32421 Calle Perfecto
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Bill Taylor and Ray Malzo
The 20,000-sq.-ft. store began as a satellite retail location (SRL) to Orange County Harley-Davidson in 2001, but became a full dealership after one year and has its own allocation directly from Harley-Davidson. Recently finished an expansion that permits showing more motorcycles, MotorClothes, accessories/collectibles, and parts on the floor. The expansion’s antique bronze floor and vintage Harley-Davidson murals fit in with San Juan Capistrano, an old Spanish mission town in Southern California. Carries Harley-Davidson only; no longer a Buell dealership. 17 employees.
“The demand has always been phenomenal for these motorcycles,” notes general manager Al Hilberger. “Like everybody else, we hope there’s no downturn in sales. We don’t see any reason why there would be, but like any company, we always look at trends and watch overall sales. Typically Winter is a slower season, but Christmas is pretty strong.”
Catching fire at Capistrano: Harley-Davidson’s two new 2005 models, the Softail Deluxe and the Springer Classic. “The Fat Boy has been the number-one seller for Harley-Davidson since it came out in 1990, so we sell a lot,” says Hilberger. “There are four Harley model families, and depending on the type of riding our customers do and what their torso size is, we fit the person to the bike. There’s a bike pretty much for everybody.” Top-selling accessories include exhaust systems and chrome bolt-ons. “Our accessory catalog is an inch-and-a-quarter thick, with parts and accessories for all the models.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Hilberger says that the average Capistrano H-D customer is 38 to 40 years of age, with an income of perhaps $50,000 and above. “This product is so popular. Everybody seems to want at least one in their lifetime, so typically our sales stay strong year ‘round. Our salespeople work with customers all the time who want to accessorize before they take the bike home. We get involved early because if an accessory is not in stock, it may take two to six weeks to receive.” Hilberger says that fewer customers seem to be financing through the dealership. “Many people have home-equity lines of credit with low interest.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Capistrano Harley-Davidson has three service technicians, two service writers, and a service manager. “All of them are certified,” says Hilberger. “Harley-Davidson has ongoing educational programs that we send them to in Winter so they stay certified and current with the latest trends information.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
The dealership sponsors San Juan Capistrano’s Chili Cookoff. “We’re not involved with the Chamber of Commerce or anything like that because we’re so busy and our time is limited,” says Hilberger. “We support our other store’s Harley Owner’s Group, which has 500 members. It’s a great group of people, very active, and they host a lot of rides. We may start a South Orange County chapter out of this store.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
Hilberger believes a lot of dealers are “old-school Harley guys,” but that it’s important to “stay up to date with the current trends. People expect that. Greet the people and be friendly and professional. A lot of Harley-Davidson customers are professionals, so professionalism is number one. Customers who’ve been elsewhere say, ‘Gee, you guys are so friendly'."