Building your business: Ideas from the 2012 Top 100 Dealers

Publish Date: 
Mar 30, 2012

Rexburg Motorsports launched a fully convertible e-commerce platform enabling customers to configure a vehicle, obtain a discounted price quote, eSign a purchase agreement and place a deposit on the vehicle they are purchasing, all in about five minutes.

At the preowned-only store, Road, Track and Trail, repeat customers get a discount on vehicle purchases. And, any customer who purchases a motorcycle automatically gets 15 percent off in the parts department on the day of the sale.

Southbay Motorsports runs a “Cashier of the Month” program where the winning cashier is awarded a certificate and $50 cash. The store says the program has proven to be very successful in keeping our cashiers accurate.

Gieson Motorsports has increased its efforts in the preowned market, where composite numbers show higher margins. The bikes are incorporated into the main sales floor to build value and keep them cleaner and more presentable. The inclusion of used Harley-Davidsons has resulted in higher profit margins and new customers.

At House of Harley, the service manager and assistant manager lead customer rides each year, ranging from a hard-riding, 2,000-mile, four-day southern BBQ getaway, to a leisurely Wisconsin day trip.

House of Harley-Davidson offers its staff a comprehensive benefit program including health insurance, dental insurance, matching 401(k), PTO, generous store discounts, free flu shots, tuition reimbursement, and a new profit-sharing program.

Bob Weaver Motorsports & Marine says that on its most current sales and delivery survey summary, the top three reasons customers picked for buying at the store were: 1) I felt welcomed at the dealership, 2) Honest and friendly dealership personnel and 3) Dealership reputation.

Champion Motorsports rewards vehicle buyers with an email thank you and $10 gift certificate within a day of the sale. If they refer friends or family (not at the same address), they get a $25 gift card once those referrals are verified.

In summer 2011, Deptford Honda Yamaha created the Redneck Yacht Club, which it promoted via Facebook and Twitter. Customers submitted to the store’s Facebook fan page photos or videos of themselves having fun in water, sand or mud with a Honda or Yamaha product. The entry that received the most likes won a prize package to a local gourmet deli. The contest attracted 12 finalists and nearly 1,000 votes on the fan page.

In 2011, Killeen Powersports changed direction in its marketing and management philosophy by empowering all employees to have more input on running the store. There is a strong emphasis on education and creative thinking —  DMS training, web design, domain management and social networking all play a large role. There was even a sizable cash bonus available should the store’s customer email list hit 5,000 addresses by the end of 2011.

Adventure Harley-Davidson uses “Adventure Bucks” as incentives for employees, who can redeem the “Bucks” for a prize of their choosing. They earn the scrip by going above and beyond their job description to help fellow employees and patrons. The prizes range from gift cards to a free day off with pay.

Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda has signed up to be part of the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows tour (owned by Advanstar, Dealernews’ parent company). During the tour, Al Lamb’s has a race semi that it stocks with parts and accessories that goes to each stop and sells to show attendees.

When the economy really started to bottom out in Michigan four years ago, Babbitts Sports Center launched www.babbittsonline.com for online parts sales. What started out with three employees and a about 50 orders a day has now outgrown three shipping and receiving areas. Through the e-commerce effort, the store ships between 600 and 1,000 orders daily and employs 28 people.

Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson hosted the 2011 Latin American Motorcycle Association National Rally at The Shed, an events venue adjacent to the dealership. More than 700 LAMA members attended the event that featured live music, lunch, a bike show and a screening of “Harlistas,” the documentary movie about Latino motorcycle culture.

At Cycle Center of Denton, all service customers receive a customer satisfaction survey within a week of the work performed. For filling out the survey, they’re given a coupon for 10 percent off a purchase. If any problems are noted on the form, the dealership follows up with a phone call to address the issue.

Advantage PowerSports’ customers who purchase the store’s Advantage Plan get three years of manufacturer’s recommended service, oil changes, free summer/winterization, priority handling on all needs, locked-in labor rates and same-day service for most normal maintenance.

Ducati Omaha’s e-commerce operation allows the Duc-only store to reach a more diverse audience through parts sales for Japanese brands in addition to Ducati. Their efforts have resulted in gross sales of almost $1 million for the past three years, while maintaining more than 30 percent gross margin on those sales. The store is in the top three for OEM parts distribution through its website.

Freedom Cycles proudly offers test rides on the acreage adjacent to the dealership, where customers can test ride vehicles in the dirt. This allows them to get the feel of handling ATVs and UTVs before making their purchasing decisions.

Cruisin’ 66 has a long-running military discount program. All active military and law enforcement receive 10 percent off all purchases, and the store offers free motorcycle storage to all military personnel while they are deployed.

Once a month, Performance Power Sports employees vote on who they think has taken extra initiative. That person receives a paid day off of their choice.