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Retail association pressures to end pro form

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
See the discussion at http://www.psia.org/01/home/NSSRA_Pro_Forms.asp
NSSRA as pressured K2 and Elan/Dalbello to eliminate proforms and shop forms. Do your part to make this unsuccessful. Don't recommend their products, and find the cheapest prices on the net, so that you can tell those with their products that a cheaper price was to be had. At the same time, we should recommend good products from those with proform deals, and follow the spirit of proform for those manufacturers. Make the pressure a two-way street.
post #2 of 28
The PSIA position, in polite "double speak" reads ..... "So, we have tossed you under the bus again and oh, is your membership check in the mail yet?

OK, I did embelish the last part about the check, but that whole thing could have been right out of Marshall McLuhan's "The Media is the Message" .... weasel words carefully inserted into the text.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
I think the PSIA message is more like, we have no leverage, so that is it. I am suggesting a way or two to increase leverage.
post #4 of 28
Uncle Yuki would like to suggest, that you all be a little on the late side sending in your renewal to PSIA/AASI.

Let them see what it's like being on the negative side of the balance sheet and sweating to make the "bills" at the end of the month.

Of course they will just come up with an "extra late" processing fee or some other "clever" idea to enhance their cash stream ... like that Junior Membership thing ...
post #5 of 28
The actual deal here ... this is the death of "The Mountain Rep" as we knew them.

The product will probably be "laundered" through "The Shop on The Hill" and be the approved product of the SSD & SAM ..... since that's pretty much the way it is in what I have seen anyway.

Who is going to check on the direct sales ... or .... "drop the dime" .. ??

This has been my experience; "mountain reps", scurrying like mice trying to stay off the radar of "the boss", and tossing a few crumbs to their friends.

Granted, my reality has been limited to two areas, but there was a common thread at both! There was an "approved" and dominant brand name pushed on us by the shop and the SSD.

Great way to squash any ..... "diversity within our community" .... who will "empower the stakeholders" to rise against .... at least with a little "PC" twist in the action they may feel guilty?

Nah! Don't hold yer' breath.
post #6 of 28
It's worth noting that it's not just a PSIA message--the response message is also cosigned by the NSP (which is not surprising, given the administrative overlap between the organizations).
post #7 of 28
How many times have I heard "my buddy is an instructor (my favorite is a friend of my friend is an instructor...), I can get me that for pro-form". Sweet.

Pro-form pricing isn't going to end, the mechanism to get skis will.

Pro-form equipment is not for your wife, or your kids, or your next door neighbors babysitter. It's for professional ski instructors and patrollers who make their living teaching skiing or patrolling, it was never intended for the weekend warrior who teaches two weekends a month for the free pass. The way the new programs are supposed to work is, local shops will service pro's with the same pricing they just won't let the same ski instructor buy multiple pairs of skis from each manufacturer, or a 6'2" instructor buy a 153cm women's ski.

This is a response to eBay sales, is it the right response? Thats debatable, but something needs to happen, at least this is something. It might get harder to abuse the system, boo-hoo.
post #8 of 28
Whiteroom is right on the money. Guys flapping their mouths in shops and abusing proform by buying for friends and selling on ebay is the reason companies seek to end it. If the company doesn't do something about it, its pisses off shops who end up dropping the company. This has already happened to one very popular ski manufacturer who I won't name as a result of their lackluster management of proform.
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOG View Post
See the discussion at http://www.psia.org/01/home/NSSRA_Pro_Forms.asp
NSSRA as pressured K2 and Elan/Dalbello to eliminate proforms and shop forms. Do your part to make this unsuccessful. Don't recommend their products, and find the cheapest prices on the net, so that you can tell those with their products that a cheaper price was to be had. At the same time, we should recommend good products from those with proform deals, and follow the spirit of proform for those manufacturers. Make the pressure a two-way street.
How freakin stupid. They're going after pro-form instead of internet sales. Where are these internet vendors getting current equipment at way below wholesale? I have several avenues to legally get equipment cheaper, both pro-form and close affiliations with ski shops and insiders in the industry, yet I can't beat the convenience or the price of buying from the internet, an option open to anyone with a computer. Steep and Cheap just had K2 Apache Chiefs for $300, I almost pulled the trigger.
If K2 wants to help retailers, they should burn thier excess inventory instead of selling it to liquidators at pennies on the dollar. Or sell thier excess inventory at pennies on the dollar to specialty shops, with the agreement that they only sell it at thier brick and mortar store. Several brands used to do this, if a shop advertised a price below retail, they were subject to losing thier dealership in that product, Volkl and Technica come to mind.
This is what the retailers probably asked the manufacturers to curtail, but the manufacturers probably felt the proform traffic is easier to cut.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
How many times have I heard "my buddy is an instructor (my favorite is a friend of my friend is an instructor...), I can get me that for pro-form". Sweet.
Fortunately, I've not heard that often. Someone once asked me. I said, sorry, I can't do that.

