One side effect of the industry’s recent, near wholesale transition to four-stroke technology is the sudden, heightened interest in pre-owned vehicles.
Used two-strokes often can be found at bargain prices, and typically offer tremendous hop-up potential for the performance enthusiast.
Are used vehicles something dealers should make certain not to ignore? Or is the used market more akin to turbulent waters? The answer depends on which dealership you ask.
Mega-dealer Riva Motorsports of Pompano Beach, Fla. finds itself with a thriving used market, one in which the dealership can’t keep enough vehicles in stock. As Riva owner Dave Bamdas explains, used vehicles can often be had for half the price of a new model. That’s a powerful incentive to someone who may be testing the waters. “Saving $3,000 is a huge difference to the consumer when you’re buying a toy,” said Bamdas. “Clean, used two-strokes are very desirable, and as soon as we get them in, we sell them. It’s a big profit center; on average you make more on a used machine than you do on a new model, especially if you buy them right.
“We are taking in a lot of trades on used two-stroke machines. We’re not afraid of them, and we’re turning around and making good money.”
Bamdas notes the used market also has tremendous potential for creating a new generation of PWC enthusiasts, ones that will likely eventually progress and trade-up within the ranks. “It gets them in, they find out if they like it, and a lot of these people come back and trade for a new four-stroke within a year,” he said. “It lets them sample it, and that machine gets back on the market again.”
Other dealers, however, feel used vehicles detract from the premium, cutting-edge product they’re primarily offering. “We’ve kind of made it a practice not to take in two-strokes,” said Gars Honda of Grand Rapids, Mich., owner Gary Meernik, who readily admits to having a minimal used market. “From day one, we’ve positioned ourselves with an upscale product line.”
Most dealers agree the used market has potential, but must be entered upon with plenty of knowledge, not to mention commitment.
“The challenge in selling used is standing behind the product you sell,” said Parker Yamaha owner Eric Blodgett of Parker, Ariz. “We do take in trades all the time. But typically our approach has been to wholesale the trades out to somebody who disposes of them, either through rental and then auction or offshore. We don’t want to not take a trade-in, because then maybe that leads us to not make the sale on a new product. By the same token, I don’t want the image of the store to be hurt by selling a product that maybe is not up to the standards that customers are used to getting.”
For those that want to thrive in the used arena, run trade-in vehicles through the service department and get them out on the water to make sure everything is in good running condition before offering it to the consumer.
“Given the right scenario and the right place, the used market is a good one to be in and there’s a lot of money to be made in it,” said Blodgett. “But I think you either have to recognize what you’re good at and do it, or stay out of it. If you don’t have time to take a used craft, run it through your service department and take it to the water and make it right, and buy it right, then you shouldn’t be in the business … because what you’re doing is passing on somebody else’s reason they traded it in.
“Unlike an automobile, watercraft get traded in quite often because there’s something broken. And if it’s undisclosed, and you don’t find it in your pre-delivery inspection, then the next consumer is going to have a bad taste in their mouth. And that works against the whole industry.
“If we know the pedigree and we’ve serviced them, we’ll resell them. If we don’t know it, chances are we’ll just make them go away.” psb
Copyright 2006 Powersports Business