Dealer Doing it Right in Ohio

admin

Vast is a word usually reserved for expanses of windswept plains, collections of great artwork or that panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley from the Wawona tunnel.

But peering into the front windows of Rick Roush Motor Sports, one is struck by the vast display on view — a sea of twinkling chrome, a riot of motorcycle and ATV colors, and a wide expanse of PG&A that clearly takes up a chunk of the store. It's a cavernous monument to powersports, visible through 5,560 sq. ft. of glass storefront.

And, for the Yosemite-minded, there's even a waterfall.

All of this — the grand statement, the 450-plus vehicles on display in a 24,000 sq. ft. showroom, the $1 million-plus in parts and accessories, the 15-foot waterfall — is part of Rick Roush's efforts to give customers a place to call home. The store scored the Dealernews Top 100 Best Display award.

A path designed to look like a road winds through the showroom and features turnoffs into areas identified by expressway-style signs that read "Cruiser Parkway," "Sports Bike Alley" and "Accessory Avenue." The waterfall sets off the off-road bike and ATV section. Hanging from the ceiling are limited-edition race bikes featuring faux riders designed to resemble Matt Mladin, Miguel Duhamel, Nicky Hayden and Ricky Carmichael, among others. "This is where people who have worked hard want to go to reward themselves," says Rick Roush the dealership's 44-year-old owner. "This is something that people are passionate about. It's a big part of their lives. So I wanted to create a gigantic toy store so that when people walked in they just didn't see a pole barn full of motorcycles; they can actually feel like they are a part of something. A lot of people's expression when they first walk into the dealership is 'Wow!'"

Roush (no relation to the famed Roush Racing family) had the "Wow!" factor in mind when he built the dealership two years ago, shortly after he bought the motorcycle business and some surrounding land adjacent to his Honda automobile dealership. Originally he wanted the real estate to expand his auto holdings, but when he found out the motorcycle franchises came with it, he bought the bundle and eventually relocated on some acreage alongside an expressway to get maximum exposure.

Medina, Ohio, winters condense a year's worth of selling into seven months, so Roush built to the limits of local zoning rules. He didn't want the size of his building to limit the amount of inventory, P&A or business he could accommodate, nor did he want to scrimp on room for service. Roush was operating in the original 15,000 sq. ft. motorcycle shop, so he knew what breathing room was needed.

Roush wanted to create a destination that drew customers even when weather kept their bikes garaged. This is where the open fire pit, the conference room, the coffee bar, the flat-screen TVs and the pool table come into play.

The numbers bear him out. Roush reports that between 2006 and 2007 — the time between moving from the old dealership to the new — the store doubled its annual sales from 627 units to 1,260. During the same time frame, income increased by 70 percent.

REPEAT BOUTIQUE

There are two schools of thought when it comes to P&A — stock deeply, or keep things shallow and rely on the shipping capabilities of the distributors to operate like a catalog showroom. Roush opted for the former. He jumped from stocking $300,000 in P&A at his original location to carrying more than a $1 million at the new site. The idea was to operate the P&A department like a boutique, where customers could pick up a pair of board shorts, some women's casual wear or a purse, a set of leathers and a new helmet, all in one trip.

Roush paid close attention to how the store would display the products. He worked closely with the product manufacturers, asking them how they would help merchandise their wares.

What he ended up with is a parts and accessories department that brings to mind a Nordstrom or Macy's (if either of those stores had an oil and lube display that comes close to being artwork — see photo above right. Roush also worked with Suzuki on the monstrous Matt Mladin and Ricky Carmichael murals that adorn two different walls (see photo).

By building a department that operates more like an individual retail store than a section of a motorcycle shop, Roush built in the ability to get repeat business and add-on sales out of his customers as they buy a new motorcycle — and then buy all the gear to go with it.

New bike customers get a 20-percent-off card at the time of purchase that can be used on anything in the dealership. "That gives them the opportunity, before they go into financing, to include whatever gear they're purchasing within their financing," Roush says. Upon delivery of the bike, customers get another card that gives them 10 percent off their first service.

The dealership also sells gift cards that feature the store's logo and spend like cash — an effective way to capture sales from nonriders shopping for the motorcyclist in their lives. While the cards are offered all year, most are sold around Christmas.

DRIVEN TO SATISFY

Roush's elevation of his service area is not only about customer service, but also about good business practices. Back when he was housed in the 15,000 sq. ft. building, technicians had to push all the service bikes out of the shop in the morning and back in at night, a task that added up to about two hours of unproductive time, he notes.

Given the harshness of Ohio winters, Roush commits enough square footage to the service area so that a customer's bike never has to sit outside.

Customers drop off their machines at loading docks equipped with load-levelers. From here the vehicles go to a climate-controlled holding area that's monitored by security cameras — in fact, video cameras monitor the entire store — before they're moved into the service bays. After the work is completed, units are washed and detailed before being wheeled into a delivery area.

"What this does is it leaves the customers with a sense of security that their bike ... is going to be taken care of," says Roush. This is a nod to the automotive business where service is beginning to be treated with the same care as front-of-shop work.

Roush also focuses a great deal of effort on hiring great technicians and compensating them accordingly. "Our comebacks are zero — we don't see comebacks with these guys," he asserts. "Their quality of work is that good."

If Roush's goal is to have his customers feel as if they're part of the dealership, then he must make sure his employees are satisfied as well.

"It is impossible for any business to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction unless they first establish high levels of employee satisfaction," Roush says.

Roush holds monthly associates' meetings where, over lunch, they review the previous month's business, go over goals and recognize employees for certain achievements.

Roush also holds monthly focus groups with employees (not managers) from each department. Each employee presents Roush with ideas and concerns from their various departments. The discussion remains anonymous.

This in turn allows Roush to focus on customer satisfaction. He claims that proven procedures from the auto industry for tracking dealer and sales staff CSI are easily adopted and applied to the powersports market. This enables the dealership to manage problems on an individual basis and creates accountability among his sales staff. It also lets Roush establish formulas for sales bonuses and tracking customer satisfaction.