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From the Magazine

Are You A Change Agent?

The retail sector has been getting hammered lately. I’m not talking about just our segment, but the entire retail sector, especially in recreation industries like golf, camping, cycling, you name it and there’s a retail chain that has shut its doors recently.

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The retail sector has been getting hammered lately. I’m not talking about just our segment, but the entire retail sector, especially in recreation industries like golf, camping, cycling, you name it and there’s a retail chain that has shut its doors recently. Millions, if not billions, have been lost or shifted to the new reality in the marketplace that none of us really want to admit is happening. Amazon.

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                                 Heraclitus

Remember when we all feared that Wal-Mart would take over the world? That seems quaint now compared to what Amazon is doing. It is brilliant how they’ve taken over almost all corners of the retail sector. But there’s one area where I think powersports dealers still have an advantage and that is with creating memories and experiences… that and you still can’t buy a new motorcycle on the internet.

What is happening today is a major shift in consumerism. CHANGE with big giant capital letters! So what can you do about it? Everyone working in this industry from ownership to the clean up crew need to become agents of change. No small task.

Do you have the necessary skillset to manage and lead change in your company? I recently took part in a management seminar that studied this topic and it was enlightening. I thought I was a fairly open-minded person but when it came down to how I deal with change, it was not what I expected. I straddled the middle area of the rating scale where one is more likely to be a dissenter than an adopter of change. Many of us get set in our ways and are reluctant to do things differently than what has worked for us in the past. But today’s reality in retail means we need to break the norm and be open to doing many new things (within the industry,
of course!).

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Speaking of changes, BMW dealers were below average five years ago in Pied Piper’s Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) survey, but this year they are the top ranked OEM. Pied Piper President Fran O’Hagan says dealerships need to accept that the world has changed, and their behavior must change, too. Today many customers “meet” a dealership for the first time through a dealer’s website. “No dealership would lock up the store and leave for the evening with a customer walking around inside. They need to follow the same approach with customers who make contact through the dealership website…” Bottom line is you need to treat your internet customers like you would your walk-in customers. Don’t leave a potential customer hanging on your website without a response. Treat them like a real customer because that’s your best chance to get them in your real showroom.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus was known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe. He said “nothing stands still,” and “you could never step twice into the same river.” I think if he were alive today, he’d be an adventure rider and quite possibly a successful powersports dealer.

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