‘Butts in seats’ part of Birds of Prey sled sales growth
Dave McMahon, Editor-in-Chief
February 14, 2013
Filed under Features
Now in its second year in business, Birds of Prey Motorsports in Caldwell, Idaho, figures to build on its rookie year success. That’s because the store, which sells Yamaha, Can-Am, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, Suzuki and Triumph, experienced glaring sales by offering demo rides in its first year of business.
The store offers motorcycle, ATV, side-by-side and PWC demo rides and the accompanying sales, but the snowmobile season brings exceptional results for its fleet of demo mountain sleds.
In fact, general manager Mike Gallina can point to numerous sales that occurred only because the buyer was able to demo the sled first. The dealership hosts demo rides as far as two hours away from its Boise-area location, all with goal of allowing customers to get a feel for the product. Gallina, who has been with the ownership group for nearly seven years, sees the long-distance trips pay off with profitability. The dealership hosts Ski-Doo snowmobile demos twice a month.
“We had eight riders on one of our most recent demo days, and they stayed until dark,” Gallina said. “A gentleman came back and purchased four sleds from us because of demo days.”
Another example, Gallina reports, is a customer who said “demo days pushed him over the edge. Had we not have done that, he would not have made the purchase.”
The dealership goes out of its way to provide exceptional customer service during its demo days. Ski-Doo, the lone snowmobile brand sold at Birds of Prey, has bolstered its demo support this winter at participating dealerships.
“The Skandic isn’t in our fleet, but we took one up to demo because a customer requested it,” Gallina said. “We have a 163 [track] and a 154 that are classified as demos. Another customer wanted to ride a 146 track, so we took that also. If someone wants to ride a certain machine that’s not in our demo fleet, we’ll take it up there so they can ride it.”
A dealership truck and enclosed trailer with dealership signage accompanies a sales manager and marketing manager on each trip. Gallina prefers pre-registrations, but they’ll try to accommodate customers that meet them at the site. For safety reasons, he prefers five or six riders per demo outing.
“We’ll also provide transportation if they need,” he said. “They hop in our truck with us and we can talk sleds the whole way up. Both of our staff members also are equipped with complete backpacks, so we’re well-prepared in case anything happens while we’re riding.”
Gallina has found that simply having the dealership truck out on the road in new territories can help sales.
“One time the guys were on the way home and stopped for dinner. Someone at the restaurant noticed the truck and came in and bought a sled,” Gallina laughed. “So yeah, the demos work out well for us. We’ll even take up pre-owned sleds to demo.”
Providing customers with the attention that they want to experience when taking the demo rides has spurred sled sales at Birds of Prey.
“We encourage customers to bring their own sleds. It doesn’t matter what brand,” he said. “They can get a better feel for the difference between theirs and ours. We’ll ride to an area together, then they ride ours, then theirs, then ours. We put some butts in seats, and let’s ride.”
Product also plays an important role in making the events successful.
“When they get off a Ski-Doo, the first thing they say is ‘Wow!’ The maneuverability, the handling, the new tMotion is unbelievable, the power and the hill-climbing ability,” Gallina said.
Whether it’s motorcycles in the springtime or PWC in the summer, Gallina knows he can count on demo rides as an impetus for sales.
“You don’t buy a car without test driving it and you don’t buy a jacket without trying it on, so why buy a vehicle without trying it first?” Gallina questioned. “Ski-Doo has a big push on their demo program this year, but it’s something we were going to do anyway. We truly feel that you don’t buy it without trying it. We’d rather you buy on a machine that you’re comfortable with, and not on a price tag. If you don’t buy the machine that’s right for you, you’re going to be mad. We’d rather you purchase the right one, not the one that we’re making money off of.”
The store, which opened in September 2011, formed when the ownership group, TMI, purchased the assets of Treasure Valley Motorsports. It moved into the former site of Birds of Prey Harley-Davidson and, later, Discount Motorsports. High Desert Harley-Davidson in Meridian also is in the dealership group.