We started our local distribution program as an experiment. We didn’t know exactly what to expect and how to achieve it.
We just knew that our product is unique, and that offering it for sale through regular stores alongside other fishing kayaks would not necessarily do it justice.
Our first local dealers were just clients who loved their W kayak so much that they felt like spreading the word around them and resell our kayaks out of their garage. This is the basis of our program even today, and it’s a sound one.
Over the years, we’ve gained some experience, and we can share a few tips and recommendations with prospecting W dealers.
The purpose of this article is to help a prospecting W dealer decide if they’re fit to become a successful one, but every case is different, and we don’t guarantee that what we say here is fully applicable in every situation. In other words – results may vary, and you’re most welcome to call or email us if you have more questions.
What factors determine the potential of a local W dealership?
The factors are 1) Location, 2) Location, and 3) the dealer –
What’s a good location for a W kayak dealership?
Demographics – By good location we mean an area that’s populated with enough potential customers. These are mostly people who like to fish, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re kayak anglers, since we have many clients who have fished out of motorboats for many years, and became interested in our kayaks and boats as a portable alternative to a skiff or other boats, namely a car top motorboat. Normally, most of these people wouldn’t even consider fishing out of a common fishing kayak, but they’re open to test and use the W500 or W700 because unlike other kayaks, our kayak and boats are comfortable, stable and dry, and they offer plenty of storage space for gear.
Competition – The presence of many other kayak dealers in your area could be a problem since it means more competitors, but it’s also a good indicator to the fact that there may be many disgruntled kayak anglers out there who are looking for a sensible way to fish out of a kayak, that is while being stable, comfortable (no more back pain!) and dry, and for them your Wavewalk kayak dealership will be the only game in town.
Geography and climate – The dealership area can be suburban or rural, or a mixture of both, and whether it’s in a cold or warm region doesn’t seem to affect the W dealer’s success unless weather conditions are exceptionally bad on a certain year, such as a very cold spring and summer in a cold region, or a prolonged and severe drought in a warm region.
What’s a good WAVEWALK kayak dealer?
The dealer is important too, naturally. A good Wavewalk dealer doesn’t necessarily have to have prior commercial experience, although it can help in the beginning.
A people’s person – What matters more are the dealer’s interest in their clients as people, and their ability to communicate with them, as well as help them with technical information and practical advice, if needed.
Don’t push – It’s important that the dealer listen patiently to their client’s questions, whether they come by email, by phone, or in a face to face meeting. If fact, it’s much more useful and productive to listen to the client and give them a chance to ask their questions and speak their mind than it is to bombard them with information. Being a good listener is far more important than being technically savvy or ‘persuasive’.
Furthermore, it’s also important to observe the client and their interaction with the kayak or boat before and during a live demo – For example, most people appreciate the fact that they can walk into the W’s cockpit without having to step in water. Reminding them about it and showing them how to do it usually has a very positive effect on them, since it saves them the unpleasant feeling of getting their shoes wet. It’s also important for the dealer to make sure that their client who uses a W kayak for the first time does it while riding the saddle in the middle of the kayak, and not in the rear, as some people tend to do. Riding makes the user and their Wavewalk more stable, and the user being positioned in the middle of the Wavewalk keeps it level, and thus makes it go faster.
Time is of essence – Running a W dealership doesn’t require much of the dealer’s time, but enjoying people’s company and being a good enough communicator and instructor won’t help you much if you’re too busy with your day job, your family, or with other businesses or activities, to a point where you have no time to spend with your clients. The sale of a W kayak and paddle isn’t that hard, and it can generate hundreds of dollars of profit for you, but you may have to work a couple of hours and sometimes even more to close the deal. Wavewalk dealers with sufficient time on their hands tend to succeed more than ones who are very busy doing other things. For this reason, we see that a W dealership works pretty well for retirees, but less so for people who have a full-time day job or a full-time business.
Technical aspects – We offer our dealers continuous technical support by phone and email, so that there’s little room for errors on a dealer’s part. A dealer’s technical skills should suffice to outfit a W kayak, namely drill holes and use a riveting tool, if necessary. It’s very easy for most people, but we’ve also come across people who couldn’t do it.
The fact that our dealers are primarily our clients and use the product themselves helps them a lot, and so does the fact that our website offers plenty of information in various formats (pictures, reviews, videos, articles, etc.). This said, a dealer who can show on their website what they do with their Wavewalk benefits from a great advantage compared to a dealer whose website stays underdeveloped and reflects little interest for the product or for what can be done with it locally. Clients like to talk to dealers who can understand them, and if you show them that you know both your product and the area first hand, you’ve gained their confidence before even talking to them.
Stay informed – A Wavewalk dealership is a small business, but it’s still a business, and that business is part of the kayak and boat markets. Therefor, it is in your interest to stay informed about what Wavewalk offers, as well as have a basic idea about what our competitors offer both in their terms and in real terms… Visiting our website and staying in touch with us would usually suffice for this matter, unless you feel like becoming an expert in this field, which can’t be a bad thing.
A dealership is a service – It’s not just a point of sale. You need to put yourself in your clients’ shoes, and ask yourself what kind of service you’d like to get. For example, a great demo might end in a fiasco if your enthusiastic client is forced to order a Wavewalk from you and wait two to three weeks before you can have them pick it up from your place. This is why you should make sure to have at least a couple of kayaks available for pickup on your premises, and order new ones once you’ve sold most of your stock. You certainly want to avoid a failure, let alone have to disappoint a client by letting them wait.
Family business – A local Wavewalk dealership works better when both husband and wife are involved, and it’s fun for both. It rarely works well as a father and son, or father and daughter business.
The above said can be summarized in the following sentence –
There’s hardly such a thing as a bad area for a a dealership, unless you live in the middle of a scarcely inhabited desert or on a small island, and there’s almost no such thing as an unqualified dealer unless that person has neither patience for people nor time to deal with them.
How much money can you make? -It’s hard to tell in advance, but in average a local Wavewalk dealership generates thousands dollars of profit, annually. The combination of a good area and a good dealer can yield more, but you won’t get rich from it.
On the other hand, it’s a business that doesn’t require any major investment, it’s not too demanding, and it can be a nice side occupation.