PowerSports Business

Sept 4, 2017

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NEWS 6 • September 4, 2017 • Powersports Business www.PowersportsBusiness.com year as owner of Northway Sports in 2017. He purchased an existing Polaris snowmobile fran- chise in 1997 and was approved to carry Polaris ORVs as well. Since then, the dealership has expanded twice. "I built this building in 2004, which was a big expansion from what I had, but outgrew it quickly," Richardson told Powersports Business. "Then the economy took the downturn, and we were glad we didn't over-build. We've been waiting about three years — business has been good for about three years — and then just finally decided to add on." This recent expansion added 6,600 square feet to the former 7,700-square-foot space. In addition to showroom space, Northway also increased its office area and doubled the size of the service department. The service department renovations are still underway, but once they're complete, Richardson will be able to hire a third tech, who can work on prep and small service jobs. The service department was also able to add a car lift to work on Slingshots. And, the service writer space will be expanded to give the two advisors more room to work together. The showroom expansion is focused on off- road products, with about two-dozen Polaris ATVs and UTVs front and center. Also, a cou- ple of Kawasaki units are tucked in. It's an impressive look — and a welcome change for a dealership that operates in an off-road- friendly area. "The hottest thing, of course, is Polaris off- road, specifically side-by-sides. We still sell a ton of ATVs, but the side-by-side business just keeps increasing," Richardson explained. He added, "We're right in that transition from kind of a metro dealer to a rural dealer, and believe it or not, people with 5-10 acres think that they need a side-by-side to justify it. A lot of people out here have a little bit of acreage, so that's where we're seeing the side-by-side business pick up. Some of them want to trail ride a little bit, especially all the RZR customers, but my Ranger customers are mostly just local people that want to use it in their yard." After starting construction on the new space in December, Richardson learned in January that Polaris was discontinuing Victory Motor- cycles. As a dealer who had done well with the brand, he was disappointed. But he has adjusted. As Victory bikes have filtered out of the showroom, Richardson has transitioned the old showroom to now hold four Slingshots (rather than the two he previously housed indoors) in addition to Polaris snowmobiles year-round, Kawasaki street and off-road bikes and pre-owned motorcycles. POLARIS RETAIL EXPERIENCE In addition to more units, Northway Sports's expansion also houses the new Polaris Retail Experience, recently launched by the OEM at select dealerships. The display was designed to help dealers sell more OEM PG&A by allowing custom- ers to see and touch anything from doors and windshields to bumpers and roofs. A lighting section offers customers the chance to push a button and see the lights work live, and speakers can also be turned on and listened to in the showroom. The centerpiece is a touchscreen TV that allows customers to flip through the Polaris lineup, price out accessories and, for some units, build their own vehicle on the screen. After the expansion was complete, Polaris sent sub-contractors to the dealership to install the Polaris Retail Experience, and Northway Sports introduced it to customers in June. "The little bit of experience we've had with customers coming in, they love it," Richardson reported. "They like to put their hands on it, touch it. The interactive display, that's huge, too, especially if we're busy, and we're trying to take a little pressure off the salesman." Richardson expects that as customers are able to inspect vehicle accessories in person, and see and feel the difference between the less expensive and more expensive options, acces- sory sales will grow. "Our hope is that our accessory sales will be up at least 30 percent with just adding this experience center. And we already do well with accessories. We have a pretty high attachment rate, so I can only see it getting better," he said. DEALERSHIP BUILT ON CUSTOMER SERVICE Sales have been growing steadily over the past three years, which allowed Northway Sports to push forward with the expansion. The store does healthy sales with UTVs and ATVs, as well as dirt bikes, but Richardson said what brings people back is the customer service his 12-member team provides. "The Twin Cities powersports market is very competitive, so I think our No. 1 thing is customer service," he said. "I have two of the best techs in the Twin Cities. One has been with me for 12 years; both are certified. So on the service tech side of it, I have great cus- tomer service. But also my parts guys are very, very knowledgeable, so our customer service is top notch." Because of this, and the passion Richardson has for the powersports industry, Northway Sports has earned many long-time customers who return time and again. PSB NORTHWAY SPORTS CONTINUED FROM THE COVER Four Slingshots sit as the centerpiece seen by customers when they first walk into Northway Sports. Photos by Liz Keener/ Powersports Business Northway Sports, in East Bethel, Minnesota, sells Polaris Slingshots, ATVs, side-by-sides and snow- mobiles, as well as Kawasaki on- and off-road motor- cycles, ATVs and side-by-sides. More than two-dozen Polaris ORVs now fit in Northway Sports's expanded showroom, with a couple Kawasaki Mules in the new space as well. Manheim Specialty Auctions, Synchrony Financial and RumbleOn to be part of Power 50 celebration at AIMExpo A pair of returning sponsors and one new to the lineup will help celebrate the 2017 Powersports Business Power 50 class. The year-long sponsor- ship begins with announcement of the Power 50 at an awards dinner on the opening night of AIMExpo, and continues until the 2018 Power 50 class is announced in Las Vegas at AIMExpo. The Power 50, the only program of its kind in the industry, annually selects the 50 most outstanding powersports dealerships in North America and celebrates their success with an awards dinner every year during AIMExpo. Among the highlights of the celebration is the announcement of the Top 10 dealers in North America, including the No. 1 dealer. In addition, awards are presented to dealers in a variety of Best in Class categories. Power 50 dealers also receive promotion via advertise- ments placed in Powersports Business and in sister publications Rider and Thunder Press throughout the coming 12 months. Here's a look at the three Power 50 sponsors: MANHEIM SPECIALTY AUCTIONS Manheim Specialty Auctions will be return- ing as a sponsor of the 2017 Power 50 dealer awards program. Manheim Specialty Auctions operates 21 branded dealer auctions dedicated to specialty vehicle types, including motor- cycles and powersports. Manheim is North America's leading provider of vehicle remarketing services, connecting buyers and sellers to the largest wholesale used vehicle marketplace and most extensive auction network. Through 127 tra- ditional and mobile auction sites and diverse digital channels, the company helps dealer and commercial clients achieve business results by providing innovative end-to-end inventory solutions. "It's no surprise that Manheim Specialty Auctions has decided to once again support the Power 50 as a sponsor," said Powersports Busi- ness editor in chief Dave McMahon, who also manages the Power 50 program. "Manheim can always be relied on to step up and offer support for dealers who continue to raise the bar in the industry. We're looking forward to announcing the Power 50 in September, and we're thrilled to once again have the folks from Manheim by our side when we do so." "Manheim Specialty Auctions is proud to continue our support of the 2017 Power 50 dealer awards program," said Kevin Cooper, director of Manheim's Specialty Division. "The hard work and dedication to the powersports industry exhibited by these nominated dealers deserves recognition, and we're happy to be a part of this celebration of their exceptional achievements." SYNCHRONY FINANCIAL Synchrony Financial is returning as a sponsor of the 2017 Power 50 dealer awards program. With more than 25 years of experience in the power- sports industry, Synchrony Financial continues to be an important retail financing provider for Power 50 sponsors head to Columbus to celebrate dealers See Power 50, Page 9

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