Wilkins Harley-Davidson

Dealer Website: 
663 South Barre Road, Barre, VT
View on Google Maps:Google Maps
Type of Retail Business:
Franchised (selling new vehicles)
John W. Lyon, Barbara Wilkins, Ann Lyon
General Manager: 
John W. Lyon
Days of Operation: 
Days of Operation: 
Days of Operation: 
Days of Operation: 
Days of Operation: 
Years in Business: 
Gear, Apparel and Helmets: 
Harley-Davidson, Fulmer, HJC
Harley-Davidson, Drag Specialties, Custom Chrome
Parts and Tools: 
Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties
Average Age: 
Total Facility: 
11,000 sq. ft.
4,000 sq. ft.
PG&A Departments: 
5,000 sq. ft.
Service Dept: 
2,000 sq. ft.
Total Acreage: 

Mission Statement

Our unique selling proposition is based on the fact that Wilkins Harley-Davidson is known for above and beyond customer service.  Most dealerships say the same thing.  
Allow me to explain.  Most dealerships attempt to provide excellent customer service, but are disappointed by complaints.  While I will stop short of saying we look forward to complaints, we do look at customer concerns as a way of wowing the customer.  For instance, we send out electronic surveys to customers after a service/parts/general merchandise sale. These surveys are an attempt to elicit feedback that will help us plan better. We are not looking for accolades, but specific feedback that will allow us to serve our customer. If we are able to identify specific needs, we record these in our DMS system which then allows us to serve our customer better.
Moreover, we train on a Reasonable Request philosophy. We will always fulfill any reasonable request made by the customer. If the reasonable request is that we install a decal on their car, we do that. If the reasonable request is for us to sing "Happy Birthday," we fulfill the request. At times, the reasonable request is a bit more complex, like finding a way to surprise a customer buying a bike. Examples include our staff dressing up like Kid Rock (after learning that the customer loves Kid Rock through Facebook Intelligence) and essentially having an impromptu concert with music, strobes, etc.  
Lastly, we do operate on more of a staff democracy type of environment and have so for close to a decade. Our general manager has an annual meeting where larger issues are discussed. One of those issues is whether we should be open on Sunday. The decision to stay open on Sundays has to be unanimous among the staff. As you can imagine, it is rarely unanimous, but we did open on Sundays in 2008 based on the staff wanting to test the waters. Many other decisions are done using voting and while there are certainly times where management just has to make a decision, they always include feedback from staff.  
So in essence, our USP is to always be looking for those opportunities to surprise our customers and exceed their expectations. Too often, dealerships are focused on fulfilling the expectation -- at Wilkins HD, we are always trying to exceed it by a mile.

Showroom Design and Layout

Our showroom layout is likely very similar to many modern operations. With that said, our team believes that we must keep our showroom very fresh. Annually we move all the departments around to ensure that customers see new items and new placement. Moreover, we work on a written rotation that ensures products make their way to the forefront of the dealership and avoid becoming stale. 

Service Department

Our service department has been the pinnacle of our dealership.  As many people state, sales sells the first motorcycle and service sells the second motorcycle.  
Our service department is the only one in our geographic area which has two technicians that are at their peak level.  We also ensure that every technician goes to factory school every winter.  
Moreover, we bring in Michael Daniels Performance to train/retrain and test our staff on dyno tuning.  We are the only service department in our geographic area which actively dyno tunes and uses the tool to diagnose issues. 
Lastly, our service technicians all have two benches, an air handling system to be able to run the bikes inside, and iPads for each technician which links to our Talon ES Point of Sale System.  These iPads allow the technician to check on and off the job. On top of this, they have a two-way paging system if they need parts.  The only time they should have to leave their bench is to go to lunch and the bathroom. This has allowed us to process a great deal of work.  

Training and Employee Motivation Practices

There are several components to this.
  1. We offer a self-development component to our training.  Each staff member is offered $100 a month to read and test on a specific book we assign. The general manager/co-owner selects the book and everyone that would like to participate reads the book and tests on it. If they pass the simple test, they receive $100.  These books are always focused on leadership/self development/or customer service.
  2. All staff are offered at least one class offered by Harley-Davidson or instructor led off-site.
  3. Lastly, we also pay professionals to evaluate our staff, coach, and advise on department specific needs.
The overall performance is evident based on almost a decade of double digit growth. With that said, it is difficult to quantify exactly, but with our Customer Service Scores the highest in New England for Harley-Davidson, we believe the impact is fairly clear.  

Commitment to Customer Service

Customer service is always a dealer's focus. The question is whether they truly make it a priority. Our philosophy is that we never refuse any reasonable request. In other words, if you were to ask a staff member to put a Harley decal on your car, they are not allowed to refuse. With that said, our staff enjoys doing the little things for customers.  
Moreover, we will allow a return of any item if you are disappointed with it regardless of the time owned or if you have a receipt.  
We spend 2-3 minutes every morning with managers in a team huddle discussing how to better work with customers and fulfill their needs. This meeting is key to our operation. It is essentially a lightning round. We only want to discuss what affects other departments, not what people are working on individually. 
Lastly, while we know we are not perfect. We could say we look forward to the times we "mess up" since those are ideal times to show what Wilkins Harley-Davidson is actually made of. We will go to great lengths to ensure a customer is surprised and "wowed" by our response. Examples include: overnight trips to other dealerships to get parts/motorcycles, dropping everything at 10 p.m. at night to visit a customer who is having issues with their motorcycle or a 1,000 mile trip to surprise a customer with a motorcycle their wife purchased for them.  

Involvement in the Community

Our General Manager/Co-Owner is a member of several boards and donates his time regularly to the community. While most dealerships raise money for a charity, we do our best to become active in the community.
Examples include delivering Thanksgiving dinners to families in need and anonymously sending money to families who clearly have nothing.  
We have a great deal of support from our local community, so we actively look for opportunities to assist others in need.  
On top of this, we also actively take it upon ourselves to photograph motorcycle-related events and post them on our website. We have two relatively higher end cameras and had a professional photographer train our staff on how to take photos.  This service has made a great deal of customers happy, but also organically increased our likes on our Facebook page.