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Service tech mentorship approach proves successful

By Kate Swanson

Hattiesburg Cycles capitalizes on manager’s idea

Gone are the days of endless customers streaming into powersports dealerships looking for their new bikes. In order to continue successful businesses, dealers are taking a more proactive approach to gaining and retaining customers, especially Hattiesburg Cycles in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. 

The recipient of a 2016 Power 50 award, and the No. 5 dealer in North America, Hattiesburg Cycles’ entire staff takes care of each customer to the best of their ability. The dealership now has a full-time marketing manager that primarily focuses on internet activity and engaging the customer base through social media. 

Hattiesburg Cycles was named the No. 5 dealer in North America as part of the 2016 Power 50.

“We try to have a strong internet presence on all platforms — Facebook, Instagram,” said William Moore, general manager at Hattiesburg Cycles. “We certainly do our best to try to be more proactive in asking our happy, satisfied customers at the time they make a purchase to give us a review. If we can get more happy people actively involved in sharing their experience, it helps in the overall CSI score process as well.”

In the past year, Moore said OEMs have put more emphasis on CSI scores and the dealership spends time discussing improvement solutions during its staff meetings. “That’s a constantly evolving thing. Ultimately, we feel like we can win that battle just by providing people with great customer service,” he added.

In addition to online traffic, Moore said that location and weather play a role in determining sales. The dealership carries multiple lines, including Can-Am, Hammerhead Off-Road, Indian Motorcycle, Kawasaki, KTM, Motor Trike, Polaris, Sea-Doo, Slingshot, SSR, Suzuki, Victory and Yamaha. Of the brands it carries, Moore said the dealership sells more BRP machines with its varied offerings, from watercraft to Spyders. Due to a mild winter and relatively dry spring, Moore said the dealership was excited to see the off-road riding begin earlier this year. 

Hattiesburg Cycles in Mississippi began in a 2,200-square-foot building in 1985. The dealership now covers more than 100,000 square feet and carries multiple lines of powersports equipment.

Recently, the dealership launched a technician mentoring program, in which top-level technicians educate entry-level technicians and improve overall service department efficiency. Moore said the program was the idea of Hattiesburg Cycles’ service manager David Morgan and that it has been widely successful throughout the department.

“We actually got the fruits of that program this spring. We lost a couple of top-level technicians, and normally when you lose any of your top-level techs, things tend to fall apart. But these guys just stepped right up, and we never missed a beat,” Moore added.

The program is not only a benefit to the entry-level technicians who are learning their trade, but it’s also an incentive for the top-level technicians who are doing the teaching. The technician mentors are paid on commission, and the entry-level mentees are paid hourly. Therefore, the top-level technician is compensated for the work that he or she and the apprentice complete.

“Not only are they supervising the entry-level new technician, but he’s also able to turn wrenches on something else at the same time,” said Moore. “Service efficiency greatly improved this past year, and we saw our backlog decrease dramatically.”

Another way the dealership continues to bring in customers is through its events. Hattiesburg Cycles hosts multiple events per month, including Thursday Dinner (a ride series that is held on the first and third Thursday of each month).  

The dealership hosts multiple events per month as a way to raise awareness and engage its customer base.

The dealership also hosts two large-scale annual events at its dealership: the Spyder Ryder Homecoming event and the End of Watch Ride. Now it its fourth year, the Spyder Ryder event will return this October. Last year’s event included a Spyder service seminar with time for questions, a Halloween costume contest for both bikes and riders, a raffle and food. “The event may be large, but it feels more like a family reunion than work,” added Moore. 

Hattiesburg Cycles’ End of Watch Ride began when two local police officers were killed in the line of duty. The inaugural event raised $10,000 split between the two families of the fallen officers. In following years, a local non-profit organization put together a fund as a scholarship program for the children of fallen officers or officers who, due to injury, need to train for another profession.

The event has continued to grow in popularity and honors those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The third annual End of Watch Ride took place in April and saw more than 350 bikes show up to support the cause. “We’ve got a lot of good will with the local law enforcement, and they participate in virtually every area in some way or another. They love attending, and it just shuts down our parking lot for the day,” said Moore. “It is well worth it.”

Regardless of the season, the dealership’s commitment to its customers shines through. Hattiesburg Cycles is still on track with its 2017 goals and has budgeted for a 10 percent sales increase this year. 

Moore said the dealership will continue to stand out from its competitors: “It’s the bonds we have with the community, our fellow powersports groups and each other that gives us an edge. We all have a passion for showing the sheer joy of powersports to others and the desire to help them enjoy their lives instead of just live them.” 

 

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