Performance PowerSports, Llc
329 By pass 123, Seneca, SC
View on Google Maps:Google Maps
Type of Retail Business:Franchised (selling new vehicles)
Owner(s):Kurt and Gail Mechling
General Manager:Kurt Von Mechling
Days of Operation:Monday
Days of Operation:Tuesday
Days of Operation:Wednesday
Days of Operation:Thursday
Days of Operation:Friday
Days of Operation:Saturday
Years in Business:13
Gear, Apparel and Helmets:Bell Helmets, Fulmer Helmets, HJC Helmets, Scorpion Helmets, Shoei Helmets, Arai Helmets, FLY Helmets, Skid Lid Helmets, Cortech Jackets, FLY Jackets, Victory Jackets, Tourmaster Jackets, Alpinestars Jackets, Oakley Sunglasses,Oakley Goggles, FLY Goggles, FLY Offroad Gear, Oakley Casual Wear, Polaris/Victory Casual Wear, Yamaha Casual Wear, Kawasaki Casual Wear, Bell Casual Wear
Accessories:Cobra Exhaust, Vance and Hines Exhaust, Rinehart Exhaust, Pure Victory Accessories, Pure Polaris Accessories, Dynojet, Moose ATV Accessories, Quadboss ATV Accessories, Kolpin Offroad Accessories, Michelin Tires, Dunlop Tires, Maxxis Tires, Sedona Tires, ITP Tires and Wheels, GoPro.
Parts and Tools:Yamaha, Kawasaki, Polaris, Victory, CanAm, KTM, Vespa, Piaggio, Kymco, Royal Enfield hard parts. All Factory tools as well as Motion Pro and Bikemaster Tools
Distributors:Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties
Distributors:Tucker Rocky/Bikers Choice
Distributors:Western Power Sports (WPS)
Total Facility:22,000 sq. ft.
Showroom:10,000 sq. ft.
PG&A Departments:5,000 sq. ft.
Service Dept:7,000 sq. ft.
Evolution is either a theory or a philosophy depending on your beliefs or perspective. Evolution in nature has long been a metaphor for business; survival of the fittest, change or perish, and other somewhat trite statements about winning. And while these analogies are clearly oversimplifications, they are nonetheless quite pervasive in the power-sports industry. Our unique selling proposing is about embracing and internalizing evolution.
We cannot limit ourselves by only offering yesterday's popular products and expect our business to grow. Once just a motorcycle shop; today we sell Kymco scooters to Clemson students, Vespa scooters to Starbuckers, Waverunners to wealthy second home owners, Rangers to conservative land owners, Victorys and Stars to the traditional heavyweight cruiser customers, Spyders to empty-nesters, Royal Enfields to an eclectic crowd, Big Bears to hunters, and Super-Dukes and Ninjas to Tail of the Dragon group. And soon the Slingshot to motorsports enthusiasts.
Focusing on the consumer, offering incredible products that excite them and evolving to meet their future expectations is our USP.
Showroom Design and Layout
There was a time when 20-group consultants recommended grouping like products together regardless of brand was the standard for merchandising in our industry. One can see the logic in this as grouping all low-displacement sport bikes together would allow a consumer to compare side-by-side OEM offering for each category. Not bad, made sense at the time. Fortunately, leading providers in our industry said “hold on, if you want our brand, you need to create a-store-within-a-store." Triumph took this approach early on, Victory has followed and Slingshot raised the bar even higher. Today a-store-within-a-store with product specialists seems to be the OEM requirement but also seems to fit the consumer quite well. Consumers like the fact they can shop multiple brands at one location but also like the identity programs as they ultimately align themselves with a particular brand by selecting a make and model.
