Race involvement: A delicate balance for dealers

Mary Green Slepicka
Publish Date: 
Feb 20, 2013
By Mary Green Slepicka

DEALERNEWS IS THE VOICE of Powersports Retailers, helping them combine their passion for the sport with their pursuit of profit.

That’s our mission statement.

It was developed over a decade ago by a bunch of people (myself included) sequestered in a conference room for two days working out what Dealernews had to be in the coming years to propel your business (and, by default, ours) forward.

This is an enthusiast-based industry, and because of that, business is riskier. Retailers walk a fine line between their passion for the rider lifestyle and the need to produce a profit. Lose your focus, lose your balance, and pretty soon you’re out of business. And if you absolutely love the lifestyle, the lesson that you can’t make a living at it is a bitter one to learn.

This month we focus on racing and performance. As you’ll find in Bruce Steever’s “Racing ROI” story in the March 2013 issue of Dealernews, dealers must go beyond their passion for the sport to determine whether they can produce a profit by supporting racers and race events, and even building and sustaining race teams. A Midwest dealer builds a Dakar-related client promotion. California sportbike dealerships find that “walking the walk” also gives them the upper hand when they are negotiating prices with their go-fast customers.

But for every dealership that has the green light, there are dozens of others providing sponsorship dollars and free parts to racers, with little or no payback. Some have been forced to cut back.

“OEMs and dealers alike are forced to make critical evaluations on how to spend their constricted budgets,” Steever reports. “It seems that many business owners…are choosing to sacrifice racing support and involvement. Does this make good business sense, or are these cost-conscious dealers throwing out the baby with the bathwater?”

Combining passion for the sport with the pursuit of profit. It requires a complicated mix of emotion, skill ... and Excel spreadsheets.

Our cover story this month (March 2013) is actually a collection of stories, starting on page 14. We present mini-profiles of the Top 100 Dealers who received additional honors on Feb. 15 in Indy. I’d like to briefly talk about two of them.

The industry saluted its 2013 Dealer of the Year, McGrath Powersports – which incidentally was our cover dealer in September 2012. The headline for that issue was “Passion Play” – and the story was about how Mike McGrath and team run a growing business and have a ton of fun while doing it. Make no mistake – McGrath is one of the savviest dealers out there. He just also knows how to have a good time living the rider lifestyle. (Continued)