Schroeder’s philosophy about staffing is simple, and a bit different than that of other dealers: “I would rather have the right people in the wrong building, than the wrong people in the right building. When you have a sincere passion for what you do and what you enjoy, that’s important; that’s not something you can teach.
“The fact of the matter is, customers buy people. If you are good enough (as a sales person) people will follow you. People tend to be loyal to their salespeople.
“If I see a great waiter, I give him my card. I can teach people about powersports; that’s easy. But I can’t teach people about people.”
Schroeder pushes the team approach. “Michael Jordan couldn’t do it alone. Someone had to pass the ball to him. It’s the same thing here,” he says.
Schroeder has three siblings in the car business, and understands the difference in dynamics are between the two types of purchases. “The auto business is a need-based business,” he points out. “But this industry is a pleasure-based purchase. The dynamics are not confrontational (like car sales). We help people pick out a toy they’ve wanted for years. Or we help them pick out their next toy. We help them get pleasure.”
Schroeder maintains that nine out of 10 people who walk into his store are qualified buyers, and they just have to get to the right monthly payment to close the deal. “It’s truly a lot easier to get a 19-year-old financed who is making nine bucks an hour and living at home,” he says. For that reason, “You can’t afford to ‘curb’ judge anyone. You can’t tell who can buy and who can’t buy just by looking at them, at their appearance, at their clothes.”
Schroeder rewards his sales staff for everything they sell: machines, PG&A, services, F&I, everything. “Sales people want to know what’s in it for them. If a salesman doesn’t feel involved, he doesn’t walk the customer back to parts. Same with extended service plan; he gets a part of that. You’ve got to have something in it for them. I compensate my sales staff for upselling.”
It seems to work. Many times, his back-end profit exceeds his front-end margin. Schroeder finances more than 70 percent of his unit sales, either through the local bank or the financing plans set up through his OEMs.
Schroeder is a long-time Harley-Davidson guy who brings Harley marketing strategies and tactics to the Village metric stores. While a student at the University of Wisconsin in 1990, Schroeder served an internship at the Milwaukee factory and worked with many Harley district managers. He worked at Harley stores after graduation and moved to Village Motorsports three years ago.
From Day One, Schroeder adapted his Harley experience to start grabbing the low hanging fruit on the metric side. He immediately began running demos and events, and going to events where Harley riders were hanging out, places that one might think were exclusively Harley. (continued)