Off-Road Express' mission is to make sure our customers remain ours for life by providing them friendly, exceptional service, exceptional value and an experience with every purchase. We create a powersports superstore where buying is fun again and the customers and employees can call it their own. "Get out and play" is not just a dealership slogan, we encourage our customers and employees to get out and play every chance they can.
Showroom Design and Layout
The layout of our showroom is an open plan. As you enter the showroom, you walk through a 22-ft.-high vaulted ceiling atrium which houses a 20-ft. carnival prize striker. The customers swing the hammer with every major purchase to ring the bell for prizes. The prizes consist of a free T-shirt with every purchase, along with gift certificates, movie passes, tickets to local sporting events and amusement park passes along with product posters and various other prizes pending the results of their swing. The prize striker creates excitement and an experience customers are not likely to see elsewhere. We also use it for prizes when we host events.
Beyond the atrium you can see our lighted victory display and Victory cove, which we created to display Victory bikes as well as Victory accessories in a standalone atmosphere. The opposite side of our Victory bikes is our Star motorcycle display, which again allows us to display our Yamaha Star bikes in a standalone dedicated area. Our showroom has several dimensions to it, which makes it very easy to create displays. Another exciting portion of the showroom is our ATV and snowmobile displays. You'll walk down three brick steps of our brick walkway to enter, and you'll see a goldfish pond near our customer lounge. Beyond that, you'll see a Polaris lighted ceiling display with a 42" flat screen TV playing exciting videos among a huge inventory of product, along with our Can-Am display.
At the rear of the showroom, the ceiling becomes vaulted again. We built a log cabin office which is surrounded by ATVs and snowmobiles depending on the season, and there's a real, stuffed grizzly bear display.
The other office in our back showroom we have disguised as a tiki hut with bamboo trim It makes a great place to display PWC and accessories when in season. The customer lounge has free Wi-Fi access along with a TV and beverage center. Throughout the showroom are sales work stations, which are relaxed places where the customers and salespeople sit at round tables to go over product and accessories. It creates a great no-pressure atmosphere for our customers. The parts, accessory and service departments are also located within our showroom. The clothing and accessories are displayed throughout the showroom with the product they are intended for in lifestyle displays.
We are very proud of our showroom and have tried to create several lifestyle displays to create excitement within the dealership while providing the amenities that are both important to our customers and staff.
The layout of our service department is very convenient for our customers. The service desk is in our showroom near the parts department, with our maintenance items displayed so our service advisers can make recommendations easily and our customers can have access to them and have any questions they may have answered promptly.
The service menu board is displayed behind the service desk but is large enough to be read from in front of the service counter. The service shop is attached, so it makes it easy for the service adviser to distribute work and communicate to our technicians. The technicians are assigned to work stations with two lifts each, and they also have access to computers, which enables them to punch in and out of jobs and get technical data efficiently.
Outside our service department, we have a loading dock which is used to load and unload customer vehicles in a safe and timely manner. I believe the service department is the heartbeat of the dealership, and we try to keep it as convenient as possible for our customers. So when we created our customer lounge, it was important to have all the amenities that would be important to our customers, which includes a beverage center, TV, free Wi-Fi, and also a computer station and a goldfish pond which is quite popular. I feel the layout of our service department enables us to maximize our time with our customers and also makes it easy for our employees to effectively perform their jobs.
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
Our goal from day one was to operate a professional service department and deliver the highest quality of work by having our technicians trained to the highest level with every manufacturer we represent. Our techs are Platinum-certified in BRP, five-star certified in Pro Yamaha, we are a Suzuki Super service dealer, we have an Arctic Cat Master and techs that are Polaris MSD-certified.
Our CSI has remained far above the OEM averages, and I feel that has been attributed to not only trained techs but trained service managers and service writers who are confident and able to communicate with our customers. All of our service employees are committed to seeing the job done right, and our results are loyal, happy customers. I structured the pay plan in the service department based on performance, meaning salaries and high-reward, bonuses based on performance. The majority of the service manager's pay is based on the efficiency and productivity of his department, along with overall profitability plus CSI bonuses monthly. The service writers' pay is structured similarly, but more on an individual basis: salary, plus they are also paid on the productivity of the technicians and also get a CSI bonus based on each brand's scoring. I have noticed since implementing the CSI bonus our customer followup has greatly improved.
The technicians are paid hourly, with two bonus levels based on their productivity and efficiency. There is a bonus paid when OEM certifications are met, as well as monthly bonuses if our goals are met. The service department meets one day a week for approximately 20 minutes to go over goal updates, as well as team performance and any concerns that may exist -- but the meetings are always positive.
Recently the service manager implemented five-minute, end-of-day discussions with each tech at their stations to make them aware of work they have scheduled for the following day. This talk enables the technicians to plan accordingly rather than wait until the r/o is distributed to them. The parts department continues to be a solid performing part of our dealership and is the department that has the most contact with our customers. Our dealership has been very fortunate to have many longtime employees in parts that share our same vision in customer service. The parts manager has been with us since day one, and has been through all OEM training as well as training offered by Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky and Dealernews etc. I am very proud of the relationship he has formed with all of our customers as well as with all the parts distributors our dealership represents. It has been vital in the growth of our business.
