Will Cunningham Triumph?

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Mike Cunningham joined Triumph Motorcycles in March as leader of its dealer development efforts in the United States. Cunningham comes to the OEMwith more than 30 years in the industry, including two decades as owner of a multiline dealership in North Carolina.

His dealership, Cunningham Cycle World, was a Top 100 first runner-up in 1993 and was featured on the cover of Dealernews' July 1993 issue. In 1994, his Easyriders franchise in Fayetteville, N.C., won Best Use of Space in the Top 100 contest.

Cunningham's resumé also includes a stint as president of the North Carolina Motorcycle Dealers Association, time spent on the dealer councils of various OEMs, three years as director of business development for Easyriders and four years as VPof sales and dealer development for Piaggio USA's Vespa brand.

Dealernews: Tell us about your new role with Triumph.

Cunningham: My responsibilities include appointing new dealers in areas determined to be unserved or underserved, building dealer training programs, working with and coaching dealers to increase profitability, and monitoring Triumph's CSI initiatives.

What is Triumph's No. 1 priority in dealer development?

Increase training and [improve the] tools designed to increase vehicle sales per dealer while building CSI and profits for the Triumph dealer network. It's also to fill open points in markets where we don't have a presence that we have determined need a dealer.

Can you elaborate on the dealer training programs?

We are quite comfortable with the training that we offered in 2006 and 2007 and intend to expand upon it for 2007 and 2008. We currently offer online features and benefit instruction, but intend to explore various online programs to re-enforce our existing training programs.

How many dealers does Triumph expect to add over the next two years?

We have as many as 40 markets that are currently unserved or underserved that we hope to fill over the next two years, but our main emphasis is on increasing sales per dealer through our existing dealer network. Any OEM can increase dealer count to achieve short-term wholesale goals, but increasing the retail sales per dealer is what guarantees long-term success for both the OEM and the dealer network. Quite frankly, I would much prefer doing more sales with fewer dealers than the other way around. It is simpler for us and better for the dealer.

Are there certain regions Triumph wants to fill?

Open point viability will be provided on an individual basis to dealers or individuals that submit information under "Become a Dealer" on www.TriumphMotorcycles.com. This link on our site is currently under construction, but should go live by May 1.

What are the top concerns of Triumph's dealer network?

I haven't been with the company long enough to address specifics, but one of my objectives over the balance of the year is to spend time in the field with dealers identifying and reporting any concerns to the appropriate members of the Triumph team in Newnan, Ga.

When Triumph is in a multiline dealership, we hear the brand often gets less attention than the 'big four' Japanese brands. How can Triumph ensure its dealers are fully committed to selling the brand?

Dealers are always going to pay the most attention to the brand that pays the rent. Where we are paired with Japanese lines, some of our dealers have challenges focusing on Triumph. Our intent in these situations is to show these dealers that Triumph can be a significant contributor to their bottom line, thus justifying the commitment to selling and focusing on our brand.

Triumph wants to be in first or second position in terms of focus on the part of our dealer's priorities. In European brands pairings, we outsell Ducati in almost all of our dual-line showrooms and are rapidly becoming No. 1 in most of our dual-line BMW stores. This shows us that when our product and programs deliver profits, we are ensured commitment on the part of our dealers.

What are you telling dealers to do?

We want those existing and/or potential Triumph dealers who "haven't caught on" to talk to those of our dealers who are committed to selling the full range of Triumph product in a Triumph World Store setting. There is no better way to judge the impact to your bottom line than talking to your fellow dealers that have already made the commitment.

I have been on both sides of the relationship between dealer and OEM and have experienced the challenges that sometimes occur between the two. My goal with Triumph is to merge the objectives of the company and the dealer network to bring success to both.

I see Triumph and the Triumph dealer network as poised to make a dramatic impact on the motorcycle industry over the next 10 years. — Interview by Dennis Johnson