TWIN CITY BMW MOTORCYCLES
1615 North Dunlap Avenue
Savoy, IL 61874
The Shirley family founded its automotive dealership in 1950, and built the next-door BMW motorcycle franchise in 1997. Located in Savoy, a small village just south of the Illinois twin cities of Champaign-Urbana. Exclusively BMW. Eight employees.
“My greatest concern is profitability,” says Charlie Lange, general manager. “A few dealers discount pretty heavily and advertise on the Internet, and that cheapens our whole product line. I don’t know if they actually get that price or there are hidden fees. The Internet is good because people can do research. Customers say they’ve looked the bike over on-line and know what they want.
“By the same token, the Internet can be harmful. There are retail prices that are cheaper than my wholesale. We’re a small store but try to exceed customer satisfaction and still like to make a bit of profit to keep the doors open. In the last six months I’ve heard of many dealers going out of business — like Indianapolis BMW and South Bend. We’re pretty lean on overhead, but we try to take good care of our customers, too.”
The R 1200 GS dual-sport, the K 1200 LT luxury tourer, and the R 1200 CL luxury cruiser — “we sold two of those last month,” notes Lange.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Our customers include graduate students, professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists), people who work for the city, and truck drivers,” says Lange. “We touch all walks of life. Some people come from 300 miles away to purchase a bike here.
Champaign-Urbana is home to the University of Illinois, “so there are scooters, motorcycles, and all kinds of two-wheeled vehicles as basic transportation in this college town,” says Lange. “There’s a very strong Motorcycle Safety Foundation program here, too.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Twin City BMW has a full-time parts salesperson, two certified BMW technicians, and a part-time technician (a college student who is soon to be certified). “Our parts guy can fill in for service,” says Lange. “We’re a small team but we work together to get the job done.” The dealership is outfitted with BMW’s corporate identity package. “Our showroom has BMW’s kiosk, and all the clothing is displayed the way BMW wants it.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Twin City BMW has a Web site, holds open houses, sends e-mails to five local clubs, and advertises in the small local paper. “The main newspaper publishes a visitor’s guide focused on the students, and we advertise in that,” says Lange. “Also, we donate items to the clubs for their Christmas parties and whatnot.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“You need to exceed the customer’s expectations, because word-of-mouth is probably your best advertising,” says Lange. “Take good care of the customer and it will pay you back. It’s old-school, but it’s a fact. Keep everybody happy and you’ll be around a long time.”
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