Quote:
Pro-form pricing isn't going to end, the mechanism to get skis will.
Well if the new mechanism works so that pros buy only for themselves, that is a good thing.

Quote:
Pro-form equipment is not for your wife, or your kids, or your next door neighbors babysitter.
Agreed.

Quote:

It's for professional ski instructors and patrollers who make their living teaching skiing or patrolling, it was never intended for the weekend warrior who teaches two weekends a month for the free pass.
On this I partially disagree. I happen to think the instructor who even spends a couple days a week teaching beginners how to ski for four or five or six hours a day deserves whatever the ski industry can afford to give, be it some discounts on equipment, discount on lift tickets, whatever. A huge portion of skiers learn at feeder resorts and these areas need part-time staff. Those customers are going to drop a ton of $$$$ on equipment and lift tickets over the years and work on the part of the instructor teaching beginners all day is be grueling.

Quote:
The way the new programs are supposed to work is, local shops will service pro's with the same pricing they just won't let the same ski instructor buy multiple pairs of skis from each manufacturer, or a 6'2" instructor buy a 153cm women's ski.
This is a good idea. I don't know how it is everywhere but I can only order from a rep through the shop at my mountain. The shop knows me. The rep knows me. They ski with me. The equipment better be in my size and they better see me on it. If not, I'm fired.

Quote:
This is a response to eBay sales, is it the right response? Thats debatable, but something needs to happen, at least this is something. It might get harder to abuse the system, boo-hoo.
I don't know. I know some pros who bought stuff on Ebay as it was cheaper than pro prices. I doubt the cheap stuff on Ebay is coming from abuse of pro prices. In reality most pro prices are only slightly better than the deep discounts the legit retailers offer at the end of the season. Pro prices mostly just give you your choice of gear at the beginning of the season. So you get a $1000 ski/binding in November for $600. That same pair, if you can find it in your length at the end of the season, is going to be $650 from a legit retailer. (I made those numbers up, but that's about the order of magnitude.) Pro pricing is more convenience and you know you'll get what your pick of what you want and that's about it.

I want to make a quick note I wouldn't be posting my opinion on something that's supposed to be kept quiet except that the articles are already cited above the prior post on the thread already admit that pros pay somewhat less than full price for their gear.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
Fortunately, I've not heard that often. Someone once asked me. I said, sorry, I can't do that.



Well if the new mechanism works so that pros buy only for themselves, that is a good thing.



Agreed.



On this I partially disagree. I happen to think the instructor who even spends a couple days a week teaching beginners how to ski for four or five or six hours a day deserves whatever the ski industry can afford to give, be it some discounts on equipment, discount on lift tickets, whatever. A huge portion of skiers learn at feeder resorts and these areas need part-time staff. Those customers are going to drop a ton of $$$$ on equipment and lift tickets over the years and work on the part of the instructor teaching beginners all day is be grueling.



This is a good idea. I don't know how it is everywhere but I can only order from a rep through the shop at my mountain. The shop knows me. The rep knows me. They ski with me. The equipment better be in my size and they better see me on it. If not, I'm fired.



I don't know. I know some pros who bought stuff on Ebay as it was cheaper than pro prices. I doubt the cheap stuff on Ebay is coming from abuse of pro prices. In reality most pro prices are only slightly better than the deep discounts the legit retailers offer at the end of the season. Pro prices mostly just give you your choice of gear at the beginning of the season. So you get a $1000 ski/binding in November for $600. That same pair, if you can find it in your length at the end of the season, is going to be $650 from a legit retailer. (I made those numbers up, but that's about the order of magnitude.) Pro pricing is more convenience and you know you'll get what your pick of what you want and that's about it.

