Our mission statement is the same as Harley-Davidson's corporate mission statement. "We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing remarkable motorcycles and extraordinary customer experiences. We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality."
Showroom Design and Layout
Being a small store in the world of Harley-Davidson is sort of out-of-the-norm. With most of our facility being dedicated to service, we have to maximize the space we have to work with. Our pre-owned bikes line the exterior of the front of our building on a new concrete patio. We usually have a used inventory of about 40 bikes, and it's difficult to tell them from the new as we keep them in top condition.
As you enter the store, you are greeted by about 25 new bikes in a well-lit and very clean and open showroom. Our MotorClothes department infringes on the sales floor with an ebb and flow that coincides with the seasons. More bikes in the summer, more clothing in the winter.
Men's and Women's sections are clearly labeled with overhead signs, as is our fitting room and parts department. The departments are not really divided, they just flow into one another, making it very easy for customers to wander and shop. A sign adjacent to the parts department directs customers to the gem of our store, the service department.
As you enter our service department from either the showroom, or the outside, the first thing you notice is a large customer waiting area complete with complimentary coffee and water, TV and Internet. The area is complete with accessory displays that catch your attention, and make you ask questions. Here is where we display our Demo Seats, LED lighting displays, and other electronic upgrades.
Our fit shop is also located in this area with our chrome consulting desk. You will also find information on the activities of our H.O.G. Chapter, as well as upcoming dealer events. The Service write-up area is welcoming and staffed by two service writers at all times. The shop is open to customers, and we encourage them to take the time to talk to the tech that is working on their ride.
A customer once told me that his wife compared the relationship her husband had with Dan, our tech, to her relationship with her hair stylist. No one else touches her hair but this one person. The same goes for most of our customers' bikes. The relationship between tech and customer is paramount in our dealership, and follow-up calls are often made by the tech, in addition to the service writer.
The Shop itself is a masterpiece. Each tech has his own garage, two lifts, and a well-lit clean area to work. When we have visiting corporate personnel, or other dealers stopping by, the look on their faces when they see our shop is priceless! It's usually followed by a statement like "this is nicer than our showroom."
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
One of my favorite statements about training comes from an exchange between a dealer principal and a trainer at a conference. The dealer principal complained that when he made the investment in his employees to get training, they often left the dealership and he was out the cost of the training. The trainer responded, "what would happen if you didn't train them, and they stayed?" Training is an ongoing part of our lives at McHenry Harley-Davidson. Whether it's online or off-site training, we send employees to seminars to improve their expertise in their particular field. It's an investment we can't afford not to make.
Our philosophy can be summed up fairly quickly on this subject. If an employee decides to move on, or on the rare occasion we have to let one go, we have to ask ourselves one question: Did we give this employee all the tools and support needed to help them succeed? We're asking them to give all they have to our company, has the company given all it could to make them successful? We can answer that question with a resounding "yes" on nearly every occasion.
It's not all work and training, though. With two stores in close proximity, we have a natural and healthy competition that has developed. We try to get together quarterly for some type of team-building and steam-venting event. The latest one was a day of paintball that was attended by most employees of both stores, as well as owners and management.
We also have an annual riding competition that showcases the skills learned in our rider training program. This year, the McHenry staff took the trophy home and it was our new MotorClothes salesperson Brittany that did it! She's 18 years old and can put a Road King anywhere you want to see it go! We believe that all staff should ride, and when she started with us in June, she had been riding dirt bikes most of her life but didn't have her motorcycle endorsement. Off to our rider training program she went, and now she is an alternate instructor!
Commitment to Customer Service
Customer service. Everyone uses the saying but few really understand what it means, and how it reflects on their business. We as business owners/managers understand how much it costs in real dollars and time to get a customer in the door. What most don't get is that they will stop doing business with you completely because of the actions of one employee. Everyone that works for us knows the value of each customer, and looks at them as not a customer, but the person that they work for.
The customer, in the end, is who pays their salary. We do what everyone should do: The right thing. It starts when you walk in our door and are greeted, not like a piece of meat, but as a person. When a customer asks where the parts department is, we NEVER point them and say "over there." We introduce ourselves, and walk with the customer to the parts department and introduce the customer to someone in the parts department. We are here to help, but not force anything on you.
Our goal is to fulfill your needs, but first we must find out what those needs are. You cannot understand those needs if you don't build a relationship first. Trust is everything, and needs to be earned and maintained. If we make a mistake, we own up to it, and correct the problem immediately! We could tout picking up stranded bikers on a Saturday at 7 p.m., or giving a rental bike to a customer who has a service problem and is going to miss a vacation or big ride, but these are things we do not for gratification or accolades, but because we care about what we do for our customers.
Involvement in the Community
McHenry Harley-Davidson believes in giving back to community. Without their strong support, we are not in business. We are active in the McHenry Chamber of Commerce, as well as other community-minded organizations.
The open houses we hold throughout the year are an opportunity for local charities to raise funds. Whenever we hold an open house, we have free food and beverages. The problem with doing these events is always staffing them. When you put that many people in your store, you need to be able to take care of them, otherwise you are doing yourself a disservice. We decided that rather than have our staff cook and serve the food, we would invite local charities to staff the food and beverage booths.
McHenry Harley-Davidson supplies everything: food, drinks, grills, tables, tents, whatever else is needed to supply the event. The charities cook and serve, and accept donations. On a typical event, $500 is raised in a few short hours for the charity. It's good for us, and it's great for them. McHenry Harley-Davidson is also the title sponsor for a local community event called Fiesta Days. It's a music and food fest that prior to our involvement was very successful in it's own right, however it lacked the funding to attract musical talent of national notoriety. With the help of McHenry Harley-Davidson, this year we were able to book the talents of TESLA and set records for attendance and profit for the event. We also host a ride in bike show as part of the two-week-long event.
Another event we hold close to our hearts is the McHenry Marine Corps "Toys for Tots" toy collection and parade. We rally the entire community to collect toys for local needy families. This event is well attended every year and ends with a parade of approximately 1,000 bikes roaring through town to deliver the toys to the Marines. McHenry H-D holds a chili cook-off the day before the parade to raise money for the program as well. People vote with their wallets on the best chili, and whoever gets the most donations wins a $250 gift certificate to the store. We then give all the proceeds to Toy's For Tots.
Last year we raised over $2,000! Not a week goes by when there is not an event that we are involved in somehow. Weather it's donating a weekend rental, or riding school to a needy family or charity for raffle, or showing up at an event to ride representing the store, McHenry Harley-Davidson truly cares about the community that we call home.