Cycles! 128 'trains' new customers

Publish Date: 
Jun 24, 2013
By Dennis Johnson

SURE, IT'S JULY, but we’re writing this in mid-May, when the Northeast hadn’t yet thawed out from a long winter. At Cycles! 128 in Beverly, Mass., the season kicked off like clockwork in February.

May looked to be on track for 130 to 150 units sold, but it’s nowhere near the off-the-hook, too-much-business-to handle stuff the team was used to at this time of year.

There’s a short selling window in New England — about 90 days in total for personal watercraft, for example — so you’ve got to get on it when it’s hot. Unfortunately, the lingering winter of 2013 was not cooperative.

John Rice, the general manager at this Top 100 dealership, realizes it’s cyclical. He knows the sales spigot will crank on soon, and that once things are humming his sales crew will be back up to 150 to 200 units a month sold. He’s been doing this with the same company for nearly 30 years.

Cycles! 128 (and Ducati! 128, the official name of the store’s Ducati business) has carved out a nice chunk of business with a primarily on-road riding customer base. Rice and company cater to an audience on wheels and water.

Images by Bryce Vickmark

The dealership is staffed by enthusiasts who want to get butts on seats safely and who understand the business benefits of proper training. The dealership gets to know many of its customers through the longtime rider training school it operates on its property.

“We began this school in 1980 — this was well before safety was even popular. We recognized we had an important role in the community to help teach people the safe and proper way to ride, not only for their benefit but for the health and longevity of the industry,” Rice says. “Since 1980 we’ve graduated more than 10,000 students, ranging from 16 years old to … I think our oldest student was 83. That is both male and female. We are the only private MSF course in this state, and have the facility here on the property.”

Training is tied to the first steps of the sales process and is offered as a two-way incentive on bike sales. Want to buy a bike and go through the school? Cycles! 128 will pay for the school. Want to take the school first and then buy a bike? The store will reimburse the cost of the training if you do.

A training program can form a bond with customers, especially new buyers, by offering them a feeling of comfort, security and trust. (Continued)