1037 Unger Lane Rte. 100
Boyertown, Pa. 19512
The common phrase “think outside the box” is a basis for Martin MotorSports’ continuous growth. The dealership formed its own service program, hosts hundreds of events annually and has a state-of-the art facility that includes a waiting room with wireless Internet access, TV, couches and coffee. This creativity continues to attract new consumers and keep long-term customers returning. Owner Dennis Martin had been working mostly as a sales manager in the industry for 17 years before he went into business for himself. He and a partner bought an existing dealership that had Yamaha and Suzuki franchises in 1996. “We bought that dealership and immediately started working on a new facility, which ended up taking us two years before we were able to move. We were there for 10 years,” Martin said. “Last year, we moved into another new facility and that’s where we are now. We needed more room. We went from a 2,000-square-foot building to a 12,000-square-foot building to a 24,000-square-foot building.” Martin MotorSports still carries Yamaha and Suzuki, but they added Triumph and are looking for another line.
OEMs not adapting to the changing market is a cause for concern for Martin. “They’re not bringing us the bikes we need; the bikes the customers are asking for,” he said. What Martin’s customers are asking for are small, entry-level, efficient bikes. “With the economy the way it is, these $15,000-$20,000 chrome cruisers aren’t cutting it,” he noted. “I believe that era, unfortunately, is coming to an end.”
During the week the Dow had the biggest one-day point drop in history, Martin says sales were non-existent. “The last couple weeks have been horrible. Nothing is selling,” he said. “The only possible bright spot in the last 30-60 days is used. Earlier this season, it was small bikes, anything small, anything efficient.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The trend for this year’s season, Martin says is toward the smaller bike, but it’s not because of gas prices, which many dealers are saying. “There are a lot of new riders, so they’re looking for small, efficient motorcycles,” he noted.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Coming from a sales manager background, it’s ironic Martin puts such a strong emphasis on service. “We give service a pretty high priority in our dealership” he said. “What I’ve learned is service is the low hanging fruit in this business.” Martin MotorSports has five mechanics who are busy 10 months of the year. A large amount of that business can be credited to the “fast-lane” program the dealership created. “It’s basically a ‘while-you-wait’ service function, but we expanded it beyond just inspections,” Martin said. “We do pretty much any service that can be done in an hour, from initial services to oil changes to tire changes. You walk in the door, we’ll get you taken care of.” For the people who have to wait, Martin says they created an exceptionally nice waiting area with wireless Internet. The program has been in place for two years. Initially, the dealership only did the fast-lane program on Saturdays, but because it was first-come, first-serve, the mechanics would have 30 bikes lined up outside before they even arrived. To curb some of the back up, this year the dealership is doing the fast-lane program every day. “Saturdays are still the busiest. But now it’s more like 10-15 on a Saturday, and it’s spread out throughout the week,” he said. “(Before the program) we went from scheduling a week or two out to as many as 4-5 weeks out when the (riding) season hit because we were scheduling everything. From March when we started doing this to current, we are scheduling exactly a week out. It’s amazing how consistent it is. I never would have expected that. The urgency people are being taken care of. The other folks we can schedule. They’re more flexible on scheduling for the larger services.” Martin added the response has been “very positive. As more people learn about it and more people get in the habit of coming here, it’s going to continue to grow our service department.” The success the service department hasn’t been shared in the parts department. “We’ve seen sales fall off over the past couple years,” Martin said, adding even though he doesn’t have any data to back it up, he believes the downturn is due to online sales. “If you can’t beat them, join them. We’ve been very aggressive with new units sales online. We’ve sold probably a couple hundred motorcycles online to this point. We’re real good at that, but I haven’t gone after parts and accessories until now.” The dealership is just beginning to discover the best way to approach parts sales online. “That’s how we’re going to stem that, go after OEM hard parts and accessories,” he said.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Events are the center of attention at Martin MotorSports; so much that they’re the main reason the dealership was moved to its new facility. “We didn’t have any room to do it at the old facility,” Martin said. “Here we have a big parking lot, and there are even bigger parking lots around us.” The dealership hosts hundreds of gatherings and rides that attract thousands of guests every year. “One of our biggest events is the Triumph demo event where we bring the Triumph truck in,” Martin noted. “We have 250-275 rides (with Triumph) over weekends, so that’s been very successful. We do similar events with Suzuki and Yamaha.” Other events the dealership has hosted is a benefit cruise in conjunction with Wal-Mart and a number of Hot Winter Night Series with Yamaha. “Without moving a bike or doing anything, we can have a band or DJ,” Martin said. “There’s a kitchen attached to it, so it makes it real easy to do these kinds of events. We bought an existing warehouse that was just a big box, but we designed it knowing that’s what we wanted to do (host events).”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Don’t get caught up in running your business on new unit sales,” Martin said. “Look at the whole business. Used and service (departments) are great profit opportunities that I don’t think many dealers pay enough attention to.”
— Karin Gelschus
Copyright 2008 Powersports Business