118 East Fairview Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Norm and Maggie Nelson
The Nelsons purchased the 12,000-sq.-ft., exclusively BMW dealership in June 2001; at present location since 1997, “and there has been a BMW dealership in the Daytona area since the 1960s,” says Norm Nelson. “We’re at the corner of Beach Street and Fairview Avenue (Main Street). During Bike Week and Biketoberfest, it’s probably the best location anywhere for a motorcycle shop.” Nine employees.
Nelson’s greatest concern is attracting younger riders. “The OEMs need to create products that are reasonably priced, but exciting. Honda’s ‘You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda’ campaign in the 1960s really created a revolution. I think BMW is trying to do the same thing; in its advertising, BMW stresses adventure and freedom.”
Nelson also believes that the industry needs to “continue to fight the government if it puts out too many regulations. And insurance carriers don’t want to insure motorcycles. It’s certainly unwise to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but it is a freedom that many states allow. If we work with the government and the lobbyists, we can keep the sport alive and have the freedom to do what we want — because we live in America.”
Dashing away at Daytona: the K1200 GT, the R1150 R, the K1200 RS, the R1150 GS, and the K1200 LT. The Nelsons focus on BMW accessories and parts. “One room is our apparel section, and ‘Apparel Goddess’ Cindy Ridgeway really knows how to order. We stock BMW boots, trousers, jackets, gloves, and long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts. BMW’s ComforTemp materials react to the temperature and are top-quality. We also sell Joe Rocket jackets and gloves, and our own special BMW of Daytona T-shirts.”
Hard parts that sell well: aftermarket backrests, MotoLights lighting systems, tie-downs, fluids and lubricants, and bike-washing liquids. “In helmets, we carry Arai and Arrow, a flip-up type helmet”.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Nelson says the typical BMW of Daytona customer is highly educated, age 35 to 55, with an above-average income — a knowledgeable buyer who’s Internet-savvy and price-savvy and very safety-conscious. “Most buyers have been through safety training,” he says. “Though we’re seeing new buyers or ones who have not ridden for years. Many buy BMW because it has anti-lock brakes. In a panic situation they’re less likely to slide.” Women are buying the F650 and R1150 R models. Nelson has seen more people purchasing jackets with protective padding; good gloves and boots; and rain gear.
“The Daytona Beach City Council tries to balance the community’s concern over noise with the economic benefits that Bike Week and Biketoberfest bring,” notes Nelson. “The Chamber of Commerce applauds Bike Week — it brings revenue to local hotels, restaurants, motorcycle shops, etc. These two events are the biggest influxes of money into Volusia County. Yet some City Council Members are beachfront property owners who want this to be a sleepy little town with high property values, like West Palm or Palm Beach. This is the world center of racing and the world’s most beautiful beach.” Nelson made up bumper stickers and distributed them to other businesses: “I Love Motorcycles — They Create Jobs.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Service Manager Bob Donaldson is also a certified technician, and Daytona has two Master Technicians — BMW’s highest level — and two part-time certified technicians.
“We recently acquired space from the Titan motorcycle shop that was in this building,” says Nelson. “So we knocked out a wall and changed our service entrance from the west side to the east, near our big parking lot. It’s a much safer, easier access. We expanded our service area, painted the floor and the walls, dropped the ceiling, and installed better lighting and air-conditioning. We have one of the nicest service reception areas, with a tile floor and a ceiling fan. Also, we installed a whole new parts counter and purchased special shelving and drawers that enables us to densely pack parts.” Daytona has a parts manager and one full-time parts salesperson.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“As corporations like BMW, Harley, Suzuki, and Honda put more pressure on dealers to upgrade our stores and make them pretty and boutique-like — in fact, almost sterile — the danger is that we may lose the excitement,” says Nelson.
“Corporations will tell you that ‘boutiques’ sell a lot of bikes. That’s probably true. But we hope to keep people who want to just hang. Most motorcyclists have a bit of personality; they love life, freedom, and traveling. Creating a store that’s a destination, with that friendly touch, is important. Although we’ve gone through a major upgrade, many people tell us, ‘You still have that mom-and-pop, friendly atmosphere.’ That means a lot — that’s what I want a motorcycle shop to be.”