7 Kellogg Road
Essex Junction, Vt. 05452
Land Air has a unique bond between its owner and employees. Jared Fuller, salesman for Land Air in northern Vermont, says Don Erling is a hands-on owner and his employees take pride in working for him. “A lot of the employees are here because of the owner,” Fuller said. “He’s willing to do the dirty jobs right there with his employees. He’s an owner who’s going to take out the garbage when it needs to be taken out.” Land Air has been in operation for 30 years, but there was an ownership change eight years ago. Along with that change came a new, larger facility and successful years to come. Fuller notes it’s the largest dealership in Vermont. It carries Honda; Suzuki; BRP, including the Spyder; KTM for dirt and street; and KYMCO.
Like many businesses across the country, the economy as a whole is a concern for Fuller. On the bright side, Fuller says Land Air’s product lines will help it stay successful. “We carry year-round toys, where as some dealerships carry products for only the summer or winter,” he said. “They’re really going to be feeling the hit and maybe even going out of business.”
Two years ago, Land Air picked up KYMCO scooters because of the slim scooter range Honda and Suzuki offered. The decision has paid off being that 250cc scooters have been selling so much the dealership can’t keep them in stock. “The biggest seller for KYMCO has been the Agility 125,” Fuller said. “The biggest reasons are because it can get 55 mph, 75 mpg for $1,999. It’s a real good price point, and it gets you just enough to the safer speed, where as a lot of the smaller ones are dangerous in traffic since you can’t get over 30 mph.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
It seems like there are more beginner riders entering the motorcycle industry, a lot more females, Fuller says. “People who have always wanted a motorcycle now have a good excuse because of the gas prices being so high,” Fuller said. “People are getting the OK from their significant others since they’re going to be saving money.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Land Air makes its local customers a priority, making sure they’re taken care of in the service department. “If there’s someone who bought a unit from us and they need a quick fix because they have a race on the weekend or something, we definitely try to take care of them, the people who bought units from us above and beyond the people who didn’t,” Fuller said. Land Air is known for servicing a variety of model years. Fuller notes the dealership’s technicians are experienced and take care of a lot of older models. “It’s just a matter of having someone in the shop who has the experience to do it,” he said. “Where as someone fresh out of school only knows how to do the new stuff vs. some of the older machines.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Land Air does several annual events to get its name out there. Bi-annually the dealership hosts a customer appreciation day, which has had good turnouts. “We have a store-wide sale, and we have a lot of out-sourced vendors come in,” said Fuller. He added they have things like BBQs, prizes, demo rides and even a portable dyno test machine. “We always try to do some kind of demo rides. This year we did the Can-Am Spyder,” he said. The dealership also does an annual bike rally ride. This year they put on a Memorial Ride and Poker Crawl, and all the proceeds went to the Vermont Children’s Hospital.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Really listen to what the customer wants and then help them find that niche in something they can afford,” Fuller said. “I hear a lot of other dealers going right into their sales pitch and not listening to what the customer is looking for. If you listen to the customer thoroughly and help them locate what they’re looking for, it will make them a long-term customer. It’s a matter of getting to know your customer, finding what their wants and needs are and helping them find something within their budget.”
— Karin Gelschus
Land Air – Essex Junction, VT – Sept. 1, 2008