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Bike Week no longer a sure-thing for dealer

By Dave McMahon

Indian Motorcycles of Daytona says it’s ‘hit and miss’

A typical sales increase during Daytona Beach Bike Week meant more apparel and accessories going out the doors at Indian Motorcycles of Daytona. The extravaganza also pushed bike sales at the store.

But dealership owner Enzo Furlani has seen a steady and persistent decline in traffic at Bike Week. That, in turn, has lessened sales at his store’s three outposts during Bike Week, set this year for March 9-18.

“It’s big preparation and a lot of money,” Furlani said. “You used to be able to count on a sales boost during Bike Week like clockwork. But the economy has played such a big part in the last few years. It seems like it’s getting gradually worse.”

Furlani does benefit from having an Indian tractor-trailer on hand, and counts the Speedway, Main Street and Beach Street, where the dealership is located, among the dealership’s locations during Bike Week. But even with all his bases covered, Furlani knows not to get too excited when March rolls around.

“I usually hire extra help through Sunday, but last year I let everybody go on Saturday. And I could have let them go Friday.
I could have closed the store at around 4 instead of 10,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect for Bike Week this year. We need to make plans and buy a lot of apparel, so it’s a big gamble that involves many thousands of dollars.”

Then there’s the staffing issue. Furlani said the trend for Bike Week is to hire staff for $100 per day.

“At the end of the day, if we’ve got 20 people at $2,000 a day that we’re not getting any return on, that’s not good,” he said. “I don’t know where the traffic is, but every year gets worse.”

Furlani is banking on continued presence from international riders.

“We’re hoping to see a lot of European and Asians. That’s what saves us at the end of the day,” he said. “The buying-power people — the landscapers and the painters — the true hard-core custom people who would have the money and the attraction for the product, they don’t have jobs. There’s no houses being built and it’s just a domino effect.”

A November article in the Gulf Coast Business Review said that construction employment in Florida was at its lowest level since 1990.

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