At Charlie's, we follow the customer service creed which states: "Service is our most valuable product. To increase the value of this product and secure a position of leadership for the dealership, we will implement and support superior customer service standards. We will make those standards a fundamental part of every employee's activities every business day."
Showroom Design and Layout
Our nostalgic showroom is one of the largest in the area. Aqua and orange neon outline the walls while black and white tile cover the floor. Multiple showroom TVs play everything from music videos to Harley-Davidson advertising. At any given time, you can find 50 to 60 motorcycles spread out across the floor. Unique retail tags separate new from used. They are designed for customers to quickly distinguish new from pre-owned. Our complete inventory is also online and our used bikes feature online videos.
Our MotorClothes Department covers two floors and carries over $190,000 worth of H-D clothing, gifts and gear. They constantly have specials in every section, and what they don’t have on the floor, they can special order. MotorClothes also offers layaway during the holidays.
The P&A Department’s 7,500 sq. ft. of wall-to-wall genuine Harley-Davidson parts and accessories as well as licensed products ensure they have something for everyone. Center stage inside this department is our Fit Shop Fat Boy that allows customers to work with a parts professional to swap out demo seats, handlebars and even simulate lowering the bike, in order to get a better feel of what they’re looking to customize on their own bike.
Our diner is one of less than a dozen other dealerships in the nation that are still operational. Classic sandwiches with names like Pan Head, Knuckle Head and Road King are just a few highlights from the menu. Their real specialty is the homemade chili that has won local chili contests, and their classic hand-dipped milkshakes. The diner also offers local delivery and catering for special events.
A large upstairs room serves as the owner’s office when he’s in town, as a conference room for store meetings and as a training facility for our Rider’s Edge students. We have dedicated an entire separate building for our local HOG chapter’s clubhouse.
Our Service Department offers 96 years of combined experience and is comprised of three total buildings. Our shop foreman provides 42 years of expertise and is very highly respected in the local motorcycle community.
Inside our main dealership is the two-stage rider-reception area. Customers can ride out of the elements and directly into our building. An adviser meets them at their bike for registration. After drop-off, the bike is placed in one of three service bays. These bays feature 14 bike lifts (one dedicated for trikes) and multiple mobile workstations so technicians can easily move from bike to bike. A two-story facility directly behind the dealership provides motorcycle detailing and storage. The rear of this building also serves as a machine shop complete with drill press, metal lathe and other custom fabrication machinery. A single story facility adjacent to this building houses our Dynamometer. A separate viewing area allows our customers to watch their bikes being tuned. This building also serves as a staging area for motorcycles that are waiting for customer pickup, to be placed on our showroom floor or to be sent to auction.
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
We believe that the more we know, the better we can assist the customer as well as add value to the dealership as a whole. Charlie’s H-D enriches its employees through several educational outlets. All new hires attend Harley-Davidson University and Dealership University classes. Some classes are online while others require in-person attendance. Training is also provided for our main dealership-related tool, www.h-dnet.com. Extensive training and information related to “all things Harley-Davidson” can be found and utilized on this website.
Our employees also cross-train to avoid manpower shortages due to holidays and unexpected time away from the business, as well as to be able to “talk shop” with any customers they may engage.
Weekly meetings are held by managers as well as the Sales Department in order to stay fresh with what’s happening around the dealership as well as our community. The sales meetings are held with the other three stores via web conference so that they can share data and brainstorm on what’s currently working for each dealership.
Additional training for finance, marketing and even our general manager comes through various videos, seminars, webinars, off-site training and any other ad hoc opportunities that may develop over the year.
To encourage constant and consistent top-level performance, our dealership incorporates several performance-based opportunities for employees to earn bonuses.
Commitment to Customer Service
The Charlie’s H-D philosophy states that each of us will:
• Strive for professional excellence in the performance of our job.
• Understand and support the dealership’s direction.
• Get the job done – execute.
• Provide superior service to all of our customers and employees
• Be flexible, innovative and responsive to change.
