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Palace Motorsports Inc.-Mitchell, S.D.-May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010
Filed under Power Profiles

BUSINESS PROFILE

Whether it’s a farmer looking to get a utility ATV repaired or a young rider wanting his dirt bike tuned up, Palace MotoSports has it covered. The dealership prides itself on taking care of its local customers. Owner Scott Studer says they make sure not to be pushy and ensure their customers get the best possible machine the first time around. One way they do that is through test rides. “By getting the customer on the right machine the first time saves headaches,” he said. “We might take out 5-6 units and show the customer the differences. Then we let them ride all the units to help them decide.” The dealership’s customer service tactics has helped it grow since it opened in 1990. The facility started out as a 1,000-square foot building, but three additions later, it now covers 5,000 square feet.

GREATEST CONCERN


“Even before the economy fell flat, one of our biggest problems was the OEMs,” said Studer. “With the pressure from them to make the program levels, it forces the dealers to cut margins just to get product out the door. The OEM comes out fine because the product is gone and the dealer has to order more to make the program again with the OEM having the margin they want. With the changes coming from Washington, D.C., we are going to need to be heard as a group.”

WHAT’S HOT

With the snow this year, snowmobiles were strong sellers, says Studer. “Snowmobile-associated parts and accessories were very good.” Another good selling area is utility ATVs for the dealership’s agriculture customers. Studer also said the off-road motorcycle market is good, “from the small play bikes up to the larger race bikes. Off-road riding is still affordable and fun for a family, and we try to promote it that way.”

PARTS AND SERVICE

The dealership’s service department is able to take in anything powersports-related, says Studer. “We have three techs, and they pride themselves on diversity,” he said. “We can go from a custom bike to tuning a mountain sled to getting the agriculture customer back to work or a bike ready for the next race. Everything is tested and checked even if it means loading it up to take it to the track or the pasture. For that reason, we have a 100 CSI score with Yamaha’s service CSI.” Making sure the customer is fully taken care of is also why the parts and accessories department does well. “The customer at the parts and accessories counter wants answers and guidance,”?said Studer. “They can get the info anywhere, so your sales staff has to know more and let the customer know. It doesn’t matter if the question is about what part is needed to make the machine go faster or which gloves work best in a muddy race. If your dealership doesn’t have an answer, the customer is headed down the street or online.”

PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS

Palace MotoSports has a significant presence in the community — something the staff doesn’t take lightly. “Community involvement is so important,” said Studer. “We stay very involved with area motorcycle, ATV and snowmobile clubs. We sponsor races, poker runs and offer other support.” The dealership also sponsors youth sports and conducts fund-raising for other groups. “Take care of your backyard customer first,” noted Studer. “The people in those groups don’t usually forget you, and they never get any support from the online stores. We don’t go looking to buy a customer from someone else 500 miles away. That customer is just headed for the next guy that’s cheaper than you. Take care of your area.”

WORDS OF ADVICE

“Put yourself in your customers’ shoes,” said Studer. “Would you feel OK about how long it took to get the right part? How long you were on hold? If things weren’t quite right, did the salesman make it right? People go to online stores for convenience, so we have to make it quick and easy to buy from us. We don’t need the huge inventory like the online store or the cheap price if we know a lot about the product and make a good decision in a reasonable length of time. Be honest and friendly.”

– Karin Gelschus

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