1754 Carlisle Pike
Hanover, PA 17331
Ray and Charlotte Wilt
30,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1973 and expanded in May 2003. Carries Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki ATVs, motorcycles, and scooters (not snowmobiles or watercraft). “ATVs are a huge market for us,” says Tim Wilt, Ray and Charlotte’s son. “It’s definitely been growing the last few years. There are 100 ATVs in the showroom right now.” Wilt grew up in the dealership, mowing the grass and uncrating the units. Now, as general manager, “I do what needs to be done. Five minutes ago it was loading the garbage truck.” 25 employees.
“The OEMs are always looking at their market share numbers,” notes Wilt, “and popping up a new dealer instantly seems to happen a bit. We’re in a rural area where I’m fortunate not to have a ton of competition really close to me, but it is always a concern that it could change at a moment’s notice.”
“We are a sport-oriented ATV dealership, so the Yamaha YFZ450 is a very easy sale, as is the Yamaha Kodiak line — especially the four-wheel-drive utilities,” says Wilt. “Honda ATVs have been a little more challenging. Honda does have a new sport model called the TRX 450R, and we’ve taken three deposits even before the model was announced — just from rumors, people were anxious to buy them. Yesterday Honda put on some huge rebates that will help sell non-current models. In Kawasaki we do fair with the Prairie line —360s and so forth. In Suzuki, the quad sports ATVs have been great sellers, and right now we’re just getting restocked with Eigers, which is a nice machine. As far as motorcycles go, we’ve had a very good season with the Yamaha V-Star line and the Honda 750 Shadow. Cruisers were our peak sellers. In sportbikes, the Suzuki GSX-R of all sizes is a homerun for us.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We don’t really specialize in one segment of the population,” says Wilt. “We try to keep it pretty broad. Even when I’m doing radio advertising, I can pretty much have a segment in almost every market, from the 18-year-old kid with credit problems right up to the retired gentleman paying cash. Even the women’s segment has been big for us.” Wilt adds that the biggest trend he has seen is “the impatience of impulse. Somebody can wait a month to make a decision, but they want it within six minutes of that decision. We’ve actually lost sales if it’s 30 minutes before closing and we ask them to come back the next day. It seems like the whole market is in this ‘Wal-Mart satisfaction-guaranteed’ mode. Last week a mother came in. Her son rode a sportbike he’d bought here for almost a month, then got a 140 mph speeding ticket. She wanted to return it, and had no idea why she couldn’t just come in for a full refund. We’ve talked with other local recreational vehicle dealers, and they all say it has become so much more challenging to keep the customers satisfied. We still have good folks, although it’s hard to remember sometimes.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“With this expansion we have a lot more display areas and a whole new shop facility,” says Wilt. “All the technicians went out to a lot of factory training, so we had to raise the bar.” Parts includes one manager, four full-time salespeople, and one part-time. There’s a service manager, a service writer, four full-time technicians, two full-time assembly and prep guys, and two part-time Helpers.
“We also have a full-time gentleman in the warehouse who gets things organized, cleans the bikes after they’re serviced, and uncrates products before they go into the shop. Each full-time technician has a two-lift setup so one bike can be worked on while another comes in for staging and the parts are ready for efficiency.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Just try to stay focused on a daily basis,” advises Wilt. It’s very easy to get caught in a rut. I’ve read recently that you should treat every day as an open house; don’t let your guard down on other days when it’s less valuable. You have a lot of customers forming a first-time impression, and you want to leave a good one.”