20769 North US Highway 27
Lake Wales, FL 33853
12,000-sq.-ft., 30-year-old dealership that Northey purchases in 2001, changing the name to Sky Powersports. One-quarter mile off of I-4. Carries Suzuki, Yamaha, and Sea-Doo.
What’s the largest-selling segment? “We’re a strong streetbike dealer,” says general manager Bob Lehoullier. “It’s pretty even between sportbikes and cruisers, and between sport and utility ATVs.” 15 to 18 employees.
Lehoullier’s greatest concern is safety. “We’re looking for a safe environment for our consumers to ride in. Obviously the gentleman who wants to not wear his helmet, that’s his business. But we still try to promote motorcycle and ATV safety within our store. We promote rider training; we have flyers in the store and provide motorcycles for the program.”
Sizzling at Sky: “The Suzuki GSXR 1000 is a very strong seller,” notes Lehoullier. “As far as cruisers, we sell a lot of the Suzuki Intruder 1500, and the Yamaha V-Star 650 and 1100. In ATVs, the Suzuki LTZ 400 and the Yamaha Grizzly are two big, strong units, but we sell a lot of the smaller ATVs as well. We have a large selection of helmets and chrome accessories. For cruisers we carry saddlebags, windshields, backrests, chrome accessories, and stock pipes. We carry a full line.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We have a broad range of customers because we have something for every age group, especially 18 to 24 and 30 to 55,” says Lehoullier, who has been in the industry for 20 years.
“Right now the cruiser market is really hot and the sportbike market is seeing a resurgence. A lot of educated guys owned motorcycles when they were younger; now they have a little discretionary income and are stepping back into the sport. Of course many women are coming in nowadays, too. Their husband owns a motorcycle and they want to ride as well.”
Lehoullier is looking forward to “a very strong, positive PWC market in the next couple of years. The water level in the lakes is now back up. The biggest problem we have with dirtbikes and ATVs is a lack of places to ride, which we’re working on. They’re trying to get some riding areas opened in our area — to get funding in place from grant money that’s out there. It will make it easier for the consumer to have places to ride other than their own private property and will open up the market.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“You may sell everybody who comes in your door a motorcycle, but if you can’t take good care of them in the service department, they’re not going to come back,” says Lehoullier.
“You get a reputation for that. Our store is all about service after the sale. We have four service technicians, a service manager, and a parts and service coordinator.”
When Northey and Lehoullier took over one year ago, what did they change? “We gutted the building and did a complete remodel. This was a small, mom-and-pop store. Now it’s a state-of-the-art facility. Mechanics are now held accountable. We set into place numerous new systems and programs to make sure that the motorcycles were set up and repaired properly, that they left here in good working order — clean, ready to go for the customer. In parts we installed a new computer system with Lightspeed, and everybody was trained on this modern way of doing business.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Customer service is what it’s all about,” says Lehoullier. “You have a big investment being in this industry. If we don’t take care of the customers who are walking through our doors, somebody else is going to do it for us.
“And we’re not just competing against other dealers — we’re competing for their dollars with Best Buy and Circuit City. We have to take care of the customer and create buy-in for our sport, so customers will want to come in and bring their children — keeping this industry strong for years to come.”