There has been a great deal of conversation in the powersports industry lately. Bike sales are down, the average age of motorcyclists is getting older, and people are turning to other forms of recreation with their disposable dollars. It is affecting everyone in the business. From OEM and manufacturers to distributors and right down to the front line, the powersports dealer. All are struggling. There was even an article in the LA Times speaking about the dire straights of the industry.
What happened? Aren’t motorcycles cool any longer?
Many factors caused the decline in attracting new riders from the aging of the current demographics to the switch in the taste of younger generations. Financial issues also play a significant part as the credit crunch eliminated a large number of new buyers. But regardless of the reason, the good news is everyone agrees, and it is fixable. Motorcycles are still cool. We, as the motorcycle industry, need to pitch in and do our part.
OEM’s have changed the mix of bikes they are bringing to market. Each is bringing entry level bikes back into the marketing mix. Harley-Davidson has even publically stated an initiative to bring 2 million new motorcyclists into the sport by 2020. All of the OEM’s are building machines that are less complicated and less intimidating to new and returning riders. Racing organizations are taking time to nurture and bring in new, and beginner riders and dealers are making a concerted effort to make the new bike purchase less intimidating to new buyers.
But is all this enough, what can I do to help?
Well, glad you asked. AMA Hall of Fame member Scot Harden has put forth an initiative he calls Plus 1. It is a challenge for all current motorcyclist to bring in one new participant. Seems simple, right? He’s outlined ten things you can do.
1. Share your passion with others. Expose non-motorcycle friends to the sport by inviting them to your house to catch the Sunday game on TV. Entertain in your garage. Use your motorcycle(s) as props to promote discussion about motorcycles. Let them touch, feel, even sit on your bike. I would argue that every motorcyclist started a love affair with motorcycling after first sitting on someone else’s bike.
2. Attend an event. Invite your non-motorcyclist friends to a motorcycle show, race or rally. Take time to explain what is going on, introduce them to your motorcycling friends, and share the experience with them like you would anyone else.
3. Take a friend for a ride. It doesn’t have to be all day. Take them to lunch or for coffee. Let them experience the fun and enjoyment of riding.
4. Teach someone how to ride. I know this raises all sorts of issues, but many enthusiasts—like myself—have enough property and small-displacement bikes to teach people how to ride off-road. Get them over their initial fears. Show them it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Encourage them to take a rider-training course.
5. Invite your non-motorcycle friends for dinner and a movie. I suggest a motorcycle movie, such as “The World’s Fastest Indian,” the “Long Way Around,” “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “On Any Sunday” or “Take it to the Limit.” Anything to inspire them to want to give motorcycling a try.
6. Share the experience. Tell your co-workers about your latest motorcycle trip or adventure. Sure, they probably already know you’re a motorcyclist. But have you ever shared exactly what that means and how it enriches your life? This would work well in any other groups or associations you are already involved in.
7. Invite non-motorcycle friends to go camping with you and experience the outdoors. Find a place where you can all enjoy the surroundings and make sure you have your motorcycle available, as well. My first motorcycle riding experience took place on just such a trip.
8. Visit your local motorcycle dealer and invite your non-motorcycling buddy to tag along. Show off the great product offerings. Make the point that motorcycles exist in all shapes and sizes.
9. Target social media. Share pictures of yourself enjoying the sport. Share posts you come across that are inspiring and show just how much fun motorcycling is.
10. Reach out to millennials. For all you baby boomers out there, make an effort to reach out to your children’s friends and acquaintances. Show an interest in what they are doing. Ask them if they’ve ever thought of going riding. If you can, provide an opportunity for them to experience the sense of freedom, adventure and excitement that motorcycling offers.
By now everyone is aware of the need for social media. Regardless of your type, B2B, B2C, manufacturer, or retailer, you must have a social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn have all become a necessary part of the marketing mix. But what does it mean?
