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Jan. 19, 2009 – A message worth hearing, and repeating

January 19, 2008
Filed under Columns

It has been noted more than once by marketing experts: We, as a body of consumers, are so overwhelmed with marketing messages on a daily basis that we view them, any of them, first and foremost with scorn.
Perhaps scorn might be a tad harsh. Perhaps better said, we view them with a cynical eye.
Of course personally, I would lean more on the “scorn” side as journalists are taught to look at everything cynically, meaning anything on the slightly less desirable side moves straight to the “scorn” column.
There is, however, something that immediately grabs my attention in regard to marketing messages. And let me define the types of “marketing messages” I’m referring to before I move forward. As editor of the leading industry trade magazine, I am a recipient of many of the same requests that readers of Powersports Business are: Requests to give a particular product, service or program special attention.
Because many of these services or products come beholding overused phrases like “class leading” and “industry first,” they immediately are moved, via the brain waves, to the less desirable column. They receive such treatment not because they’re untruthful but because the message has been repeated so often that it loses its luster.
However, when dealing with the actual users of these self-proclaimed innovative products or services, there is one phrase, above all else, that flat-out impresses. That phrase: “I wish I would have done this sooner.”
In all of 2008, I have heard that phrase uttered just three times by dealers. In trying to pass on possible New Year’s resolutions or goals for dealer principals or general managers to consider, it seems reliving those three instances might be the best place to start. Here then are the three dealers who uttered those memorable words and the subjects in which they were referring to.

Full-time F&I salesperson

Until last March, David Roosevelt, the owner of Ducati Seattle, was like the overwhelming majority of dealers in the industry. His F&I sales were handled not by a specialist but by an employee whose main job title had nothing to do with selling F&I products.
Like many dealers, Roosevelt had not hired a full-time F&I salesperson because of the concern of adding additional payroll.
But Roosevelt was swayed by members of the RPM Group, the industry’s leading 20 group provider, to give the full-time F&I salesperson a shot, making it a three-month test case. Six months into the test case, Roosevelt was convinced the full-time position was more than worth the added payroll cost.
Roosevelt said his store’s F&I revenue had tripled, his finance penetration had tripled and the number of customers that were signing up for the store’s prepaid maintenance program also had swelled. Meaning not only had the store added revenue on the day of the new unit’s sale, but the dealership now had the bonus of potentially more revenue in the months to come thanks to the maintenance package.
“I wish I had done it sooner,” Roosevelt said of the full-time F&I staff member.

Service profitability

P.J. LaMariana’s Albuquerque, N.M., dealership has undergone a number of changes as part of the “Italian Job,” a more than year-long dealership profitability program being run by Ducati North America and the RPM Group. LaMariana has installed a number of new processes but perhaps none so dramatic as the tracking and accountability tools in the store’s service department. Some six months after installing these tools, productivity and dollars produced per tech were up at least 30 percent each. But best of all, for the first time the service department was actually adding to the store’s bottom line.
LaMariana, in speaking about these new processes at Ducati’s national dealer meeting this past summer, noted he only wished he would made these changes sooner.

Tax depreciation savings

Cassey McClennan, owner of Rio Yamaha, a Las Cruces, N.M. dealership, learned how dealerships can more quickly depreciate parts of their buildings, providing possible increases in federal tax breaks.
Parts of commercial buildings can be depreciated at 5-, 7- or 15-year periods under a process called cost segregation. This process is the result of a 1997 court case that allowed such depreciation to occur at this pace rather than at the former rate of 27.5 or 39 years.
McClennan worked with a company called Cost Segregation Services to produce a report that divides a building into different depreciation schedules. That report became the supporting document to the IRS for potential tax breaks.
“I’m wishing I would have known about it sooner,” McClennan said of the possible tax depreciation savings.
Devoted Powersports Business readers will remember each of these topics, as they have all appeared within these pages in the past year. But because each of them carry the “I should have done it or known about it sooner” phrase — a singular mark of distinction in my book — I thought it worth repeating.
Here’s hoping history repeats itself and these phrases are uttered — and these programs and services installed — in other dealerships in 2009. psb
Neil Pascale is editor-in-chief of Powersports Business. He can be reached at npascale@affinitygroup.com.

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