Off-Road Express West
Guided by ambition, knowledge, education, quality values and an immeasurable passion for our industry, our team of exceptionally trained professionals will work toward one common goal: to exceed all customer expectations and deliver products and performance that prove an incomparable value for the money.
Showroom Design and Layout
The layout of our showroom is very conducive to the volume of units we sell. It is a state-of-the-art, 11,500 sq. ft. box with a 26-foot industrial style, exposed rafter ceiling with an overall presentation that bleeds excitement. The high ceilings and tall walls allow us to utilize large marketing materials generally designed for outside use. This creates an immense “Wow factor” that will stop you dead in your tracks the first time you walk into our store; however there are many unnoticed intricacies to our showroom that make it productive and profitable.
The first thing you will notice when walking into our showroom is how easy it is to navigate. Immediately, your eyes will be drawn to the back wall which is completely covered in a larger-than-life portrait illustrating each segment of the powersports industry. It is a professional work of art, hand-airbrushed by a local artist. Also along that wall are large neon lights indicating the location of our parts and service departments.
Our parts department is in the far left corner of the dealership, whereas the service department is in the opposite corner. These departments are strategically placed so a customer has to walk through our showroom in order to access them. Often times, our constantly rotating inventory of units as well as parts, accessories and apparel will catch the eye of an unintended buyer.
Our parts and accessories can be found throughout the building in a creatively placed manner to allow the customer to see all options and choices associated with their new purchase. Along the back wall, under the mural, is a large area of apparel which is always on a seasonal rotation. This area sees heavy retail traffic; however there are still some stagnant pieces of merchandise that don’t seem to move too quickly. For these items, we have found great success with a blowout clearance rack with discounts up to 70 percent. This clearance rack sees a fast moving rotation of items all year long.
Customers can enjoy a roomy fitting room centrally located along the west wall; however they will not be able to judge how well they look in their new apparel by looking in a mirror, they will have to leave the dressing room and take short walk to access the nearest mirror. This method forces our customers to engage in a decision-making process that is much bigger than their own opinions and thoughts. We have seen much better customer/staff interaction as well as more confident purchases from our customers which result in higher profit margins for our store.
Tires, exhaust and other hard parts and accessories are displayed more toward the service desk to promote the up-sale of installation labor. Our parts and accessory staff as well as our service manager spend most of their time at or near their work stations, which provide a great view of the showroom. This enables them to engage with interested customers and come up with a plan to personalize their machine with our quality parts.
Throughout the showroom, traffic is directed by a designated walkway outlined by red lines. Not only do these lines create a confusion-free way to access all areas of our showroom, they are spaced to a precise width which allows us to maneuver our fork lift to all areas of the showroom without moving products or displays. This is particularly important to access the ceiling for maintenance as well as to construct jaw-dropping displays which are often suspended in midair by cables between our floor and ceiling.
While walking through our showroom, you will notice some unique characteristics that set us apart from the rest. We have a defined youth section indicated by a large mirrored sign hanging from the ceiling that says “The Ultimate Kid Zone.” Under this sign, you will find all the youth-model ATVs and dirt bikes as well as the youth apparel and accessories. You will also notice a large, elevated center display area with a season-appropriate display showing off all the latest models and accessories.
This center display area served as a landing zone for our nationally recognized aerial display for Honda ATVs. While waiting, our customers can enjoy a cozy lounge area with a TV and DVD player.
Along the east wall of our showroom, you will find the business offices which include a finance office, accounting office, general manager’s office and two other offices occupied by Joe and Ernie Askins, two of the owners of our store. The finance office is where most sales deals are desked and processed. It is connected by a door to the general manager’s office, which is connected to the owner’s office via a sliding window. These interoffice connections allow us to share information quickly and accurately while enabling us to work deals without interruptions.
Upon the completion of a sales deal, the customer will be escorted from the finance office to an area near the service desk designated as the Launch Zone! The Launch Zone is where the customer will get acclimated to their new purchase.
The service department is one of the most important aspects of our dealership and it is extremely important that our customers' machines are worked on by highly trained technicians in a productive, safe and clean environment. Our service department is about 3,800 sq. ft. It is rectangular in shape with work stations along both longer walls. Each technician station is equipped with two lifts to ensure minimal down time between jobs.
