Rocky Mountain Kawasaki
645 Frontage Road
Longmont, Colo. 80501
Roger Roberts, Marvin Rosencrans, Marshall Cook and Bob Fier
For a fairly new dealership (opened in 2002), most people would agree the four owners of Rocky Mountain Kawasaki have made it a successful one. Unlike many dealerships, co-owner Marshall Cook says business was good in 2007. “Every year we do better and better,” he said. “We’ve made Kawasaki Ichiban three out of our six years in business. You’re in the top 5-10 percent of dealers in the country when you make Ichiban. We sell over 700 units a year.” The dealership’s main sellers are ATVs and motorcycles, but it also sells PWC and Schwinn scooters. Cook notes, however, most of the business is Kawasaki. Prior to Rocky Mountain Kawasaki, Cook worked in a dealership in Boulder, Colo., for 27 years. It was bought out, but Cook says it gave him an opportunity to do something on his own. “My Kawasaki rep at the time was suggesting Longmont did not have a Kawasaki dealership,” Cook said, “and I decided to apply for a franchise over here. We leased out the building, and we said, ‘Well if we don’t get a franchise, we’re going to be a small independent shop and do service and repair and parts and accessories.’” Four months into the process, they got the call from Kawasaki. The dealership started as an 8,500-square-foot building, but added another 4,500 square feet when an adjoining carpet shop moved. They also have a 2,000-square-foot warehouse. Cook says the extra space has helped them tremendously. They made the expansion part an off-road center and moved its dirt bikes, ATVs and PWC over there. It also has allowed for additional space for parts and accessories.
Chinese imports are the center of Cook’s attention when it comes to industry concerns. However, unlike many dealerships across the country, he has some relief from the issue because of a recent law passed by Colorado. Cook says the law states in order to sell any powersports equipment, the person needs a Colorado dealers license. There are temporary licenses for out-of-state people coming in for events. Cook says he had to get a separate dealer bond and license to sell non-title and title vehicles. “The fly by night stuff is gone,” he said. “You have to have business hours. You have to have a service department. You have to back up the product you sell.”
The ATV that’s been a big hit this year is the fuel-injected Brute Force 750. The KLR 650 also is one of his best-selling models.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We are seeing a lot more people getting online,” Cook said. “They are doing their comparison shopping from their computer.” Cook notes the customers doing preliminary research have helped the dealership because of its strong Internet presence. “If someone told me three or four years ago I’d be selling used bikes out of state,” he said, “I would have said they were crazy.” Cook adds customers can look for particular years, makes, models and colors online. If one dealership doesn’t have it, another one will.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Rocky Mountain Kawasaki generates a lot of sales in its parts department. Cook says in parts and accessories in 2007, the dealership did nearly $850,000. Of that, it sold about $300,000 worth of hard parts, so the rest was all accessories. Cook says part of the reason the department does well is because co-owner Roger Roberts is the parts manager. The service department also does well for the dealership. In the summer, there are five technicians, and part owner Marvin Rosencrans is one of them. “Not many dealerships can say their owner works on the units,” Cook said.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
At least once a year Rocky Mountain Kawasaki hosts an open house, which brings in quite a few customers. The dealership also does the typical local advertising in the Yellow Pages and newspapers, but Cook says that doesn’t do nearly as much for the company as its location. “You spend so much money in the Yellow Pages and things like that,” Cook noted. “We ask people how they find us and a lot of people say they just drove by. We are on a fairly high-traffic road, so we get a lot of visibility that way.” Cook also says they do direct mail, which helps them track customer referrals. For Rocky Mountain Kawasaki’s open house, Cook says the dealership sends almost 7,000 people information.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“What I think has made us successful over the years is really focusing on customer satisfaction,” Cook said. “There’s not a dealership out there that doesn’t want more customers. You have to take good care of the customers you do have because they are the ones that keep you in business year in and year out, especially the long-term customers. The repeat customers are very important.”
— Karin Gelschus
Rocky Mountain Kawasaki – Longmont, CO – Feb. 11, 2008