Posts Tagged ‘Powersports’

Retailing Questions Continue for Powersports

October 4, 2010

Wells Fargo Consumer Conference

There wasn’t much to excite investors at the recent two-day consumer conference held by Wells Fargo Securities, according to a report issued by the company last week. The conference was held Sept. 29-30 in New York, but there were not many powersports companies among the 64 firm that gave presentations to the analysts. Perhaps the best known powersports participants were Arctic Cat and Brunswick. Other related companies included International Speedway Corp., Penske Automotive, Tractor Supply, Marine Products, and U.S. Auto Parts Network.

Several trends ran through the presentations, according to reports compiled by attending analysts. These include: A continuing major shift to online marketing in a number of forms; personalized marketing is growing, using the Internet and social media to drive sales at online and bricks and mortar sites; increased sourcing costs which could put pressure on margins even though many companies are operating in a more efficient manner, and holiday inventories seem to be in good shape.

“Powersports retail sales visibility likely will be clouded until the beginning of seasonal sales in March,”  Senior analyst Tim Conder wrote in his conference summary report. Near-term price movements of powersports stocks most likely will be tied to general economic activities, he wrote. In his conclusion about the leisure segment, Conder says he likes certain toy companies, followed by cruise lines and powersports companies. Not a real strong recommendation.

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Fred Fox: Aftermarket Upturn Has Started

August 22, 2010

MADISON, Wis — The U.S. powersports aftermarket is past the bottom of the current recession, but it’s likely that there could be continued consolidation and contraction of dealers and aftermarket suppliers, says Fred Fox, chairman of LeMans Corp. The company owns Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties, two of the country’s leading powersports distributors, and services more than 9,000 North American dealers. It also operates a European distribution operation based in Trier, Germany.

Fred Fox

Fox made his comments here Saturday, at the company’s annual National Vendor Presentation (NVP). More than 150 suppliers and an estimated 400 dealers are expected to participate in the five-day event, up from last year.

Fox touched on a number of topics in his state-of-the-industry address and in private comments with me during the show, including:

  • LOW POINT ECONOMICALLY. “I think we’re past the low part of the (recession) curve, as far as the aftermarket is concerned. Most of our sales reps are reporting positive attitudes and encouraging comments in their dealer stores,” he said. When people don’t buy new, they tend to fix up the old, he added.
  • SALES ACTIVITY. Fox said that sales at LeMans were “good” in July and sales “look good” for August, too. He didn’t provide numbers, however, and declined to provide sales figures for the year, which ends in September. He told the audience that dealers in the Sturgis, SD, area and vendors that displayed at the recent rally reported strong attendance and excellent sales.
  • EUROPEAN BUSINESS. The company distributes about 100 brands in Europe and expects to increase this to about 150 brands by next spring. Parts opened its $38 million warehouse in Trier last August. The four-tier facility  covers 177,600 square feet and has inventory worth about $10 million.
  • SUPPLIER CONSOLIDATIONS. A number of suppliers are re-evaluating their future now that the important summer season is winding down and they are facing the slow fall season. Weak cash flow and tightened bank credit are causing some problems, he said. “A few are going to be quitting,” Fox told an audience of suppliers and media representatives.  But he told the audience that he is prepared to assist selected companies when possible. For more than 40 years, Fox has developed a history of fostering mergers among suppliers and of providing individual companies with flexible purchasing programs during slow periods. “If anybody here says,  “The bank is about to call my note one of these days,’ and you need help with that, don’t be afraid to call,” he told the vendor audience.
  • DISTRIBUTORS. Fox said that some competing distributors are using price-cutting business models aimed at cash-strapped dealers. “The thing that scares us,” he said, “is that these distributors, who are selling only on price, aren’t helping the dealers and they aren’t helping you,” he told the suppliers. “More pins in the map doesn’t mean more sales for your product,” he told them, suggesting that loyalty and quality service is more important than adding additional outlets.
  • DISTRIBUTOR CONSIGNMENT PROGRAMS. Fox vehemently denied rumors that Parts/Drag is testing consignment programs in selected dealerships.  “No, absolutely not,” he said, regarding consignment programs at LeMans. “It’s not in our playbook. Consignment is for product that is selling poorly or for stuff you can’t sell. It’s a mistake. We don’t have one nickel’s worth (of product) out there (on consignment). It will not happen in this company.“ Fox said there’s a simple reason for the no-consignment policy at LeMans: “We want the guy to have first class product and have an investment in his business. If you offer consignment, you’re betting on defeat. If a guy has one helmet over here that he’s paid for, and one over there that’s on consignment, guess which one he wants to sell.”  Also, he said, the tactic tends to prop up weak dealers and keeps them going against the good dealers in the area. “If you fill up your store with obsolete product that doesn’t move and then give it back and get some more obsolete stuff that doesn’t move, that’s a bad idea.”

