Are you ready to hill climb?
By Jennifer Robison, National Retail Specialist, Tucker Rocky Distributing
August 16, 2013
Filed under Guest Blog
Last month my company hosted a well-attended dealer show; I also hosted two sessions myself and am pleased to report all sessions were well attended! One session topic was getting out from behind the counter and selling. So, step up and sell, raise your bar and don’t waste any opportunities to set a higher standard and set some goals.
You folks out there who have worked at least the last six years in the industry know that things got sketchy, boat sales dropped, stores closed, general managers and longtime parts managers had to become salespeople and run their departments all the while with slim to no crews. For many it was bleak. But, times change, seasons change, and the walk across the valleys will lead to a climb of a peak. Peak markets are just that, lots of work to climb that mountain, to make the summit. It’s that time again. It’s time to set a goal — or goals — to train, plan and prepare for the summit! It may take years before another peak.
Today, I still encounter a good number of dealers that are not turning pages planning for success. I can say I have never in my 11 years with Tucker Rocky/Bikers Choice heard an owner or manager say to me or our team, “We are planning to sell X units this year; how can you help me make more money selling products per unit?” I have never heard anyone approach the parts and accessories business like it matters as much as unit sales.
Imagine your stores without service and without parts and accessories? Why ever come back to that store after you purchased your boat? At my Step Out and Sell session I heard it said best by Ashley Smith of Malcolm Smith Motorsports of Riverside, Calif. She said, “You have to have a strong parts and accessories business to seed future sales of new and used units.” She added, “Customers shopping for parts and/or accessories have on several occasions purchased motorcycles due to a casual visit to the dealership.”
It’s well beyond time that we as an industry embrace each department as equally important. Service, parts, accessories and unit sales as equals become a perfect square that should harmonize, not fight, for space, resources and personnel. If we don’t change and up our game on this round, that may be the end for more local retailers, and that would be a shame! It’s raise our bar, or outsiders come in and take over.
The hill climb is now, it’s time to invest in your whole store, invest in the best people you can hire, give importance to your store’s standards of top-shelf service and make sure you use a strategy that includes service, parts and accessories to better your bottom line and keep customers spending in your place! They are back, and they want what they want, and they don’t what to wait for you to get it together.
What would I do?
Overall store team
- Organize your team. Improve communication and interdepartmental collaboration. Assure all customers get great experience in any apart of your store from now on! (Some of you think you do, but find a secret shopper to randomly check out your store and let you know how your store performed and be darn sure.)
- Consider if you have competent managers. Do they know how to up the game, or are they stuck in 1990?
- Ask each department manager to give you a list of 3-6 ways they can improve sales and how they will do it by a certain time line. Yes, always strive to improve margins, but make sure your team can sell! If they can’t sell margin won’t matter either.
- Make managers accountable for departments. Don’t micro-manage. Give them budgets to operate from and some guidelines; make them accountable and get them to innovate.
- Ask managers to improve level of service from each employee in their care. Challenge how they would have their staff handle a variety of customer situations. Its about empowerment to create customers.
- Learn about unit sales in your store or region. You have to sell what sells not just what you and your team likes.
- Make a shift to fresh new products or brands. Sometimes the products that sell are not the most glamorous or highly advertised. Everyday people need comfort or conveniences that make the ride better.
- Clean, organize, get your displays in order and stop selling dull displays. Take down all those old banners, trophies, family photos and pop machines, they aren’t helping they are clutter!
- Talk to your customers. Ask them what they are interested in. Ask the customers that you may not spend as much time with, the ones that don’t usually talk are likely the ones who will spend and not ask for discounts.
- STOP DISCOUNTING! If you want incentives to buy fine, but quit allowing employees to discount to anyone they serve.
- Promote. Promote parts and accessories to your customers. More customers are interested in a new lifejacket or GPS in most cases than your new boats.
Jennifer Robison’s career began in 1987 when she served as a service writer/parts sales for a high-end import auto dealer before becoming one of the first generation of Harley-Davidson Motorclothes managers at a Northwest dealership (1991-2000). From 2002 on, Jennifer has been with Tucker Rocky Distributing. Jennifer has educated the Tucker Rocky sales force and dealers about the powersports apparel business and powersports retailing. Jennifer’s expertise is in powersports retailing, merchandising and display, promotions and in-store marketing. She has lectured and written about powersports retailing and continues to perform dealer educational workshops and seminars across the United States.