Polaris Industries Inc. made a “strategic shift” in its promotional plans this year to invest more in its dealer retail rewards program, Matt Homan, the OEM’s president of off-road vehicles, said during the company’s analyst and investor meeting in late July.
“Dealers have goals, and if a dealer meets their goals they can earn extra money,” Homan said, adding that a majority of Polaris dealers are meeting their retail goals. “We put $18 million in the first half of this year into the retail rewards program — that’s three times more than we had in the first half of 2016,” he said.
The reward dollars go to dealers and they can invest it back into the dealership, he said. “We think it’s important to make sure we drive the right emphasis and profitability through our dealerships.”
Additionally, Polaris is bolstering its training efforts, with expanded online courses and in-field training, said Tim Larson, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of customer experience.
“One of the realities of a dealer network is the amount of turnover that you have, so we have online courses now, and we’ve expanded them so that [dealers] … can learn the procedure and learn it efficiently,” he said. “We complemented that with in-field training,” and Polaris has already conducted more than 175 dealer visits this year.
In-field training is beneficial to dealers and Polaris, as it allows the in-field representatives to gain feedback from dealers for quality improvements, Larson added.
“We are working in partnership to improve how we work with and support our dealers,” Larson said. “Our approach is to look at each market. We hear a lot about profitability challenges, which is a market-specific dynamic, depending on what the market conditions are. That’s why we focus on powering dealers with retail rewards, improving trends on retail inventory, and driving down the cost of flooring.”
Polaris’ dealer network remains “strong,” Larson said. While the OEM is focused on growing the network, it is “optimizing key markets, rather than aggressively adding,” he said. Polaris had about 1,530 off-road dealers, 750 snowmobile dealers, and 565 Indian and Slingshot dealers at yearend 2016, according to the OEM’s presentation.