The show ends today. “Attendance has been up from last year,” said Fox, “and the mood among dealers and suppliers I’ve talked with has been excellent.”  JD

Contact me with story ideas and news tips at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952/893-6876.

Online Retailers Getting Better at Service — How About You?

April 1, 2010

Does your dealership sell online? How’s your follow up? How are you helping your customers with the buying experience or are they just free to roam and stumble?

Thought we’d pass along this bit of info from Internet Retailer magazine.

According to E-tailing Group Inc., more online retailers have made their websites easier to shop and are responding promptly to consumer inquiries. The group’s 12th annual Mystery Shopping Study found that such top retailers/e-tailers as REI Co-op and Blue Nile responded to customer e-mails in less than 30 minutes.

The study also found that the organizations E-tailing Group 100 study group allows shoppers  to sort site search results by price, category and brand. Also, most of these businesses link to social networking sites.

Other interesting findings? About 60 percent of the businesses in the study group over guides, how-to content with audio and/or video on their websites. And a bit more than half offer video product demos on product pages.

Keep in mind that these are the websites/retailers training your customers on what to expect from their internet shopping experience. Just as Nordstroms, Banana Republic, the Apple store, and Best Buy are training them what to expect of brick & mortar retailers.

In other words, as time goes on and as new generations of people get into powersports — or when older enthusiasts return to riding — they are going to have an entirely different set of wants and needs from their retailing experience. What does this mean for your dealership? The best way to find out is to go out and shop the major retail stores in your area and take careful note of how you’re treated or mistreated. Steal, beg or borrow new ideas from those businesses who are competing with you for your customers’ expendable cash.

Big Dog Motorcycles Does Indy

January 13, 2010

In these shaky, gloomy times it’s nice to do some horn tooting now and again. So let me take this chance to toot the collective horns of Dealernews and our Big Boss, Advanstar. In his New Year’s missive to the media and his company’s suppliers, Big Dog Motorcycles CEO Sheldon Coleman announces that he’ll only be attending one tradeshow this year — the Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo! Hooray for us, though the reason behind this decision is sobering. 

In Coleman’s words:

As a reminder, we have decided to focus our energies on only one of the two February trade shows for this year. In the past, we have tried to accommodate both the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo and the Indianapolis Powersports Dealer Expo into our schedule and budget. Unfortunately, this year we had to choose between these two find events.

As previously announced, for 2010, Big Dog Motorcycles will only be exhibiting at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo (February 12-15).

We have enjoyed the years of exhibiting at Cincinnati and will miss exhibiting this year at this excellent show. We are respectful of all that Easyriders does for the industry, and are appreciative of the many awards we have achieved at this event. Hopefully next year our budget will allow us to return.

In the meantime, we are pleased to attend the Dealernews Powersports Dealer Expo with our Big Dog booth and factory team.

OK, let me lay down my horn.

 

Selling Scooters: There’s More Than One Way to Pitch a Vespa

January 5, 2010

Caught these two advertisements recently on YouTube. Enjoy.

First there’s this:

And then there’s this:

Dealernewsblog Top 20 Viewed Stories of 2009

December 21, 2009

With 2009 quickly coming to a close, we’d be remiss if we didn’t tackle that trite-but-true end-of-the-year cliche known as the Top Whatever Stories List of (Fill in the year). Some of the time these stories are picked by readers, other times they’re chosen by editors/reporters. At Dealernewsblog we’ll opt for the former, based on the site visitor stats calculated by the good folks at WordPress.

We wish we had the energy and certitude to assemble a bevy of what we feel are the top powersports industry stories of 2009, but we’re kind of fat and lazy after snacking on too many holiday cheese logs, so we’ll leave this up to the cold analytics of the WordPress dashboard. For a more measured and thoughtful approach to the top stories, our own Joe Delmont is assembling a Top 10 list that should be appearing soon (link to come!).

And now, according to our blog stats, here are the Top 20 Dealernewsblog stories that viewers (like you!) clicked on in 2009:

  1. Harley’s Iron 883 – Nightster’s Younger Bro
  2. The Kymco Like — “Classic is one scooter …”
  3. Tragedy for Glen Helen Owner and His Family
  4. It’s Black Tuesday. Some Kid’s ATVs, Bikes Banned
  5. Harley Iron 883, You Are Soon to be Mine (for a while)
  6. Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Review
  7. KTM RC 125 GP Race Bikes for Sale
  8. Vendors That Compete Against Their Own Dealers
  9. 2009 Triumph Bonneville SE — Retro Riding
  10. Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – want one
  11. Top Dealer To Challenge CPSC Lead Content Rule
  12. Ducati Working on Adventure Tourer?
  13. High Fashion Gear for Women Riders? You Betcha
  14. H-D Iron 883 First Peek — On the Road to Review
  15. Dealer Expo Comments; Extra Product Coverage
  16. CPSC’s Recent Action Doesn’t Help Powersports
  17. Second Co-Founder Departs Baja Motorsports
  18. Small Stores Versus Big Stores
  19. New Polaris On-Road Division Raises Questions
  20. Roll Your Own Gear – Joe Rocket’s Hemp Jacket

Obama Can’t Have It Both Ways

December 17, 2009

Free Market Should Dictate Lending Practices

President Barack Obama seems to be uncertain about how he wants to deal with U.S. bankers—sending them directly conflicting messages about their lending practices—and his inconsistency is causing a continuing problem for consumers and small businesses who can’t get the credit they need, especially those in the powersports industry.

