Dealers - Please Stand Up!

Mar. 01, 2001 By Greg Lonero

If only 3000 snowmobilers lived in Florida, we would not have been exposed to Sore Loserman/OJ part II. But wait, you know that no snowmobilers live in Florida so what is your point? You see friend, I know there are no snowmobilers in Florida but there are thousands of guys that ride jet skis, ATV's and dirtbikes, and get this - these machines are manufactured by the same people that make our snowmobiles.

To digress for a moment. I ride with a half a dozen other guys that eat, breathe and sleep snowmobiles. Unfortunately, they really don't care that much about the politics of the sport (fortunately, they all voted for Bush). And the reason they don't care is they just don't know what is going on politically in the sport. This is because they are not students of the sport. You are. You read as much as you can and sometimes fire off some letters. Do you and my friends have passion for this sport? - you bet. Here's the problem. While you are self-educating yourself on the sport by reading every sled-site, following RSS and receiving a couple magazines and renewing club memberships, my friends are not and they represent the majority of sledders and outdoor enthusiast. Not all of them surf the net, not all of them receive magazines, but all of them make trips to their dealer. OK, we all know this scenario and we now agree, there is one common medium for communication, the dealer. And it is through education that you can begin to change one's behavior.

There is absolutely no reason why, sticking with snowmobiles, the big fours dealers can't be educating the customer base with a news-bulletins and letter campaigns, funded by the manufactures and delivered at the dealer levels. There are some arguments that discussing land use issues at the point of sale may scare off new customers. But I don't agree. There is a way to achieve both, segregating a sales message and getting people involved. It is just a matter of conversational timing.

Though I don't live back East anymore, I still have several friends that do and were swing voters. When I asked them who they would vote for, they said "Gore." I asked them "why" and there was no real reason. Then I enlighten them on the specifics of the Clinton/Gore goals with shutting us out of public lands, the infamous Roadless Initiative, Gore's desire to eliminate internal combustion engines and appointing staff members from greenie organizations. And after that they easily said, "Hey, Bush is the guy." That was two votes I got for Bush very easily. They might have been the two votes that helped Bush become our President.

So lets go back to Florida. What if all the Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha dealers in Florida, all of which sell one or more of these products "ATV's, dirtbikes and jetskis," had a banner, a bulletin and stamped letters available, explaining the politics taking place in our sport. Do you think they could of convinced some swing voters? Do you think they would have had an impact on this very close election? I'm sure it would have. Now lets add to that group; boating, camping and hunting companies that conduct business in Florida and enlighten their customers on the green movement. Do you think we could of gotten more swing voters? Now, take that same strategy across the whole country.

I said it in November, it was going to be a close race, and it was. Now, follow me on this dream. Imagine that in all 50 states, including Florida, there was a CEO that decided to help create a national association of all outdoor manufacturers and retailers. And the mission statement of this campaign was to enlighten customers on the politics of the sport at the sales counter, by means of a bulletin, a banner and some pre-stamped letters, a place we all end up for one reason or another.

Here in the West we are loosing access to public land like a bad cancer. And for you non-Westerners you are going to get this same plight and end up with a couple new ones, 35 mph speed limits that make the 1978 Yamaha 250cc Enticer the sled of choice and loss of easement rights for your trails. It's all News, it's all real, it's just not on the front page of your information conduit or available at your dealers news-station, you know, the one that has the bulletins, banners and pre-stamped letters just waiting for you to sign.

So here's the plan, for the next 60 days, if you decide to write a letter, don't write to any politician, instead write to one to your dealer. Ask them to get involved with the sport and get them to get their manufacturer involved. In many cases the dealer has programs at this disposal to help the sport. I've been told of programs that allow the dealer to pay for a snowmobile club membership and have the manufacturer refund the cost to the dealer. The dealers just don't take advantage of what is offered to them in most cases. Let them know that we need their help. Our sport needs the help.

If you're at a loss for words, send them a copy of this editorial and just sign it. It is time we bring this sport back to it roots. It's time the vendors, manufacturers and dealers start giving something back to this sport. Otherwise, the only way you will have fun on your sled, rusting in your garage because there's no place to ride, is dreaming of what the sport was before they were banned



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