FORT WORTH, Texas - Tucker Rocky president Steve Johnson believes the status quo is the arch enemy of success. Distributors — and dealers — who have grown complacent with their product selection, or who demonstrate biases toward particular market segments, sell themselves short.
Tucker Rocky has added the following vendors to its portfolio in the past 12 months. The company now offers about 100,000 SKUs.
What does he recommend for combating complacency? Two things: Trying new products with an almost clinical analysis of results, and ongoing sales training.
These are Johnson’s solutions for both his company and dealers. During an interview with Dealernews at this past weekend’s Tucker Rocky Dealer Show, Johnson said the distributor is committed to correcting an imbalance in its own inventory by shifting toward V-Twin products. Dealers, he said, should apply a similar approach.
Tucker also has continued to invest in training videos, has required all its outside sales reps to carry iPads, and has expanded the seminar schedule at its dealer show.
The beginning of an industry rebound? Tucker Rocky sales increased during the unseasonably warm winter and haven’t faltered since. “We’re having a strong year,” Johnson said. “We’re way up on the V-Twin side just because we’re putting a lot more focus and energy on that. But pretty much across the board, sales are up nicely.”
Johnson credited pent-up demand and a growing sense of well-being among consumers due to the recovered stock market and, consequently, recovered retirement savings. “People are going back into dealerships, especially the Harley dealerships, and buying motorcycles,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘It’s time to start living again.’ It’s not coming back fast, but it is coming back.”
Tucker’s suppliers and dealers also seem to be faring better. The number of vendors at the dealer show, 185, set a record. And more than 700 dealerships representing 1,500 people pre-registered for the event. This up from 535 dealerships that preregistered last year.
Earlier this year the news about Harley-Davidson’s financial comeback captured headlines. But even before this, Tucker Rocky had decided to give the V-Twin market more attention. Biker’s Choice now has 14 outside reps dedicated to the market, but Tucker relies on its own reps as well.
“There are areas around the country where we’re putting a lot more focus on the V-twin side of the market,” Johnson explained. “But it may be a Tucker Rocky rep, so we’re spending a lot more effort and energy on training them on where they can go in and support either the Harley-Davidson franchisee or the independent V-twin shop. Our DNA has always been more on the metric side, and we just never put the focus or the energy on the American V-twin side. And we’ve said we’ve got to have more of a balanced focus in the company.”
Johnson has noticed more interest among Harley dealers in Tucker Rocky apparel brands River Road and Speed and Strength. “We’re starting to see more and more River Road going into Harley dealerships,” Johnson said. “It’s not a flood. It’s kind of a drip at a time. We’ve seen more and more opening to them because the consumers want alternatives.”
Which brings us back to Johnson’s recommendation that dealers actively experiment with their in-store product selection. “My philosophy is: The profit you make in the store is the profit you make when you sell something times the probability of selling it. Pretty basic, right? The probability of selling is pretty close to zero if it’s not in the store. So the way you increase the profitability in the store is to have alternative lines of product. You’ve got to have an expanded selection or portfolio of product for your customers. And that’s our objective.”
Johnson warned against following personal preferences when stocking. “If the general manager or the owner or the parts guy is the weekend off-road rider, he may have a real bias against Gold Wings, and yet he could be missing a whole part of the market. And so you really want to check your biases at the door and focus on the portfolio.” (Story continues; click below)