Dealer Badge Pick-Up and On-Site Registration: 8 am to noon
South Hall Lobby
MIC Business Center and AIMExpo Sales Office: 8 am to 1 pm
Exhibit Hall Open: 9 am to 1 pm
South Hall Lower Level
Media Center Open: 9 am to 1 pm
Motorcycle & Powersports Newsand AIMExpo are partnering to bring the most engaging and actionable education sessions yet to the Disruptive Thinking stage. Key subjects have included training and talent; finance and insurance; parts, garments, and accessories; and marketing.
The Disruptive Thinking education series, free for all AIMExpo attendees, will wrap up this morning on the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
New products are what drive our industry. This morning, NPC will continue to spotlight participating brands on the new product presentation stage, where they can show and talk about their latest products with our New Product Host.
All dealers and media are encouraged to attend the presentations scheduled for today, the last ones of the week.
On-hand until noon at the MIC Business Center is Buckner Nesheim, director of MIC Research and Statistics. Nesheim and his team will be there to answer questions and help turn data that every MIC member has access to into useful information – whether they’re a small shop or an OEM. There’s tremendous value in the MIC’s cross-industry, cross-segment information, not just on sales, but on registration of nearly every make and type of powersports product. This is proprietary and granular. Plus, Nesheim can teach members about important trends in the industry.
“Motorcycle sales are a leading indicator of consumer sentiment, and we have data on the aftermarket as well as on various segments,” Nesheim said. “My team and I can field questions about the MIC’s 2024 Motorcycle Statistical Annual, too, and how its findings can apply to any powersports business.”
The Blue Ocean Strategy
Savlowitz Calls on Powersports Companies to Think Differently
In his AIMExpo keynote address, David Savlowitz challenged the powersports industry audience to break out of its normal way of thinking. The CEO and founder of Competitive Analytics is calling for a paradigm shift, for businesses to look at the world in a different way, and one that gets them out of competitive, cutthroat, and bloodied “red oceans.”
“You’re either in a red ocean, or you’re either in a blue ocean,” Savlowitz said. “Now, I will tell you, 99.95 percent, probably of all businesses, are still in a red ocean…defined as competing in an existing marketplace.”
“Let’s compare that to a blue ocean, which is, again, going back to the paradigm shift,” he said. “A big difference. A blue ocean creates uncontested market space. It makes the competition irrelevant. It creates and captures new demand and breaks the value/cost trade-off. In fact, it blows it up. And the entire ecosystem is one in which the paradigm is differentiation and low cost. You get to have your cake and eat it, too.”
This wasn’t just an academic exercise for Savlowitz, who teaches at the University of California, Irvine, not far from the MIC headquarters. He pointed just down the famed Las Vegas Strip to Cirque du Soleil, which runs six shows in the city as part of a global entertainment company with nearly 4,000 performers and employees.
“They got out of the red ocean of circuses,” Savlowitz said. “And they decided to try to combine different elements in their performances. They eliminated the animals. That’s a very expensive proposition to move elephants from town to town. And they said, you know what? This is too expensive. Why don’t we just get rid of all the animals?”
The shows produced by Cirque du Soleil rely on human performers, primarily highly skilled acrobats, and there are no highly paid stars among them. Each act features an ensemble cast.
“And then they offered a unique value proposition,” Savlowitz said. “Higher quality entertainment with acrobatics. They appealed to the emotions of the audience. They had a diversification of their audience. It wasn’t just the family with the young kids going to the circus. They had corporate clients going to the shows. They had a very innovative business model.”
Unlike a typical, old-fashioned circus, Cirque du Soleil delivers a high-end experience that allows the company to charge premium entertainment prices, Savlowitz said.
“When you’re in your own blue ocean, you have complete command of your price,” he said. “And they had brand recognition. I mean, look down The Strip. You got all sorts of different Cirques du Soleil. And this is the classic blue ocean strategy canvas.”
But even Cirque du Soleil has to evolve and innovate, Savlowitz said, always look toward the future.
“Even if you guys come up with your own blue ocean strategy, it’s probably a good idea to think, well, I may have to keep continually coming up with one,” he told the AIMExpo crowd. “It’s a perpetual exercise. Learn from the past, figure out what’s happening in the current space, and start to think about the future. It’s not one or the other, or the other. It’s all three. And that’s how you get to blue ocean strategy. Finally, if you don’t think about your future, you can’t have one.”
Heather Weidner, Michael Angeli, Josh Marsh, Charles Smith, and Erica Sheffield
Consumer Sentiment and Buying Trends
Marketing Matters and so does YouTube
Yesterday morning’s session on the Disruptive Thinking Stage was one of the most well-attended and lively presentations of the entire show, with dealers hungry to understand today’s changing customer landscape. Three presenters from Synchrony, one of the largest issuers of store credit cards in the United States, were joined by two members of the Piaggio Group.
