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Are you giving in to customer wants?

January 11, 2011
Filed under From the Editors

With tighter disposable income, customers today are often looking for something more out of a sale. They’re asking, “What can the retailer give to entice me to purchase, or to encourage me to return in the future?”

It’s happening in all markets. I’ll admit as a consumer I’ve looked for those things as well. If I spend $25 on a gift card, are you willing to throw in an extra $5 like the restaurant across the street?

But how does that affect you as a retailer? J.D. Power and Associates asked new motorcycle buyers for the first time this past year what was given to them free at the time of purchase. The amount of times a dealership provided that customer with something at no cost — with the bike purchase — might be surprising to you. (The survey results will be detailed in the Jan. 17 issue of Powersports Business.)

Some dealers are adamant about not giving anything away. Chuck Golinvaux, co-owner of Outdoor Motorsports in Spearfish, S.D., for example, believes he’s taking profit away if he throws anything extra in.  “Giving something to them doesn’t make it any better, I think,” he said.

But others give away anything from store-branded T-shirts (designed as free advertising for the dealership) to parts and accessories to make a sale, boost a sale or persuade a customer to return.

“I would say the truth is everything is negotiable,” said Lee Van Zeeland, dealer principal of Team Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wis. He added he doesn’t normally give anything away but would consider a request if it closes the sale and doesn’t largely affect his profit.

Free products and services might not be the answer for all dealerships, but the concept is worth a discussion as your competitor down the street may already be drawing in customers with such tactics. And trust me, you’ll be surprised at exactly how often this is happening and what exactly is given away.

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