100 Auto Center Drive
Vacaville, CA 95687
Founded initially as a multi-line (Bultaco, etc.) dealership, Vacaville became a Harley-Davidson franchise in 1969. In the present 30,000-sq.-ft. dealership since mid-2002, about 45 minutes south of Sacramento on Highway 80 in an auto center. Exclusively Harley-Davidson. 40 employees.
“My greatest concern would be if the state of California passed some weird law, which they try to do every year,” says Chad Avilla, son of the owner and the general manager.
The best-selling motorcycles at Vacaville H-D are the Road King and the Road Glide. Genuine Harley-Davidson accessories fly out the door, especially Screamin’ Eagle performance parts. The dealership has a large, well-stocked MotorClothes department.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Avilla says that the typical Vacaville customer is in his 40s and has an income of $40,000 to $80,000. One trend that Avilla has spotted: More people are purchasing touring bikes. “They realize that they can buy touring motorcycles for the same price as the other bikes, and it’s a nicer, more comfortable ride. Plus, touring models like the Road King have hard saddlebags, and the larger models have storage trunks.”
Avilla reports that the Vacaville area is not experiencing any anti-motorcycle issues.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Vacaville H-D’s service department includes a manager, an assistant manager, four service writers, and eight technicians, all with certification from the Motor Company. There are five employees in parts plus three in MotorClothes. Any changes since moving to the new dealership 18 months ago? “Not really,” says Avilla. “Just that we can stock more inventory and offer more products.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Vacaville advertises in the local general newspaper, Thunder Press, and via direct mail to its own database. “We have an event called Hotrods ‘n’ Harleys every June,” says Avilla, “that includes custom bikes, custom cars, a beer truck, a barbecue, and a live band. This year we had about 1,000 attendees.” Customer Appreciation Night, held in early December each year from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., includes a 15% off sale, catered hors d’oeuvres, and champagne. “Everything’s free — we just want people to come hang out,” says Avilla. The dealership also lends support to the Napa Solano HOG Chapter, which meets at the Rockville Inn, a restaurant in nearby Fairfield.
WORDS OF ADVICE
Avilla says, “‘Delegate responsibility’ is the best piece of advice I have. Hire people whom you can trust, then let go. I want employees who get things done, and don’t ask me the same question every day.”