The event began with Heather Weidner, Synchrony lVP marketing leader, presenting a new, 1,500-person study on powersports and motorcycle buyer trends. Among the key findings: Consumer sentiment is way up, with far fewer fears about a recession. Also, buyers are doing way more online research.
“There are nine items on this list,” she said, referring to a slide about how buyers do their homework. “But only two are in-person.”
Yes, consumers might visit a dealership, but that only tends to come at the end, for the actual purchase, Weidner said, and that makes it especially important to focus on marketing.
Sheffield added that there’s overwhelming research done by consumers on YouTube and that having a presence there with 30-second product videos helps tremendously.
But what about the money? Interestingly, Charles Smith, AVP sales for powersports and trailer at Synchrony, said that their research shows how little price actually matters, thanks to financing. Still, financing confuses buyers. Customers know it exists – but they tend not to see this concretely. Josh Marsh, trade marketing manager at Piaggio Group Americas, underlined how important it is to have those numbers in front of a customer on the sales floor, not back in some scary finance office.
Michael Angeli, national sales manager at Piaggio Group Americas, added that you want to break down costs into real terms.
“It could be as simple as (saying) ‘You could be riding a $25,000 motorcycle for as low as $359 a month,’ and that puts it in perspective for a consumer to say, ‘Wow, I never thought I could afford a $25,000 motorcycle.'”
What’s a blind spot for dealers today? Continued customer engagement such as rider meet-ups and donut rides, all leading to further sales. But Angeli added that you can’t sell what you don’t have.
“Eighty percent of our customers are going to buy at least three accessories,” but he added that even though dealers know there’s more markup there and greater financing opportunities to roll that into a primary sale, customers need to associate your dealership with those products – or you’ll lose that purchase to the web.
Rod “Woody” Woodruff, president and CEO of the Legendary Sturgis Buffalo Chip, presented Mike Rabideau with the Spirit of the Chip Award at AIMExpo’s 2 Wheel Custom Showcase on Wednesday.
Protecting Your Business
Be Sure to have the Right Insurance
Do you have the proper insurance for your business? You might think you do, but during the last talk on the Disruptive Thinking stage Wednesday, a few experts cautioned that it’s highly likely you’re not as protected as you may assume.
Douglas Choi, VP of risk management at the Liberty Company Insurance Brokers in Irvine, California, made it clear you’re at risk if you modify a vehicle even slightly.
“So as a dealership you think, ‘Oh, my business is I take a product manufactured by someone else, Kawasaki, Yamaha, whoever,” he said. “And I sell that product.”
But he said most dealers make at least minor modifications. “And so, in a way, you become the manufacturer as well.” For this reason, Choi says, there’s a hazard for dealers who haven’t insured themselves against that kind of lawsuit.
Rick Kallas, Barry Glenn, Sanjay Mehta, Douglas Choi, and Jared Burt
Another hazard, explained by Sanjay Mehta, Risk Management at Liberty Company, is what’s known as risk transfer. That means a claim could come from a product defect, or from customer misuse of a product.
“As a dealer, you’re in a very unique position because you’re between the product manufacturer and the consumer,” he said. “You need to be evaluating the contract and the agreements that you have with your vendors to make sure you understand what risk and what liability am I keeping and what risk and what liability have been transferred.”
No matter what, Mehta said, you have to be insured accordingly, and that includes being certain that your insurance protects you from even being named in a lawsuit.
Choi outlined further liability you might not perceive. For instance, there are dealers that also sell food. Technically, they’re also operating as a restaurant but probably aren’t insured as one.
A different risk noted by Barry Glenn, Human Resources and Benefits at Triada Health in Houston, is the sheer cost of insuring your employees. Glenn sees too many employers offer insurance at zero monthly premium. The flaw is that you’re not nudging your employee to move to a spouse’s plan with a lower rate.
“We changed at our company to (paying) 93 percent of premiums and we’re still paying the vast majority of it,” he said. “But our enrollment percentage dropped by 22 percent. We saved tens of thousands of dollars, with no difference in experience for our employees.”
Team Building Through Game Play
Dungeons & Dragons may be Good for Business
It might be counterintuitive and a bit out there, but David Savlowitz, CEO and founder of Competitive Analytics, said there’s power in role-playing games, or RPGs. He shared several reasons why during Wednesday’s Lunch & Learn in the MIC Business Center.
The classic RPG is Dungeons & Dragons, and Savlowitz explained how these sorts of exercises, where employers and staff members each take on a character, can be used as icebreakers and for team-building.
