Over the Hump

May 31, 2012

Every market has its ups and downs. Luckily for shops serving the performance off-road market, the rockier the road, the better the opportunities to make sales.

From racing to rock-crawling, trail riding to simply playing in the dirt, off-road enthusiasts need the parts and expertise their local professional can provide. Throw in plenty of repeat sales, and it’s a performance niche worth exploring.

“This market is no longer made up of only hardcore off-road enthusiasts. A large group of weekend warriors are now out there for the fun as well,” notes Adrian Croot, special events coordinator for Bully Dog Technologies.

With that in mind, here are some of the latest products available to the off-road market, and some tips on how shops can better-connect with a customer base always seeking new ways to get over the hump.

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Stage 8 Locking Fasteners
San Rafael, Calif.
Robert J. Ahern
Director

Our hottest off-road product is…

…the X-Lock, a bulletproof locking spindle nut that is lockable in any position so that it is never necessary to over- or under-torque to find a locking position.

Its best features include…

…constructed completely out of through-hardened, 4130 chromoly steel, the X-Lock is built to withstand so much force that the infrastructure around it (hub, spindle, bearings, shaft, etc.) will fail before the   X- Lock will loosen.

Shops should be excited about the current state of the off-road market because…

…aftermarket manufacturers are producing more and more custom parts specifically for the off-road market. There’s more to sell!

The biggest challenges shops face when serving this market include…

…pricing and remaining competitive while keeping the lights on and bills paid.

To ensure long-term success in the off-road market, shops must…

…remain competitive, offer outstanding service and be very knowledgeable about the cutting-edge of the off-road industry and aftermarket parts.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling off-road products by…

…evaluating and, when appropriate, reselling new products whenever possible. Use smart retailing techniques and do not run out of good selling items-ever!

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Bully Dog Technologies
American Falls, Idaho
Adrian Croot
Special Events Coordinator

Our hottest off-road product is…

…Bully Dog has one of the hottest products available for the Jeep JK and the off-road market-the Bully Dog Gauge Tuner (GT) Gas. Not only does it have amazing features for the Jeep JK application, but there are also three tuning options offering horsepower and torque improvements as well as an off-road-specific tune with lower throttle sensitivity.

All this is available in an upgrade that can easily be installed and ready to go in less than 30 minutes.

Its best features include…

…the engineers at Bully Dog have worked long and hard to give Jeep JK owners access to features such as sway bar disconnect in 4Hi (Rubicon only), front and rear lockers in 4Hi (Rubicon only), TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) control for on-trail tire air-down, disabling traction control, idle up and engine fan control.

After downloading, the GT will also allow speedometer calibration for larger tire size as well as speed and rev limiters and transmission shift point adjustments. All of these features are available “on the fly” exclusively on the GT, allowing the driver to quickly adjust settings without the need to re-download.

Shops should be excited about the current state of the off-road market because…

…there are several events helping to make off-roading increasingly popular across the U.S. Bully Dog set out to prove the capabilities of the new GT tuning at the King of the Hammers in sunny southern California. Over 25,000 Jeep enthusiasts gather there each year, and the entire community was buzzing after witnessing the capabilities of the GT firsthand.

The biggest challenges shops face when serving this market include…

…this market is no longer made up of only hardcore off-road enthusiasts. A large group of weekend warriors are now out there for the fun as well.

This means there are a lot of off-roaders to educate about what they need to get the best out of their off-road adventures, and what’s available to meet those needs. Bully Dog is committed to educating our dealers and customers-we have a growing library of online videos, regular webinar trainings, top-tier tech support, inside sales reps that are ready to serve and traveling reps who can help support you right in your store.

Another challenge that dealers face is the large amount of inventory needed for catering to off-road enthusiasts. There are a lot of items, from a lot of manufacturers, for a lot of vehicles. Besides alleviating this problem with one part number for hundreds of gas applications, the GT packaging also acts as a self-contained point-of-purchase display, displaying its features and benefits automatically when plugged in on your counter.

To ensure long-term success in the off-road market, shops must…

…we can’t emphasize this enough: being educated on products is extremely important, but having products in stock and available is essential.

Bully Dog makes this easy-two part numbers cover all of our diesel and gas applications. Keeping just two products in stock enables you to support almost every customer that comes through your door.

Do not let your long-term success be limited by dead inventory. The GT not only covers hundreds of applications, but also can be updated online for free, so product going stagnant is of little worry to you as “newer, hotter” vehicles are released.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling off-road products by…

…Bully Dog is committed to helping you get a GT in stock, and through our professionally trained staff we will help you be eligible for our preferred dealer program and put cash in your pocket. We will send you everything you need including an impressive P.O.P. pack to set up on your counter.

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Canton Racing Products
North Branford, Conn.
Jeff Behuniak
Marketing Coordinator

Our hottest off-road product is…

…our accusump. With the volatility of an off-road course it is very common to lose oil pressure for several seconds. The accusump remedies this very effectively.

Its best features include…

…the best feature of our accusump has to be its versatility. Beyond the fact that it can save your motor from oil starvation, it can also be used to pre-oil an engine and prevent pre-start scuffing.

