Dealers often assume that any company producing a powersports machine is an "original equipment manufacturer." Not so. A true
OEM controls its production and distribution, from initial product development, to component sourcing and production, through
assembly and then distribution to the dealer. A true OEM, as we know it in North America, offers dealer training, helps dealers
with marketing and promotion, warehouses parts and provides warranties.
At the other end are manufacturers that produce products for others to market and distribute. They do not generally handle
product development; rather, they simply build to a buyer's specfications. Many such manufacturers are based in China and
are using importers to distribute and manage product here.
We welcome dealers to use the following checklist when considering a new vehicle line. Many of the items on the list are routinely
provided by an established OEM but often are not available from an offshore manufacturer that is working through a U.S. distributor.
– How is the company organized? Who are the owners? Is it owned, for example, by the Chinese government, private investors,
or a combination of the two?
– Does the company have a plan in place to build its brand in the United States (or Canada), or is it simply selling products?
– Is the company registered to do business in your state? Obtain a copy of the company's business license to be sure.
– How long have the manufacturer and its distributor/importer been in business in the United States, and do they list an active
– Is there a U.S.-based test site you can visit?
– Obtain an employee contact list, and determine how many U.S.-educated engineers are on the payroll.
– How would you, as a dealer, file a warranty claim?
– How long does it take for dealers to get paid for warranty work?
– How does the manufacturer/importer/distributor reimburse the dealer for warranty work? Does it issue payment, or does it
apply the amount as dealer credit toward future purchases?
– Are parts stocked in the U.S.? If so, how much inventory do they have? Or are they just pulling parts off of other vehicles
to fill orders?
– What is the fill rate for key parts? You might want to make a warehouse site visit to verify for yourself.
– How extensive is their customer service function, and where are the CSRs located?
– How do dealers contact customer service?
– How do end users contact customer service?
– Does the company have a manned toll-free number? Are service technicians available via phone?
– Will a technician come to your dealership if needed?
– How does the company train personnel when it comes to service, parts, sales and merchandising?
– How often is training provided, and how extensive are the training programs?
PRODUCT LIABILITY AND CERTIFICATION:
– What is their insurance coverage? It should be at least $5 million. Make certain that you see the actual insurance rider;
don't accept the distributor's word for it. Also, make sure the coverage is with a U.S. insurance company.
– How many product liability cases has the company had to face in the last 12 months, and how were these cases settled?
– Have there been any recalls involving the product in the last 24 months?
– Do all machines meet U.S. emissions, homologation and safety standards? Ask for certification paperwork.