Why other retailers envy powersports Dealers

Posted By: admin
Post Date: 09/12/2017


By Paige Wittman

THE MILLER WITTMAN Retail Design Group is extremely excited to be starting this blog, column, maybe sometimes vlog. Thank you, Dealernews team!

We have a firm belief that the independent Powersports Dealer is extremely relevant in today’s retail environment. Every big-box retailer is hunting for the “in-store magic” that will make them relevant at the local level and better equipped to compete with Amazon. There are hundreds of articles out there about making better connections with consumers and store reconfigurations. Retailers are working to elevate experience through creating boutiques, interaction, product selection, look, touch, smell, using rarified materials, and chasing “hyper-local” and “cool” to be authentic.

We have more than 3,000 powersports store projects under our belt, and we believe that you are uniquely positioned to be successful — if you capitalize on your strengths as experience-makers and experts by creating a desire to share.

The most “Instagrammable” or post-them-on-Facebook moments in people’s lives are served up by you and your team. Every other kind of retailer can only imagine this kind of interaction with products far tamer and less interactive.

A few weeks ago, I was whitewater rafting on the Colorado River with my husband, sister-in-law and four kids. The only electronics we saw for the entire day were the two iPhones that were encapsulated in waterproof bags so we could take pictures. No streaming of other families living their lives on You Tube. Our lives, our experiences. We heard “Best day of our lives!” and “Can’t wait to go again!”

What I haven’t told you yet is that the rafting outfitter had lost our reservations. The owner of the business, who was behind the counter, was horrified, yet collected. She said, “Don’t worry, you are going out on the river today.” Other guides weren’t available, so she took us out herself.

A thin line between best day and worst day. Customer experience and unforgettable experience.

Each of you have the power to create both every day. You are vacation makers, family fun makers, memory makers. By the way, we bought the waterproof bags, snacks and T-shirts, and added another boat while talking to the owner. Good for her, good for us.

Consumers crave an authentic experience, one that feels created or tailored for them. Let’s focus on a few:

FEED THE NEED, DESIRE AND PRIDE. The products you choose to sell are passions for the people who buy them and most likely started out as passions for you before they became a business. We’re not talking fidget-spinner-fun or stream-a-show fun, but fun that grabs you, makes your pulse rate rise, and makes you feel invincible. Does your store look and feel high energy? What is the state of the grounds and exterior of your building, the interior lighting, flooring, sound, media and merchandising? Does the showroom feed the desire for the customer, or tamp it down?

Look at what your customers are posting and how they are tagging your business. If you don’t see that behavior, then you could be missing out on opportunities. (And by the way, do you have a space in your showroom or outside that photographs well and encourages the customer to take a selfie?)


A REAL WILD SIDE. Not “pretend” wild, but off-road in the muck and sand, on-road in the twisties, and jumping the waves. The most “Instagrammable” or post-them-on-Facebook moments in people’s lives are served up by you and your team. Every other kind of retailer can only imagine this kind of interaction with products far tamer and less interactive.

Where do you fit in to this? Does your store reflect the way the experience feels? So many of you have well-formed rider groups, events and social media pages. Does your store reflect the fact that you can help bring that experience to life? How do you use customer generated content in-store and as a part of your online content?

PERSONAL CONNECTION. Is your store inclusive, or exclusive? A friend told me that when she bought her first Yamaha V-Star, she laid the bike down in the parking lot. The guys at the store laughed at her and didn’t come over to help. What a missed opportunity to create a connection with a customer! Can you picture her ever going back to that dealership? As an owner, you may be thinking, “Why can’t I get more women in here?” Well, between laughing and selling “If you can read this” T-shirts, there is potentially an answer.

SHOW ME HOW. Can you identify the ways your store draws new people to you and reduces the barriers to entering the sport or the lifestyle? The buying power of the millennials and Z generations is undeniable. There is anxiety and trepidation about not being an expert, and a desire to be shown how. If there was a You Tube video 20 years ago to show me the best way to load a trailer or back one up, I would have saved about 50 hours of embarrassment.

What is your approach with potential customers? Is your retail environment and approach designed to be inclusive and descriptive for the customer segments you are strategically trying to grow?

We would bet that you all are responsible for countless Best. Days. Ever. Let’s make sure you get to make the next ones as well.

What do you want us to talk about? Send me your thoughts at or via

Paige Wittman is a partner in the Miller Wittman Retail Design Group, She has 25 years of sales, marketing, design, retail and channel development experience. She has dedicated her career to developing winning sales teams, powerful distribution channels, and retail programs for leading brands.

« Return To The List