While the country is still in the grips of the pandemic, sales of powersports vehicles, led by ATVs and other recreational units, have been going gangbusters. In May, the average major unit sales were up 60.7 percent and overall revenue increased 51.2 percent.
Going into the third quarter, inventory constraints could put a significant damper on sales gains. Polaris and other companies were forced to close manufacturing facilities due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Analysts from BMO Capital Markets report that inventory shortages across all brands could impact sales for the remainder of the year. However, with more consumers entering the market, and more units being financed, the overall forecast for sales remains cautiously optimistic.
With many powersports dealers surpassing sales records throughout the summer, one could surmise it is Christmas in July, except for one small data point. Identity fraud has reared its ugly head. While fraud has always been an area of focus in the powersports world, a couple of unique pandemic situations have exacerbated the situation.
- More transactions are happening over the phone or online.
- Whenever there is a rush to purchase a particular good or service, fraudsters use the cacophony to more easily hide within the masses, increasing their prevalence in the market.
- Dealership employees are under immense pressure to keep deals moving, thus increasing the likelihood of cutting corners.
The good news is reinforcing your existing good practices and refreshing your training for some of the unique online situations should put your dealership in a better position to stop fraud in its tracks.
Speed Kills a Good Deal
Thanks to shelter-in-place mandates and a general reluctance to visit retail outlets once businesses opened, many consumers are relying on online and digital sales for their powersports purchase. Clearly, sales in April and May have not suffered due to this change in consumer behavior. But getting a deal done quickly should not open the door to a fraudulent situation.
Make sure your team is following each of the steps in the purchase process. With so many deals waiting in the queue, it’s easy to rush through the critical data collection steps that can put the brakes on a fraudulent purchase attempt. Resist the urge to gloss over details such as capturing a complete work history or residence details. Even if the buyer is not financing a large portion of the purchase price, falsifying any portion of the sale is still a crime.
If you are collecting documentation online, pay close attention to driver’s license images and signatures. Do they look altered or Photoshopped? Something as simple as enlarging the image on a computer screen can reveal critical details. Is the customer slow to respond when providing verification details online? This could be a red flag to delve deeper. Remember, compliance rules and regulations remain firmly in place during this pandemic. Rely on your tried and true verification steps – and make sure the customer is aware that you are protecting both your business and their purchase by crossing all the “Ts” and dotting all the “Is”.
Up Your Efficiency Quota
Instead of focusing on beating the clock to close a deal, look at the efficiency of your people and processes. Does your team operate as a well-oiled machine, or can the slightest glitch send the team into a tailspin? Is your workflow process organized? Take a few minutes to map out each step to close, and flag any time-wasting bottlenecks that can be easily removed.
The pandemic has forced dealerships to focus precious time on new tasks including sanitizing showrooms, customer distancing, and re-routing traffic flow within the dealership. Managing the paperwork hand-off, 6-feet-apart customer interactions, and enforcing mask requirements has become a critical component. Adding these steps on top of an already busy sales cycle can reveal previously hidden inefficiencies.
Take a few minutes each day to reinforce training on each step of the process. Whether your dealership boasts a team of 20 or a powerhouse of 2, make sure everyone is aware of who does what and when. When the deals are flying fast and furious, efficiently completing the sale should be muscle memory. Whether the customer is online or in person, an efficiently completed sale means you can sell more product and your customer will ride off into the sunset with a smile on their face.