Following the nature of the sport, powersports dealers have always thrived in an environment where others could not. Amplifying new ways for individuals and families to recreate during the pandemic in 2020, 55% of dealers increased vehicle sales, while 30% met their goals and 42% over-exceed their sales goals over the past year, according to MPN’s 2021 Industry Profile.
“I think it offered a wakeup call for dealers as a whole. The pandemic really provided a catalyst for change,” said Robert Grant, director of manufacturer solutions at Lightspeed. “In a lot of ways, there was opportunity where dealers had to reinvent their business overall.”
Putting safety first, dealers have implemented sales appointments to accommodate social distancing guidelines, they had to get creative in order to offer demos and some dealers even offered mobile service or drop off appointments, while following mask mandates and sanitation protocols.
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The trickle-down effect from international manufacturing shutdowns led to inventory shortages across the country.
“We’re currently seeing demand for inventory because as far as looking at the numbers, inventory levels are actually down quite considerably, year over year,” Grant explained. “We’ve seen anywhere between 30% to 50% for side-by-sides and off-road vehicles, as well as motorcycles and on-road inventory. As part of the supply and demand aspect of it, you’ve got improved margins as well. I think initially when dealers were reopening, they probably didn’t have as high of margins from what we’ve seen. But at this point, we’ve seen a considerable rebound on those margins. There had been an erosion of that over the last few years, and we’ve seen almost double compared to the same time the prior year.”
Lockdowns opened the door for new riders to enter the industry. Through powersports, they were able to learn a new sport, while social distancing and driving new business to dealerships.
“Looking more on a long-term basis, the retention of those new riders is key,” Grant said. “There have been discussions and it’s yet to be seen what the economic conditions will bring, but potentially, there could be an influx of used inventory at some point, and that could have a positive or a negative effect depending on where we stand at that time.”
While dealers may be overwhelmed trying to keep up with demand, Lightspeed gives dealerships innovative tools to help them manage, along with solutions to increase profitability.
“At Lightspeed, we strive to provide the tools dealerships need to run their businesses and work efficiently,” Grant said. “With a lot of these conditions: the current environment, new riders, inventory management, managing margins and deals; there’s opportunity within Lightspeed to help dealerships.”
To maintain these conditions, communication is key, and the solution is right at your fingertips via texting. In fact, according to G2, 82% of people say that they open every single text message they receive.
“We all have our phones in our pockets. Being able to quickly communicate with customers and provide updates as needed via text messaging is a critical aspect,” Grant said. “Lightspeed offers a CRM package, which allows the dealership right within their normal day-to-day workflow to easily communicate.”
The Lightspeed CRM facilitates customer relationships through three stages of the customer lifecycle.
- Acquisition: Lead management is a vital part of the sales process. Salespeople can quickly track and update dealership leads right in the Lightspeed workflow.
- Retention: After a customer buys, the next phase of the relationship is supporting them with great service. Parts, service and sales employees can easily text, email and set appointments all while documenting and tracking the communication for better service.
- Communication: Since the customer’s information is already in the Lightspeed CRM, dealers can put that valuable data to good use with customized messages, seamless campaign management and segmented lists — all while having profitable conversations.
“There’s automation that can be built into place with follow-up chains that can send automated text messages and email communications with consumers, updating them on the service status of bikes that they may have in the shop, or whether there are unit updates based on inventory that’s being received,” Grant said. “We also offer Voice Connect, which allows dealerships to integrate their phone systems with Lightspeed. As a customer calls, dealerships can quickly and easily find out more information about them; if their bike is in the shop or if there are other transactions that are being worked on. Also, with the market as volatile as it is, dealers have access to the Lightspeed Value Guide, which provides real-time value updates on units and inventory.”
As the country moves into the second half of the year that is still recovering from the pandemic, Lightspeed is here to support dealerships.
“We’re really trying to provide tools to help dealerships be profitable and work more efficiently, to better engage with the customer, especially those first-time buyers, and keep that long-term picture in mind.”
For more information about Lightspeed and all they offer to powersports dealers, visit lightspeeddms.com.