These bike drags take plenty of effort, Comegys continues, “with bike night sign-ups, email blasts, dealership signage and lots of calls. For any event to be successful, you have to hammer the phones, give customers a chance to ask questions, and answer them. But people are getting excited; they are now calling us [and asking] about the next time we’re heading to the strip. And I’m out there racing all the time, so that brings in more customers. The enthusiasm from racing helps focus your mind on why we’re here. There’s nothing I like better in this world more than hitting the track, but staying involved also keeps your customers involved.”
And despite now running a gun store and a powersports dealership, and managing a racing addiction (a risk for many in this industry), Comegys has not stopped expanding into new areas. The latest addition to Grand Prix Motorsports is another beachhead into a new market full of potential customers. By adding all-electric Zero Motorcycles into the mix, Comegys is already seeing results from new customers in places untapped until now.
“I took the Zero DS out for about three miles and I was sold on what Zero was doing immediately,” he says. “I saw the same phenomenon as with the gun store: We’re able to bring our store to new places. We just went out to the big USA Pro Cycling event in Denver after being asked to display in the alternative energy section. That put us in front of [more than] 250,000 people. Take these things to an event and they get all the attention. We took them to a Hooters bike night and had demos; the Zeros were running all night long. We’re selling them to scooter buyers, to college kids like my daughter. The Zero actually prompted my daughter into getting her full motorcycle license, proof positive that they bring new riders into your dealership. Whether it’s Zero or some other green brand, we will all be selling these types of vehicles soon. We’ve only had them for a short time but I would consider them a successful addition.”
Zero, in his words, is awesome. “They’re doing a lot of marketing and driving a lot of people to our dealership. We’ve only had one small issue with a Zero, and they drove their truck out with a technician from Santa Cruz to sort it out immediately. I wish all of our brands could do that.”
Comegys mentions his staff and, without missing a beat, explains how they’ve been a major push behind the many expansions of Grand Prix Motorsports. Comegys makes no mistake that for all his various plans, it’s the group as a whole that bring it all together.
“My staff and managers are 110 percent in, and they drive many of the new programs,” Comegys says. “We discuss every potential event, who will go, what we will need, what we’ll bring, what we need to order. Each group handles events related to their department. And I believe you have to inspect what you expect, to follow up with every customer contact to make sure you’re getting things right. We always alternate who follows up with customers, to make sure we always get fresh opinions on customer responses. And of course, we always go back to the basics, with constant training on the floor. My guys know that when we’re coming through, we’re listening, and that we’ll be quick to talk man-to-man when issues come up. But my employees know that I’ve got their backs, especially when customers get a little crazy like they can do sometimes.”
Despite the challenges involved in maintaining a powersports dealership while forging ahead in relatively unknown territories, Grand Prix Motorsports has found that the benefits have more than outweighed the risks. “I’m sure I’m not the first dealer to sell firearms,” he says. “But a lot of times, we’ve noticed that when the gun store is good, the bike store is thin and vice versa. That’s just something you have to prepare for. What we’re doing has been successful and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
E-COMMERCE: FROM DUMPSTERS TO DOLLARS
Despite the canny crossover marketing, Grand Prix Motorsports hasn’t always been on the sharp end of the spear.
“We moved to the new dealership about six years ago,” Bill Comegys explains, “and at the point, we had no Internet sales at all. When we moved, we actually threw obsolete parts into dumpsters.”
The team started exploring its Internet options two years ago. “We realized that many dealers have a web presence, but often not a very good one,” he says. “So we hired a full-time eBay guy and a full-time web marketing person. We started with nothing more than obsolete parts and take-offs from the service department and have since moved into more conventional items and stock.
“It’s allowed us to buy a basket-case bike from a customer and successfully part it out on eBay, which you simply couldn’t do before.”