Belleville, N.J., dealership adds brands after moving to larger location
Editor’s note: Following are outtakes from an interview with John “LJ” Resciniti III, the third-generation owner/vice president of the Motorcycle Mall in Belleville, N.J. Marjorie Kleiman, aka Shadow, is an editor of Thunder Press, a Powersports Business sister publication, and attended the dealership’s 40th anniversary
“Newark/Belleville Honda and Kawasaki was the original dealership. John Sr. used to stock the shelves of the supermarket when he was a child, and when it was a Sears Roebuck building, he used to change tires. He eventually bought those buildings.
“We were in the old location for over 35 years, and we were somewhat landlocked, which made it very difficult to do business. We just outgrew it. At that time, in 2007-2008, we stumbled across the 655 Washington Ave. property, which was the downtime for most industries, especially the automotive and motorcycle industry. The Ford dealership that was at this location went out of business, so we were able to strike a deal and purchase the property at the lowest time. It was in the perfect location; just 1.2 miles from the original dealership, on the same road, same side of the street.
“Over the years, we’d acquired new brands, and moving into the new building, we brought on some new brands. We brought on Ducati in March 2014, Polaris Slingshot, Victory (we had Victory motorcycles in the old building for one month before we moved), and recently we acquired KTM on road, and we’ll be bringing on the off-road segment in 2016. Ski-Doo snowmobiles were brought on. We’ve got one Slingshot on display right now, but it’s been sold. We’ve got about 20 presold right now, so we don’t even have the opportunity to demo the one that’s on display right now because it’s already sold. There’s a pent-up demand. I told Polaris I needed 100 pieces when I first spoke to them. They laughed, but I said, ‘I’m serious. I need 100 pieces.’
“The old location was probably about 30,000 square feet, but that was deceiving because we did have a basement, we did have an upstairs, separate, at each end of the building. The showroom was about 20,000 square feet, a decent size, and we had an offsite warehouse. Service was about 4,000-4,800 square feet, parts was about 4,000 square feet, all on-street city parking on a four-lane street of highway traffic — Route 7.
“The square footage here is 108,000 square feet, so we’re three times the size. The showroom is a good 65,000 square feet. Service is a good 15,000 square feet.
“We now have a dyno room, so we’re able to test bikes with real road conditions under load and not jeopardize putting the technicians at risk by putting them on the road. It’s a safer way to diagnose stuff. Dynojet came out and trained us; they were great; they went over all the product for us. It helps make things easier for us and cleaner for us as far as doing business, especially for insurance purposes.
“There are a dozen lifts on the first floor, and 8-12 in the basement, plus a car lift for the Slingshot. In the old dealership it would take about two hours each morning to start — just emptying out the driveway, so we could unload trucks, so we could lay out the work for the day, plus bring in the work from the driveway that needed to get into service to be serviced for the day. So now everything that comes in is stored here in the basement; everything is stored out of the way. Everything is washed before it leaves; we have a wash bay and a designated person who washes and details bikes all day for customers to make sure they’re ready and clean when they leave.
“We had to install a four-post car lift for servicing Slingshots, but it also helps with a lot of our side-by-sides and our utility vehicles to service them very easily and safely. We have three Coats machines. We have a cardboard baler; metal gets scrapped; we recycle everything. To the guys that were here before, in the old building, this is heaven to them, compared to what we were doing.
“First floor is regular OEMs, lifestyle brands. Second floor is basically off-road, side-by-sides, utility vehicles, all our watercraft is upstairs, our dirt bikes —two different types of clientele. Riding gear is in our parts department, when you walk into the main entrance to the back. That’s separated as well. We have separate staffing; we have people who are accountable just for helmets and apparel sales and people for just hard parts and accessories as well — two different groups of people helping you out, but both equally as educated in their areas. There are two separate managers as well.
“We expanded our staffing when we moved here. Doubled. We try to stay at 50. We had about 25-30 at the other store. We have 50-60, depending on part-timers, some seasonal. Everybody says it’s a seasonal business, but we’re busy all year round. We do the ATVs; we do the plows; we do the snow blowers, the generators, the lawn mowers, the watercraft, the snowmobiles.
“It’s an industry where people transfer from one segment to another. Or, like Honda’s Dream Garage, where they have all the models in their garage, and they’re set. There’s a big promotion they’re doing now. It’s nice because they can blanket all the segments that they sell. We have some POP on the floor for it. Today, though, is ‘friends and family,’ so this is going to turn into an annual event for us. Literally, everything is priced to move. These are the lowest prices you’ll ever see these bikes tagged for, annually. This is an annual event that we’ll do around the time of our anniversary. We have up to 80 percent off on parts and accessories; we have oil prices from the 1970s; we have spark plugs, filters, all 1970s prices.
“We have people buying cases of oil right now and trucking them out to their cars. We do rentals as well. We started with EagleRider when we moved here in 2012. Rental season starts April 1 and runs roughly until Oct. 1, depending on the weather. We’ve had about four or five customers do rentals, pick up the bikes and rode down to Texas to Circuit of the Americas and back. They rented Harley tourers and Ducati Multistradas. That’s a long ride. We’ve got close to 35 bikes in the entire rental fleet, and there’s points where everything’s rented in the summer. And we can draw units from other EagleRider locations, if they’re available. We started with about 16, so that’s doubled since we’ve been here for three years. And we get a lot of rentals because we’re near the Newark airport. A very large international crowd flies into Newark.
“Suzuki sponsors the anniversary event and did their demo ride for our anniversary, so they brought in a truck, and they have 20 bikes they’re demoing. Plus they’re doing their zero percent for 60 months financing. They’ve got some really, really aggressive rates, so we’ll probably do really well with Suzuki today.”