BIG TWIN CYCLE CENTER
Big Twin Cycle Center
2816 S. Orchard St.
Boise, Idaho 83705
Fred Wiley and Henry Louie
The dealership, which has been around for decades, has built a business that excels in differentiating itself from its competitors, especially in its parts and service departments. The dealership dates back to 1978, then known as BMW Cycle Center. A year later the owner, Fred Wiley, decided that being an independent BMW and Harley-Davidson aftermarket and repair facility made more sense, says Carl Bookholdt, manager. Through the years, the dealership dropped BMW and later re-established the line. After that, Ducati was added. In the mid-’90s, Henry Louie joined Wiley in the dealership management. He had left a dealership in California and took over responsibilities as Big Twin Cycle Center’s dealer principal. A year later, Triumph was added. With its product lines and strong staff, Big Twin Cycles is looking forward to the end of the challenging economic times and expanding its facility.
“Who isn’t concerned about the economy?” asked Bookholdt. “I know that with 10 percent unemployment, there are still 90 percent employed. But getting that 90 percent confident enough to start spending money is the challenge. In our market, some of the people who lost jobs are working again, but at lower wages. Our housing market has not yet rebounded. I think a lot of people are looking at their overall financial portfolios and feeling a lot less wealthy than they did a few years ago. Having said that, we’re not going to be in this state of recession forever. We also must figure out how to get the attention of the consumers as they move back into the market. Some of us geezers who are running these dealerships grew up in an era when all phones were connected to the wall. Embracing the new trends in communication is not as much the issue as being aware of them and the psychology that is driving consumer preferences in communication choices.”
Some parts and accessories are doing really well for the dealership, says Bookholdt. “We consistently do a good business in tires, apparel and helmets, but most recently we have seen a lot of interest in the Scala Rider intercom systems,” he said.
Customer buying trends
“The recession ran us into the same ditch most other dealers found themselves in a couple of years ago,” said Bookholdt. “The only trend that has been clear is that people are spending less.” Big Twin Cycle Center has been a strong Adventure bike store for awhile. A large reason for that is Idaho has a ton of opportunities for dual sport and adventure riders and the dealership supports that business segment, says Bookholdt. “We are still searching for enough traction to get back on the trail,” he said. “The distribution of our business vis-a-vis market segments has remained steady, just smaller.”
Parts and service
The dealership thrives on setting itself from other dealerships. While its five technicians play close attention to productivity, efficiency and proficiency, their main focus is on fixing a unit right the first time, says Bookholdt. “With the level of technology in many of the products we sell, diagnostics requires time,” he said. “We are comfortable allowing the techs the time needed to do a proper diagnosis and repair.” Another way in which the dealership sets itself apart is in respect to the older bikes. “We have a great tech who specializes in the classics,” said Bookholdt. “We do anything from basic services to complete frame-off restorations and customization of the older BMWs.” The dealership’s customer service extends to its parts department. Due to the recession, the dealership restructured the department. “It became obvious we had gotten sloppy during the good times, and it was costing us in terms of expensive mistakes, the types of issues that tend to be less obvious when things are going well.” After the realization of the problems, the staff undertook a project of re-engineering the parts department from the ground up. “This meant creating a plan of action, putting personnel in place who understood the overall vision and had the desire and skill set to accomplish our goals. Then eating the elephant one bite at a time,” said Bookholdt. “Although we’ve experienced a touch of indigestion from time to time, we’ve gotten through the main course of pachyderm ala carte. The makeover has turned out well with our gained efficiencies and reliable systems.” With the makeover, the staff has fewer things falling through the cracks and has gained some profitability from greater efficiency. “Now that we have systems that support good inventory control,” said Bookholdt, “we are willing to look at adding to our product lines to broaden our offerings with products that should increase sales.”
Promotional home runs
One of the best ventures the dealership has done to gain awareness and increasing floor traffic is having a tent at the Idaho state fair. “We are in a market of about 500,000 consumers and over 250,000 of them attend the fair,” said Bookholdt. “Our tent is on the main drag close to the main entrance, so we get a steady stream of traffic.” The fair is open for 13 hours for nine days, so the staff has ample opportunity to talk to a lot of consumers. Talking is as far is it goes because the dealership has an agreement with the fair that they won’t retail from the tent. “This creates a very unintimidating atmosphere at the display,” said Bookholdt. “We always get people to visit the store for test rides and to look at other new and used bikes. The cool thing about it is many of these people are new to our business. I prefer promotions that happen at the dealership, but space constraints at our store sometimes force us to rely on outreach to get the exposure we want.” PSB