Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Attend Dealer Expo and Learn About Scooters

This year it's important that if you have a store, if you have a new business, or you're looking at opening a new dealership that you attend. 2011 is the year of $4 gas, but before you jump in and spend all the money grandma just left you in your "dream" shop make sure to attend.

Here's why - The Show represents all the second tier and third tier OEMs in the industry. If you're not buying a Honda franchise odds are you don't have Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or Kawasaki, but you want to open a shop. Maybe you want to do scooter repairs? or maybe you want to sell a few. Then this is the place. Piaggio, Vespa, and Aprilia won't be there this year. Malaguti stopped showing back in 2005 so really all the Italian made brands are gone from the show, you might see some Italian sounding names but they are all Chinese made models. Then again you have to go to know all this.

Now you can't force everyone to learn. There's plenty of dealers that buy from Dennis Kirk or have no idea of its special relationship with Parts Unlimited or how you can't win online by buying from your competitor. Some dealers get this, many don't. Still the show is the place to learn all this so as you walk the show ask the right questions. Here's a few and some of the things you need to do.
Questions to ask at the Dealer Expo:

1. Question you must ask - Do you sell directly to the public?
Does your company own a store?
What is your MAP policy?
Does your scooter parts distributor sell on EBay? (Many are selling online direct for less ) We are going to continue to see more and more power shift into fewer and fewer hands and that’s not going to be good for your customers, our industry, or most importantly your business.

2. Events you must see - SEMINARS. If you are a new scooter dealer make sure attend the scooter seminar, the Chinese OEM seminar,
they’re free, and you may learn something new. At the very least, you just got some solid reinforcement for what you’ve been doing.

3. Don't sign some insane support contract at the show. Wait until after the show when you can read things calmly and figure out if you need a store consultant.

4. Make sure to ask about the brands you might carry. Do they have warranty? DO THEY ACTUALLY PAY LABOR OR ARE THEY SOME CHINESE SUPPLIER THAT JUST GIVES YOU FREE PARTS? How do they comply with your state Lemon Laws etc... - Attend the seminar.

There are some great seminars at the show thought by people who have been Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki pricipals. People that know sales, viral marketing, advertising, and how to make a profit despite the changing economy. So do attend, do ask questions, and get ready to see it all.

So don't be sad about not having Honda and the show seminars teach you this. Why should you not be sad about this? Well it's easy when you go to the show you learn things like what brands have better margins or how more Honda dealers have closed the last few years than any year in the last ten. Honda dealers make 7% at most on a new scooter, this is the reason why you walk into a dealership and the Honda dealer could care less if you buy a Ruckus or not, no the Dealer Expo is for the new guy who is starting with a Taiwanese, Korean, or more commonly a Chinese brand. Some of these won't even be brands they might just be two wheels with a sticker on it and that's why you have to go to the Expo.

Don't spend like a madman. Read some of my previous articles. It's better to have two or three brands and build your store than to carry twenty brands and build none. Also, make sure to look up brands like Kymco who have grown beyond the Dealer Expo but are one of the most important scooter brands out there.

The Dealer Show allows you to talk to not just salesmen, but also other dealers. To hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Believe half of what you hear, but always keep in mind you get what you pay for. Having this approach you should survive your first Dealer Expo.

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