I want to make a quick note I wouldn't be posting my opinion on something that's supposed to be kept quiet except that the articles are already cited above the prior post on the thread already admit that pros pay somewhat less than full price for their gear.
Unfortunately, the example you give is not accurate. If there were a $1,000 ski with a proform of $600, then at the end f the season you could buy it for around $500, and the next season for $400. So instead of being quiet about what deals are out there, next season when someone asks me about K2, I will point out how cheap they could be on SAC. Further, when someone is on the chair with nice new K2's and I ask what he paid, he may be disappointed when I point out that he could have gotten the same ski on SAC for $300. I do not make such points about another ski brand, which I was able to purchase for my daughter at $350 instead of its list of $1,120, because it was two seasons old. That brand apparently still intends to sell proform.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOG View Post
Unfortunately, the example you give is not accurate. If there were a $1,000 ski with a proform of $600, then at the end f the season you could buy it for around $500, and the next season for $400. So instead of being quiet about what deals are out there, next season when someone asks me about K2, I will point out how cheap they could be on SAC. Further, when someone is on the chair with nice new K2's and I ask what he paid, he may be disappointed when I point out that he could have gotten the same ski on SAC for $300. I do not make such points about another ski brand, which I was able to purchase for my daughter at $350 instead of its list of $1,120, because it was two seasons old. That brand apparently still intends to sell proform.
Yeah, but that has to do with cheap internet sales, not with pro-form. Do you think those few hundred pairs of K2 PEs that went on SAC for $218 or any of the other deals had anything to do with pro form?
post #13 of 28
This is Jer speaking let the blue meanies take away thier proforms. I have been rather unhappy with them as of late. They will never stop my collection of slaves for afterlife.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
Yeah, but that has to do with cheap internet sales, not with pro-form. Do you think those few hundred pairs of K2 PEs that went on SAC for $218 or any of the other deals had anything to do with pro form?
The NSSRA has told its members to go ask at demo days if the ski company is still doing proforms. They are trying to put pressure on the ski companies. This seems unfair to me, and an abuse of market power. I sugest that presure be met with pressure. I'd ratehr no one were pressuring the manufacturers, but that isn't the case. One traditional objection is that ski instructors will tell people who recently bought equipment how much they would saved using proform, inducing buyer's remorse, and complaints from customers to retailers, who in turn complain to ski companies. I believe that if that is a concern, then those companies which withdraw proform should be exposed to more complaints, not fewer, by publicizing the best deals out there. It doesn't matter if the quantity had been very limited. The idea is to generate more complaints for those companies withdrawing proforms. If we are lucky the customers will realize that their skiing would improve more with more lessons, rather than new skis and the same old technique.
post #15 of 28
This is no big deal. Business practices change all the time in every industry. The pro form deal is always changing, and it's been getting worse for a while. With the poor early season sales due to bad weather, retailers are stuck with inventory, so they are trying to pressure distributors to limit direct sales to pros. So what? It's a buyers' market for ski equipment, and pros can do as well or better on Ebay. Both retailers and distributors want us on the latest and greatest equipment, and the industry will find a way to get us on it.
Ski instructors are the only group I know who are dumb enough to brag about how cheaply they get their stuff. Did you ever talk to a plumber? Every elbow they use costs 5 times what you could get it for at Home Depot. Maybe that's one reason retailers are trying to cut off the pro form. Maybe the fact that instructors can do their Xmas shopping on the pro form is a problem for them as well.

BK
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOG View Post
The NSSRA has told its members to go ask at demo days if the ski company is still doing proforms. They are trying to put pressure on the ski companies. This seems unfair to me, and an abuse of market power.
Retailers in the ski business have no market to abuse. It's more like they are the victims of the market power of distributers, who can require them to buy the whole line to get the few hot models.

BK
post #17 of 28
I should have chosen my words more selectively.

By "crumbs to their friends", I did not mean the buddies of the reps, I meant the instructors and other paid staff of the area.

My comments are directed against the "Approved Ski of the SSD" as sold in the shop at the hill versus the other reps that were allowed to function with very limited "sponsorship" by a brand that sold skis that were other than sold at the hill.

For example: The SSD has a relationship with Atomic and the shop at the hill sells Atomic and say ..... Solomon.

It is not unusual to have a Volkl, K2 or Fischer rep working a small deal out of the race program. You better keep a very low profile, at least in my experience, nothing will be directly said, but there are not so subtle things that will be done.

Quite frankly, it was easier buying heroin at the hill than it was getting a pro form from these guys. There is a reason for that.
post #18 of 28
None of this is new news nor surprising. It has happened before at local levels. I have seen this issue from every side imaginable as a......

Mountain shop manager
City Shop Manager
Ski Rep
Product Manager
Ski Instructor
  • The fact is that legit pro sales are viewed as a marketing opportunity by manufacturers.
  • Manufacturers and Reps usually make at least decent money on pro sales.
  • Often times the good troops pay back their suppliers with help at sales or demo days.
  • If the system is done right, it works well for most concerned.
However.....the retailer sees it differently for exactly the reasons supported above. There are a lot of abuses, bro hook ups, and plain dishonesty involved with the process.

When I managed a ski shop @ Squaw Valley, I took care of the folks that I knew were legit and the rest were free to pound sand. The real pros appreciated my help and most paid back in kind. In fact, in many cases, they policed some of the abuses for me. The really good ones would sometimes come in on a Saturday afternoon and help fit boots, scrape wax, or do something simple to help out. As a result, they never paid much for tuning work or boot help. This was a symbiosis that worked. I suspect there is somewhat less of that these days.

