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Letter from the Editor

September 17, 2009
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From the editor

Two vital questions and answers moving forward
Neil Pascale
How much is too much?
It’s a question that has occupied the minds of many dealer principals and general managers this year as they consider to what extent they should cut their staff to align expenses with sales.
How about cutting personnel costs by other means, like salary, commission or benefit reductions?
Another vital question and one we believe has been considered — if not acted upon — by the majority of dealerships.
In putting together our annual data book this year, Powersports Business wanted to provide answers to those two crucial questions: How much are dealerships cutting back on personnel? And secondly, and just as importantly, what other cost-cutting steps are they taking in what’s most likely their biggest expense category, personnel?
You’ll find the answers to those questions inside this year’s Data Book thanks to a national survey of close to 400 dealerships conducted for Powersports Business. The survey, sponsored and coordinated by V-SEPT, was conducted in July.
You’ll remember in past years we divided up the results based on the size of the dealership’s business. In this case, “size” meaning the store’s annual revenue or number of new units sold annually rather than by square footage of the dealer’s store.
This year, we’ve made a change simply because of the topic. Instead of dividing dealers up by the size of the business, we divided them up by their region. One look at the U.S. unemployment rates by state — some are near 6 percent while others are double that — will tell you how important is to slice such results up by area of the country. Additionally, this year we’ve broken out Canadian dealerships as a separate group since their economy has been in many ways so different than parts of the United States.
But like in years past, the survey represents all segments of the industry, from metric to V-twin to European stores.
One other note of interest: As well as detailing what impacts the recession has had on dealerships, we also asked dealers to give us their strategy looking forward.
Elsewhere in the annual data book
The national dealership survey serves as only the beginning of our annual Data Book, which is a mass of data that encapsulates the entire industry. Other areas not to miss include:

  • ADP Lightspeed’s dealer benchmarks on the parts, service and sales departments;
  • Retail sales benchmarks from the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index, which rate dealerships on qualities that actual motorcycle shoppers report as being important;
  • New unit sales information, which includes top models, and how new is faring vs. used vehicles from R.L. Polk;
  • Preowned data on both motorcycles and ATVs from Kelley Blue Book;
  • Insights on the new bike buyer from J.D. Power and Associates’ annual consumer survey.
    Of course, all of that exclusive data is just the beginning of the 2008 Market Data Book. Just like last year, roughly half of the Data Book includes a supplier and product directory. We begin this section with an A-Z listing of hundreds upon hundreds of industry companies. The listings include a short description of the companies as well as a contact person and information on how to contact them. Then we break out the companies by type of products made or distributed, including separate listings for ATV, motorcycle, PWC and snowmobile products.
    Didn’t get your company into the listings this year? Then make sure and contact our associate editor, Karin Gelschus at kgelschus@affinitygroup.com, and we’ll send you an online form to fill out. It’s easy, doesn’t take much time and best of all, it’s free.
    The listings complete a package that we believe will not only educate you on the industry, but align your business with the current market place. psb
    Neil Pascale is editor-in-chief of Powersports Business. He can be reached at npascale@affinitygroup.com.

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