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Dealers always interested in keeping an eye on their brethren

August 16, 2011
Filed under Columns

Dealers call. And they email. And more often than not, it’s to protect their fellow dealers.
One dealer took time to write a letter to the editor in hopes that fellow dealers would read it and not be taken by a scam artist.
Another dealer, Jan Downing, was thinking of new avenues to generate revenue. She was in the same boat as nearly every other dealer — tired of seeing the potential of the March and April business climate be subdued by a May and June that left plenty to be desired.
So she took a call at her Outdoors in Motion dealership in Rutland, Vt., from a retail auction house to try to sell some of her vehicles.
“I felt like I got taken so bad, and people need to be aware of this,” she said. “I’ve used every one of the auctions I see advertising in your magazine for years. They’re a great bunch and I never felt like I was treated wrong or losing money. I know all of them personally, and it’s been great.
“But for some stupid reason, I went ahead with this new retail auction even though it sounded too good to be true. It was hard for me to believe that a retail auction could produce the kind of numbers that would make it worth doing.”
Long story short, her dealership took a $70,000 hit on motorcycles and snowmobiles that she shipped to the auction site.
“It almost put us out of business. As I was scratching my head, I thought there really ought to be a way to tell other dealers they should really check it out, and in your mind when it’s too good to be true, it probably is. After being in the business for 30 years, you thought I would have learned by now. But times are tough, and you start trying different things. This was one thing I shouldn’t have tried.
“I went into it wide-eyed. It’s on me. I’m the only person I can kick in the butt. They just did a good job at what they do. They’ve got salesmen that I need.”
How bad did it get?
“There was one motorcycle that had a wholesale in NADA of $8,500. We got $5,800. I could have put it out in front of my store and sold it for at least that, and had the customer would have had to bring it back for service!”
These are just two examples of why you want to make sure you don’t skip over a single story in Powersports Business. I’ve seen how dealers peruse each edition. In fact, I had a birds-eye view of sorts on a recent airline flight to Montreal for Club BRP. Seated in an aisle seat, I woke up from a nap to see a dealer a few rows ahead making sure he didn’t miss a page of Powersports Business. That he was still reading much later in the flight means that we’re providing you with important stories — the kind that can make an impact on your bottom line. Later at the hotel, another dealer lounged in the lobby with his copy of Powersports Business in hand. Time is fleeting, but find time to read PSB. Tuck it your carry-on before you leave for the airport; place it in your bag on the way home from work. Trust me, it’ll be time well spent. If not, you know where to reach me to let me know how to make it better.

  • The Focus section provides insight from dealers and OEM officials about the attractiveness of the hunting segment. If you don’t know the hunting dates in your state, stop reading now and contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources or equivalent wildlife organization. The consensus: hunters are passionate and liquid.
  • Here’s how one dealer described the popularity of the Polaris Ranger RZR S. “Last year was the standard RZR and a few RZR S models, this year it’s RZR S, RZR S, RZR S. It’s completely flipped.”
  • Have you set any personal goals lately? Texas-based dealer Adam Smith (featured on the cover) knows the feeling of accomplishment. Smith has ridden a motorcycle all the way to the Arctic Circle. He said he had made a “stupid statement” early in his career that he would ride to every state in the U.S. His father said there was no way Smith would ride to Alaska, so Smith decided he had to prove his father wrong. In the late 1990s, Smith called a buddy, hopped on his 1997 Harley Ultra and headed north.
  • “We kept riding until we hit the Artic Circle, and we turned around and came back,” Smith said. He’s glad he took the journey, but it was tough with snow, rain, road construction and fallen stones to drive around.
    “What it did is it build a lot of riding credibility,” he said. “After it’s over, it’s hard to say ‘This guy doesn’t have motorcycle cred.’”

  • R.L. Polk’s coveted data this month includes On-Road Pre-Owned Model Leaders by region based on vehicle registrations from the month of May. The Yamaha YZF-R6L (12,326 registrations) and the Harley-Davidson XL1200C (12,223) ranked 1-2 among the segment. Check out the complete package on Page 26.
  • Want to learn more about how to move pre-owned bikes in your dealership? Register today for Profit Xcelerator, Powersports Business’ Conference and Expo. Industry veteran Gart Sutton will lead a Sales & Marketing Track session entitled “Making Pre-Owned Front and Center.” Go to powersportsbusiness.com/profitx to learn about more potential revenue streams.
  • Finally, it was with sadness that we learned of the passing of Ed Lemco. His cohorts in the dealership consulting business also shared our sentiments.
  • “We were all stunned to hear of the recent passing of Ed Lemco. Most of our staff had worked for Ed, and many of our 20 group members had close ties to him as well,” said Steve Jones, senior projects manager for Gart Sutton & Associates. “He was a strong dealer advocate and a staunch supporter of driving dealership growth and profitability through best business practices.
    “Gart put it quite simply: A legend has passed. Ed will be greatly missed by many.”
    Countless dealers relied on Lemco for guidance in their careers; we reached out to some of them, who provide their thoughts on his legacy elsewhere in this edition.

    Dave McMahon is senior editor of Powersports Business. He can be reached at dmcmahon@powersportsbusiness.com or 763-383-4411.

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