Social media is not a checklist. It’s not just post and pray. You cannot set up the accounts and post once in awhile and expect any results. Social media is no different than the rest of your business plan, and its integration is necessary. It is an integral part of your marketing and advertising plan, one that requires a budget, analytics, and a dedicated person to take care of the intricacies involved. Remember social media is post, connect and converse, all the time.
Gone are the days when anyone in your business with a Facebook account could be responsible for your social media strategy. And that is the essential part of this article. Social media is not a checklist. You can’t just open a bunch of accounts and call your social media strategy done. You need to put in place a plan for content, posting schedule, how to handle comments and who will interact online.
With the season slowing down, now is an excellent opportunity to put down on paper a plan to use these valuable marketing tools. Make sure your social media ties in with your monthly sales and marketing goals for a cohesive presentation to the end user. A disjointed and inconsistent message will cost you business.
It could be as simple or complicated as you make it, but working on a plan now will pay off in the busy season. At the very least the program should include each month’s marketing and sales goals and then the associated social media posts related to these goals. Are you having your annual open house? Then make sure you have an event set up on your Facebook page. Having the plan in place will allow you to build the appropriate content with high-quality images and a call to action. Include all of these needs in your plan to ensure you aren’t running around when the time to post comes.
The other important thing to remember is social media is “social.” It’s not just posting about your sales and business; it’s providing value to your customer and listening as well. Make sure the person in charge of your social stream has the knowledge to answer questions quickly and accurately. If they don’t, then please ensure that he/she knows who or where to get the correct answer. Build value in your customer’s eyes, and you will see an increase in business as a result.
So what are you waiting for? Need help? Use the power of immediate action and get going.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the content I provided this year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my knowledge and ideas each month, and I’m pleased to announce that I will be back for another year in 2018. With that in mind, if there are any topics you would like me to cover or provide insight to, please reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
The news hit last week. PARTS UNLIMITED/DRAG SPECIALTIES SIGNS TWO YEAR COMMITMENT TO EXHIBIT AT AIMEXPO. In my opinion, this is one of the most important pieces of news regarding the AIMExpo in recent memory. While they are not the first of the big 3 US distributors to display at the AIMExpo (Tucker Rocky did in the early years), the return of Parts Unlimited could usher in the glory days of the old Dealer Expo that took place during the height of the powersports industry business.
Back in the days of the Dealer Expo, when the powersports industry was at an all-time high, everyone had display space. Distributors large and small, national and regional. The trade was firing on all cylinders, and everyone was enjoying the good life. But as the industry began to decline Parts left the expo, then Tucker Rocky and from what I recall, WPS was the only one displaying those last years in Indy.
Each distributor reviewed their show plans, and the Dealer Expo/AIMExpo was no longer a part of it. But will this announcement spark a return from WPS and Tucker Rocky and then all of the small regional distributors again? In my opinion, it will. Maybe not in 2018 but certainly in the years to come. Although because of the recent Chapter 11 announcement from Tucker Rocky we might not see them right away. But I do believe WPS will follow Parts Unlimited to the AIMEXpo.
I truly believe that in order to grow, the industry needs events like the AIMExpo. It gives manufacturers, distributors, and dealers with an opportunity to talk and share stories. Good, bad and ugly.
So with all of that in mind will I see you in Las Vegas for AIMExpo 2018?
Complete press release. IRVINE, Calif. – The American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide, (AIMExpo) is pleased to welcome Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties as an exhibitor at the 2018 event in Las Vegas (October 11-14) and in 2019 when the show makes its return to Columbus, Ohio.
The global parts and accessories distributor will join the greater powersports industry as a vital addition to the annual platform that creates the opportunity for industry, dealers, vendors, and media to come together in one place at one time to highlight key brands and showcase new product, conduct business, network, and address industry challenges and opportunities. Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties and its host of brands extend the lineup of exhibitors represented at AIMExpo presented by Nationwide as the first major distributor, a key category important for continued growth of the show.
