INDY LIVE 2012: Dealer LAB's Bill Shenk discusses dealership turnaround

Publish Date: 
Feb 18, 2012

In this economy, few have had a more challenging time than Bill Shenk, owner of Destination Powersports in Punta Gorda, Fla. Shenk says he purchased the store when it was failing miserably, and bleeding money (and employees) left and right.

Over the course of almost two years, Shenk and his new team have been able to turn around the dealership’s performance considerably —a remarkable feat considering the economy. At a live Q&A held Saturday on the Learning Curve stage, Shenk fielded questions from readers, ranging from his employee turnover to his “Four Ps of Profit.” (This presentation will repeat at 10:30 a.m. today.)

When he was asked what his biggest hurdles were when revamping the dealership, he mentioned two: cash, and people. “Still to this day, we don’t have cash financing,” he said, adding that he’s currently working with the banks to obtain it. “And when you’re playing in the lower leagues, it’s really hard to find good people.”

Indeed, Shenk admits to a revolving door when it comes to staffing. “It’s embarrassing, but I think I’ve hired 80 people,” Shenk said. Currently, Shenk employs a roster of 14. Since staff are the face of your dealership, employing those who embody exactly what you’re looking for is key.

So what types of employees is Shenk looking for? A-players, he said. Those with enthusiasm, drive and urgency — the latter of which is hard to find, especially if you want every single member of your team to be an A-player. “I won’t settle for good,” Shenk said. “This is going to be the best darn store you’ve ever shopped in.”

If you have a mix of A-players and employees who are just “good,” it can do more harm than good. “An A-player will be so frustrated working with a B-player,” Shenk said. “And then you run the risk of losing the A-player because of that B-player.”

Shenk also briefly touched on his four “P’s of Profits,” a set of business rules he developed that has aided him in Destination Powersports’ turnaround. The first is Purpose: “Find a purpose for your dealership that you can use as a foundation,” Shenk said. “It doesn’t mean that it won’t change over time.” Is your store a profit-driver, or is it a way to support local riders’ groups? Or “is it just a toy store for the owner?” he asked.

Purpose segues into Shenk’s next P of Profit — people. “Your people have to match your purpose — and that’s easier said than done.”

In order to retain these people, you need Processes in place. Do you document the way things are done in your store? Are your employees updated in all of their training? “You own your inventory and your processes,” Shenk said. “That’s pretty much all you’ve got. You don’t own your people.”

Every member of your team also has to know what’s expected of them—which leads to Shenk’s last point, Performance. Performance is especially a concern in the powersports industry. “This is a seasonal business that attracts entry level people who want to have fun over work,” Shenk said.