Obviously, watercraft sales aren’t for every dealer, and Mechling cautions others about getting into the business unless they can make a commitment. “Believe it or not, having three or four watercraft in your store probably isn’t a good thing,” he says. “We have 100 watercraft, every model, every color … plus, we have the trailers.”
SCOOTERS: KNOW THE SOURCE
Mechling spotted another trend when he saw customers bringing in junk Asian scooters for repair. “We started paying attention to where these scooters were coming from,” he says, “and I began doing some research.”
He sold 100 scooters in 2010 and wants to sell 500 per year. “That’s a pretty lofty goal,” says Mike Masters, the KYMCO scooter rep who services Performance PowerSports. “But it’s a great idea to set a lofty target and work as hard as possible. If he falls short, and he only doubles his sales, it’s still a pretty good year.”
Five-hundred units may seem unrealistic, but consider that the dealership is near Clemson University, home to more than 19,000 students. Let’s do some math: At the 50,000-strong University of Florida-Gainesville, there were roughly 4,500 scooters on campus last year. Using that ratio, Clemson students have the potential to be riding about 2,000 scooters. Considering that 4,000 freshmen arrive each fall, and many students move off campus after their freshman or sophomore years, you’ve got a growing market. “The best way to get around is on a scooter, and that’s why we think we can sell 500 scooters a year,” Mechling says.
Mechling is making a good start, selling 42 units in first quarter even though he says he didn’t have enough 50cc units on-hand.
“Scooter stores exist because motorcycle stores shun and disrespect scooters,” Mechling says. “But we want to be to the powersports industry what sporting goods stores are to athletics; you don’t see football-only stores, or baseball-only stores, you see sporting goods stores. Hence, if it has wheels or a rudder, and engine or a motor, we need to be selling it.”