the Year award goes to American Suzuki, an OEM that arguably has had better years in terms of vehicle rollouts and annual sales. But here’s one thing Suzuki does right: It works with its dealer community to really encourage those businesses to go through the Top 100 entry process. Suzuki recognizes that the entry process is an education in and of itself, and it is to be commended for its support of the Top 100 competition.
Congratulations to the class of 2011. You work hard, you stay focused, and you persevere. And for that, the industry is grateful.
Group Content Director
This story originally appeared in the Dealernews March 2011 issue.