Reno Cycles & Gear
3445 Kitezke Lane
Reno, NV 89502
Early in his career in the San Francisco Bay area, former car and motorcycle racer Bill Hermant opened a Bultaco dealership and later added the KTM line. Hermant then opened Reno Cycles & Gear in 1999 after relocating to Nevada in the 1990s, and he began offering the Polaris and Victory lines in 2002. Hermant acquired the Husqvarna line in 2004 and added Beta in 2009. In 2008 the dealership moved from its 7,000-square-foot location to a new facility that offers 21,000 square feet.
“I was the No. 1 Polaris dealer in the West at the time, and they said ‘You need to expand,’” Hermant said. “So we did.” And we’re still the No. 1 Polaris dealer in the West. Everyone who works here is a motorsports enthusiast. Plus we’re a family-run business. I work here, my wife [Donna] works here, my daughter [Kim] works here. I’m not an absentee owner. I’m here six and seven days a week.” Donna helps run the parts department, and Kim oversees the finance department.
The Polaris RZR and Ranger side-by-sides are the dealership’s hottest sellers. “The Ranger is great for hunting, exploring and getting work done,” Hermant said. “The RZR is one to just get in and go fast, like on sand dunes and things like that. They both became hot in 2007-’08 and they haven’t slowed down.” Hermant said customers are drawn to the Polaris vehicles “because they are well-built, and Polaris stands behind their product as good as or better than anybody else. They’re always on the cutting edge.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Hermant has noticed that the dealership’s base of customers has become older. Many younger prospective buyers are making purchases online at lower price points. “Buying online has hurt the brick-and-mortar business,” he said. “People don’t realize they need us to service them. And you eventually find out that cheaper is not always better. With the Internet, everybody believes what they read online, and they really shouldn’t.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Reno Cycles has come up with an inventive and effective way to promote its service department. “No Appointment Tuesdays” allow customers to get one-day repair completed in certain instances. “If it’s a 20- to 50-hour service, if you bring it in by 10 in the morning, we’ll have it back to you by 5 [p.m.] that day,” Hermant said. He says proof that “No Appointment Tuesdays” have been a success comes from the customers who use it.
“One of the biggest complaints we ever hear is that this other shop took two weeks to put tires on their bike, or it took two weeks for a tune-up,” Hermant said. “Those are the kind of jobs we get in and out as soon as possible.” The dealership provides free mounting for motorcycle tires bought there. In addition, Hermant reaches out to customers with service specials sent via e-mail.
“We’re up a little bit in parts and accessories,” he says. “We’ve been flat to [having] a mild increase every year. I attribute that to the people in my parts department and having the needed parts in stock.”
Hermant points to a key part of gaining momentum in the parts and accessories areas. “All units on our floor are accessorized already,” he said. Hermant has found that showcasing accessorized units has been an effective way to increase sales: “The way the economy is right now, you have to give people a reason to come to your store. They may not know about you. But if you see a quad with a snowplow on it, some could think ‘That’s a good idea. I hadn’t thought of that.’”
The four trained and certified technicians at Reno Cyles & Gear are motorsports enthusiasts first and foremost. “They’re all riders. We don’t hire a guy just as a job. It’s a lifestyle,” Hermant said. Technicians attend Polaris educational seminars twice as often as the manufacturer recommends. “Our techs go to their school in Minnesota once every two years, then we send them to schools in our region once a year,” Hermant said.
With three employees in the parts department, Hermant is able to keep customers satisfied. “These are toys,” he said. “You don’t want to have to order something for the customer, You want to have it here, and we do.”
One of Reno Cycle & Gear’s major generators of traffic to the dealership comes from Victory Motorcycles. “They bring a giant truck full of their motorcycles here twice a year,” Hermant said, “and some people come out and test ride every motorcycle they have. That brings a lot of people.”
In addition, the dealership has a major presence with trailers at the area’s two biggest motorcycle rallies — the Street Vibrations Spring Rally and Fall Rally in nearby Sparks. “The event helps other Victory shops within 200 miles of us. Customers see the bikes at the rally, then go to see the dealerships in their local area,” he said. Hermant has tried radio, television and print advertising. Radio ranks lowest on his promotional radar, with cable television the highest.
“We use the ads just to get our name in front of the public,” he explained. “We emphasize that we’re service-oriented people here. When a guy buys his unit and rides it for six months and never has a problem with it, he could forget about you.” Hermant also promotes his dealership at area casinos. A casino chain buys up to six units a year from the dealership for promotional giveaways.
My main concern is the Internet pricing that you see out there,” Hermant said. “So much of it is not real. That really bothers us. People think that on a $10,000 unit, you’re making all kinds of profit. On a new unit, you make 7, 8, 9 percent if you’re lucky. There’s a misconception of what we have to play with. Especially in today’s economy, everybody wants a deal. We’re not General Motors with a $5,000 rebate.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Take care of your own dealership and don’t worry about what everybody else is doing,” Hermant said. “We try not to compete with everybody else. We try to be the best and take care of our customers.” PSB