The Heroes in an Evolving Digital World

Toy Story introduced the franchise’s most prolific character yet in Toy Story 4 with the debut of Duke Caboom. Keaunu Reves plays the animated character Caboom who is the Canadian version of Evel Knievel.

Caboom is a motorcycle stunt rider toy that does not land jumps as advertised. Caboom’s insecurities stem from criticism that he crash-lands jumps. However, at the climax of the movie, Woody’s friend, Bonnie pumps Caboom up with an encouraging exchange.

“Who’s the Kunuk with all the luck?”, asks Bonnie.

“Caboom!”, replies Duke Caboom.

“Who’s the greatest of the Great White North?”

“Duke Caboom!”

“Who’s the most spectacular dare devil Canada has ever seen?”

“Duke Caboom!”

“Can you do the jump?”

“Yes I Canada!”

Caboom realizes he can use his strengths, despite his weaknesses. “Let’s Caboom!” The Canadian accelerates down the ramp and sends his motorcycle to a dramatic crash landing and a triumphant rescue. Duke Caboom is a hero at last!


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. For powersports enthusiasts, dealers can be heroes giving riders access to and support for motorcycles, snowmobiles and all things fun. However, dealers see the ads for the “shiny new toys” claiming to replace or outperform traditional dealer services. This is evident with online sources for parts, accessories and gear shipped to the customer’s home within a couple days. Even manufacturers offer these services often without including the dealer in the process. Many dealers are frustrated with these pressures that can compress their operating margins as they stock less and less inventory. As customers, it is easy to be critical of dealers for deficiencies when they fall short of our elevating expectations.

How can dealers remain relevant in a world where our expectations seem to exceed the dealer’s capabilities? Just as Bonnie saw Duke Caboom for his unique strengths, do we value and support local dealers in a way that keeps them not only relevant, but heroic?

Although digital transformation and customer expectations will continue to evolve, as dealers focus on keystone services that deliver unique value to their customers, dealers will thrive and always be an integral part of the powersports community. The keystone services are Vehicle, Journey and Lifestyle. Customers that value and support great local dealers for these services will enjoy enhanced powersports buying, riding and ownership experiences.


Dealer Vehicle Services include any dealer resources that ensure our snowmobile, motorcycle or UTV is prepared for specific riders and terrains. Although manufacturers are getting better at offering purpose-built models for various conditions and rider skills, dealers have experts to fine tune and keep our vehicles ready for every ride. Trained and experienced technicians are central to providing vehicle support. They understand how to customize and calibrate machines for optimal performance. Experienced parts specialists identify, stock and recommend parts and accessories needed to support customization and periodic maintenance and repair. Locality is key. A deep understanding of the local riding areas and terrain coupled with consideration for the rider’s style and capabilities is value that websites, software algorithms and apps cannot solve for anyone. Local dealers are heroes to riders when tribal knowledge of parts and service personnel make them the preferred advisors to get and keep your machine in prime condition for our individual way of riding.


Although it’s easier than ever to jump on the manufacturer or dealer website to research or build our virtual vehicle of choice; there are many gaps and pitfalls in the digital customer journey to buying snowmobiles. Inventory listed online often lacks on-hand and pricing transparency or accuracy. Just because a snowmobile is listed on POLARIS.COM, doesn’t necessarily mean it is available to buy. Manufacturer Advertised Price (MAP) policies along with confusing advertised rebates and incentives make it difficult to understand what the real price is. Dealers will always be necessary for local advising, fulfillment and orientation. In the future, the digital experience in terms of inventory on-hand and true pricing will be aligned with the dealers. Understanding the digital shortfalls and utilizing great customer journey support makes the buying and ownership experience much more enjoyable.

Great local dealers that understand the riders end-game will problem-solve to present the best available options. This isn’t going to happen simply by submitting a “lead request” on a website. Entering in your name, address and phone number hoping someone will call you with all the information you need is magical thinking. Most lead generation systems operate under the illusion that we’re getting a no-hassle buying experience when in fact we’re just being set up for disappointment. In the future, when inventory and pricing transparency are available online, the buying experience will become more seamless. Even then, a local dealer will be just as important in creating a seamless customer journey to ridership.

Customers are best served by establishing a relationship with the owner or manager of a local powersports dealership. If you’ve texted a dealer principal or manager and he or she responds with straight-forward information; you know how effective this can be. Unfortunately, the larger dealers struggle to maintain this level of customer service where a back-and-forth game is inevitable. Regardless of the dealer’s process, dealers with people that ride the products and provide informed, straightforward information are key to a great customer journey. As customers, it is important that we help dealers to help us by communicating our needs directly whether that is by phone, in-person or by text. When taking delivery of a new machine, great dealers take the time to provide a thorough orientation. This can be the most important aspect of the buying process and heroic dealers never shortcut this experience.

Key dealer relationships, local tribal knowledge and expert vehicle orientation are all good reasons to pay a little more for your next new ride. Understanding these important customer journey services that great dealers provide will result in better buying, ownership and riding experiences.


Some say that riding is a way of life. Others, that you meet the nicest people on motorcycles. A family that rides together, stays together. Powersports enthusiasts that come from all walks of life share a common bond as riders. It’s truly a lifestyle. Great dealerships are the experience centers for that way of life.

When purchasing parts, accessories and gear online, we gain convenience by avoiding the time and travel it takes to show up at a dealership. It can be frustrating to visit a local shop only to find that they are out of stock on common parts. Eventually, when we shop for parts and accessories online, we will have visibility to what dealerships have those items in stock today. At that point, Amazon 2-Day Prime shipping will become less appealing because same-day pickup at the local shop will be simple and seamless. Until then, visits to dealerships should be opportunities to connect with like-minded riders and powersports experts. Customers often don’t consider this opportunity cost when buying powersports products online.

Dealers that are heroes create an environment in their stores that is engaging, fun and inspiring. Clean and organized product displays, demo-ride opportunities and staff that not only cares, but can share a wealth of information are all key to enhancing rider’s lifestyles.


Dealers that are proficient at providing Vehicle, Journey and Lifestyle services are the Duke Cabooms of powersports. Notwithstanding his weaknesses, after realizing his full potential, Duke Caboom started to focus on his key strengths delivering value in a way that no one else was able to. When another challenge arose, without hesitation Caboom rose to the challenge while exclaiming, “Let’s Caboom!”. As powersports customers navigate through the convenient and vast resources available online while leveraging local dealers for these key contributions, we might hear dealer’s echo some of the last words of the heroic Canadian, “Whoa, we actually did that! Oh yea! (fist pump) Yes!” As new generations experience powersports in a more connected and digital world, let’s never take for granted the local dealer heroes that make life a ride.

Originally published at on November 6, 2019.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s