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Indian dealers already going gaga over future

P36x39-PSB4-Cycle.indd

March 14, 2014
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Since Indian Motorcycles started delivering its first Polaris-built bikes in the fall, the brand has been increasing its dealer network by adding all-new dealerships and seasoned stores to its roster.

Those who have added Indian to their already-established brands have been required to build out their stores to include an Indian-specific area, but the dealers who have are excited about the investment because it allows them to bring in a refreshed American-built brand, and sales so far have proven that they may see some big returns on that investment.

Powersports Business managing editor Liz Keener caught up with a couple dealers who have taken on the Indian line to learn what changes they have had to make and what they expect for sales this coming year.

 

Dealership: Mies Outland in Watkins, Minn.
Co-owner: Jeff Mies
Other brands carried: Polaris, Victory, John Deere

PSB: What made you want to take the Indian line on?

JM: I think it’s such a respected brand, and there’s so much attention that the customers are giving it. We just thought it would be a great long-term fit for our business, and we think it’s going to turn into a very substantial business for us down the road.

PSB: What changes did you have to make to your dealership to accommodate Indian?

JM: We added on a new showroom with a separate entrance into that showroom, which is connected to our dealership, and we also hired additional staff to run that portion of the business.

Mies Outland in Watkins, Minn., added a new showroom to its dealership for the Indian brand, as seen in this rendering.

Mies Outland in Watkins, Minn., added a new showroom to its dealership for the Indian brand, as seen in this rendering.

PSB: How are sales so far?

JM: Very good. We got our first bikes at the beginning of October, and being a Minnesota dealership, we really haven’t had any time for people to get out and enjoy the bikes very much, but that being said, our sales have actually been very good, a lot of interest in the bikes.

PSB: Are you offering demos?

JM: Yes. We did a lot of demo rides last fall with the weather permitting and as soon as it gets nice again here, we’ll have bikes on the road every day.

PSB: How important are demos?

JM: I think it’s very important. As soon as someone rides it, it translates into confidence in the bike, and as soon as they realize how nice this bike is, that it’s probably substantially nicer than the bike they’re getting off. It closes deals in a hurry.

PSB: What do you expect for sales this spring and summer?

Dealerships such as Mies Outland in Watkins, Minn. (top), and Big #1 Motorsports in Birmingham, Ala. (bottom), have undergone build outs to accomodate the new Indian Motorcycle line.

Dealerships such as Mies Outland in Watkins, Minn. (top), and Big #1 Motorsports in Birmingham, Ala. (bottom), have undergone build outs to accomodate the new Indian Motorcycle line.

JM: I really believe that this spring that we will sell Indians at a pace that I guess we’re not used to selling motorcycles at. I think it’s going to be difficult for us to even keep up with business is what I’m hoping. … I expect it to be very, very busy once we get into the riding season.

PSB: Being a Minnesota dealership, does it help your selling proposition that Indian parent Polaris is a Minnesota company?

JM: I think people are maybe more comfortable with Polaris being the parent company because of just our familiarity with the company, and we’re very used to purchasing Polaris products or owning Polaris products, so from that standpoint, I think people are very comfortable with the fact that that is who is bringing Indian to the market now, yes.

 

Dealership: Big #1 Motorsports in Birmingham, Ala.
Principal: Joe Belmont
Other brands carried: Can-Am, Ducati, GEM, Husqvarna, Hyosung, Polaris, Sea-Doo, Star, Suzuki, Yamaha, Zero

PSB: What made you want to take the Indian line on?

JB: Passion for the name, Indian of course, and being a Polaris dealer, we also had faith that Polaris could pull this off and do this right, which they did, I may add. You know, we were trying to look for something … I have followed Harley through the years; I think they’ve done a tremendous job in what they’ve done, and I believe that the only American name that can compete with Harley would be Indian, and it’s proven to be true in that regard. We had the Indian demo truck here, and I would say 90 percent of people who demoed the Indian rode in on a Harley, and they have accepted it and embraced it, not every single one but well over 50 percent. I have probably 15 pre-owned Harleys on my floor that were traded in on the Indian. But to answer your original question, it was the passion for the name, the heritage that Indian has had and knowing that Polaris financed the deal.

PSB: What changes did you have to make to your dealership to accommodate Indian?

Indian dealerships are not only devoting showroom space specifically to the brand, but also dedicating entrances to Indian, as Big #1 Motorsports did.

Indian dealerships are not only devoting showroom space specifically to the brand, but also dedicating entrances to Indian, as Big #1 Motorsports did.

JB: We did a build out. Polaris had a suggested … well, I suppose you can call it a dealer build out is what they called it. They came in, and it took about a week to 10 days. They painted the walls … really, really made it nice, so when you come in, it’s like a store within a store. It’s one of the better things we have done. They did an excellent job on the design. Customers know we’re in the Indian business. … It’s really worked out well. Again, I applaud Polaris.”

PSB: Did the build out require a substantial investment from Big #1?

JB: Polaris called us up front before we ever actually committed. They said, ‘It’s going to require an investment. You’re not going to get it back overnight, so be prepared for that.’ So we knew what we were getting into; it wasn’t a surprise. But Harley dealers have to invest in their dealerships. That’s becoming a trend, I believe, in the future. … The build out is a successful idea, and what I like about it was to do this and to do this investment, you had to be in the Indian business. It wasn’t just so you can say, ‘OK, I’ll take Indian and put it in the existing row of whatever brand you sell,’ so it keeps the discounter out of the business. In other words, you’ve got to invest money, so you’ve got to sell for profit to get a return.”

PSB: Are you offering demos? How important are demos?

JB: Yes. It’s very important because the buyer most of the time is an experienced buyer. It’s a new product that’s out there, so the ride seals the deal. Once they ride it, then they know. They’re experienced riders; they know what they’re looking for, so the ride seals the deal. Most of the time they ride it, they buy.

PSB: How are sales so far?

JB: Sales have been excellent. We got our first bikes in October. We’re sitting on approximately 50 sales, so for a bike just coming out and really not into the selling season — the fall is when they got here — so the number that we’re at, we feel really good about, and with spring coming up, we just can’t wait.

PSB: What do you expect for sales this spring and summer?

JB: I think it will be through the roof. I really believe that we will double that number, and the accessories that go with it, the Indian accessories and the Indian clothing line has been just great for us, so that’s an added profit center that we have. And we’re just really looking forward to spring, when the selling season starts to pick up. It’s going to be really good. We had a good year last year really. Going forward, we’re all pumped.

 

Comments

One Response to “Indian dealers already going gaga over future”

  1. Ramiro Hernandez on April 3rd, 2014 11:55 am

    Great to hear that Indian is coming back strong. I’ve always been a fan of Indian Motorcycles and now they’re looking as good as ever! Great reporting.

    [Reply]

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