Are You Just A Powersports Dealer… Or Are You An Adventure Center?
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he clinical definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way over and over yet expecting a different result! The paradigm has shifted, but many of you are still stuck in low gear. The time has come to click it up into sixth and twist the throttle to the stops!
Maybe you have been going about this all wrong? Many dealers still think they sell powersports machines, parts and accessories to make a living. WRONG! What if you were a scuba dealer in Canada or a ski dealer in Vail? What would you do in the off season? Other adventure-related products, of course! In the case of Wisconsin scuba guys, you would offer snorkeling tours to Aruba in the winter. Even if you own a powersports dealership in the sunbelt, you still should ask yourself what you are really selling each and every month of the year. Are you just offering motorcycles – or selling music to my ears?
If you look at typical brick-and-mortar retail operations, things are tough all over. Malls, chains, outlets and corporate stores share your same problems: a decrease in floor traffic coupled with continually increasing expenses. Time to break out of the downward spiral. FYI, the vacation industry is booming right now! A study from research firm Mintel (www.mintel.com) states, “…the strongest growth from any spending category is vacation travel.” The American consumer is shifting his POV. People are spending more money on “experiences” rather than “products.” To customers this means less cluttered garages and more expensive trips. To you this should mean find another profit center, pronto!
It’s not just the GoPro/selfie generation that is experiencing this behavioral re-boot. Eagle Rider, the industry rental king and tour company, is thriving right now, both nationally and globally across all demographics. Why? Because they sell adventure (travel) first – then all the other goodies come along for the ride. The goodies include bike rentals, gear, souvenirs, travel, group tours and even used motorcycles. They are a well branded adventure center – which also happens to offer what you offer. It’s time for you to “flip” in how you perceive the market or “flop” in the wake of the Eagle Riders of the world having success.
“Adventure” has meant so many different things to so many different people and different generations. To some, it’s a ride to the local tavern on a cruiser and to others it’s a trek to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. To others it’s donning a pair of Oculus VR goggles in order to “go for a ride.” Hey, the adrenaline flows there, too, so no judging here!
Regardless of the location, the definition of “adventure” should remain a personal decision. It “means what it means” to the customer. Rather than trying to impose your definition of what “real” adventures are, you should be cashing in on this word’s broader societal meaning. What if your business started selling adventures instead of motorcycles? Interpret that two ways – literally and metaphorically. Provide new customers honest-to-goodness ways to escape their self-imposed “boxes” on these marvelous machines. At the same time, offer experienced customers terraced levels of trips, clubs, tours and trails where they can use the machines. No cost to you, really – only ideas on where to use their motorcycle. Voila – an adventure combo pack!
Everyone else is doing it: Zipline tours in Colorado, hiking treks in the Grand Canyon, skydiving over Maui, snorkeling through the Keys, yoga paddleboard excursions on Lake Tahoe, horseback camping in Idaho, meditation escapes in Joshua Tree National Park, a Spartan race at a military base, and the list can go on and on! The point is the world has gone after the “adventure” aspect.
The question is why aren’t you offering similar adventures for your local (and global) customers? Or are you just a powersports dealer rather than the ultimate adventure center? Dealers tended to leave the “adventure” part of the equation to the customers in the past. No longer! Modern customers don’t have the creativity or time to figure out the full puzzle. After selling the “why” the dealer also needs to demonstrate “how, where and when” to use these machines, so get creative!
We know adventure experiences are what people want to buy now more than ever. However, they don’t necessarily want to invest in expensive heavy equipment. Trying a new sport is often experienced on vacation when there is time and a convenient opportunity. Money is never an objection because all bets are off when you are on vacation. Bring on the scooter rentals, parasailing, scuba diving, zip lines, and boat tours.
Could you offer this “try before you buy” renting scenario so it feels like a mini-vacation in your dealership? Renting becomes a solid option – perhaps better than allowing risky demo rides (for free). Would you rather have customers going to Eagle Rider to “test ride” a current model rental bike? There is a chance they love it and end up buying it out of their fleet.
Customers are also not as “hard core” as we used to be. We don’t want to spend a lot of money for something that sits in the garage most of the week, so booking a two-week travel adventure “experience” somewhere becomes a better option. Customers have changed. You need to change, too.
Here are some ideas to add some adventure to your business:
• Become a travel agent, tour organizer or adventure club. Maybe some of your customers would want to stretch their wings a bit and adventure to a nearby national park… whether it’s better weather or not. Can you help organize their trip or lead a trip for some of your customers? Heck, provide a sign-up sheet, a GPS track and a departure date, then leave the rest up to them. At least it creates a sense of urgency… and a need to buy more accessories from you.
• Develop and share local points of interest to be seen by motorcycle or an OHV. Specialize in your region – and attract riders from inside and outside of your area. Advertise or share this information via social media so customers from outside your community will make you a destination – buying and adventuring.
• Bolster your community’s support of motorcycle and off-road adventures. Get into downtown city parades, offer “newbie nights” at your dealership, ask the mayor to declare a motorcycle week in your town, and/or stage an adventure rally starting and finishing at your dealership. Organize OHV clean-up days with clubs, BLM or USFS… All this becomes social media fodder and builds your word-of-mouth.
• Do a better job displaying and selling gear. I have met more people – men and women – who tend to get into a sport because they love how the gear makes them look. Skiers, mountain climbers, scuba divers, motorcycle riders. Sheesh! It sounds so self-centered to say, but remember how customers have changed the way they take photographs in recent years – they are all IN their own photos. These selfies get constantly posted on social media sites in an attempt to out “badass” everyone else. Instagram is now how many people perceive themselves. Sell them a motorcycle so they can wear the cool gear and become the person they have always wanted to be!
• Do you organize occasional track days for your customers? Why not stage adventures for the non-racing customers? Sell them the GPS mounts and some really expensive Xtreme riding gear while you’re at it.
The bottom line is that you are crazy if you don’t transcend beyond being a simple seller of machines! Become an “adventure center” so customers of all ages will come to join the new adventure culture offered by your business.
Confessions of a Customer™ is one of columnist Eric Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training efforts and service to the MIC Board of Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom Network, an industry-specific consulting company specializing in marketing, training and brand development.