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Expansion, E-Bikes and Education: Recapping AIMExpo 2024

Bigger than ever, AIMExpo 2024 hosted hundreds of exhibitors and some thought-provoking education sessions.

After a few shows of reduced size and flagging attendance in the post-COVID years, AIMExpo returned in full force to Las Vegas Feb. 6-8, 2024 with a packed hall and agenda. Boasting a sold-out show floor and an early estimate of at least a 10% rise in attendee registration over last year, according to Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) Marketing Manager Andre Albert, AIMExpo was a display of all the latest and greatest in the powersports industry.

Bikes and Fires and Races — Oh My!

Over 20 OEMs — from familiar names like Suzuki, Triumph and Polaris to those looking to expand in the North American market, such as Moto Morini, Segway and Ryvid — as well as three major distributors filled up the show floor. MPN’s On the Throttle team checked out several of the booths on display, and you can see that coverage here with more to come.

AIMExpo 2024 in Las Vegas
The 2024 AIMExpo show floor.

Electric bicycles and motorcycles made up a noticeable portion of the product offerings, and the E-Bike Demo Area expanded to two tracks this year, with one specifically for Turn 14-distributed bikes. Perhaps because there were two tracks, traffic to both seemed reduced from last year. Even so, at the Industry Party powered by Turn 14 on Tuesday night, exhibitors, dealers, media and MIC staff members took part in bracketed e-bike races aboard SUPER73 bikes. Professional and amateur racers alike fought their way around tight turns on carpeted floor. Thor Drake, founder of the One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon, and a SUPER73 dealer, took the checkered flag. Drake won a SUPER73 bike but plans to give it to someone who could need it more.

SUPER 73 e-bikes lined up for the e-bike races at AIMExpo
SUPER 73 bikes lined up for the Industry E-Bike Throwdown.

The show also provided an unintentional safety lesson on e-bike batteries, as MPN staff members witnessed one in a neighboring booth catch fire, prompting the hall to evacuate for half an hour as it was extinguished and the area aired out. There was no reported damage aside from the battery, but it certainly made for a memorable trade show experience.

Blue Ocean Strategy

In addition to an expansive show floor, AIMExpo set up an impactful education lineup with 14 presentations. The keynote address, given by David Savlowitz, CEO and founder of Competitive Analytics, challenged powersports dealers to think differently and use the “Blue Ocean Strategy.”

“You’re either in a red ocean or you’re either in a blue ocean,” Savlowitz said. “Now, I will tell you, 99.95% probably of all businesses are still in a red ocean … defined as competing in an existing marketplace. Let’s compare that to a blue ocean. A blue ocean creates uncontested market space. It makes the competition irrelevant. It creates and captures new demand and breaks the value/cost trade-off. In fact, it blows it up. And the entire ecosystem is one in which the paradigm is differentiation and low cost. You get to have your cake and eat it, too.”

Savlowitz offered examples of several different companies that are operating on the Blue Ocean Strategy, such as Cirque du Soleil, which eliminated the animals from the traditional circus act and instead focused on highly skilled acrobats performing on premium stages to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience.

“Even if you guys come up with your own Blue Ocean Strategy, it’s probably a good idea to think, well, I may have to keep continually coming up with one,” he said. “It’s a perpetual exercise. Learn from the past, figure out what’s happening in the current space, and start to think about the future. It’s not one or the other, or the other. It’s all three. That’s how you get to Blue Ocean Strategy. Finally, if you don’t think about your future, you can’t have one.”

MPN Dealer Excellence Tracks

AIMExpo partnered with MPN this year to put on three different panels on the topics of finance and insurance (F&I), talent acquisition and retention, and digital retailing. Here are some highlights from each.

Maximize Every Sale — the Bike Is Just the Start: F&I, PG&A

MPN’s Content Director Greg Jones led a panel of F&I and PG&A experts that included JD Baker of Protective Asset Protection, Jason Duncan of McGraw Powersports, John McFarland of Lightspeed and Zach Materne of Apiar Commercial Risk Management.

MPN F&I panel, AIMExpo 2024
MPN’s Dealer Excellence F&I panel. (Pictured left to right:) Jason Duncan, Zach Materne, JD Baker, John McFarland and Greg Jones.

During this session, experts highlighted ways dealers can make the PG&A and F&I process a better one for themselves and their customers. The process shouldn’t necessarily be a fast or slow one but rather one that fits each customer and does a thorough job of getting the customer everything he or she needs.

Additionally, dealers should ensure they are utilizing the resources and digital tools available to them to enhance the F&I process. Internally, the F&I and PG&A managers should be working in harmony with their teams and finding new ways to streamline their departments in an effort to make profits an easier task.

How to Attract/Retain & Develop Talent (Techs and Sales)

Jones also led the panel on attracting and retaining talent within the dealership. This panel included Brent Gyuricza of Maverick Motorsports, Michael Maledon of Elways Powersports and AJ Meisel of Plano Kawasaki Suzuki.

MPN talent panel, AIMExpo 2024
MPN’s talent panel. (PIctured left to right:) Brent Gyuricza, Michael Maledon, AJ Meisel

These three dealers walked through the numerous ways to attract talent to a dealership through competitive pay, benefits and — most importantly — an inviting dealership culture. If your culture isn’t one you want to brag about to the world, then nothing else is going to attract people to want to work for you.

When it comes to retaining talent, the panel again had many pieces of advice for dealers in attendance, focusing on continuous training for staff, incentives (both common and uncommon), and making sure you don’t put people in a box. Everyone is different, and catering to those differences and making sure your staff is heard goes a long, long way toward retention.

Lastly, all three dealers agreed that a certain responsibility falls on leadership within the dealership and that leadership needs to set a good example and not just be a boss and tell the staff what to do.

How to Grow and Excel in the Digital Retail World

MPN Editor Meagan Kusek hosted a panel on digital retailing featuring the following experts: Johnathan Aguero, vice president of sales and strategic partnerships for Transax; Jason Nierman, co-founder and chief revenue officer for Rollick; Martine Nuera, website manager for DX1; Troy Synder, vice president of digital retailing for Trader Interactive; and Mike Wyrzykowski, co-founder and CEO of Blackpurl.

MPN Digital retailing panel, AIMExpo 2024
MPN’s digital retailing panel. (Pictured left to right:) Meagan Kusek, Martine Nuera, Jason Nierman, Troy Snyder, Johnathan Aguero, Mike Wyrzykowski

Together, they presented a united vision of how consumer interaction with businesses and the internet has changed in recent years and what digital retailing means: being where your customer is online and offering ways to help them do what they want in the purchase process there. The panelists also discussed how dealers could manage all the information they are receiving from their various dealer management systems (DMS), customer retail management (CRM) systems and lead generation programs as well as how artificial intelligence (AI) might impact the powersports industry in the coming years.

Audience members engaged the panel with remarks and questions, both affirming the importance of this topic and voicing concerns about how to continue to build trusting, personal relationships with customers in a world where all these transactions are becoming digital. To that end, the panel noted that everything from enhancing cybersecurity to just getting some of the not-so-fun aspects of the purchasing process (such as financing prequalification) out of the way online could help lead to a better overall customer experience that still leads patrons into the shop.

This year’s AIMExpo stepped up its game, and its success appears to be trending upward. Be sure to mark your calendars for the next AIMExpo in Las Vegas Feb. 5-7, 2025, and stay tuned to MPN for more coverage.

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