Dealer of the Year — Skagit Powersports
Owner: Bill Cameron
Location: Burlington, Wash. • Store size: 23,000 sq. ft. • Vehicle brands: Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Yamaha
By the time Skagit Powersports was featured as a Dealernews cover dealer in September 2003, the Burlington, Wash., dealership was already a six-time Top 100 winner. In the time since, it’s apparent that the Skagit crew didn’t slow down: They racked up another six wins and this year landed the grand-poobah top slot of the Top 100 contest — Dealer of the Year. The contents of the dealership’s Top 100 entry offer a crystal-clear outline of just how owner Bill Cameron and his team have built a hard-charging store dedicated to all things powersports. In fact, readers of the local online motorcycle magazine, Sound Rider!, named the store the best dealer for Ducati, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi and Suzuki in the Northwest, and ranked it among the top five in sales and service in addition to being the No. 2 dealership in the region overall.
It’s in the area of customer service that Skagit really shines. The multiline store takes part in Yamaha’s Pro Yamaha program, which is focused entirely on offering great customer service while earning high customer satisfaction scores for sales and service, and has been named one of about 16 Sport Specialist designations by the OEM. Suzuki has awarded the dealership the Super Service award twice in the last five years. The Sport Specialist designation allows Skagit such perks as priority factory shipping and the ability to offer customers pre-approved warranty claims up to $1,500. To supply such great customer service, a store has to have great employees, and Skagit works to ensure its workers take advantage of the latest training and educational programs, especially those offered through Pro Yamaha. Sales personnel also test the important new machines against their competition when they arrive. Each morning, 15 minutes before they open, employees meet in the back of the store to discuss the previous day’s customer service and to check out a “product of the day” presentation by someone in the parts department.
It’s not all work, though. Skagit also holds store paintball tournaments and offers one free track day a year to employees with an appropriate motorcycle. A rented warehouse that was once used for storage is now the home track for the Warehouse Racing Association (WRA), a mini-bike racing series that many employees take part in. In 2009, Skagit held its first Skagit Powersports Fishing Derby, where the whole team hit the watering hole and barbecued the first couple of salmon employees caught. Other incentives include spiffs on certain items and extra points on hard-to-sell products. Departmentally, workers earn $1 for each e-mail they collect from customers at the counter.
Promotionwise, Skagit recognized long ago the importance of building value with customers to keep them coming back. As such, the store established a motocross team that it supports with a mobile store that follows the team from track to track, promoting its sponsors with such things as yearly updates to the custom bike graphics that the team uses. These efforts helped the MSR brand go from third in sales to first in the local market and landed Skagit’s mobile store exclusive vending rights at the Washougal MX Park, even during nationals week. Another successful promotion centers around the sales in the sportbike and sport-touring segments. Once a month, the dealership hauls a trailer full of bikes to the local road racing course, Pacific Raceways, along with a custom coach filled with customers. The program led the dealership to launch the Skagit Powersports Track Day License program, which allows qualified riders the chance to get substantial discounts on such track day supplies as tires, chemicals, exhausts, brakes, controls and runs on the dyno once they get their track day license.
In 2009, Skagit held an online Film Festival contest and arranged for a huge list of prizes from Tucker Rocky and Parts Unlimited, with the big award being a new Yamaha (it obtained the vehicle through a 50/50 co-op, a perk of the store’s Yamaha Sport Specialist designation). Cameron said that this was one of the store’s all-time best events. Viewers submitted more than 150 movies, and Skagit’s website traffic increased dramatically, so much so that the store’s own video advertisements of slow-selling vehicles resulted in quick sales. On awards day, the store broadcast the top 10 finalists’ videos on a big screen, held a big barbecue and hosted a dyno horsepower shootout. The envelope with the first-, second- and third-place winners was delivered by a skydiver who landed in the store’s parking lot.
What does all of this add up to besides the Top 100 Dealer of the Year award? Business. Good business. Skagit’s 3,500 sq. ft. P&A department accounted for more than 26 percent of the store’s gross sales — a 3.1 percent increase over last year. And, while unit sales and F&I were down, service sales were up 1.4 percent over 2008.