“Parts Unlimited has deep roots in the industry, and it’s pivotal to be among our peers to assess the health of the sport and industry while also creating the opportunity to make connections with new and existing dealers and vendors,” said Mike Collins, CEO. “The MIC produced event provides a highly important place for powersports businesses to come together.”
Founded in 1967 by Fred Fox, Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties is the world’s largest distributor of powersports aftermarket parts and accessories and is owned by LeMans Corporation headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Along with sister companies, Parts Canada and Parts Europe, they sell to dealerships worldwide. The company portfolio includes noted brands Thor, Icon, Moose, Z1R, Arctiva, Slippery, and AMS.
“In just over five years, AIMExpo presented by Nationwide has established itself as North America’s annual gathering place for all of powersports, and the addition of iconic distributor Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties signifies the platform’s value and importance for all industry constituents,” said Larry Little, vice president and general manager, MIC Events. “Post-show research confirms that meeting with distributors is a top reason for dealers to attend the event, and we look forward to partnering with them to expand the core value for dealers joining the greater industry in Las Vegas and Columbus.”
Be sure to stay tuned to the AIMExpoUSA.com website and keep up to date on exciting news as it happens by visiting AIMExpo’s social media pages. “Like” the American International Motorcycle Expo presented by Nationwide on Facebook, and “Follow” on Twitter or Instagram: @AIMExpo.
Earlier this month the organizers of the AIMExpo posted an infographic with the show’s statistics.
There were 18176 in total attendance with 2090 coming from powersports dealers. 38 countries were represented by these attendees as were 48 of the 50 states. There were just under 500 exhibitors and 26 oems were represented.
All of these are positive numbers and in my opinion, the show was a success.
Taking place in Colombus, Ohio for the first time the vide around the event, in the restaurants, and in the hotels was positive and all-encompassing. It was very similar to the old days of the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis.
For 2018, the show moves to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for a year before coming back to Colombus again.
Check out this wrap-up video from the show and follow the link for more information on AIMExpo 2018.
During the summer selling season, we are often too busy to have lunch, let alone focus on improving our business. But now, with the temperatures cooling off and the leaves beginning to fall, it’s time to look around and put a plan in place to get to some tasks that have been pushed aside.
With that in mind here are eight things you can do this weekend to improve your business:
1) Monitor social media engagement
Take the time now to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work on social media. Look back at the analytics on your website to see where the traffic was coming from. Are you seeing a significant amount from a source you didn’t think was working? Now is the time to sit back and plan on your 2018 promotion initiative.
2) Add a new product
Is there a helmet line or gear company that you were considering putting in your store? What about an entirely new category? Are snowmobiles or snow bikes in your future? Now is your chance to bring the product in, train your staff and get it ready to sell. Take the opportunity of the “downtime” to strategically decide what your customers want and then go out and get it.
3) Create a fun campaign or theme
Halloween and the fall harvest season are one of the most popular times of the year for retail. Why not take advantage of that for your own clever marketing campaign. How about a flashback weekend? Capitalize on the public’s love of nostalgia. How about old staff uniforms or throwback pricing on limited items? Please, just nothing pumpkin spice!
4) Redesign your appearance
Yes, your old site is looking dated. If the budget exists, you could go all in and do a complete redesign using one of the major providers, make sure it’s mobile-friendly. But if the budget isn’t there, please go through your site, page by page and remove any outdated information. Old used bikes, non-existent sales programs, etc. Get them off your valuable page space. Update your photos with new, correctly lit images; follow each link to ensure it’s still correct. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward with this silent salesperson. Sure, it will take time but a page at a time will yield valuable results. You might even want to look at your logo or company tagline and see if it’s time to freshen them up as well.
5) Meet your customers
As your dealership slows down in the next couple of months, this is the perfect time to offer customer training nights. Not only will your customers be better educated, your staff will as well, and the added benefit of getting to know your customers at a time of the year when you can spend the time to actually talk to them will significantly increase their likelihood of shopping at your dealership. This is also the perfect time of year to host your open house. Use it to stimulate pre-holiday sales by offering up layaway and wish list options.
