Posts Tagged ‘issue’

These words are for you

September 29, 2011

Writing for a living is a strange thing. You put words down. You send them out and hope that someone reads them. And then you do it all over and over. It’s either an exercise in optimism or the most futile profession on the planet.

And then there was my editor’s note from our September issue, “You love what you do. Right?” This one seemed to stir something in our readers, perhaps the same thing that prodded me into writing it.

From the dealernewsblog.com, 2Big2Ride says this, “Makes you ask yourself how much energy do we all expend over the things we cannot control while being distracted from the positive things we can influence and control?” Agreed. (Though my agreement runs a few words shorter.)

And Lori Alminde brings it right into the powersports fold: “I work as a sales rep and I love my job more than anything. I’m a biker first, a sales rep second. … I don’t wanna do anything else in my life. I love what I do. I even have my two bikes in the living room.” Now those are some interior decorating skills I can appreciate.

Most agreed on one main point: There’s way too much negativity in an industry that is rooted in pure, unadulterated fun. Yes, times are bad, but let’s all be thankful we didn’t take the Al Bundy route to Shoe Sales Hell. Our own service columnist, Dave Koshollek explains things pretty well with, “The good thing about this business is the passion everyone has. The bad thing about this business is the passion everyone has. Time to put that passion in check, step back and realize that anyone involved in the powersports business is better than anyone not involved in the powersports business.” Thanks, DAKO.

On to other things …

¡Viva la evolución! so say the T-shirts and bumper stickers. And evolve we must for nothing stinks likes stagnancy.

In the pages of Dealernews. On the floor of Dealer Expo. In the dozen stops of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. In the quiet corners of our own lives. We need tweaks, nips and changes to stay fresh, to keep moving.

Click on through our e-zine and you’ll likely see some new faces and names in the pages of this Dealernews.

One of the first new partygoers you’ll see is Rod Stuckey, founder and president of Dealership University who, along with EVP Tory Hornsby, will be penning monthly columns on Sales and Marketing best practices. For October, Stuckey offers advice on how to foster a good online reputation and encourage positive reviews by offering excellent service. Hornsby is up next for a lesson in Sales — stay tuned.

Another newcomer that will be appearing monthly is a feature that’s chockfull of data from ADP Lightspeed’s Data Services team. The info (p. 31) is the result of a partnership between Dealernews and ADP Lightspeed meant to provide dealers with a real-time snapshot of what powersports units consumers are buying.

The ADP Lightspeed Product Mix report uses information gleaned from a sampling of dealers using the LightspeedNXT DMS to compare units sold, by segment, on a month-to-month basis compared to 2010. See what segment is losing share while others are picking it up. Also, learn which segments are bringing in more sales revenue and which are decreasing. The goal is to give dealers some insight into what mix of units from each segment can help improve profitability.

The remainder of this issue is filled with the fresh and insightful news and features you’ve come to expect. If you’ve noticed from our cover photo, our feature dealer is of particular interest. While some battened down the hatches in the doldrums of 2008, Bill Comegys kicked into high gear at Grand Prix Motorsports in Littleton, Colo. I don’t want to give away the story, so here’s the short version: Comegys converted some unused space into Grand Prix Guns, and the firearms store will make up for 10 percent of the store’s total gross this year. Nicely done.

So, turn a page or two and check out some of the words we’ve laid down for you.

Dennis Johnson

Editor in Chief

dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

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New bike = New thrills

June 1, 2011

Recently I found myself aboard a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring, the über version of Duc’s über sport touring motorcycle.

There’s a very fortunate perk of my job, and the positions of many others working in the business, and that’s getting the privilege of riding a number of different motorcycles from a variety of OEMs. Quite simply it’s a motorcycle geek’s dream gig — even with the long hours of staring at words on a computer screen (that’s the writing geek’s dream job, a different story entirely).

This time around, thanks to Ducati’s PR dude extraordinaire, John Paolo Canton, I got about two-week’s seat time in the Multi, my first time on the do-all machine since its reincarnation as a superbike motor-powered touring bike.

The new Multi has more technical geekiness packed into than anything I’ve ever ridden. By comparison, my personal ride is a 2004 Triumph Thruxton: a carbureted motorcycle for goodness sake! Ride-by-wire throttle. Electronically adjusted front and rear suspension. Brakes that would stop the earth’s rotation. Ergonomics to die for. Four-mode engine mapping. Motorcycling by way of “Tron.”

When I picked up the bike from Tom Hicks’ Southern California Ducati in Brea, Calif., (home to Ducati’s press fleet) I didn’t know what I was expecting. I’d read about the four different engine modes but hadn’t given it much thought. Didn’t know I’d be giving it a lot of thought later. A brief run-through of features with a tech and away I went.

And that’s when I discovered something about the Multi 1200 S: That ride home made me feel like I was discovering motorcycling again.

