30-year-old dealership reboots under new general manager
When Vincent Contino took the helm of New York Motorcycle in Queens Village three years ago, he quickly got to work making big changes and modernizing the 30-year-old dealership.
NYMC’s owner Walter “Whitey” Illigasch promoted Contino to the GM position after Contino had proven himself by successfully running the dealership’s EagleRider franchise.
“He put a ton of trust in me and kind of let me run with it. If you don’t have that, it’s hard to do anything,” Contino said. “The education and the opportunity that I got to be able to just take a dealership and run with it was priceless.”
The changes Contino has implemented since he took over management of the dealership have not been subtle. In fact, Contino said his OEM reps have been telling other dealerships that NYMC is a whole new store.
Among the GM’s first goals was to rein in 30 years of inventory that had accumulated at New York Motorcycle, which ranked No. 4 on the Powersports Business Power 50 in 2014.
“Back in Whitey’s day, there weren’t as many models as there are now, and shipping took longer, so you kind of had to stock all the parts that you needed,” Contino said.
Contino knew that now, with quick shipping, he could stock fewer parts. So his staff performed a physical inventory of all the parts and put each into Lightspeed.
“We put our hands on everything; we actually knew what was there,” he said.
The unneeded product was returned to manufacturers and distributors if possible, or it was gotten rid of in any form of creative manner, including discounting to customers and selling the product to dealers who actually needed it. With the parts now in Lightspeed, other dealers were easily able to see what products New York Motorcycle had leftover, so it was easier to move those.
The total count of the inventory took about two years, but Contino said the return in efficiency was well worth the effort.
“That’s part of the painful stuff that you have to do to be organized, and if you’re not organized, you’ll never be efficient and running at 100 percent,” he explained.
Now that the inventory has been organized well once, it’s easier for the dealership to go back and count inventory more frequently, as the staff did again in February.
“Once it’s done accurately once, and once you have locations for everything, it gets easier and easier every time you do it,” Contino said.
Thirty years of inventory not only ties up cash and creates inefficiencies, but it also takes up a lot of space. Once New York Motorcycle completed its inventory and cleared out the unnecessary parts, Contino discovered he had a lot more square footage with which to work.
A portion of the old stockroom became vacant, leaving Contino room to build a new watercraft and ATV showroom, using ProYamaha marketing funds.
“We went from selling like 20 watercraft a year up to like 70 watercraft a year just by having the units on the floor,” he reported. ATV sales also grew 100 percent.
But Contino didn’t stop there. The whole dealership has been undergoing a revamp in both operations and in physical space.
“It’s just taking an old dealership and making it new again,” Contino said.
An old storage room became the new EagleRider room, customer lounge and parts department. That change alone increased the parts department by 400 percent, which Contino expects will boost P&A sales in 2015. The old parts department also cleared room for a bigger showroom floor, and service is undergoing a remodel this year. New York Motorcycle also received a fresh coat of paint inside and outside the building.
The renovations have not only boosted the look of the dealership, but have led to increased sales in 2013 and 2014, as well as in the early going this year.
“That’s why we started selling more and more product. Everyone wants to come and see it, sit on it,” Contino said.
He added, “We grew for Yamaha [in 2014]. To be a Pro Yamaha dealer, you have to grow 6 percent, so after going from a 100 annual unit dealer to a 260-unit dealer two years ago, we thought we’d lose that status, but then we grew another 8 percent.”
Not just looks
Yamaha and Kawasaki are New York Motorcycle’s top-selling brands, but the dealership is no-doubt multi-line, also carrying Can-Am, CFMOTO, Ducati, Honda Generators, Piaggio, Royal Enfield, Sea-Doo, Segway, Suzuki, Triumph and Vespa. Its biggest movers are off-road, street and cruiser bikes, but the dealership also does well with PWC and ATVs.
“That’s kind of the funny thing; we get a little bit of everything,” Contino said, adding that NYMC isn’t as close to water or ATV riding areas as some of the store’s competitors.
However, what brings people back to the dealership year after year and decade after decade is its focus on customer service.
“If you go online and you check out my Google reviews, or you go on our Facebook page and look at our reviews, the most common thing I hear is just that we care about our customer,” Contino said.
One of the ways NYMC shows its priority for the customer is in the dealership’s partnership with Trama’s Auto School, the local motorcycle safety school. Instead of allowing newbies to simply buy a bike and ride away, NYMC staff sends them to Trama’s to safely earn their license. NYMC then reimburses the school’s tuition for riders who buy a bike at the dealership, and it’ll offer a few bikes for rental to help riders make the buying decision. The rental fees are also reimbursed.
“The whole sales process is not really a hard sell. The main thing is we care about the customer first,” Contino said.
Honing that sales process took buy-in from the entire dealership, but with weekly meetings and employee enthusiasm, NYMC has been successful in its customer service efforts.
“It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not easy to create that environment. It takes a little bit from every employee, but if you create that customer experience, the ball starts rolling, and it just starts to grow and grow and grow, and it just gets easier,” Contino said.
To encourage the staff and offer them a reward for their hard work, NYMC brings its staff to off-road, track and PWC riding events at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Raceway Park and on the water annually. Customers are also invited to these events, making them win-win opportunities for the dealership.
“There are so many different types of riding, so kind of realizing that and experiencing that and having your staff experience and customers experience it together is probably the No. 1, hands down best thing,” Contino said.
Those events will be making a return in 2015, as NYMC looks to have another banner year.
“I think it will be good. We should start seeing the result of the new parts department, which is good, and we started redoing service,” Contino said. “I don’t worry about things I don’t have control over. All you worry about is doing your best and planning and organizing for the coming year and hit the ground running and see how its goes.”