Boswell's Ring of Fire Harley Davidson
Retailing motorcycles, accessories, and service come second to the promotion of the sport of motorcycling. Without instilling a passion of the sport in a rider, there is little product to sell. In planting the enthusiasm for the sport with unparalleled customer service, we create customers for life.
Showroom Design and Layout
Our building is very small compared to some other Harley-Davidson stores around the area including our Nashville location. We prefer it this way for this location because it creates an atmosphere that is much more warming and boutique-feeling than the much larger stores that have taken away the local hometown feel that many Harley shops once had.
The store is only 9,000 sq. ft. with roughly 3,500 sq. ft. designated to motorcycle sales, 3,000 sq. ft. to service and 2,500 sq. ft. to parts and MotorClothes. The store is very open with high ceilings and a beautiful stained concrete floor making this mere 9,000 sq. ft. actually feel rather large. It is a basic layout with motorcycle sales directly to right of walking in the front door, MotorClothes to the left, parts directly ahead toward the back of the store, and service has its own entrance from outside of the store, or by a door inside the store that leads directly to the service writer counter. In the front of the store we have a customer area with a fireplace, TV, and couches so that they can have a place to relax while their motorcycle is being worked on.
Due to the lack of square footage in the building, we have utilized the walls for much of our merchandising, especially in the parts department only having three racks displaying new products. In the back of the store, there are two sales offices tucked away, taking as little room as possible. We have done a nice job utilizing the space to make the store feel larger and getting as much product in the showroom as possible without having a cluttered feeling. A customer can come to this store and get everything they need for their next ride without having the overbearing “superstore” feeling.
Our service department is designed to accommodate up to four technicians without being packed or cluttered. It is a drive-through service department with a large garage door in the front so that the customer can drive inside to the service write-up area and leave his or her motorcycle before It goes in to the department to get worked on. There are two jacks on each side of the service area with a ride-in wash bay in the back and another large garage door in to exit the area without coming out of the front. Because of a recent renovation, much of our equipment is new, giving the department a nice, clean and very presentable appearance to the customers riding in, creating a sense of ease in their minds when leaving their motorcycle with us. There is nothing overly fancy or modern about our service department like some of the newer stores, but it gets the job done!
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
Offering training and incentives for our employees is a large part of our philosophy in creating superior customer service and creating a friendly environment in which people would want to frequently visit. Creating this sort of environment does not come easy or free -- it involves offsite training and competitive commission plans that make employees want and need to sell more product. The first training that we get our employees involved in is the standard Harley-Davidson University online sales classes that focus in on the CUSTOM sales process. It is a nice introduction to the Harley world for new employees and gives an insight on how to start a new sale with a customer, even if product knowledge is not quite up to par yet.
After the new employee has been with the company for a couple of months while showing qualities and a drive to learn and sell more, we typically send them to Dale Carnegie sales training. It is a three-day, offsite seminar that focuses in on how to create a relationship with the customer by treating them with the correct manners that make a customer want to buy from you. Instead of teaching process like Harley-Davidson University does, it teaches selling relationships, which we have found to be very important in the Harley business. On occasion, we have special training for the entire company in which we close the stores for a day and have guests such as Sam Dantzler come and hold a seminar on competitive sales and how to close the deal. These may be the best training to have because it allows employees from all stores and departments interact with one another, making it extremely fun. The company-wide classes also keep the employees managing each other, using the knowledge they have learned correcting their peers when noticing something that could have been handled in a better, more proficient way.
Commission and special bonuses are how employees get the bulk of their pay every month. We offer low hourly wages with high commission wages creating a friendly, yet competitive atmosphere that generates much higher sales. We recently changed to this method of compensation and have seen sales grow. It makes department employees more driven and passionate about learning the product so that selling it becomes a simpler task. On slow days, instead of having to find tasks around the store to do, employees are on the phone calling customers trying to get them in the store. The high commission plan has worked well for us because it takes a lot of self-management to make a good living with it, but when done properly allows our employees to take home a good paycheck while being proud of what they accomplished in the end. Our high commission plan puts forth a system of turn and earn, keeping the good employees happy while leaving no room for unproductive work. The combination of quality and frequent training, along with a compensation plan that demands excellence has aided Boswell’s Harley-Davidson reach new heights in motorcycle and retail sales.
Commitment to Customer Service
People always talk about the golden rule, you know, to treat others the way you would like to be treated. That works in life, but not in the motorcycle business. We live life by the platinum rule, treat others the way they want to be treated. Everyone is different, so the key to our customer service is figuring out what it is each customer wants and find out how to give it to them. Just because one method works on a previous happy customer doesn’t mean it will work on the next one that walks in -- in reality it could ruin a sale. Listen more, talk less, take what the customer told you and use it to make them a happy. If this is done correctly and the customer is treated the way they want to be treated consistently when they walk in the door, you are on your way to making a customer for life.
Treating people on a personal level and taking time to understand them makes their experience more valuable because they know that when they come in you know them and what it is they want. The platinum rule is the basis of our customer service philosophy at Boswell’s Harley-Davidson because it forms an extremely personal relationship with every customer that comes in contact with the dealership. There are only a couple of ways to see how we are doing at our customer service. First, is by using the Harley-Davidson customer satisfaction questionnaire that is sent to every customer that buys a new motorcycle, it is scored on a 10-point scale and allows us to see how satisfied each customer was at the point of sale.
The second, is by our own surveys we send out to our entire customer network. These surveys go out to anyone local that has bought from Boswell’s Harley-Davidson in the last two years. The surveys that are sent on our own are the most helpful because they answer specific questions that we want answers to, allowing us to tweak our process where it is needed to achieve a higher level of satisfaction. In the end, the best way to see how good of a job is being done is by seeing repeat business. Show the customer you care, take care of them, call them when it’s been a while sinse they have been in the store, or email a one-time coupon. There are many ways to take care of the customer and some work better for one customer than the other. If the platinum rule is followed, we will continue to have good business that can get us even through the toughest of times.
Involvement in the Community
Boswell's Harley-Davidson has always been active in every community we are a part of using the HOG chapters to help facilitate our charitable involvements. Our largest involvement is teaming up with the Metro Police Charitable Organization. We help raise thousands of dollars every year to aid underprivileged families in having a Christmas dinner. With the same organization, we hold a Toy Parade every November with an average of 750 motorcycles showing and donating a toy for every bike so that these same families can have a Christmas morning with toys under the tree. We have been active with this charity for 18 years and it is our proudest and most involved charity we are a part of. It gets participation from all three of our HOG chapters making it fun for us to be involved in. There are other smaller charities we are involved in that each HOG chapter has taken part of, but as a company our Metro Christmas charities are the proudest and most participated.