SMOKY MOUNTAIN HARLEY-DAVIDSON
Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson
1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN 37801
Scott and Monet Maddux
Founded in September 2004, Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson knows the value of customer service. The 47,000 square foot dealership focuses on making its customers happy. As a result, customers love to spend time at the dealership whether it be to hang out in the lounge or visit the 12,000 square foot covered amphitheater, which hosts a concert series every summer. Showroom makes up nearly 70 percent of the entire dealership. Just off US Highway 129 in East Tennessee, the area is a hotbed for motorcyclists. Several well known riding areas are within an hour of the dealership, including: the Cherohala Skyway, Deal's Gap/Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway and Smoky Mountain National Park. “There's just a confluence of a lot of riding that comes through this area,” says Clint La Follette, director of marketing. The store has the main store in Maryville and a satellite store in Gatlinburg, TN. The store employs 45-50 full time employees.
“Overall, we're not seeing any issues that are a threat,” says La Follette. “Overall in the powersports industry there is not anything slowing it down, and there is a lot of potential growth.” Because of the short history of the dealership, La Follette expressed some concern over the number of people who still don't know they exist.
“The traditional Harleys are always the hot sellers, the dressers,” says La Follette. “But we've really had great success with all models.” For parts, La Follette says that “We've been doing a lot of customized Harleys, and those have done extremely well. A lot of the chrome packages are going off, but we have several experts in the customization process and we work with the individual client on an individual basis on customizing each one to their specific preferences.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“The word “typical” is not typical,” says La Follette. “We've got a whole range of cyclists. We've got one gentleman; he's our senior ambassador. I'll say he's in his 70s and he's ridden since he was a young man. We've got photos of him on his first Harley as a teenager. We also have newcomers to bikes, a range of individuals who have ridden when they were younger and have come back to bikes in their mid 40s. It cuts across all socio-economic boundaries. We're seeing a high increase in females purchasing bikes for themselves. We have rider education courses here and it's probably 80% female.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“You can't operate a dealership well without a good service department,” says La Follette. “It's a part of the ongoing customer satisfaction. From sales to parts to service, they work all hand in glove. We have a big push on the cultural aspect of that seamless working together. A lot of companies talk about it, but this is a prime focus for us. As a matter of fact, it's a mandated guideline within our organization. Each of these departments works together to address each customer on an individual basis. The way that the parts department works with the service department has been key to the success of the add-on materials.” On the custom side, there is a lead person who works on getting projects rolling, and three additional people working on projects. For service, there is a service manager, associate service manager, two service writers and 13 techs, seven of which have completed Harley's PHD training. There are anywhere from six to seven people working in the parts department, depending on the season.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We do a lot of grassroots advertising,” says La Follette. “Most of our advertising is tied to events that we do, and we typically put on a major event every month. A major event would be something that lasts three days, and they are not sales. These are concerts, bike shows, tire burn-outs, things that are entertaining. Of course, we're very lucky with our concert pavilion.” Smoky Mountain does local print and radio, a direct mail and e-mail newsletter and some national advertising for seasonal events. “We also mobilize our entire staff to attend various bike nights in the area and hand out flyers.
“We've carved out a unique dealership presence here,” says La Follette. “We are very community based and we do a lot of community activities here. Every Saturday night there is a concert that we provide to the motorcycling community and it's open to anyone else that wants to show up. We'll typically have 700-1000 people plus at those concerts. We have a strong HOG chapter with 600 plus membership. It creates a family home environment. I don't know of a lot of places where someone goes into a dealership and sits down and spends the afternoon, but it's that type of environment. We also participate in all of the major Harley promos, such as 'Roast and Roll' and 'Chromecoming'.
“One of the big promos that we did was called 'The All-American Weekend' that had specific music that was very American,” says La Follette. “Along with that we had an apple pie contest, a children's watermelon eating contest, basically we tried to create something that had an 'all American' feel. That was over the 4th of July weekend. It was phenomenally attended, we had well over 1,200 people.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“It sounds ridiculously simple, but it's one of the hardest things to achieve, and that is be nice,” says La Follette. “Don't cop an attitude that turns away a customer. Don't over promise. Try to exceed expectations.”