Hats off to 2012's model retailers

Publish Date: 
Jan 2, 2012
By Dennis Johnson

Talking with one of the winners of our Top 100 contest is like getting a peek into a well-run retail machine.

Their passion is contagious, their smarts apparent and customer knowledge dead on. They are also heavily involved in their communities and give their employees a chance to excel through good training, benefits and work environment. I often end the conversation marveling at just how easy they make it look and wondering why more powersports retailers don’t do X, Y and Z for their stores.

I’m thankful to these folks for giving me an education on best practices, unique business tactics and good old ingenuity. I thought I’d go back through our 2011 catalog and pick some highlights from our monthly Top 100 dealer profiles.

• Maverick Motorsports, a multiline — Metric and H-D — was one of the first powersports dealers to carry Under Armour sports apparel, including the brand’s running gear. I’ve found that on long rides, especially when it’s going to be warm and sweaty, their performance T-shirts beat out soggy cotton shirts any day. The store converted a vending machine into a 24-hour Harley-Davidson T-shirt shop. The machine sits in front of the store allowing customers a chance to buy with just a swipe of their credit or debit cards.

J&W Cycles, a 20-year winner of the Top 100 contest, was an early adopter of Facebook and other social media. It counts almost 5,000 friends on it FB page and boasts several employees who’ve clocked in more than 20 years with the dealership. There are eight full-time mechanics, all of whom have least 10 years working at J&W. Co-owner Bob Jones served on Polaris Dealer Advisory Council, where he helped implement the OEM’s wildly popular vehicle ordering program.

Signature Harley-Davidson of Perrysburg, Ohio is sister store to Toledo Harley-Davidson, both operating in one contiguous market, which owner Tim Sherman coordinates to operate smoothly. The store does big business in preowned units — they made up 30 percent of the store’s revenue in 2010 — and has a reconditioning specialist on staff who focuses on refurbishing used bikes. Sherman also knows the benefits of operating like an actual retail store by employing MotorClothes employee who have consumer retail experience. This helps with everything from merchandising to implementing real-world stock turning procedures.

Deptford Honda Yamaha in Deptford New Jersey. Owner Donna Coryell took over the dealership after her father died worked hard to grow it into a successful multiline which garners Google reviews that say stuff like this, “DHY is the best shop I’ve found in the Tri-State area. The staff is one-third female, a ratio that could benefit many dealerships where women — and all that they add — are in short supply.

• Scooternerds, Greensboro, S.C. Owner John Hill requires his employees to pick up 40 hours of outside education a year, whether it’s through an OEM or any other powersports training programs. The dealership was also awarded the Retailer of the Year by the Greensboro Merchants Association.

Fay Myers Motorcycle World, located just outside of Denver, is a multiline that sells 10 brands. The store supports the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, a statewide OHV advocacy group, and was an early sponsor of celeb stunter Jason Britton. The store also develops and keeps strong relationships with local lenders, a boon during the recession.

South Texas Suzuki, from Lytle, Texas, harnessed the power of social media and won the 2011 Dealernews Top 100 Consumer’s Choice award with nearly 38,000 votes.

Grand Prix Motorsports was one of the first 10 U.S. dealerships to take on the Zero Motorcycles’ electric lineup, an acquisition that allowed owner Bill Comegys a whole new avenue for cross-marketing his store. And he knows savvy marketing — Comegys operates Grand Prix Guns inside his dealership, attracting an entirely new set of customers. The store is also immaculately merchandised, sporting one of the most attractive Troy Lee Designs displays I’ve ever seen.

• Xtreme Machines of Millstone Township, N.J., plays host to a good selection of fabrication and welding tools in-house, allowing the dealership to capture repair or service work. The dealership is also committed to large scale, high-value events.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief