Building a Growth Stategy With a Powersports Playbook

Success isn't a fluke, and it's not luck. It's a strategy.

Last year’s numbers were amazing, and I wish I could make this last, but it’s impossible. This is the big underlying thought in most of our minds right now. Regardless of if you’re an owner or a manager, we all had a heck of a run the last few years, despite the other stressors and issues that COVID brought. The increase in customers and income over the last few years was amazing.

Most people are preparing for their numbers to decrease. How do I know this? It’s the main conversation I’ve been having for the last few months. I’ve seen many owners starting to scale back, almost as if they’re preparing for a crash.

Sure, there were some customers who were passing through but didn’t embrace the lifestyle, adding to the narrative that maintaining our success is impossible. The “proof” is in the numbers before COVID. Sales were growing but not at this explosive level. Can we really expect these incredible numbers to last forever? Well, it depends.

Do you have systems and structures in place to create on-demand year-over-year growth? Is it a living, breathing document that you can hand to a new employee? Or is the success you’ve created all in your head? Or worse, in a few managers’ heads, so if they leave, you’re up the creek without a paddle?

With the right playbook, I believe we can keep putting up strong numbers and growing. I’m one of the few people having the conversation of growth year-over-year. How can I be so confident? 

My husband and I were business owners who went from 800 square feet to 3000 square feet in under five years. After we sold our shop, I’ve been a parts manager who has maintained an average $300,000 growth in over-the-counter sales for five years running. I hit my first $1 million-year selling air filters and oil change kits, with no e-commerce sales — just phone calls and the occasional mailing of a package to a customer.

This success isn’t a fluke, and it’s not luck. It’s my strategy. I call it my powersports playbook, which is a 40-plus-page Google document that contains about 70% of my strategies and is growing. It’s inspired by an old employee on my team who didn’t work out. His skill set wasn’t a match for the counter. But, it was the question that I asked when I moved him from my department that made all the difference. “Hey, what was the most frustrating thing about working for me?”

His answer surprised me. I was expecting to hear that the customers made him mad or that he didn’t like being stuck in one place. Instead, he said it was too hard to try to remember where everything was and how to find it all. This got me thinking: If he was struggling, then the rest of my team was as well. But, they weren’t going to say something or weren’t conscious of it. Either way, there was friction that was making my team’s job harder than it needed to be.

That same night, I created a Google doc and called it the PRG (parts resource guide). It’s been over two years, and I haven’t stopped adding to it. I wanted to take the guesswork out of what success was and how to create it on- demand. 

PDFs can be uploaded. Links can be added. Notes can be put in one spot. What happened after I started working on this was a significant difference. Every month, each parts counter person is up anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 in sales, consistently.

Ready to create your own? Here are three tips for starting your own version of the playbook. 

Tip 1: Pick a Home and Stick With It

I recommend a Google doc, because it can be edited by one person but viewed by all. The goal is to make it searchable and have all the resources in one spot.

Tip 2: Organization Is Key

With the possibility of hundreds of resources in one location, placement is critical. Make sure that the resources are organized by category and that there are charts and bold colors. This helps the brain from getting fatigued and encourages people to use the resource. 

Tip 3: Stop Answering One-Off Questions

Instead of answering anyone’s question, my first response is, “Did you check the PRG?” Most of the questions asked are in there already. But, more importantly, is that the document, when used repeatedly, builds credibility. Everyone on the team needs to understand that he or she can search for answers much faster than by asking you.

Using these tips will help you shorten the learning curve from years to months. It’s not only the money or size of the dealership that’s going to help us keep increasing our numbers — it’s going to be how each person on the team can become more trusted and more valuable.

Maggie Stevens brings 10-plus years of powersports experience to the table. She is celebrated as a 2023 Spark Award winner and is always up for strategic thinking and problem-solving. Maggie is parts manager for ARS Powersports in Okeechobee, Florida.

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