The parts manager pay is salary with high-rewards bonuses based on the profitability of his department, as well as profit margin growth. I restructured the pay plan about four years ago, which at the time was salary and a small bonus. I changed it to a lower salary but a big reward bonus, and it has had a positive effect on both our bottom lines and has shown him much more opportunity. Now we are very proactive in turning our inventory, buying closeouts, seeking out deals and keeping up with the latest trends. The parts counter staff has also been trained by OEMs as well as parts suppliers, not only on best practices but also all the product we represent. These are the huge differences between our dealership and the one down the street: our product knowledge and people skills.
The parts staff is paid hourly, but employees also get a commission based on their counter sales as well as a team bonus for exceeding the goals, which are set monthly. The sales team is made up of many long-time employees who have had extensive product training on all the brands we represent.
We continue to train on the basics of sales and followup by having weekly meetings where we are able to review real situations we are facing and talk about solutions as a team. All meetings are very positive.The sales manger's pay is based on minimal salary and high rewards bonuses which is based on department front-end gross profit as well as a portion of backend finance profit, plus an additional volume bonus each month. Our sales staff's base pay is 20 percent commission on profit, but their bonus pay changes monthly.
The bonus budget is based on our goals and expectations of the month, as well as our previous sales history and also based on current OEM goals and OEM incentives, which may fluctuate. The average monthly bonus we budget for is approximately $3,000 to $4,000. I always set a fast start bonus, which may run from the first through 10th of the month. Each salesman is given a fast start goal, and the salesman who exceeds it the most will get $300 plus $100 per unit additional up to a $600 max payout. I then set a goal for the remainder of the month with a similar payout.
I also set team goals and product goals with incentives paid accordingly. I have found it keeps the sales staff excited and motivated all month long.The entire staff is incentive-driven, and they love it and that is why this dealership continues to grow. Our OEMs' are so impressed with our bonus plans that management has contacted us to review.
Commitment to Customer Service
Our customer service philosophy has always been that if we don't take care of our customers, someone else will.
Last year, we created a customer rewards program, and in a short time have seen big results -- especially in our service department, which was one of the reasons we started the program to enhance customer loyalty.
The Off-Road Express rewards card program builds customer loyalty and also captures emails from everyone. The customer receives points at the time of purchase and also accrues points with every dollar spent. The email is how the customer is given a monthly points-activity statement. The email allows us to inform customers of events, sales, service reminders, etc.
There are two levels to the rewards card: gold, which is free, and platinum, which is sold for $199. The free card enables customers to receive discounts on parts and service and allows customers to receive points for purchases, referrals, joining our Facebook page, etc. The platinum card enhances all the benefits of the gold and also allows the customer to receive a $200 discount on a extended-warranty purchase, which has worked extremely well. We have one of the highest warranty penetrations in the industry. I feel this program has enabled us to reach our goals in many ways. The points received have a dollar value but can only be redeemed in service, so it helps drive customers to the service department who might not use it otherwise.
The program also enables us to efficiently contact customers by email. The program has already proven to help increase warranty sales and profit. The dealership is also able to track points issued and points redeemed, and has already seen huge growth in customer loyalty -- and that is exactly what the program was intended to do.
Involvement in the Community
Community involvement has always been a cornerstone of who we are. Off-Road Express has been a business that has participated in numerous charities, events and clubs at every level. Our goal has always been to make our community a better place and give back to the community that has always and continues to support us.
Our dealership is a major sponsor of a bike rally that takes place in Erie: The "Roar on the Shore." Each year, the money raised for the event goes to a local charity and each year it gets larger and so does the money donated. The event is a three-day event and this year, there were over 80,000 people in attendance with over $100,000 raised and donated.
I'am very proud to play a big role in this rally because it also puts over $17 million in our local economy. The dealership's efforts each year is to give visitors of the event reasons to come back the following year and we do this by hosting rides throughout the three days and also by bringing in celebrity guests and stunt riders that visitors have a chance to meet and ride with.
This year, I brought in Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas and he was a great celebrity who had never been to Pennsylvania. It gave visitors not only a chance to meet him but also ride with him, hang out and take photos. We also brought in former Yamaha X games rider Trevor Vines, who put on daily stunt shows and left the crowds in amazement with his back flip.
I also was able to bring in Victory and Yamaha factory employees to give consumer demo rides during the event, which led to additional sales. The ride we hosted also for the rally was a vineyard poker run, which left from our dealership and took a scenic ride through the wineries of Northwest Pennsylvania, stopping periodically for a poker card. The ride had more than 1,400 participants and all the riders had a chance to meet bike builder Rick Fairless, who also brought a display of his custom bikes.
The dealership also participates with numerous other charities, from hosting events to bike and ATV giveaways. Some charities we are very active with include Toys for Tots, Hometown Heroes, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Safe Net (for abused women), and the Erie City Mission. This year, in addition to all the bike, ATV, and snowmobile clubs we support, we partnered with a local rock band and have reached people who have not been our customers. It's a great sponsorship that continues to promote our business. The dealership also hosts Wednesday Bike Nights at Quaker Steak & Lube, with weekly giveaways along with a $2,000 dealership shopping spree given away at the last bike night of the season.
Our goals are met by our dealership's awareness in so many positive events and charities. We truly have become a business our community can be proud of and can count on. The dealership makes a big effort to be involved not only with the community, but with our customers. We support their events, whether it be in a small or big way, and that has proven to go a long way and has built lifelong loyal customers who know firsthand that we care and recognize things that are important in their lives.