“Teams require both logical thinking and imagination to overcome today’s complex challenges,” he said.
Game play, because it’s less stressful than real life, enables employees to bond in a different way. It’s good practice for real-world problem solving and can help cement bonds with staff so they’re more agile and creative at work. RPGs, because they’re not personal – you’re role playing, not yourself – enable people to come out of their shells and more readily connect with each other. RPGs also may be better for more reticent employees who might be less prone to participate in a traditional office retreat.
For employees who work remotely, Savlowitz emphasized that virtual RPGs work just as well, and are far less costly than an office retreat. He encouraged MIC members to get in touch with him for more on building stronger staff bonds.
Making the Most Out of the Sale
The Machine is Just the Beginning
The second of Tuesday’s panels dove into trends in staff management as well as emerging trends in sales. While the underlying focus was on F&I and PG&A, panel members Jason Duncan, of McGraw Powersports in Anaheim, J.D. Baker of Protective Asset Protection, John McFarland of Lightspeed DMS software, and Zachary Materne, Apiar Commercial Risk Management, also discussed broader learning.
Materne made the strong point that you want your F&I person out on your show floor. Introducing them to the customer as “the person who is gonna help you with financing” and protect the customer’s assets became a theme throughout the discussion. He added that the personality of that F&I staff member needs to be welcoming, emphasizing that when it’s done right, there’s an understanding on the customer’s part that they’re not just the person who takes their money but can be a long-time partner on this machine and the next one.
This conversation threaded through to the bigger point of micro-finance – and Duncan stressed the value of bundling accessories and clothing into single-finance offers.
“You make it easier that way,” he said. “If you have a six-month payment (the customer can afford more), and they’re going for a discount instead of just getting like a jersey and pants.”
McFarland pushed the idea that dealerships need technology that makes them more nimble, especially software that doesn’t just track sales, but also sales-force performance, so you know who’s doing well and who can support them, and can also communicate not just what they’re selling, but what needs to sell better and where the ROI is.
At the end, McFarland stressed that a unique personality, highly developed dealership skills, and closely working with customers isn’t easily duplicated.
“Your competition can copy everything that you do,” he said. But they can’t copy you.”
Powered by Transax Digital Retail, the Dealer Tech Zone will be centrally located on the show floor, where attendees can take a comfortable time-out, charge devices, and network at the show. Open 9 am to 1 pm.
The e-bike market is growing fast. This additional category within powersports is set to grow from $49.7 billion in 2022 to $80.6 billion by 2027. To help support this growth and integration into the powersports industry, AIMExpo will have two indoor e-bike demo tracks: one for Turn 14 Distribution brands and one for additional participating companies. Demos open 9 am to 1 pm.
The custom segment of motorcycling is more popular than ever and an influential category within the industry. The 2 Wheel Custom Showcase will highlight 10 of the country’s best custom builders showing off their latest custom builds curated by Kevin Dunworth of Dunworth Machines. Brian Buttera, David Chang, Larry Curik, Tim Dixon, Kacey Elkins, Oliver Jones, Roy Martin, Mark Rabideau, Anthony Robinson, and Paul Wideman will showcase their talents and diversity of style. Open 9 am to 1 pm.
The 4 Wheel Showcase is dedicated to showing the progression of ATVs and side-by-sides with curated units provided by the industry’s leading manufacturers. As this category grows, more and more OEMs and aftermarket companies are building vehicles and parts to cater to four-wheel customers. Here you’ll find unique vehicles built to satisfy the ever evolving four-wheel customer. Open 9 am to 1 pm.
Until 1 pm, MIC members will have complimentary access to the conveniently located MIC Business Center, featuring workstations, device charging, printers, meeting rooms, storage, and a lounge with beverages and lunch.
AIMExpo attendees who are not yet MIC members are invited to contact and meet with MIC staff inside the Business Center, Tuesday through Thursday. A wide variety of powersports businesses can join and benefit from MIC membership. And any powersports dealer can join the MIC for only $495 a year. Learn more at the MIC Business Center on the lower level at the Las Vegas Convention center, booth 6007.
Exhibitor Credit and More – Those who are in Las Vegas this week and renew booth space for the 2025 show will receive a $300 per-booth credit with a maximum up to 60 percent of their total dues.
The MIC has a lot to offer members – far-ranging benefits, not only for companies, but for powersports as a whole. With legislative matters, with public land issues, businesses do much better standing together as one powerful industry force.
We support MIC members through regular communication about our tangible membership benefits: advocacy, industry research, market expansion through Ride With Us, as well as our online symposiums that provide professional development opportunities and keen insights on industry trends.