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Follow up: To change or not to change – September 4, 2006

September 4, 2006
Filed under Columns

Powersports dealerships are destination points that customers visit with intention. The intention is to see if a powersports product is something they’d like to own or can even afford.
The fact that a customer drives to a dealership usually indicates that they have some discretionary income, or believe that they do. If they didn’t, why would they come in? So, it is almost guaranteed that each customer is interested in purchasing something.
But what percent of people in America actually own a motorcycle? I ask many powersports dealerships this question and receive a variety of answers that usually fall somewhere between 15 and 50 percent. Their answers seem logical if you think of all the people that are out riding on a warm spring day. However, the answer can be quite surprising — only 3 percent of Americans own a motorcycle, according to the latest Motorcycle Industry Council statistics.
An equally important statistic for dealerships to consider is the average closing ratio. That ratio for a dealership is somewhere between 10 and 20 percent, usually closer to the 10 percent side. Most people within the industry know this, but it seems that we never turn the equation around to make it say that 80 to 90 percent of the potential customers that walk in to a dealership leave without purchasing! The reason this is so important is it proves that we are often too focused on the smaller percentage that are buying, and not focused enough on following up with the 80 percent that are “just looking.” Many of the latter group spend their discretionary income in other industries and end up purchasing bigger houses, new vehicles, vacation packages, plasma TVs, swimming pools, etc.
Most of us in the industry know that powersports products are the most enjoyable products out there, but our potential customers forget. Remember the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” If we properly follow up with customers, we can keep the joy of riding in the forefront of their mind and increase our sales. Here are a few tips for proper follow-up:

  • Call each customer that left your store without a purchase within 24-48 hours. Once you have the customer on the phone, always introduce yourself, verify they have a moment to speak and then state the reason for your call. Remember, you are their friend from the powersports dealership and not a telemarketer.
  • Have a reason for your call. Here are a few good reasons: rebates, special financing, additional model colors, a test ride, etc. At the end of every phone call, ask them to come back into the dealership and set up an appointment. Offer a couple of days and times that you are available, and see which is best for them. Keep in mind that an appointment yields between a 50 and 70 percent closing ratio.
  • Mail a thank you card on the same day a customer came in. With the thank you card, include a good review or article about the unit they were interested in. Write something on a post-it note, like “thought you might like to see this,” attach it to the review and place your business card inside.
    Following up with potential customers is not difficult, but it is a choice. If we choose to remain the same and change nothing, ironically, nothing will change! Another option is to educate ourselves to perform more professional and consistent follow-up so we can compete with our competition in other industries.
    Tory Hornsby, general manager of Dealership University, was drawn to the powersports industry 10 years ago when he turned his passion for motorcycles into a career. Hornsby, father of three, worked in nearly every position in the dealership before becoming a general manager.

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