Davis’ Harley-Davidson – Burlington, NC – Nov. 17, 2003
May 6, 2004
Filed under Power Profiles
2215 Hanford Road
Burlington, NC 27215
Randy and Sandi Davis
32,500-sq.-ft. dealership that the Davises bought in 1997; founded in the late 1930s (one of the oldest Harley-Davidson shops in the USA). At current location since February 2003. Carries Harley-Davidson. Also considering opening an SRL in the Danville, N.C., area, 35 minutes away. “We’re concentrating on making sure that this dealership is running at 100% before we do that,” notes General Manager Paul Oxton. 25 employees.
Oxton’s main fear is if the motorcycle industry
were to become more like the car business. “The auto dealers are so competitive with each other, and I feel that cheapens the product. Harley-Davidson dealerships have never had to negotiate price with the customer.
“Some dealerships mark up the bikes from MSRP — sometimes $2,000 to $3,000 — then negotiate. Davis is an MSRP dealer. We don’t mark up motorcycles, but we hold them at that price. Selling at MSRP keeps the value up for used-Harley-Davidsons. The motorcycles are worth what they are priced at.”
The sales scorchers at Davis include the Softail and Road King models. Oxton and his customers are excited about the 2004 Sportster. “It was introduced in 1957, and this is the first change in 18 years,” he says. “Harley-Davidson has gone to a rubber-mounted engine and has completely redesigned the Sportster.”
Also impressive, says Oxton, is the new Road King Custom. Davis had a “really amazing” 100th anniversary year, and is looking forward to 2004 — since historically, the year after an anniversary is a record-setter.
As for accessories, a lot of people are dressing up their bikes with extra chrome. “On average, a customer here spends $1,500 per motorcycle on accessories at time of sale. The rest of the year they come back, spending more and more. We have a huge MotorClothes department, which accounts for a large part of our business. Not just riding gear: we carry all the latest styles, everything from T-shirts to dresses to shoes, boots, belts, and jewelry. These MotorClothes buyers may not own a Harley-Davidson.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Oxton estimates that the typical customer is 35 to 55 years of age. “It’s a very family-oriented sport. We see a lot of husband-and-wife teams; it’s not just the single person’s sport anymore.
“We have a lot of women riders, and we try to always treat our customers exactly the same. Our employees give women the respect they deserve. We make sure that they can find a bike that fits them and that’s right for them, just like we would for any man.
“If a woman asks me, ‘Do I need to have that bike?’ and it’s the smallest one Harley makes, I say, ‘Which bike do you like? That’s the bike for you.’ We’re capable of lowering the motorcycle. And we are planning a day purely dedicated to women. They can speak to other women who ride without feeling intimidated.”
Oxton says his customers, regardless of gender, are buying more accessories than ever, and taking advantage of the competitive financing capabilities, Harley-Davidson’s extended service contract, and gap protection, which covers the difference between book value and what is owed in case a motorcycle is totaled. “It’s minimal-cost insurance,” says Oxton. “We try to offer the best of everything.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Davis’ parts department consists of a parts manager and three parts salespeople. There’s a pass-through at the back of the parts counter that customers don’t see. “The service technicians just ring a bell and one of the parts salespeople takes care of what they need,” says Oxton.
“In the service department we have a service manager, two service writers, six technicians, and two motorcycle detailers. We clean every bike that comes in for servicing.”
Since moving into the new facility less than a year ago, “everything” has changed in parts and service. “We now have a dedicated service bay for the V-Rod model,” notes Oxton. “The V-Rod has a completely different engine and it’s predominantly metric, so there are different tools.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Let your customers experience the difference when it comes to customer service,” advises Oxton. Now that the dealership is on a major highway, Oxton and his staff are seeing a lot of out-of-state customers. “We don’t get enough motorcycles to be able to sell them out of state. These are mainly MotorClothes and accessories customers. We really rely on local repeat business. Our CSI score has contributed to that personal loyalty.”
Every year since 1998, Davis has received the Motor Company’s Bar and Shield Award — one bronze, two silver, and two gold (awarded to the top 25 U.S. dealers), and is on track for the big prize again this year.
“I have the same philosophy as Walt Disney, who said, ‘If we get people into Walt Disney World and they feel good, they’ll return.’ You don’t have to sell anybody on anything. You help them buy what they want.”