I know some of the players that were invited to speak at the China panel. I think they are more than diplomatic when it comes to telling it like it is.
Joe Delmont is a great reporter. I know Tim and the MIC pretty well. Gary Sargent is one of our top dealers. So it comes as to no surprise that they would be on such a high profile meeting. I was surprised that I couldn't attend, but that's because I would have mentioned things like lawsuits, dealers loosing their money, EPA, and given true stories. It's hard to be in a room and not bring out the dirty laundry when there is smog as far as you can see. It's like the future LA from Blade Runner without Harrison Ford or James Edwards Olmos. Just the dinner scene full of Chinese guys selling stuff on the street.
I think you should call it like you see it sometimes.
At least if you are going to have a panel telling people how to sell in the USA. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut a few times because some people abroad don't like it when you say something that is very direct. Like "Sir that is a copyright infringement!" That's hard for someone like me because I think you just say things as they are. My best story is when I went to a factory and I noticed they were emptying oil on the street, a block away there was a farm. Across from the oil dump there was an old man fishing. That fish was probably going to be his dinner and unless you love BP oil not a pretty site. I told the owner he was going to give everyone in the village cancer. Needless to say he didn't like it, but we never purchased his brake parts either.
So this weekend I think they should have been direct. Maybe even gone over some lawsuits that were public record. Maybe talk about the wrongful death suits involving Dinli ATVs and why they are no longer sold in the USA. Bill from Peirspeed was there he would have gladly talked about it or distributors that try to set up other distributors while their agreements are still in force. These things are kept hidden from the dealers, the distributors, and others involved in the industry. They are public record, there is no censorship here except the corporate sponsored censorship at the show. So if you have a great opportunity like this tell them like it is.
When you visit a dealer in Asia you will notice most of it is transportation. They don't have "Lemon Laws" that are enforced, nor trademarks that anyone really cares about. It would have been smart to have a lawyer on the panel and tell them what these suits could cost them. We should also have gone over the list of the Chinese companies that have been shut down by the EPA and what that cost was. My friend who attended the session basically told me it was glazed over. Again very diplomatic.
We can take diplomacy for only so long. We've been very diplomatic the last few years. I mean we have a few reasonable requests like - Sir, please don't bankrupt the world.
Sir, please stop pirating my CDs.
Sir, that's not your Stealth Bomber that's my design. You get the point.
I believe we need enforcement at the Dealer Expo. This year I walked away thinking it should have been called the Chinese Dealer Sell to Everyone Expo. They allowed the Chinese to sell directly to the public, I witnessed dealers buying imitation helmets. I know some writers and industry people will tell me "well that's just the consumer speaking, they have the buying power, dealers will buy wherever they want" I disagree. We need more regulation, and more enforcement.
If EPA really cared they would crack down even further. Two guys walking around enforcing the laws really doesn't make me feel too secure. Below is the Dealer News story.
Business Seminar Helps Chinese Manufacturers from http://www.dealernews.com/
By Joe Delmont
Panelists’ Message: U.S. Consumers Want Quality and Value
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 21, 2011)— Chinese manufacturers Sunday received several tips on how to successfully sell powersports vehicles and equipment in the United States. The seminar here was put on by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Advanstar Communications for Chinese exhibitors before a packed house at this year’s Dealer Expo.
Attendees heard from government and industry experts about what it takes to successfully sell powersports equipment in the U.S. market. Presenters included representatives of Sargent’s Motorsports Groups, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dealernews magazine. The program, entitled, How To Successfully Sell Powersports Vehicles in the United States, was moderated by Paul Vitrano, executive vice president of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA).
The key messages delivered by panelists were:
* QUALITY PAYS. Attendees were told that American consumers value quality over cost and that they are willing to pay more for a better product.
* OBEY THE RULES. Panelists, especially representatives of the CPSC, emphasized the importance of following U.S. government rules and regulations. “Government agencies balance their responsibilities of helping businesses with protecting consumers,” Vitrano said, “and they lean toward protecting consumers.” Penalties for breaking the rules are stiff and expensive, attendees were told.
Joe Delmont, contributing editor for Dealernews, told the audience that it’s important to build a brand, not simply try to export products to the U.S. under many different names to be sold by many different distributors. “That’s a prescription for failure,” he said.
Delmont, who provided a checklist of things to consider in looking at the U.S. market, told the audience that to gain 5% market share in a specific segment for a new China brand might take three years and cost as much as $300 million.
CPSC representatives Tanya Topka and Justin Jirgl described in detail the process of working with the agency that has been set up under the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). A key regulation developed by the CPSC under the law calls for action plans to be approved by the agency before a company’s ATVs may be sold in the U.S.
Gary Sargent, Sr., and Gary Sargent, Jr., have been selling and servicing powersports equipment in their Portland, OR. dealership for more than seven years. They emphasized the importance of building quality machines and backing them with quality parts.
Gary Jr., who runs the dealership’s service operation, told attendees that he prefers to use more expensive, quality parts on a repair job and be confident that it won’t fail.
“I want satisfied customers,” he said, “not unhappy customers who come back because a part failed.” JD