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June 4, 2007 – Yamaha, Victory take new approach to dealer meetings

June 1, 2007
Filed under Features

Both Yamaha and Victory are adding a new aspect to their dealer meetings this summer, setting up regional meetings in select markets across the country.
Yamaha is experimenting with changing the introduction of its off-road motorcycles, scooters and utility and sport ATVs from its traditional fall national meeting, to a 40-market regional meeting in June. It’s a break from Yamaha’s traditional meeting approach, but a move the company believes is for the better.
“Historically, we’ve had a national dealer meeting in June, which kind of bucked the industry trend. During that meeting, we introduced all our product, including motorcycle, ATV and side-by-side products with the exception of our sport bikes,” said Bob Starr, general manager of national communications for Yamaha Motor Corp. “As our Star motorcycle business continues to grow, we felt it was a big priority to move the launch of the 2008 model Star motorcycles to the fall. So we’ve decided to do this introduction in June that will include our off-road motorcycles, our scooter line and our utility and sport ATVs.
Starr says Yamaha feels the regional meetings are necessary considering the current evolving market situation, and that the company needs to strengthen its lines of communication with its dealer network.
“Rather than just mail out the meeting material to each dealership in a box or do an Internet simulcast, we felt that given the current business climate it’s a priority for us to be as close to our dealerships as we can, he said. “We are having 40 meetings around the country at roughly the same time. Each of these meetings are going to be run by our district managers, and our corporate staff from California will be in attendance at many, if not all of them. It’s more important than ever for us to be as close as we can to the market and to listen to our dealers in a one-on-one environment, and that’s really why we’ve decided to do this.”
Victory’s Vision Tour
Victory also will be taking a new approach to dealer meetings this year, but with a different focus than Yamaha. The company plans to take its 2008 Vision on a 15-market tour, giving dealers and consumers an opportunity to become educated about the new bike and have a chance to demo it.
“What we’re doing is essentially doubling our market space,” said Mark Blackwell, vice president of Victory. “So we want (our dealers) to be educated, to learn about the customer, to learn about the market and how to market to these people, how to sell to them and how to service to them. To accomplish that, we need to do something different than just present the bike at our national meeting.”
Blackwell says for the national meeting, the company will be bringing Victory dealers in a few days beforehand, giving them a chance to focus solely on the Vision. The company is planning a bike night, along with several workshops, with one specifically focused on the luxury touring market.
Victory’s biggest concern about the dealer meeting, however, is that it generally only garners attendance from the dealer principals, which is why the company has decided to take the Vision on the road to 12-15 select markets across the country.
“The good news about having dealers come to Nashville is that we generally get the dealer principal there. The bad news is we don’t get the parts, sale, or service guy,” Blackwell said. “So to reach out to them, we’re going on the road with the Vision demo tour. And we’re going to have a three-day weekend stop, from Friday through Sunday. The Friday portion will be exclusively for a dealership’s sales and service staff, with Saturday and Sunday reserved for consumers by appointment through our Web site.”
Blackwell says if the Vision tour goes well this summer, the company might consider expanding it in future years to include other products as well.

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