10725 Courthouse Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22047
14,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1998. Carries Suzuki and Kawasaki motorcycles and ATVs, and Polaris ATVs. Largest-selling segment is motorcycle. Nine employees.
“Insurance for streetbikes is enormously high in Virginia,” says Ric Leary, general manager. “A 19-year-old who want to buy a 600cc sportbike is probably looking at $3,000 annually. Jump up to a 1000cc, and you could be talking $5,000 to $6,000. It’s absurd. Another concern is that we lack a lot riding areas for dirtbikes and ATVs. There is one public riding area 45 minutes away, and another an hour away in Maryland, but those aren’t close.”
Leary calls Extreme “a big sportbike dealer,” and the top sellers are the Suzuki GSXR 1000cc, 750cc, and 600cc, plus the Kawasaki ZX 12. “The Suzuki Hayabusa was the number-one selling motorcycle in the store this Summer. It’s the most expensive — yet we sold more of that model than anything. There are a lot of drag-racing tracks nearby. In ATVs, we sell more Polaris than Kawasaki or Suzuki.” The standout Polaris is the Sportsman.
“Parts and accessories had the biggest increase in the store this year, growing by 26% in retail sales. We sell a lot of helmets, Joe Rocket jackets, and tires, and our dirtbike and ATV accessory sales have increased substantially this year, especially clothing, boots, and gloves.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“I’ve been in this industry for 25 years,” notes Leary. “It’s not like the old days when your average customer was a 21-year-old male. That age has increased dramatically, I think due to the price of the bikes and the fact that the majority of the population is now Baby Boomers.
“We have 50-year-olds and 20-year-olds buying Hayabusas. I’m almost 60 and I drag race a Hayabusa.”
Still, Leary believes the biggest changes are in the vehicles themselves, “the technology — fuel-injected and liquid-cooled, with a 1000cc weighing 100 pounds less than a 750cc used to weigh. And these days the average bike costs more, so more people finance. Probably 70% of our customers do.”
“We concentrate on what we do best, selling motorcycles and ATVs, rather than lines that don’t work. A lot of dealers fight year after year, and lose money.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Extreme has a sales manager, a service manager, and a parts manager, plus two service technicians and three PG&A salespeople.
“About five months ago we added 4,000 sq. ft. of showroom to the building for ATVs and dirtbikes,” says Leary. “In our parts and accessories department we allotted more space and built a wall of glass helmet cubes which is colorful, displays twice as many helmets, and separates and defines that area.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“The more you’re involved with the sport, the more successful your dealership is going to be. I’ve raced for 30 years — dirtbike racing, then roadracing, and now drag racing — so I’m involved with the people who buy our product. If you create relationships, that brings a lot of people into the store.
“We also have a monthly ride in summer on Sundays. We pick someplace exciting, post it on our website, and our customers — and a lot of us who work here — meet at the store.”
Leary says Extreme does not use its Web site to sell new bikes. “I don’t think you can do that. This is the type of product that customers have to see, touch, and sit on. But we do a lot of our used-bike business on the Web site. People come from two to three hours away to buy a particular used bike. We buy 80 to 100 used bikes over the winter to be ready for spring.” Leary estimates that in 2003 Extreme sold 320 new bikes and 80 used, “and the used market grows every year.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“I’ve managed very big dealerships that are very professional and businesslike, which is a good thing, but they don’t create relationships with customers,” notes Leary. “One of the nice things about managing a smaller store is that we know everyone who walks in here. We know what they bought, who their wife and kids are, and we ride with them. Therefore we get a lot of referrals. First we make friends — then we make customers. Nobody really needs a motorcycle. Fortunately, there are just a lot of us who want one. Sometimes dealers don’t recognize that difference, which is huge. People buy things from people they like. Don’t be disappointed if a guy doesn’t hand you money during the first five minutes he’s in your store. Take the time to develop a relationship, and get involved with the sport.”
Extreme Powersports – Fredericksburg, VA – Jan. 19, 2004