CHINO, Calif. - Franchise dealerships are seeing some tides turning when it comes to gaining an advantage over online retailers.
Brands such as Maxxis and CST have re-established strong MAP policies for their dealer networks to better represent the brand in the market and protect dealer profits. Now, Yoshimura R&D is taking an even more aggressive stance by expanding a program designed strictly for franchised dealers which will help differentiate their businesses and sell more floor units.
Yoshimura identified some of the most common challenges facing franchised dealers, namely, the often-unavoidable pricing found on the Internet, a lack of franchise-exclusive products on the market and little support from aftermarket powersports brands overall. Part of that identification comes from hands-on experience, as Yoshimura’s director of sales and marketing, Dave Waugh, previously spent 10 years at the dealership management level.
“Oftentimes we would try to dress motorcycles up to help sales on the show floor,” Waugh said. “Generally, that would mean talking to the parts department, trying to piece something together from five different suppliers, and the results would usually be a hodgepodge of products.”
To answer these issues, Yoshimura is unveiling a range of Yoshimura Genuine Accessory Kits, a range of bundled accessories specifically built for each model and only available as a package to participating OEM franchised dealers.
Consisting of a Yoshimura Signature Series exhaust which meets all CARB and EPA standards and selected trim pieces such as inspection caps, tank protectors and graphics kits (for MX models), each kit will allow a dealer to be able to accessorize a new unit on the sales floor for a significant discount (approximately 20 percent off compared to the same items a la carte), creating a “special edition” similar to the Suzuki GSX-R models customized by Yoshimura in recent years that will serve to distinguish that individual unit.
However, compared to the GSX-R special edition program, these kits are an easier route to similar results.
According to Waugh, “The special edition GSX-R is a very high-effort project, where we would need the bike sent to us here at Yoshimura and convert it to the special edition trim. Instead, this is a dealer-installed limited edition that a dealer can easily perform at their location.
"These franchise kits give dealers a single SKU that profoundly affects the appearance of the motorcycle on the floor. This puts the control back into the dealers’ hands with an exclusive product, talking the customer off the Internet, and is a very simple way to dress up a unit,” Waugh noted.
In addition to the profit afforded by the installed accessories and higher demand a unique model can create, the dealer’s in-house installation adds an additional boost to revenue, and is made easy thanks to included labor estimate worksheets that come with the Accessory Kits’ POP materials. Yoshimura prefers to use the term pre-market to describe these kits, as they are something completely in the dealers’ control before the bike hits the floor and enters the retail market, again simplifying the process.
Finally, to provide a lasting personal touch, each street Accessory kit comes with a bonus gift pack for the end consumer in the form of a uniquely etched trophy built from a carbon fiber Yoshimura exhaust end cap, similar to the prizes awarded as part of the Team Yoshimura Training program.
Although Yoshimura has offered franchise-only accessory packages previously, for the Honda Grom (see image, below) and select motocross machines, this will be the program’s first foray into full-sized streetbikes. And to support the new program, Yoshimura will be conducting a national-level advertising campaign rife will strong language on exactly why franchised dealers deserve a program like this to compete with online-only competition.
To get involved, a franchise dealer first needs to register with Yoshimura R&D at www.yoshimura-rd.com/franchise. In addition to providing dealer numbers for all applicable OEMs, a dealer must also agree to a Franchise Kit Agreement with stipulations designed to maintain the program’s integrity on a national level. These include only installing and selling the kits on new, unregistered units, not breaking up to kits for individual sale, and only installing the kits on brands on which the dealer is pre-authorized by Yoshimura.
Despite those stipulations, initial dealer response has been exceptional, with over 95 percent engagement of dealers approaching Yoshimura during a recent distributor show. Waugh added, “We had a KTM dealer sign in before we even have KTM product ready, that’s how much dealers want to be involved.”
The first franchise kits are being offered for the current model Yamaha YZF-R1, Kawasaki’s popular Ninja 300 (see top image), and of course, the Suzuki GSX-R600 and 750. However, future model offerings are highly dependent on the initial success of the franchise dealer-specific program.
“This is not the norm for us,” Waugh explained, “as we are normally a typical high-volume manufacturer, shipping product through multiple distribution channels. In comparison, this is a high maintenance, but high value program. If the dealers don’t engage and don’t activate, we will likely go back to business as usual. If dealer want us to stay in the game, they need to get in to the game.”