Garden State BMW
1501 Route 46 West
Ledgewood, N.J., 07852
8,250-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 2002; Mack bought it in 2003. Exclusively BMW. Eight full-time and four part-time employees.
“One thing that really does worry me is the increasing risk of high liability judgments and the general litigiousness of the American society,” says Mack, a former lawyer. “My insurance costs are already extremely high. It’s very difficult in New Jersey to get garage liability insurance anyway — only a couple of companies write policies here. My concern is that this industry could get severely hurt by one or two big judgments, particularly class-action, against manufacturers, dealers, or other participants with regard to product liability or failure to warn.”
Growing at Garden State: the new R 1200 GS dual-sport and the new K 1200 LT luxury tourer. “A number of 2004 BMW models are going out of the line,” says Mack. “Those have been selling well, but at run-out pricing.” Soon to be discontinued are the K 1200 RS sportbike, the K 1200 GT sport-tourer, and all of the R 1200 C cruiser models.
“But there is a lot of anticipation for the new 2005 models,” adds Mack. These include the K 1200 S, the R 1100 S Replika, the F 650 CS, the F 650 GS, and the F 650 GS Dakar. The dealership does well with BMW accessories, “but we also do well with Olympia leathers and Arai and Schuberth helmets.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Our dealership has the typical BMW demographic in some ways, but most of our customers have owned one or more bikes in the past,” says Mack.
“An increasing number of people come in to look at the F 650 GS for their first bike. These are professional, relatively high-income individuals; our average is $110,000 per household annually. Typically they are male and in the 30-to-50 age range.”
The biggest trend that Mack has spotted is Internet competition. “We try to emphasize the value of our local dealership with fully staffed service and parts departments, and our desire to support our customers directly and to know them well. We really to try to create a local community that supports itself through mutual value generation.
The Internet also plays into what Mack calls “a focus on value for money. There is competition in pricing for BMW motorcycles and it has created some difficulties for us. These remote dealers who will deliver anywhere — that’s not really the way that BMW wants to do this.”
“There’s a lot of concern about off-roading, whether two-wheel or four-wheel,” notes Mack. “It’s very hard to ride off-road in this part of New Jersey anymore, because most landowners have posted and closed off their property. They’re concerned about liability. It doesn’t affect us as BMW dealers quite so much because most of our bikes are ridden on-road.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Garden State BMW generally has three service technicians and a service manager/writer”
When customers buy a motorcycle at Garden State,Mack gives them a one-hour orientation in addition to spending time with them completing the paperwork. The customer also gets a tour of the dealership and they are introduced to the parts and service people.
“They get the idea that there’s a team working with them now to make their ownership experience the best it can be,” he says.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
The dealership supports three clubs: the Riding Divas (a non-brand-specific group that’s part of Women in the Wind), Skylands BMW Riders, and the BMW Motorcycle Club of North Jersey.
Garden State holds two open houses per year — typically spring and fall, and once a month the dealership holds dealer rides, from March to November.
Most importantly, Mack and his staff try to create a destination store. “There’s a lounge and the coffee is always on. We hope people will hang around to meet with each other and talk with us. Our full-time customer liaison, Spencer Willard, is a member of one of the clubs and very good one-on-one. He follows up with customers about repairs and purchases to make sure they’re happy.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“As a dealer body, BMW had a tough year in 2004,” notes Mack. “But with the introduction of new models and improved consumer confidence, we should have a really good 2005. Keep promoting the brand and keep your chin up. Let’s focus on winning, not complain about what we think we’ve lost. BMW motorcycles are the best in the world — that’s why I got into this brand. An unprecedented number of models came to their production end cycle in 2004, so the line got tired.
“2005 presents a great opportunity to be a BMW dealer and focus on growth. These new motorcycles will appeal to the classic demographic, and they will attract new riders and ‘conquest sales’ from other brands. Be positive and sell.”
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