Settling into the machine over the next many days, this feeling of newness grew more intense. Sport mode was way different than touring mode as was urban and enduro. Switching back and forth between the settings offered a new type of thrill each time. Just the feel of it. The upright and very comfortable seating on a bike that produces 150hp simply felt like a entirely different experience.
Freeway cruising (touring). Short trips to the store and around town (sport). Quick trips around the block (urban). Long rides through the twisties of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains (sport). Commutes to work and back (sport, OK, there’s a trend here). Each one a journey unto itself.
The bike’s been on the market for a while now, so I’m not the first person to ride it or write about it. I’m just one rider with an opinion which, when it comes down to it, that’s what we all are. One man’s hyperbole is another man’s yawn.

And with motorcycling, more than anything in life (save for your tastebuds or musical inclinations), riding is a singular event specific to one person at one particular moment in his or her life. That’s why each ride is an adventure. Why one bike that works for this guy might not work for that girl or the other dude.

In this case, riding the Ducati truly felt like learning anew the thrill of motorcycling. Alas, it soon was time to return the loaner and settle quite comfortably back onto my own Thruxton — like putting on an old, British, shoe.

This experience got me thinking about my current ride and my past motorcycles and scooters. How often do I take the time to rediscover the thing that’s in my garage? To make the changes and tweaks to make my next ride that much different? To make me feel like I’m rediscovering motorcycling? To be honest, not enough. It’s been a while since I uncorked the Thruxton’s motor, replaced mirrors, mounted a fairing or changed the suspension.

How often and in what ways do you help your customers rediscover their own machines? How often do you do the same with yours?

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

2010’s Top 100: Full Speed Ahead!

March 1, 2010

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews March 2010 issue. 

With each new year comes a fresh new batch of Top 100 entries to dig into, read deeply, study long, poke around in and really get a sense of what dealers are doing in the world of powersports retailing. I think I’ll always be amazed by what I read.

As many dealers and entrants point out, the competition offers the chance to benchmark their business, acting as a mirror in which they can check their store’s reflection. Given that most people considered 2009 a year they’d like to bury out behind the shed, we are happy to report that most of the entries indicated that those reflections were still able to fog up the glass a bit.

In other words, 2009 may have sucked wind, but the dealers who entered the Top 100 competition demonstrated that they refuse to let a sour economy cow them into submission. While unit sales were down, we saw dealers pumping energy into growing P&A sales and service dollars. Some reported modest, but healthy growth in these areas, and indicated that they’re going to focus on more of the same for 2010.

Marketing and advertising dollars were also in short supply, leading many owners and managers to finally learn exactly what technology could do for them. Text message promotions. Social networking. Online advertising via Google AdWords and other sources. E-mail newsletters.

We receive submissions from dealerships of all shapes and sizes, ranging from elaborately prepared photo album presentations to quick-and-dirty handwritten entries. All highlight some of the most hard-charging and creative dealers on the continent.

There was one entry that struck me, that from Doug Douglas Motorcycles, which seemed to embody the criteria on which the competition is judged. It is probably one of the most heartfelt entries I’ve ever read. A 3,500 sq. ft. Triumph-only store in San Bernardino, Calif., the shop is a throwback with a twist. Much like Triumph’s lineup of modern classics, which blend old and new, the store seems to easily represent yesteryear’s greasy aesthetic while maintaining a very modern front. This is especially interesting considering the store survives in the shadows of two of the largest dealerships in California — Bert’s Mega Mall and Chaparral.

The store’s been in the same building since 1963 in what is still a residential neighborhood. And much like the old-time barber or grocer, they think of themselves as the neighborhood bike/repair center. They’re not completely old-timey. One staff member, a student at nearby California State University, San Bernardino, came up with a plan to display bikes and clothing on campus. In addition to the display, they also set up a booth to accept credit applications, “The results are that Triumph is now well-represented in the parking lot at CSUSB.”

Intrigued, I snooped around Yelp and the store’s Google Maps page and read outstanding customer comment after comment. Sure, online reviews can be gamed, but it’s rare for a list of online reviews to not include at least one or two displeased cranks.

I get a taste of the dealership’s spirit from two things: First, this description of founder Doug Douglas from the store’s website’s “Our Staff” page: “Founder of the company and part owner. Former national caliber racer that’s won the prestigious Baja off-road race more than once and set a solo record in the process. Grouchy, hard of hearing and the best mechanic you’ll ever know.”

And then this line from the Top 100 entry: “What Doug Douglas Motorcycles lacks in fancy architecture, upscale location or slick-Willy ad campaigns, we make up for with heart and the determination to continue to provide the good people of the Inland Empire with a motorcycling alternative. We don’t win customers with a Crystal Cathedral, instead we treat them with respect, straight-forward answers and a fair price and let the chips fall where they may.”

Yes, we celebrate modern retailing, encourage dealers to raise the bar, and are blown away by the powersports meccas built by some, but there’s something special about shops like Doug Douglas, stores that offer a direct link to the industry’s past.

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