On the one hand, he beats up bankers for making so many bad mortgages and creating such a mess that we taxpayers had to bail them out. Shame on you, you greedy bankers, he says, for making so many lousy variable rate mortgages to people who couldn’t make their payments when the new rates kicked in.

That seems like a reasonable position. I think there were a lot of lenders and Wall Street pros who got caught up in spinning mortgage paper, quickly shifting loan packages off their desk and on to the next greedy investor before he could look at the underlying poorly structured loan. While Wall Street bankers bear the brunt of the blame for packaging these loans, the real blame has to come back to the originator— the local banker who approved the so-called NINJA loans for people with no income, no job and no assets. Main street bankers were far from innocent in the entire sub-prime housing mess.

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Going Retail: Creating a Real Store

December 1, 2009

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews December 2009 issue.

Dictionary.com gives the following definition for the word retail: “The sale of goods to ultimate consumers, usually in small quantities.”

But of course we all know what retail stores are — they’re the ones in the mall, the Banana Republics, the Nordstroms, the Apple stores. They’re all retailers, right? What about your store? When was the last time you considered your motorcycle shop a retail store? You sell goods to consumers, often in small quantities. That pretty much qualifies you.

Since I started at Dealernews, I’ve had the “retail” conversation with countless people — dealer principals, OEM employees, sales reps, folks from the big distributors — and we almost always come to the conclusion that too many powersports dealers and dealer employees see themselves as running bike shops and not retail stores. As such, concepts inherent to retail like merchandising and marketing are placed on the back burner.

This is not necessarily a good thing. You’re competing for customer dollars against the Banana Republics and Best Buys of the world, large retailers that spend millions of dollars each year on in-store merchandizing and marketing programs built around seasonal and promotional changes. Often these promotions and efforts are backed by studies of consumer behavior and specifically target buying habits.

As the products change in these large stores, so does the retail landscape. How often do your apparel displays change? Is your P&A department (more…)

Race Replica Scoots We’re Not Getting

September 27, 2009

File this under cool stuff we’re not getting in the U.S.: Three 50cc scooters wrapped in race livery that are sure to be a hit with sportbike enthusiasts looking for alternative surface street transportation.

Inspired by Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP racing team, the Aerox Team Yamaha Race Replica (top), powered by a liquid-cooled two-stroke 50cc engine, is wrapped in the new-for-2009 paint and graphics to match the racing livery of the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike.

The Gilera Runner Marco Simoncelli Replica (middle) is powered by a 50cc liquid-cooled two-stroke engine delivering 5.4hp and features livery similar to that of the 250cc MotoGP World Champion’s factory racebike.

The Malaguti Phantom F12R Ducati Corse Superbike (bottom), available in 50cc liquid or air-cooled two-stroke versions, is the latest in a line of scoots made available via a licensing agreement between Ducati and Malaguti. Also available: the Phantom F12R Bayliss Limited Edition and the Phantom F12R Ducati Team version.

I saw all three of these units during a recent trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany. The bikes depicted in the photos were for sale at motorcycle dealerships adjacent to the world-famous racetrack.
Yamaha_ScooterGilera_ScooterDucati_Adenau-copy

Scooterists Assemble in Twin Cities for ‘Rattle My Bones’ Rally

August 16, 2009

Hundreds of scooterists from all over the Midwest assembled in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul Aug. 13-16 for the 2009 Rattle My Bones scooter rally.

RattleMyBones2The four-day event started with a meet-and-greet and scavenger hunt on the evening of Aug. 13; had participants assembling Aug. 14 for five ride possibilities, a “historic sites” ride and one ride each for geared scoots, automatic scoots, vintage scoots and for scooterists who have never been on a group ride before; continued Aug. 15 with a 70-mile, large group ride followed by dinner, a gymkhana, bike show and music; and wrapped up Aug. 16 with an organized breakfast, raffle prize giveaway, awards presentation and a final ride.

Sponsors included dealerships Scooterville, Blue Cat Motors and Leo’s South; as well as CF Moto; Scooterworks USA; Binetto/Shad; Aerostich; Bell Helmets; Corazzo; Scorpion EXO and Scoot! Magazine, among others.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.

As the logo suggests, the Rattle My Bones rally was named after a song by the defunct Twin Cities band The Suburbs.