Along with its capabilities, it can also be mounted just about any way you can come up with. The versatility of just the installation makes it a great product not only for different setups, but also for many different applications

Shops should be excited about the current state of the off-road market because…

…of the simple fact that they are still in business. Several years into a recession like we are and staying in business tells a shop two things: the first is that the industry is strong enough and passionate enough that people aren’t just going to cut the hobby completely; they will make adjustments and cutbacks here and there rather than ditch the hobby.

The second thing shops should realize is that this far into a recession, if they are still around they are doing something right and should be able to thrive when the economy picks up again.

The biggest challenges shops face when serving this market includes…

…I think the biggest challenge that a shop faces when serving this market is the specialization of the off-road market as opposed to other race shops. General race shops are able to cater to several different markets without changing too much. The differences between a road race car, a street car and other types of racing are small enough that one shop can easily cater to each of these markets without too much of a change.

The off-road market is not only specialized in how the cars are put together, but the market can be somewhat limited by the fact that it’s just that one type of event and there is little if any crossover.

To ensure long-term success in the off-road market, shops must…

…be versatile and be able to adjust to whatever market comes their way. Markets are always changing and the more able you are to adjust to those markets, the more successful you will be.

You also always have to make sure the customer is happy. With the Internet, it is very easy for one person to be unhappy and let thousands of people know about it and ruin your business.

Do whatever you can to make the customer happy within the realm of reasonability-however, do not undercut your craftsmanship. Be upfront about costs with the customer and make sure they understand the quality they are getting and the price they are paying.

Shops can immediately begin making money selling off-road products by…

…offering top-notch knowledge and service. Customers don’t like to be given the runaround and the knowledge and experience you can provide comforts them in knowing that they are getting what they want.

Find out what the customers’ expectations are and give them the best value you can from that. Customer expectations are anything from what they want to accomplish to the budget they have to work with.

Even more-so with the economy where it is, if a customer gives you a budget, make sure that you stay within it. Customers will sometimes give you a max budget that can make or break them and by going over a budget you can make a customer really unhappy.

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Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels
Stow, Ohio
Ken Warner
VP Sales and Marketing

Our hottest off-road product is…

…the Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tire.

Its best features include…

…versatility is the best thing about the Baja MTZ. They have our PowerPly 3-Ply sidewalls that give them added strength in the sidewall and better load capacity. They work just as great on a full off-road vehicle in harsh conditions as they do on a daily driver.

Pair them with a set of Mickey Thompson wheels for a very profitable sales package.

Shops should be excited about the current state of the off-road market because…

…most shops we talk to say the market downturn has slowed considerably and business is starting to come back now. Seeing all the new products at the last SEMA Show was a great sign.

The biggest challenges shops face when serving this market include…

…we hear that competition from the online sellers is a big one, so we’ve implemented a pricing policy that helps shops to easily compete with online dealers and still make a good profit.

To ensure long-term success in the off-road market, shops must…

…keep up on the latest technology and trends, and align themselves with manufacturers’ marketing programs to build a long-term relationship and reap higher profits.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling off-road products by…

…selling more profitable products rather than the cheap no-margin stuff. It requires more salesmanship, but the payoff is huge.

Also, a wise man once told me that there are only two ways to make money in business: one is when you sell the product, and the other is when you buy it. Take advantage of buying programs like the Mickey Thompson Performance Marketing Alliance program and earn some free money on both sides.

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MasterCraft Safety
Santee, Calif.
Kelli Willmore
VP Marketing

Our hottest off-road product is…

…well, if we must choose one, it’s important to highlight our off-road suspension seats. Seats are as important to your safety as helmets and restraints, and suspension seats in particular will reduce the amount of G-force that is transferred to the body in the event of a crash.

Its best features include…

…safety, durability and comfort. Each MasterCraft Safety suspension seat is built for specific applications and vehicles to ensure that the highest level of safety is achieved for its intended use. MasterCraft’s seats are real-world tested in the most extreme racing conditions.

Independent tests by nationally recognized laboratories indicate the MasterCraft Safety suspension seat directly resulted in an 84-percent reduction of energy in a 55 “G” load event. These qualities and craftsmanship make MasterCraft seats the leading choice for environments where safety can mean the difference between life and death. We also offer optional features like lumbar, seat heaters and CamelBak pockets too.

Shops should be excited about the current state of the off-road market because…

…despite the dive the economy took, the off-road market continues to thrive. This industry has always proven its ability to stay pertinent to its target market and this lifestyle is embraced by the young and old alike.

There are, of course, many who just don’t have the funds to enhance their off-road vehicles the way they want to or had originally planned; however, the extreme enthusiasts are still finding ways to make aftermarket upgrades.

The biggest challenges shops face when serving this market include…

…there are such diverse levels of income within the market that you must be able to outfit a customer or their vehicle within their allotted budget. The passion of the people who lead this lifestyle is ultimately uncompromised, so with the help of the shop, they’ll find a way to make it happen and race or upgrade their recreational vehicle on what they have to spend.

To ensure long-term success in the off-road market, shops must…

…stay relevant on the current trends and be proactive. Don’t just sell it-go out and use it with your customers. Get your name out there and show the locals that you too are enthusiasts of the products you sell and the products they buy.

Find ways to help your customers get what they’ll need. A little time spent with a customer goes a long way.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling off-road products by…

…testing them, using them and selling what works. When your customers trust that you know what the best-in-the-business is, they’re more likely to take the chance on a new product. Most people won’t put a budget on their safety equipment, so sell safety.