6) Participate in a local event
Check with your local chamber of commerce for events and fairs going on in your neighborhood. You’d be surprised how many local people didn’t know you existed until they saw you at the church fair or festival. Take some to stay local and see what opportunity might exist.
7) Target a new audience
Have you looked at the growth of adventure bikes in the industry or the increase in the female demographic? What about ATV’s & SXS for hunters or agriculture use? Take the downtime to give some thought to demographics and groups that your products can solve a problem for.
8) Partner with another business
This one should be pretty simple. Your bike in the back of a truck at the local car dealer or a fully outfitted quad in the outdoor supply store will do wonders for visibility with people that might not know about your shop or the products you offer.
Know when it’s time to pivot. Take this chance to look at your business. Figure out what isn’t working and punt it. Don’t continue to do something because “it’s how we always did it.” The business world is changing rapidly, and if you don’t, you’ll be left behind.
Quick question: Why should I buy from your store v. the guy down the block, or online? It seems like a pretty simple question, one that you and your staff would agree on and especially one that is a part of your marketing message. Do you have one or more reasons for your customers?
A logical reason to buy is one of the foundations of good business. But herein lies the problem: Everyone gets the same bikes, gear, helmets, tires, accessories, etc. So what separates you from everyone else? It better not be the price.
If you know the answer to this question, you are better off than most, but if you don’t, you have some work to do.
If you do have a couple of reasons that differentiate you from your competitors, are you using them to the fullest advantage? Is it in your advertising and social media? Is your staff helping spread this message? Make sure everyone is on point and delivering the same message. Confusion isn’t good for the bottom line or your customer’s experience. Get everyone together and make sure the message is consistent. I would suggest, even if you know what your advantage is, go through the exercise and make sure your thoughts are correct and that you aren’t missing anything.
If you don’t know what your competitive advantage is, then it is time to get to work. Start with a blank slate and determine, in your mind, what your advantage is. Ask your staff, suppliers, other nearby businesses and your customers what their reasons are for buying from your store and compare the two.
This process can be as simple as a quick questionnaire or as complex as a moderated focus group. The key here is to have an open mind to the results. For many of you, your business is your baby and hearing the good, bad and ugly about your business can hurt. Remember the answers from these surveys will be why people are buying from your store and many times this will be different than you might think it is. Don’t get emotional about it.
In most cases, the advantages will fall into a couple of distinct categories:
The physical store — This group references things like location and size of the building. Layout and design, ease of shopping, hours, days of the week. Are you the closest dealership that’s open the most hours? Do you have special late nights or early openings to accommodate your customer’s schedule?
Your digital footprint — Can customers order online for in-store pick-up? Is your website easy to use and mobile-friendly, and does it provide what your customer needs to make a buying decision? Is your product text the same as everyone else’s or not allowing you an SEO advantage? Do you show up in local searches with up-to-date and compelling information?
The items you carry — Yes, all the OEM dealers sell the same items, and we all order from the same distributors, but how are you different? Do you have the largest used bike inventory? How about niche brands of gear or accessories that are typically not available at most shops? Do you carry all sizes and colors for immediate delivery? Are you the store that your customers can count on for the newest items?
Your staff — Are they properly trained to deliver correct knowledge about all of the products they sell? Do they treat the customer right? Have they been in the business multiple years? Have they passed industry tests and classes that certify the results? Are they taking continuing education or teaching others? I feel that this is one of the most important differentiators in business. Remember, in the end, people buy things from people, not companies.
So take the time to sit down and think about why I should buy from you. Your bottom line will thank you for it.
As always the ideas expressed above are my own and I make no claims to the success or failure of implementing them. They are suggestions to make you think. Please vet all ideas against your business plan before implementing them.