1930 East 13th Street
Ames, IA 50010
Robert and Tommy Zylstra
20,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1994. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. Also dealerships in Elgin, Ill., and Elk River, Minn. 40 employees.
“With all the new people coming into riding, we put a lot of emphasis on our Rider’s Edge program,” says Greg Matter, general manager. “It’s important that they get training and know what they’re dealing with. They can’t just pick up a bike and go ride. It’s not as easy as that. And we don’t like to see people have problems.”
Zylstra’s biggest sellers include the Fat Boy and Electra Glide models. “CVOs (Custom Vehicle Operations) motorcycles do pretty well here, too. The Buells have been a tough sell, but the new XP12 is exciting and a lot of fun. It has a little more power and handles exceptionally well.”
Is Matter excited about the 2004 model year? “Yes. With its rubber-mounted motor and big rear tire, the new Sportster is quite an improvement over the previous model. And the Road King Custom looks like it will be pretty popular.” Zylstra is also known for its performance work and accessorization.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
When it comes to customer types, “We really run the gamut here,” says Matter. “We do a lot of used business, so we see a wide variety of customers, as far as demographics and socioeconomics.”
Zylstra alsohas a Chrome Consultant, which helps accessory sales. “People like to get advice on accessorization and performance work. They want to sit down and discuss how they want their bike to look, instead of hodgepodging things together. More people say, ‘I’ve wanted to do this all my life, and I’m just going to do it now.’ Although we still have the occasional guy who gets turned down by his wife! We’ve really noticed an increase in women riding — they want to join the experience.” The Ames HOG Chapter meets at Zylstra.
PARTS AND SERVICE
The Zylstra staff includes a service manager, a service writer, five techs, and two support folks “who work in the wash bay, because all bikes are washed before they are returned to customers. We have a parts manager, a receiving clerk, a warranty manager, a chrome consultant, and two devoted to working at the parts counter.
“We continually evolve to meet customers’ expectations. For example, they like to spend more time at the parts counter, getting advice and running ideas past the guys.”
According to Zylstra’s Web site, “Every technician has been factory trained, and will continue to undergo training, to ensure quality on every job. We even have a dyno in our service department to analyze and ensure that all the proper adjustments have been completed.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“If you don’t take care of your customer, somebody else will,” says Matter. An example of Zylstra’s exemplary customer service: “Last weekend, a man called 15 minutes before we closed. Our service guys hopped in the truck, picked up him and his bike, stayed an hour-and-a-half after closing, and got him back on his way.” The Zylstra bulletin board is filled with letters from grateful customers like this one.