Walt’s Motorsports & Marine
July 28, 2003
Filed under Features
1551 South Palo Verde Boulevard
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
The Beck Family
25,000-sq.-ft.dealership founded in 1979 at the present location (about one mile from Lake Havasu, by the state park). Run by Walt Beck and his son and daughter. Carries full lines of Kawasaki and Yamaha, Sea-Doo PWC, Bombardier ATVs, and KTM motorcycles. “We’re the only multi-line store in Lake Havasu,” says Tony Beck. “There are two other dealers–Polaris and Suzuki. Overall we sell more motorcycles and ATVs, then within two months, we sell every watercraft we have. Today it’s 118°, so it’s definitely geared toward the water; nobody’s riding a motorcycle or an ATV unless they have to.” 27 employees.
“When it comes to watercraft, it’s a buyer’s market,” says Beck. “The product is not holding its value as well as it used to. Dealers are devaluing the product by selling at pennies over cost. ATV customers are revved up when they come in to buy a Raptor. With watercraft they say, ‘I don’t know if I really want one or not.’ Bad press has kind of caused the watercraft market to take a turn for the worse, unfortunately. Customers may be afraid–‘What if I can’t use this two-stroke in two years? Then I can’t sell it, and I’ve spent $10,000.’ There has been a general scare throughout our region. There are no restrictions right now on ATV operation–desert riding and that kind of thing–so people aren’t afraid to buy them.”
“Four-stroke, three-seater watercraft–the Sea-Doo 4-TEC Limited Supercharged, the Yamaha FX140, and the Kawasaki Jet Ski 12F—have been dominating sales so far,” says Beck. “In accessories, it’s hard to say what’s hot. We sell some of everything, from soft goods to OEM hard parts.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS:
The typical Walt’s Motorsports & Marine customer is male and ranges from construction worker to lawyer or doctor. “People are taking more time to buy watercraft than they used to. In the past, customers would just walk in, see a two-person watercraft in a color they liked, and say, ‘I’ll take that one.’ Those days are gone. People are pretty informed.” Or misinformed–“Out on the water, customers hear ‘Brand X is bad’ or ‘Brand X is good.’ Before we were able to sell pretty much what we had on the floor. Now we find out their needs and show them the different options in the particular model they want. Eight months in advance when placing our orders we’re guessing what will be the hottest seller. Then the magazines do their testing, and we hope we’ve guessed right.”
“They tried to ban watercraft on Lake Mead (Arizona/Nevada) and Lake Powell (Arizona/Utah), but that never got down to Lake Havasu,” says Beck. “Bans on Mead and Powell have been lifted.”
PARTS AND SERVICE:
Walt’s Motorsports & Marine has a Parts Manager, an Assistant Manager, and two Salespeople; and a Service Manager, a Writer, and five trained Technicians. In addition to the brands it sells, Walt’s services Suzuki and–because there’s no dealer in the area–Honda vehicles.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS:
Walt’s has helped host the PWC World Finals since its beginning in 1982. “It’s a busy week for us, definitely,” notes Beck.
WORDS OF ADVICE:
Beck credits his insight to the fact that he was raised in the powersports industry. “I can make all the decisions that need to be made. I’m here six days per week–that helps,” he says. “Listening to your customer is the biggest factor, and trying to fill his needs, not just selling what you have. That develops integrity for the product and the store. I treat every customer as I would like to be treated. Some–not all, but some big-city dealerships basically look at every customer as a number. Get them in and get them out. We are definitely a hands-on operation. Last year’s total volume was 1,380 units and this year we’re going to pass that. Go through our index of units sold and you’ll see the same name eight or 10 times. Some people have been buying from my mom and dad since the early 1980s, then from me.”
If Beck gets a tip from a friend that a customer feels he was not dealt with fairly, Beck immediately calls the customer to find out the scoop. “I deal with that situation immediately and get the customer whatever he needs. I want every customer to feel like he got a great deal.”