Our service department is designed with convenience in mind. For optimal performance and profitability for each department of the dealership, it is extremely important that the service department functions like a well-oiled machine. Setting our service department up to be convenient for the customer, the sales department, the parts department, the service manager and the technicians has proven to be a key component to the overall success of the dealership.
Our technicians enjoy the luxury of our convenient setup first hand. When a repair order is generated by our service manager and parts are requested, the parts manager sees the request on his computer and pulls the parts out of stock or places a special order if the part is not in stock. Upon the receipt of all parts for a customer’s repair order the parts manager will place the parts on a designated repair order shelf. This shelf is accessed by the technicians by walking through a double door which connects the service area to the stock room of the parts department. This access door allows the technicians to obtain the parts they need without searching for them and without having to visit the parts desk.
Another set of double doors allows access from the service area to the showroom. This enables technicians to pull freshly assembled machines directly onto the showroom floor without having to go outside. This is particularly nice during our harsh winters. These doors also allow wonderful communication between our technicians and service manager.
Our technicians enjoy having access to state of the art tools and technology as well as their own networked computer which they use to punch in and out of repair orders as well as log onto factory tech lines when having trouble diagnosing problems.
The flow of customer traffic through our service department is also a very streamlined process within our business. Customers are directed to the back of our building by very visible illuminated signs. The back of the building is a very safe, low traffic unloading zone. We assist customers with loading and unloading units with a handmade steel platform that fits on the forks of our fork lift. This is a very safe and effortless method of loading and unloading.
After a customer’s machine is unloaded, the customer can walk through a door to the service manager’s desk. If the customer is a waiting for their machine, they can walk to the opposite corner of our showroom and find a comfortable waiting area. In our waiting lounge they will find up-to-date industry specific magazines, television, DVD player with our product information demo DVDs, candy dispensers and coffee. Often times the walk through our showroom to the waiting lounge sparks an interest and leads to a purchase of some kind.
By creating a convenient layout to our service department, we have perfected the flow; productivity and efficiency, thus uncovering a large amount of profit which we struggled to obtain during the first few months of business. Our customer satisfaction has increased and all departments can now function at 100 percent, with little or no friction between one another.
Training and Employee Motivation Practices
At Off-Road Express, nearly every employee is paid on an incentive-based income structure. This pay structure differs between each department, but the concept of keeping a close eye on performance, efficiency and profitability is the same throughout the dealership. In order for each member of our staff to achieve their desired income level it is imperative that they are up to date on all factory OEM training opportunities as well as receiving a constant level of support from their department managers.
Our sales representatives are paid on a commission-only basis. They receive 20 percent of the gross profit of each sale they complete with a minimum flat payout of $25. In addition to the 20 percent, there are many dealer incentives and spiffs that are created to keep focus on a certain goal. These incentives may be specific to an aged unit or they may be as general as an overall total unit goal. Often times there is a qualifier in which a salesperson will have to achieve prior to being eligible for any spiff payout. The qualifier is usually based on a product or segment and if achieved the qualifier will make the salesperson eligible for a spiff payout. Once the sales person is eligible, there is often a multiplier that can increase the amount of incentive pay the salesperson will receive.
For example: if a salesperson satisfies the qualifier of three new street motorcycles he will be eligible for a multiplier of $10/units sold for the month. So if the salesperson sells three new streetbikes and a total of 25 units, his month-end spiff payout will be $250. However there may be another tier to achieve, which will increase the multiplier to $25 if five new streetbikes are sold. If this is achieved, the salesperson will receive a spiff payout of $625 for the same 25 units sold. This has proven to be an effective way to keep focus on a specific segment (streetbikes) while still incentivizing the salesperson for achieving an overall goal of high volume.
The sales representatives are greeted at the beginning of each month with a different set of generous spiffs to work toward. The spiffs are funded and constructed around certain dealer goals set by our manufactures. Our spiffs keep a competitive atmosphere within our showroom and are always keeping the salesmen hungry and alert. It is a fun and challenging way to allow them to make money above and beyond their 20 percent. Additionally, we incentivize our sales reps by allowing them to make commission on any parts and accessories they add to a sales deal. These goods are sold to the sales deal at 25 percent above dealer cost which ensures a profitable transaction and then the sales person will receive 20 percent of the remaining profit margin.
Commitment to Customer Service
Customer service is the backbone of everything we do at Off-Road Express. It has always been our motto to not only help our customers at the time of the sale, but continue helping throughout the entire ownership experience. We stand behind the products we sell and work hard to exceed the expectations of our customers. It is common practice in our store to under promise and over deliver.