To the best of our ability and within the constraints created by our facility, we are grouping our products by OEM and giving each brand a strong identity in our showroom. Per our USP we have evolved and the square footage allocation depicts the consumer preferences and revenue derived from those products (revenue per sq ft). To illustrate my point, you first look at the brands that are no longer with us; from American Iron Horse to Zundapp the list of failed motorcycle companies exceeds 185 worldwide. While we are just a microcosm of the power-sports industry we have to evolve. Regardless of whether our OEM partners are making fast enough changes we have to adapt swiftly to consumer preferences. Comparing MIC data from 2000 to 2013 you can clearly see category variances which reflect consumer changes. You can also drill down and look at year over year, the data tells an interesting story of change. With all the external factors taken into account, such as access to financing etc., consumers are buying different products today. Prior to 9-11, our store was filled with young buyers signing up for sport bikes, today that consumer is scarcely seen, while a 60-year old couple buying a utility vehicle is a common sight.
Our OEMs are big international companies competing in diverse markets. The bigger they are, the more difficult it is for them to affect multiple changes at once. Dependency on manufacturing efficiency for profits makes it hard to initiate sweeping changes without inadvertently impacting their business in some other market. So the bigger the organization, the more it is plagued by the uncertainty of change elevating our own need for local instinctive adaptation. We have to know who the powersports consumers are in our market and align ourselves with OEMs that are producing category winning products. You can stay the way you are, offering the same stuff and expand your search for the consumer in ever-greater concentric circles or you can tune yourself into your local consumer and offer him or her the products they desire. For our company, we want to evolve, adapt and stay in tune with our local consumer introducing new and innovative products that bring smiles to their faces.
If we were once a motorcycle shop, today we a family focused outdoor recreation provider. This evolution is visible in the demographic data you request in the dealer profile. Our average consumer is older, often is a couple making a joint decision, is financially conservative, dealership loyal, service oriented and generally thankful that we are here for them. Our volume selling products are provided by OEM with a strong consumer focus. We are South Carolina’s number one Waverunner dealer, their new “Ride” system is the kind of product innovation that appeals to our consumer base. Can-Am’s Spyder appeals to our aging demographic and the newly introduced Slingshot will thrill our go-fast customer. We cannot limit ourselves by doing things one way or have stale product offerings and expect to grow our business. We have to departmentalize by organizing into store-within-store business units, each unit then being a profit center. We will continue to dissect the market and evolve as the trends emerge and morph to meet consumers wants needs and demands. Tomorrow our OEM line-up might be totally different or it might be the same signs but a greatly different emphasis depending on how they innovate. Focusing on the consumer and offering them the products they want largely determines how we merchandise our showroom. Today it is by OEM; and for illustration we are investing in an exclusive merchandising area for Slingshot.
Our service department historically has been fairly traditional in its layout with a customer write-up leading to the actual technician work area. Over time we have expanded and adjusted the boundaries of service to accommodate product changes. First we segregated ATVs because they typically came in with mud on them, and that made a mess of our overall department. So we first had an on-road and an off-road area, later we had to create an indoor-outdoor area to work on Yamaha Waverunners, and then more adjustments to accommodate side by sides because of their size and weight.
More recently we changed the boundaries to accommodate working on Can-Am Spyders and purchased an alignment system for Spyders – something we never anticipated. On a side note, having an alignment system is a great profit center and are now using it with UTVs as well. And currently, we are repurposing 1,500 sq. ft. from our warehouse area to install an automotive lift to work on the new Polaris Slingshot. The changes taking place with our OEM product line-up is forcing us to evolve. Today service has four distinct work areas with specific technical talent in each of those areas.
The most significant service-related effort we are undertaking, which is proving to be quite a challenge is the revamping of how we sell service. As a powersports dealer, we don’t typically use our service department as a paying customer, or if we do pay we are a VIP and things go differently than they do for a typical consumer. Another weakness we have as a powersports dealer is our propensity to have our shop handle things for us or a Porter shuttle our automobiles and tractors to their respective dealership for service. I am suggesting that as dealer principals we don’t visit enough service departments and we need to see how things are done elsewhere. For the last 18 months I have taken my autos, boat, mowers, bicycles, chainsaws, weed eaters, vacuums, etc. to their respective dealerships and gone through the entire service process on each of the above items. I have done this intentionally and I have had an eye opening experience.
