Posts Tagged ‘Top 100’

Dealers, take a bow

March 1, 2011

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.

Mary Slepicka
Group Content Director
mslepicka@dealernews.com

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews March 2011 issue.

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

Dealernews Announces the Top 100 Dealers for 2010 — Are you one?

January 6, 2010

Oh, how we love the Top 100 contest. It’s a chance to take a peek into a myriad dealerships across the country and boy is it exciting. Well, my excitement is about to go off the chartsnow that we’ve announced the Top 100 Dealers for 2010. I got to see quite a few and I’m highly impressed at how many stores took this bad economy by the cajones and charged forth with fantastic new ideas, marketing efforst, restructured business plans and just a great big dose of Great American Kick Ass. 

A few ideas that stuck out: promotions text messaged to customers; dealers using Google AdWords, a concentrated focus on improving CSI scores, more stores offering online credit applications, many dealers using e-mail marketing, using Facebook to interact with customers, and the big daddy, an in-store discount store where lower-priced (not discounted) items are offered. 

From Mary Slepicka’s announcement:

More than 35 states from coast to coast, plus two Canadian provinces, are represented in this year’s Top 100. States with the highest number of winning dealerships are Texas (8), Missouri (7) and Virginia (6). A full list of the 2010 Top 100 Dealers follows.

The Top 100 Dealers will be honored Feb. 12 during an invitation-only awards reception in Indianapolis, where the 2010 Dealer of the Year and Merit Award winners will be revealed. The Top 100 Dealers will be showcased in a three-day gallery exhibit during the 42nd Annual Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo, held Feb. 12-15 at the Indiana Convention Center and the Marriott and Westin Hotels in downtown Indianapolis.

This year’s winners also will be commemorated in the 2010 Top 100 Yearbook, to be published in March byDealernews. In addition, an online gallery will be available starting in March at http://www.dealernews.com.

So go take a look at the list and let us know your thoughts, especially if you’re one of the Top 100.