A 10-day trip to Italy was enough to convince Ducati Newport Beach president Michael Guerin that he loves being at
“I think I ride less now than when I bought the dealership,” he said. “I love being here. It’s not a job to me. I had a job for 35 years, so this isn’t the job. Yes, I have paperwork and I run it like a business. This is a business first. It is fun to me. I love being here. I love being around the product.”
His entry into the business has not gone unnoticed by customers. In 2012, Ducati North America named the store its top performer in new unit sales for the second year in a row. New bike sales increased by more than 25 percent year-over-year from 2011 to 2012.
“Everyone talks customer service. It’s back to basics,” Guerin said. “In the auto industry we got into that process-driven [stuff] and quite frankly, you lose sight of what it’s all about. It’s as simple as greeting customers when they walk in the door. It’s that simple. And from there, I think you’re OK.”
Guerin sold a combined 398 new and pre-owned Ducati bikes in 2011, and estimates that the figure to be 500 in 2012.
“Pre-owned is about 20 percent of the business. They are maintained inside. They are not pushed outside as used bikes. They are kept inside and displayed as if they are new. And we have a very serious consignment program for people who are going to buy another motorcycle and we are helping them sell theirs.”
A menu-based inventory has helped generate a “real strong” F&I department.
“We don’t sell products that people don’t need,” Guerin said. “We have a menu. It’s anywhere from LoJack to extended warranties to gap to insurance. We won’t sell any products to just make profit. It has to have a commodity behind it.”
Guerin positions his dealership as a retail store with superior customer service. In the PG&A department, that means providing customers with appropriate inventory.
“That is really what we want it to be and that is the purpose of it. It’s all about the customer experience. We do really well at selling to people in person. We are a focused, customer-service, in-store shop. People don’t have facilities like this, with parking lots the size of ours. I need to go in and try things on. Most people, if they had the opportunity, would do that.”
In addition, the dealership has an online store that provides additional revenue.
Three Ducati master technicians are a strong starting point in the dealership’s service department.
“I don’t think any dealer in the country has three working Ducati masters. We also have two who are Triumph certified,” Guerin said. “Service is my background in the auto industry, so they are paid well. I spend a lot of time with them. The training is all taken care of. They get paid full price for their training. I’m a hands-on owner and I take good care of them.”
Guerin has relationships with several local high-end car dealerships, and does product placements in their dealerships. Guerin reciprocates by allowing the car dealers to place their cars at his dealership.
“We’ve also done product placements in South Coast Plaza in the Tumi store and with Ralph Lauren. We do more high-end stuff, but a lot of product placement.”
Guerin admits that the science of inventory management is hardly precise.
“A lot of it is a little wizardry, thinking about what the public is going to want. We collectively do the ordering. The whole dealership is involved with the bike order process,” he said. “It’s good, then I can point the finger if we’re wrong!”
“It is important to have everyone involved because then they buy into it. They can say, ‘Hey, I wanted these bikes and I got them now, so I need to help sell them.’”
The process keeps aged inventory to a minimum.
“That’s why I don’t have any issues with aged inventory. We are really careful about what we order. If we have too much of something that isn’t moving, we transfer them to another dealership or place them on sale.”
“We work that every day. Our inventory is extremely clean, considering how many Ducatis we sold. I have a little warehouse with a couple bikes. Inventory, including parts, which as a dealership’s largest investment is something we monitor daily,” Guerin said. “Everyone is really tuned into the inventory.”
What attracts employees to your dealership?
“I think it is reputation and location. I don’t have very many new people. Most of my people have been here for a bit.”
Location: Costa Mesa, CA
# of Locations: 1
Full-time employees: 15
Year founded: 2009
Principal/Owner: Michael Guerin
OEM brands: Ducati, Triumph