The least sophisticated are unable to price anything and the most progressive provide an out-the-door-price. The best experience has been the one for my son’s Toyota Tacoma. It was a nationally advertised oil change, tire rotation and inspection program that was fixed price and simple to ask for and receive. Exactly what was advertised was delivered and it felt good as a consumer to purchase service and know the outcome. My worst experience was at the boat dealership where I had to call them repeatedly and they took over six weeks to work on my boat and the first time out the starter failed even though they say they lake tested my rig.
We want to be able to menu price most items and give fixed quotes on all other services. If it takes a diagnosis we want to be able to do that quickly and accurately as well. The challenge is the lake or accurate time and labor guides in our industry. C.R. Gittere and his Service Manager Pro tool helps us but doesn’t deliver us a turnkey solution as of yet. One of the problems with menu pricing is the risk of undershooting the cost of a repair; however, with 70 percent gross margins on labor I feel we can take on that burden in order to grow and retain customers.
Why do automotive and other vehicle/equipment owners defect from the dealership after the warranty expires? The answer is it takes too long and costs too much. Why do BMW owners frequent their franchised dealer? The are less sensitive to price, the dealers and customer have other accommodations for alternative transportation and a BMW with service records is worth more than one without.
The transition to fixed service pricing, and menu presentation is the most significant feature of our service department. Consumer reaction to our early effort has been fantastic, our stepped up communication and customer dialog is being well received and every indication is that our employees like it as well our customers do.
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
First and foremost we believe in attracting good people and retaining them. There have been innumerable studies about the cost of turn over to an organization, both culturally and empirically. The most interesting study I remember reading was a Harvard Review article sighting that supervisors lowered their expectations and accepted a lower performance from a new hire than the person they were replacing. The irony in firing an employee and hiring a person that is less competent and accepting that is almost laughable but sad as we know it happens all the time.
I think of turnover as a very ugly thing that turns me off and I allow those feelings to shape my staffing, training, compensation, and retention philosophies. It is mine and my leadership team’s practice to implement workplace policies that benefit workers and help boost employee retention. It is not simply a “nice” thing for our dealership to do for our employees; it’s the only way I want to operate. Maintaining a stable workforce by reducing employee turnover through better benefits and flexible workplace policies just makes good business sense and pays dividends with higher productivity plus the potential for cost savings.
I have read, but think it is even worse for small businesses, the costs of employee turnover is about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that worker. That there are direct costs like classified advertising, using a recruiter and indirect costs associated with the loss of productivity. I have found that some of this can potentially be avoided by implementing workplace flexibility, earned sick days, education seminars, higher base pay and lower incentives.
If my associates are engaged at what they do, trained-up, competent, well compensated, and I show I appreciate them through flexible HR policies, I know they will serve our customers well.
I want to avoid the costs associated with turnover, the costs to replace workers, the costs of productivity losses, the costs of hiring and training a new employee, and the slower productivity until they get up to speed in their new job. I also want to avoid the impact it has on CSI as well.
Earlier I stated that compensation plays a role in job satisfaction. From a theory standpoint, you have Maslow and Herzberg but in practice we have millennials that want $12/hr. vs $8/hr. plus $4 commission. In fact I learned that when we was paying $8 and $4 I could lose an associate for $10/hr. because they didn’t value the commission portion regardless of its numerical equality.
Today our compensation is hourly or salary with a smaller commission for most associates and a team performance monthly bonus. The monthly bonuses unite the department and help them focus on a goal and it truly becomes a bonus that they spend like “found money.” Additionally, lenders and the like don’t value commissioned earnings making it difficult for associates to get motorcycle, auto, and home loans.
We believe in training and treat it as a privilege. Associates earn out-of-store seminar and certificate training opportunities by diligently completing the OEM’s on-line training programs. Additionally, management gets to attend, industry events like major intro shows, parts events, races, and the like for achieving their departmental objectives. Our sales manager earned an all-expense paid trip to the Polaris show for him and his wife this summer.