• Manage wisely human and financial resources.
• Be a team player, helping others succeed.
• Encourage open communications throughout the dealership.
• Treat all individuals with dignity and respect.
• Have pride and sell the dealership to others.
One major item Charlie’s H-D employees focus on that covers several of these bullets is our dedication to education. By utilizing all of the avenues of learning that are available to us, we can excel in our jobs, provide superior customer service by understanding our customers, effectively manage our resources by understanding the dealership’s bottom line, and assist our co-workers by mentoring new hires, which in turn builds a strong team and foundation.
Our sales staff is trained to accept that everyone who enters Charlie’s H-D receives one crucial thing – Customer Service. Even if they do not purchase a single item from our dealership, we want their consistent positive experiences to bring them back when they are ready to hand over their hard-earned cash. And if we’ve done our jobs well enough, even recommend us to their friends and family.
1.The owner, Mr. Cole, employs a dedicated full-time driver to move motorcycles between his four dealerships as needed. The trip from our dealership to the others can take a full day and it’s not uncommon to see the driver multiple times in one week.
2. We have a local driver for customer pickup and delivery. He has traveled over three hours, one-way, in order to pick up and then return a customer’s motorcycle. We do our best not to put a range on customer service. If they need us, we are there.
3.The high level of customer service brought about by the pay for performance system used in our Sales Department is consistently reinforced by the high marks we receive from our customers in their Customer Service Feedback Questionnaires.
4. We hold various clinics for beginning riders as well as utilize our “Jumpstart” simulator that features an actual bike strapped down to rollers.
5. Charlie’s H-D has a 9,000 sq.ft. multi-purpose building we use for our events as well as offering it to the public for their various needs. The facility has its own industry-grade kitchen. Eventually, this building will be a special event clubhouse where we will look to host a variety of customer-based social gatherings. (i.e. Super Bowl/World Series parties and other major dealership-sponsored events)
6. We have added walk-around videos of our pre-owned bikes so customers can “see it and hear it” from the comfort of their own home.
7. All motorcycles, new and pre-owned, are detailed, inspected and filled with gas before they arrive to our showroom.
8. Customer’s bikes that are serviced are also detailed before being returned to the customer.
9. We are investing in a Skilled Rider Course for 2013 specifically for our local soldiers who are required to have the basic class and the skilled class before they are allowed on their military installations.
The proof that our dealership is headed in the right direction is the fact that several of our employees go out of their way to represent Charlie’s Harley-Davidson on their own time. Whether it is during social events such as parades, community events or through the use of their own social media networks; our employees continue to share their pride for our dealership without any additional encouragement from the owner or their peers.
Involvement in the Community
Charlie’s H-D believes that in today’s market, a business cannot be successful by just taking money from the community and giving nothing in return. In order to properly achieve this vision, we utilize multiple strategies. First, our dealership gives back to those who are already part of our family. Next, we extend outward to include those who may not be part of the riding lifestyle, but who are fans and who can benefit from our support. For this reason, Charlie’s H-D grants donations that range from foundation sponsorships, to community-based rallies to Poker Runs which benefit an individual or their family. Below are just a few examples:
1. On October 13, 2012, we sponsored a seven-hour Breast Cancer Awareness event that generated over $1,600 to give to a local foundation that provides mammograms to non/under-insured women.
2.When we are unable to donate financially, we offer bulletin boards in our dealership as well as announcements through our social media outlets to help get the word out.
3. We provide free motorcycle storage for active duty military members.
4. Our dealership reaches out to the families of our fallen customers for support and prayers. Many employees are also allowed to take a day off in order to attend services.
5. All four stores are currently gathering items to be shipped to our soldiers overseas in an effort to decorate their recreational rooms.
6. Additional events to be held before the end of this year include customer appreciation, veterans’ appreciation, a blood drive, toy drive and possibly an event to raise supplies for the local food bank.
Although we try to plan in advance for all types of events, we realize new causes and awareness drives are always being introduced. As such, we do our best to honor as many short-notice requests as possible.