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Letter from the Editor

October 21, 2010
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From the editor

Charting the industry’s change, or lack thereof
Neil Pascale
There are any number of economic indicators that show a different industry marketplace. Certainly a different-sized marketplace.
There are not, however, any indications of how, or if, dealerships have changed to the same degree as the marketplace.
For instance, in 2007, near the height of this industry’s annual major unit retail sales, dealerships relied on major units sales for half of their total store revenue. That was the case for both V-twin and metric dealerships. Today, or least through the first half of the year, on-road motorcycle sales have dropped by more than 50 percent.
So do you in turn expect dealers’ revenue models to have changed? Is it possible that dealers still rely on new unit sales to produce half of their store’s revenue despite the fact that retail sales of new motorcycles have fallen so dramatically from 2007?
We wondered the same, and in preparing our largest dealership survey of the year sought to discover that and other key questions about changes to the 2010 dealership.
Honestly, the answers were quite surprising to us.
There have been some changes that we did not expect, including the size of dealership staffs compared to 2007. (There not as diminished as you probably expect.) And other answers that we did expect, but were hoping for something dramatically different (like the dealers’ continued reliance on new unit sales.)
The survey, which included 300 dealers from throughout the nation, is broken down into different categories. You’ll see inside we have grouped dealers by the amount of their annual revenue, so that dealers can better match their business to other operations. We think this will be especially helpful as dealers look at their staff sizes as well as their employee benefits and compare those to other, similar-sized operations.
As in past years, the survey represents all segments of the industry, from metric to V-twin to European brand dealers.
Also in the data book
The national dealer survey that compares today’s dealerships to 2007 is just the start of this mass collection of industry data. Other key areas you’ll want to check out include:

  • Key data from the Spader Business Management Group that provides a look at how several dealership expense areas as a percent of gross profit have changed recently;
  • How wholesale prices fluctuate during the year for the industry’s major vehicle segments courtesy of National Powersport Auctions;
  • ADP Lightspeed’s 2010 dealer benchmarks on the parts, service and sales departments and how those compare to recent years;
  • Insights on the new bike buyer from J.D. Power and Associates’ annual consumer survey, like the No. 1 reason consumers pick a certain model or brand;
  • New unit sales information, including the hottest-selling models, and how new is faring vs. used vehicles from R.L. Polk;
  • Preowned data on both motorcycles and ATVs from Kelley Blue Book.
  • Of course, all of that exclusive data is just the beginning of the 2010 Market Data Book. Just like last year, roughly half of the Data Book includes a supplier 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 all their contact information.
    Didn’t get your company into the listings this year? Then make sure and contact our online editor, Mike Davin, at mdavin@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 still free.
    It’s nice to know that even though plenty has changed since 2007, some things remain the same.
    This in-depth view of the industry is certainly one of them. PSB
    Neil Pascale is editor-in-chief of Powersports Business. He can be reached at npascale@affinitygroup.com.

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