One of our unique differentials is our avoidance of turnover and our love for retention; we consider it a competitive advantage.
Commitment to Customer Service
Virtually every business that you touch today is interested in your satisfaction to some degree. I read recently that CSI spending is now exceeding marketing research budgets for many companies operating in the United States. If they are not spending it on training their employees they are spending it trying to influence the survey results. There is absolutely a tremendous focus in America to score well and have good reviews.
At the most fundamental level we all promote the most basic of rules: “treat your customers like you want to be treated” (The Golden Rule). Who doesn’t espouse this philosophy? We certainly subscribe to it. Every successful business has to engage and embrace customer service. But what’s interesting to me is that all of my experience in customer service and all the advice I’ve read tells me that when it comes to delivering great customer service, your philosophy needs to boil down to just one simple principle: be engaged at what you do.
This principle is what we used in designing our customer service policies and procedures. We started by putting our self in their shoes, asking normal everyday questions:
- How do you like having to wait days or weeks to have your problems resolved?
- How do you like being left on hold?
- How do you like standing at a counter being ignored by an associate?
- How you like going to a store filled with salespeople who don’t know anything about the products in the store?
- How you like it when a promised delivery date comes and goes without receiving the parts or service you require?
- How do you like making service complaints to people who have no authority to resolve them?
Years ago I attended a customer service seminar conducted by people associated with the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain that promoted the empowerment of associates to solve problem. The Ritz became the gold standard for hotel satisfaction using empowerment. Virtually any front desk person could give away dinners, spa vouchers, or waive room charges to resolve a customer complaint or make a potentially bad situation better. I also read a story about a young FedEx driver who rented a helicopter to get his packages delivered and was award a medal for great customer service. There are stories, folklore and journals filled with anecdotes of great customer service that we can all learn from, but fundamentally we all face diverse challenges of customer satisfaction on a daily basis.
Because we are not just selling rooms and a nice check-in experience, or the singular task of a package delivery, we have an enormous task before us. Most consultants say that we have seven departments that can touch the consumer, seven very different experiences that can please or turn off a customer. Given this diversity we have to ask each department what their customer expects and aim for it specifically. Boiling certain aspects down to the most basic level we need our associates to be decent human being employing good etiquette practices. Beyond that we know that the customers for each of these areas have a specific want or need and that is how we win in customer satisfaction. Our formula is a combination of being good at what we do combined with a customer focus. In specific terms: Competence and hyper-awareness is our CSI formula and operating creed. It is also one of our unique competitive advantages in our trade area.
A simple example of this philosophy in practice is the greeting of each customer by the sales or finance manager as they enter the store. Then this customer is directed, with assistance, to their target destination with in our store. Every associate welcomes and assists with answers - there is never a point and go answer given at our store.
Involvement in the Community
The role of community involvement is spread through out staff as we believe that each of our associates have unique qualities that can benefit our community. As a result we offer financial and time support to the "pet project" of each devoted team member.
We have members involved with the following:
Oconee Heritage Center
Home Builders Association
Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program
Christian Riders Association
March of Dimes
Bowling and softball leagues
But our company wide charity effort is called "We Buy Sneakers 4 Kids." In the past we supported a group that bought backpacks for kids to get ready for school. It has been a great success and we are glad we were part of it from the beginning. The backpack program coordinated through a church organization has grown to be self-sufficient and no longer needed our involvement. However we discovered that while the fall need for backpacks was being met the need for kids shoes was year long and there was no program in our county to help with this.
Our demographic was perfect to help with this cause. Middle-aged and financially stable; along with a soft heart and healthy checking account has enabled this group to chip in and give this cause a kick.
We have done some good work in the past but none has had the traction that this program has. Our store along with a local dock builder in coordination with area guidance counselors and other school administrators has put hundreds of shoes on needy kids. We have also provided specialty shoes to enable students to participate in extra-curricular activities. It all started with one pair for one kid: www.Keds4Kids.com