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Jul. 12, 2010 – How your turkeys (noncurrents) can take flight

July 12, 2010
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They were new Honda MT125s, and we couldn’t sell a one. No kick start, so had to run and bump-start it. The two-stroke engine burned a mix, and it had to be north of nine grand before you had any power at all. It was so bad my guys in the shop were sure that the “MT” stood for “Moto-Turkey.” The sales crew was convinced that it wouldn’t sell, and son-of-a-gun, they were right.
So they sat there. A big stack of them, maybe 25 or more. Interest every month, storage space all used up, and they’re not moving. Goin’ nowhere.
Until we ran out of product. We didn’t buy right at the convention, and we were out of units to sell. Couldn’t buy any from other dealers because they were in the same spot. So we sat there in our Tuesday-morning meeting, all glum about what we were going to sell. When suddenly, it came to us all at the same time. The Moto-Turkeys. That was all we had, so we had to sell those suckers.
Ted went out and told our set-up man Loren to “…put all those turkey 125s together and get them on the floor. Every one of them. We’re going to sell them all!” Loren looked at him like he was crazy, but walked over to the forklift and started it up. Bob called the radio station and told them to get a man down there fast, “Cause we want to do a remote.” I found Dave, our best racer, and told him to get out the one MT we had set up, and get it hot. We wanted to see what it could do on the track.
So Bob is placing the ad, Loren’s got two MTs on his lifts, I’m clearing space out front and Dave is spinning donuts on the track for all the sales guys. There’s a big grin on his face as he comes around the last time and pulls up in front of group. He cracks the throttle a couple times, gets that ring-a-ding thing going, then shuts if off and says, “Guys, this is one hot little bike. You’ll sell a ton of them.”
And they did. All 25. Gone. Just like that. And I have marveled time and again in the years since. We had a little gold mine sitting right there in front of us, but it took a crisis to make us see it. We were convinced that they were Moto-Turkeys, and they really were, until we changed our attitude. That was what it took. A simple change in our attitude.
So here we are in 2010. We have noncurrents all around us, haven’t moved the 2009s yet, and the 2011s are on the way. What are we supposed to do?
May I suggest, how about a change in attitude?
But first, let’s define the problem. I ran a quick study of 532 dealers to see exactly what they had in inventory on May 31, and found what you see in the inventory by by model year chart. Of 105,000 units in stock:

  • 40 percent are 2009s,
  • 33 percent are 2010s,
  • and the 2011s are starting to show up with 2 percent.
    So, there are 12,000 more 2009s among these 532 dealers than there are 2010s. That’s a problem.
    Now, look at the other chart. Here we see the breakdown by make, and some additional problems start to show up.

  • 41 percent of Honda’s out there are 2009s.
  • 43 percent of Kawasaki’s are 2009s,
  • Suzuki comes in with 61 percent
  • and Yamaha is showing 49 percent 2009s.
    So, this a problem? Maybe. And maybe not.
    Bring your noncurrents in, put them on the floor, price them right, get excited about them and watch what happens.
    But leave them out in the stacks, don’t dress them, don’t display them, don’t demo them and you will be sitting there thinking only about the interest you are paying, and wishing they would just go away.
    But remember my Turkeys; my MT125s? They were quite the ugly birds for a long time. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to them, learning about them and getting excited about them that I found out they weren’t turkeys at all. They were really hot, lots of fun and people loved them. There was nothing wrong with those bikes. The problem was in me. When that problem was fixed, all those little turkeys took flight.
    And know what? I even bought some more and sold them too! psb
    Hal Ethington has been associated with the powersports industry for more than 30 years. Ethington is a senior analyst at ADP Lightspeed. He can be reached at Hal_ethington@adp.com.

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