By Neil Pascale
Custom Chrome has moved away from a traditional road rep sales force as part of Global Motorsport Group’s recent business reorganization.
The company will rely more on its inside sales staff to handle the bulk of its daily transactions and has created a regional leadership team that will be available to dealers for new product information, in-store marketing help and to handle major accounts, Custom Chrome President Holger Mohr told Powersports Business.
The business reorganization also included moving the customer service and tech support departments, which were previously housed in Visalia, Calif., to the company’s Morgan Hill, Calif., headquarters where it was merged with customer support, Mohr said. A press announcement the company released also said the product line management team was integrated into the purchasing department.
“We really look at it as basically changing our model toward more of what the market needs at this point,” Mohr said. “We were thinking very, very strong about how this would affect the customer. We believe the solution we came up with was a smart move for the company, but it also made sure the customers are going to stay happy with our service.”
The resulting changes came with layoffs, including six road sales reps and about 20 employees, some of whom were temps, who were previously part of the merged departments, Mohr said.
Although the changes reflect the company’s desire to improve its customer support, it is also another sign of the slowdown in the V-twin side of the business.
“The reality is that whoever you talk to in this industry is basically saying that things are OK, but they’re not as good as they used to be in the last two or three years,” Mohr said. “And everybody is making changes, just look at all the manufacturers. They’re letting people go all the time because they need to adjust themselves to the current status. So it’s obviously related to that.”
Mohr also said the reorganization serves as a way for Custom Chrome to improve its customer service operation.
“In the past, we had too many people touching the customer,” he said. “You had the road rep visiting and the inside rep calling. And the customer called sales support, and if he had a warranty issue he had to call customer service. That just did not make sense to me personally.”
The reorganization includes the creation of Custom Chrome’s Regional Market Development and Sales Leadership Team, a group of four individuals that were previously road reps. Each of the regional leaders will serve as something akin to a district sales manager, except with additional marketing roles. The regional leaders will support dealers at open houses and interact with key accounts.
“They are basically the face of Custom Chrome in their territories,” Mohr said of the regional leaders, noting each will also be “very well connected with the inside sales management team.”
“They are participating in all different kinds of functions, like new product meetings,” Mohr said, noting the four regional leaders will be based on the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest and an area that includes Texas and parts north. “So they really help us understand the different markets better.”
One reason Custom Chrome is leaving the dealer visits to regional managers, rather than to a traditional sales rep, is most dealers the distributor works with prefer to be handled on a daily basis with phone support, Mohr said.
“If you send out to a road rep out to these dealers, they’ll probably get upset because we’re stealing their time, which is very valuable,” he said.
“A lot of these (dealers) prefer to talk on the phone anyways because they have long-term relationships” with Custom Chrome’s inside sales force, Mohr said, noting the company has inside sales reps that have worked there for 10 years. “They know their customers probably better than the wife knows their husband. So there’s a strong relationship in place.”
Plus he noted that Custom Chrome is “still visiting customers, but on a different frequency than before.”
The press release outlining the changes at Global also noted that the reorganization will allow the company to invest in greater inventory.
Cerberus Capital Management, a private investment firm that became majority owners in January 2006, runs the distributor, which also operates Motorcycle Stuff, Santee and Custom Chrome Europe.
Copyright 2007 Powersports Business