ROUTE 15 POWERSPORTS
25 Weldon Road
Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849
Kurzweil bought the former Slager Cycles (founded in the mid-1950s) in 1999 and moved to the present 14,000-sq.-ft. location in northwestern New Jersey, 40 miles from New York City (near Pennsylvania). Carries Honda (except watercraft) and Yamaha (except scooters and snowmobiles). Largest-selling segment is ATV, followed by cruiser motorcycle. The dealership is on Honda’s Council of Excellence and has received four HondaCare plaques for its warranty work. Sells 700 units annually. 17 employees.
“My greatest concern is the general public perception of motorcycle riders,” says Rian Rooney, sales manager, who has been with the dealership for four years. “This is a big commuter area, and a lot of automobile drivers don’t understand or look out for motorcyclists, making it a very dangerous area to ride in. Just normal awareness would be key in this state.”
Riding away from Route 15: the new Yamaha R6 sportbike, the Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic cruiser, the Honda Rincon ATV, and the Yamaha Grizzly ATV. Best-selling accessories include exhaust pipes and dress-up items for cruisers-backrests, saddlebags, and chrome. “We also do a significant amount of Gold Wing accessorizing,” notes Rooney.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Rooney says the typical customer is an 18-to-45 -year-old male. “We’ve come a long way with buyers customizing their sportbikes and cruisers with aftermarket accessories,” he adds.
“We have a very hard time getting legal off-road riding areas in this state,” says Rooney. “The state is very strict, and in the last couple of years has really been cracking down and fining off-road riders. There are a lot of people in this area, but the state hasn’t designated much land. We’re no longer allowed to ride where people have traditionally done so for 20 or 30 years.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Route 15 has three cross-trained certified technicians, one service manager, and one service writer. “We also have a gentleman devoted to bike-building,” says Rooney. The dealership recently began opening earlier (8:30 a.m., Tuesday through Friday) so customers can drop off vehicles for service. The dealership performs safety inspections for its customers. “We’ve also added a box truck for pickup and delivery service,” he adds. “In the parts department we have two co-managers, two counterpeople, and one shipping and receiving clerk. We do some business on eBay and have the parts inventory on our Web site so we can take orders right from it.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We support off-road organizations to try to get riding land in New Jersey, and we’ve put together a lot of charity rides for organizations like Make-a-Wish to get motorcycling’s good name out there,” says Rooney. “We usually hold an open house annually and do promotions with the New Jersey Cardinals minor-league baseball team. Backroads Magazine is a very popular publication in this area devoted to motorcycles, and we advertise consistently in that. To promote watercraft we’ve participated in the Lake Hopatcong boat races.” The dealership also sends out two newsletters per year (springtime and Christmastime) and $25 parts department certificates for Thanksgiving. The local chapter of the Honda Rider’s Club meets at Route 15. And the dealership sponsors in-house competitors like salesperson/professional road racer Paul Harris (who’s piloting a 2004 CBR 600RR this year) and several who race off-road.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Become as personally involved in this business as possible,” says Rooney. “That’s key because it really helps you to know your customers and enables you to put yourself in their shoes. Those are the things I live by.”
— Julie Filatoff
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