Recently we implemented a Rewards Card Program which was put into place at our other store. This program has brought huge success to our sister store and increased customer loyalty in a huge way. This program was monitored for about a year as a pilot program and once all the bugs were worked out we decided to adopt it at our store. It is a point’s accumulation system that can accrue with all customer purchases. Our customers can redeem these valuable points on any service work they may have.
The Rewards Card program is given to each person who purchases a major unit from our store. At the time of purchase they are given the option to upgrade from a gold card to a platinum card for $199. Both cards accumulate points and the points are distributed through email, thus requiring an email address from each one of our customers. The platinum card enhances the benefits of the gold plus discounts an extended warranty $200. The upgrade nearly pays for itself and truly does sell itself.
The main reason for the implementation of this program was to solidify customer loyalty while also providing our dealership with some intricate tracking programs which allow us to better stock our showroom with products that sell. The program also allows us to easily do mass email marketing campaigns.
Another wonderful customer service tool we have executed is a contract with a follow-up service. This service is endorsed by Honda and was originally researched to provide our Honda customers with a follow up system that Honda approved. However, after extensive research we were certain we wanted this service for each of our customers.
This follow-up system provides personalized cards and letters for our customers at tactical times throughout the year. Customers will receive personalized thank you cards, birthday cards and holiday cards. In addition they will receive personalized letters from our parts department, service department and owner. These letters are accompanied by a coupon or a gift certificate. Also, depending on the segment of vehicle purchased, our customers will get a reminder letter along with a coupon. An example of a reminder letter would be one sent to all our watercraft customers reminding them of all the items needed for winterization along with a service coupon discounting the cost of winterization if they choose to have us do the work.
One thing I personally like about this system is the personalized cards are automatically sent to our dealership neatly sorted along with a pre-addressed envelopes. Our staff can further personalize the card or letter and attach their business card prior to mailing. Also, it will be mailed out and postmarked from our local post office. In the eyes of the customer, these greetings look like they are printed in our dealership special just for them.
As a dealer, we withhold $15 from the gross profit of each deal to pay for the follow-up system. $15 is adequate enough to cover the cost of the program as well as the ongoing postage expense. The expense is small investment to keep our customers coming back multiple times throughout the year. Plus, this is a two-year program and in our industry a lot of people upgrade their machines within the first two years of ownership. It is extremely important to stay in touch on a regular basis for the first two years. This program allows us to do this with minimal effort and cost.
Lastly, as mentioned in the previous staff training/incentive question, our staff is incentivized with $25 when they receive a 100 percent survey from a Kawasaki customer. They also have the ability to lose $25 if the results of this survey are negative. Our employees work extra hard to ensure all customers are satisfied with the sale and the events/purchases that have taken place beyond the sale.
Involvement in the Community
The community that surrounds our dealership is much bigger than the Erie area alone. Our customer base sprawls among many small towns and villages within three counties. We consider everyone in these small areas to be “our community” and with a community as large as ours comes a great deal of responsibility. It is our goal to be a leading supporter of our community and the events that take place.
Events we assist include, but are not limited to, local sports team booster programs, cancer benefits, charity fundraisers, local clubs and chapters as well as area bike nights. Our community is the sole reason we are here, and it is extremely important to give back much of what is given to us. Often times we donate promotional items for Chinese auctions and if the event is bigger or if it is in direct relation to one of our customers, we may do something as big as a $2,000 shopping spree to our store.
In the year that we have been in operation, we have become extremely well-known as a business and well-respected for the effort we pour back into the community that supports us. We have become a favorite business for hosting fundraising motorcycle rides. It is often requested that a ride will start or stop at our dealership. We welcome the opportunity and often times make a big deal of it by discounting our entire in stock inventory of accessories and apparel as well as provide food and beverages. This makes our customers feel special and important. We do this because they are!
Even when we aren’t supporting community events, we are constantly coming up with ways to. give back to the community. For example, we are major sponsors of the Roar on the Shore bike rally which is a rapidly growing three-day event that draws motorcyclists from all over the nation. There have been many famous visitors who have attended this event. Some visitors we have brought include custom bike builders Arlen and Corey Ness, stunt riders of Team No Limit Jason Britton and Eric Hoenschell, freestyle motocross rider Trevor Vines as well as many well-known bands and singers.