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Caliber eases sales of trailer accessories

Liz Hochstedler, Associate Editor
October 5, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Company believes it has found the winning formula with its new kiosk

There’s no doubt that Caliber trailer accessories make loading and unloading snowmobiles from a trailer easy, and they protect the vehicles’ tracks and glides, but explaining to customers what products they need and how much of it their trailer requires has been difficult in the past. Caliber hopes its new in-store kiosk will help make the sale easier.

Until recently, when customers wanted trailer accessories, they would have to sift through a catalog and try to decipher how much of each product was needed.

“They wouldn’t feel like they were getting good technical information on the part that they had,” Caliber national sales manager Paul Dathe said.

In an effort to make the process easier, Caliber created a diagram chart featuring its glides and traction protection and ramps, and the chart cleared up the confusion. It also brought down the purchasing process from an average of 45 minutes to about 20. But Dathe thought the process could still be easier.

In December 2010, Caliber launched its online product configurator, which allows customers or dealers to visit Caliber’s website, choose which type of trailer they have (straight front tilt, V-front open, or enclosed), the length of the trailer and the products they wanted. As each piece is selected, a live graphic is updated.

The configurator has worked well, but Dathe knew he had to find a better way to make customers aware of the configurator and Caliber’s products.

Last year the company launched a program offering dealers 25-28 percent off its products if they were used for in-store displays, but that didn’t take off as well as the company had hoped.

“Last year was such a tough year with no snow, and then on top of the fact that I don’t think that 28 percent off was enough to get people to move on it. I think we only did about 25 programs on that level,” Dathe reported.

Caliber’s Calvin Costenuay, left, demonstrates the company’s new kiosk at the Parts Unlimited National Vendor Presentation in Madison, Wis.

So he went back to the drawing board, and he designed two in-store kiosks that integrate the configurator and product samples. One kiosk, which measures 72 inches tall, 36 inches wide and 14 inches deep, resembles an arcade game and offers space to display Caliber’s smaller products. The other, which measures 99 inches tall, 41 inches wide and 28 inches deep, looks like a small trailer. Each features a touch-screen computer with the configurator, and it allows customers to print a sheet of part numbers and quantities directly from the kiosk when they’re finished with their selections.

“We found this tool to be so powerful because it trains everybody,” Dathe said.

The kiosk allows dealers to learn about the products on their own, while also educating the customer during the search for accessories. The configurator also features information and videos about each product, so customers have a better understanding about what meets their needs.

“They’re seeing the changes happen as they go through the different products,” Dathe explained. “When they’ve got a question about the product, they can click on the video and watch the product in use on the spot. It’s a fast, efficient, lean way of giving some product information on the spot.”

The kiosk was inspired by the GoPro display featured in many retailers. However, Dathe says the Caliber version brings the kiosk to another level because it combines interaction, customization and a personalized printout that a customer can bring directly to the parts counter. Each kiosk is available to dealers ordering $3,000 in shippable (not cumulative) product.

Caliber makes a number of different trailer accessories, including track and glide protectors.

“This thing should be selling itself,” Dathe said. “If this thing is doing more than five trailers, it’s already paid for.”

Caliber debuted the display at the Parts Unlimited National Vendor Presentation in August, and it’s also available to Western Power Sports dealers. Dathe reported a strong response to the kiosk from dealers at the show, with many saying they would order one or would talk to dealership management about ordering one.

After growing sales in both 2010 and 2011, Caliber is hoping the kiosk leads to an even better showing in 2012.

“From a business standpoint, coming up with creative tools to help drive sales at the dealership is really the key to this product, and it’s definitely where the future is going,” Dathe said.

 

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