Although I am not a member of that retail organization, I understand their frustration. Mountain shops need to agressively court the pro business but make the recipients understand that there are no free lunches out there.

SJ
post #19 of 28
Having seen how Pro form works in Canada and New Zealand I was somewhat surprised by the 'rep' system here in the US. I can see why the retailers want to change it. The locker room is full of people buying cheap kit for friends and family and giving very little back to the manufacturer.

The pro form deal in the US is effectively advertising only. A large percentage of those receiving pro form equipment are making their choices based on price, do not really know much about the equipment they are skiing on and certainly do very little in the way of directing customers to retail shop which is the main reason they receive pro form prices in the first place.

There are exceptions to this generalisation obviously and I am very aware that I have only seen one area so things may well be different (more symbiotic?) elsewhere.

I have established a good relationship with a quality shop, which, unfortunately is not in the resort I work in so it requires some effort for customers to travel there and some effort on my part if they want me to accompany them and provide advice. The fact that I have established a relationship with a quality shop reduces the need for me to be there as the staff are trust worthy and will sell the right product rather than try and sell as much as possible.

The drive to have the pro form through the retailers is an attempt to re-establish the link between the professionals, the retailers and the public. In my area there is not much love or will from most retailers to establish good working relationships but perhaps that will change too. Perhaps they see the ski professionals as receiving cheap equipment and not providing much in return?

The more one builds a posiitve working relationship with the retailer/s the less one will find oneself paying for any type of gear. It works well in Canada and New Zealand so hopefully it will develop here in the US.
post #20 of 28
The advertising aspect is fairly successful in the US- plenty of folks come into a shop and will say "my instructor friend told me that the only good brand is Volkl" (why the hell is it always Volkl?) or "my brother is an instructor and he said Rossignols aren't very good." In most cases, no matter what you say, that's what they're going to think.
post #21 of 28
So for clarification sake??

Individual dealer/ shops will handle pro-sales (if they are designated an approved 'pro-sale" shop. And it will be up to those retail shops to determine who is eleigible for pro-deal?? Or will general pro-deals still apply-like PSIA or NSP but you'll have to go to a specific shop (rather than mail-in form) in order to take advantage of them??
post #22 of 28
This isn't done yet, there will be some companys that do mail-in, some that will do pro sales through retail stores, the mechanism will vary by manufacturer.
post #23 of 28
"Manufacturers and Reps usually make at least decent money on pro sales"
manufacturers might get landed cost out of it but in the great white north i can't think of any rep that gets anything out of "pro sales" in fact they are usually more grief than they are worth....
post #24 of 28
The people who are complaining about this new policy are the people who the manufacturers don't need anyway. I haven't used a pro form in years and if you have built a relationship with a manufacturer or a shop then any new change will not affect you at all.
post #25 of 28
volklskier1 wins...truer words have never been typed....
post #26 of 28
This is NOT new... Every so often, the retailers all get stirred up about prosales, and call for the removal of proforms. They claim to be able to handle it themselves.

But then they get slammed by the pro's who want the stuff, and find they have difficulty handling the pro's needs. They do not want to commit the inventory or the manpower necessary to meet those needs, so they turn it back to the manufacturers pretty quickly. Within a year, the proform is back, just like before.

I have seen this cycle happen at least 4 times in the past 28 years that I have been a pro rep for K2 and Marker.

As various people turn over in this business, they seem to lose the knowledge of what has happened before, therefore being doomed to it's repetition!

All I can say is.... "Here we go again..." ride it out, and it'll be over soon...
post #27 of 28
I hate to say it, but there are deals on EBay that are better than ProForm. It still makes me wonder how they can sell so cheap.
post #28 of 28
Regarding "pro deals" in retail shops, the closest thing (that I have seen), in these parts is that the hill will have a bit of a relationship with a local shop and they will give any hill employee 10% off with an employee ID card.

Translation ..... the kid pushing burgers in the cafeteria line is as much a "pro" as you.

I had made it a bit of a challenge to stop by almost each and every shop and ask if they did ... #1, pro-form ..... and ..... #2, offered pro discounts, and the answer in each and every case was a simple no!

No discounts for PSIA or USSA members; the breaks I get are from developing a relationship with a shop over time and I don't get much off but feel they extend me a courtesy in both time and service (both are important), knowing that I will recommend them which I do, based on their knowledge and service.

To date, the only decent pro deal that I have seen was on the PSIA web site and the late/after season prices on Rossi's were pretty good ..... except ... I don't really care much for Rossi.

Still, it takes a lot of steam out of the engine when you start teaching and they really hype the pro-forms and nationwide lift discounts at the introductory hiring clinics and none ever really materiaize. The SSD's place the newbee expectations at a high mark and that in itself is unfair ..... to all parties ..... the new instructors and retailers alike.
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