Time for Spring-like Cleaning

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It's time to ramp up your dealer showrooms to accommodate the new street and off-road products of 2007. Are you ready? Or are you still sitting on some "awesome" 2004-era street gear that's priced 20 percent off and which you won't mark down any further because you refuse to lose money on it?

Come on, everyone. "Sanford and Son" was a TV show, not a business model! Denial and just plain lack of determination are clouding your judgment.

It's time to do a spring cleaning. Another birthday for this old merchandise is not what you need; remember, customers can recognize when merchandise is old (and dusty...). So begin by marking down the merchandise that's over a year old now. If you don't do it now, you'll lose another year of margin — and you won't have enough cash to reinvest in new products. Bite the bullet! Here are some to-do items to get you started:

  • Pull out any old inventory that is obsolete and incomplete.
  • Put apparel on a sale rack (a round rack). If you have more sale apparel than one round rack can handle, use two racks: one for off-road gear and one for street.
  • If you have a couple of products that are more than three years old, send them to Goodwill and take the donation as a tax writeoff. You also can donate old apparel to local clubs for fundraising activities.
  • At your next parking lot event, put up a "make-me-an-offer" table or tent and stock it with old product.
  • Old parts? They don't get more valuable as they age. Send them off to a swap meet.
  • Broken products or broken sets? Get rid of them! Get them off your walls now!
  • Shop-worn packaging? Pull those items off your displays. Trash the packaging and discount the products.

Look at all of the new products here at Dealer Expo, and make a budget allowance for soft goods. Budget space in your showroom for these items — and only buy products that will fit in the space you have.

The shoe horn trick never works, so don't overcrowd.

Finally, always purchase bread-and-butter items that provide a higher inventory turn — so you will have less discounting at the end of the season.

Jennifer Robison, a Dealernews columnist, will be hosting a seminar on merchandising and retail display during Dealernews Live! today and tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. in Room 140. Robison's hour-long seminar, "Retail Therapy: Ask the Retail Doctor!" will present solutions to dealers' retail ailments. She'll be available immediately after the seminar at the Dealernews booth in the Main Lobby to answer questions.

Robison is a retail environmental specialist at Tucker Rocky Distributing, serving dealerships in the western United States. She also provides consulting and training services for Tucker Rocky sales representatives.