Shenk is also a big believer in treating customers as friends, not consumers. “All we sell is the riding experience,” he says. “We don’t sell bikes, or parts or accessories. We have to make it a great ownership experience, and we have to understand the customer. If they feel you understand them, and you ask them to buy, it’s seen as a recommendation. If they don’t consider you a friend, they feel your purchase suggestion is a high-pressure sell. If each employee had 50 friends in the marketplace, we would be unstoppable.”
If you have the right processes in place, it’s easy to train your employees and improve performance, he believes. Shenk has developed his own processes, from initial customer contact at the front door to delivery of the purchased bike to the new customer, based on his 24 years of training and dealership operation. Other philosophies include:
- FOUR Ps OF PROFIT. Shenk’s four Ps of Profit were developed after analyzing hundreds of successful and not-so-successful dealer operations. They are: Purpose, People, Processes, and Performance.
- NAVIGATING vs. DRIVING. When things aren’t going well, there are several ways to get from Point A to Point B. But that means if things are to get better, there can be only one navigator. Everyone else has to drive. “I’m the navigator,” Shenk explains. “You might have a better way of doing things, but your only job is to drive. It’s perfectly all right if you don’t want to limit yourself to driving right now, but then you have to leave.”
- COMPENSATION. The modern dealership should be commission-driven, Shenk says. GMs should be paid 100 percent commission on the dealership operating profit before taxes and depreciation. Department heads should get paid commission on department performance and front-line producers and service technicians also should be paid on commission. This is the compensation structure Shenk uses at Destination Powersports.
- ADVERTISING. Shenk’s gains were made without using any traditional advertising — print, radio/TV or outdoor boards. “Mass media is not the place to be,” Shenk says. All of his 2011 advertising dollars, $136 per vehicle sold, were spent on social media and digital platforms such as eBay, Trader, the dealership’s website, Google ad words and other types of event marketing — all the stuff that generally doesn’t qualify for co-op dollars.
That’s the story of Bill Shenk and his team at the dealership in Punta Gorda, Fla. What’s next? More of the same, probably. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One OEM rep called Shenk recently to tell him about all the loud music at the dealership. “It’s like a freakin’ party in there; I can’t even use my phone,” the rep told him.
“So, what’s wrong with that? We’re selling fun,” he says. “We’re growing and we have lots more opportunity.”