8710 Central Avenue
Montclair, CA 91763
Barbara and David Pennell
26,486 sq. ft. dealership purchased in 1981 by Sam Kleinow, the late partner of Barbara Pennell. (Founded under a different name in 1938.) Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. 50 employees.
“My greatest concern is safety on the road in California, because car drivers are so crazy and you’re always dealing with police chases and things like that,” says Erin Joseph, marketing director. While the dealership does not host the Rider’s Edge program, “we recommend the local rider-training program, approved by the California Highway Patrol, to people who don’t know how to ride. Even if they have ridden as a passenger forever, a CHP class will still teach them those specifics that your Average Joe would probably overlook.”
The Heritage Softail is Pomona Valley’s hottest-selling bike currently. The dealership also carries Buell motorcycles, but not Buell clothing.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Joseph says the average Pomona Valley customer is 45 to 50 years old and is probably buying his second or third motorcycle from the dealership. “A lot of customers are regulars whom we talk with and really get to know. We all hang out together. You become accustomed to seeing them and it’s funny when you don’t,” says Joseph, who had never worked at a Harley dealership before. A trend she has spotted: “Customers have a tendency to buy their bike and accessorize it all in one shot, instead of coming back and doing it slowly. They just throw everything on there that they want.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Pomona Valley has seven technicians who are required to be MMI trained and attend as many ongoing classes as possible. Three regular parts salespeople man the counter, with other employees assisting when needed “because we’re open six days per week,” says Joseph. “I’ve been to several dealerships in Southern California, and we have a beautiful, huge, well-organized parts department. The salespeople are not afraid to be hands-on with the customer. They might take him outside and say, ‘See how this part looks on my bike?’ Our parts salespeople will stay an extra couple of minutes to help somebody. Sometimes there’s a line at the counter — they get carried away talking to customers — but they’re very dedicated and very good.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Pomona Valley Harley-Davidson is a member of the Southern California Dealers Association. “Each dealership sends two representatives to the Laughlin [Nev.] River Run every year to work registration,” explains Joseph. “We also sell Laughlin travel packages from the dealership.”
A newsletter, The Eagle News, is mailed quarterly, while the e-mail newsletter is monthly. “We hold four major events per year,” says Joseph. “In March the event honors local firefighters. In April there’s our pre-Laughlin party. We host a police officers’ benefit in October. Each Thursday before Christmas we have an open house — a Christmastime cocktail party for our customers — with different sales, hors d’ouevres, beverages, a jazz band, and gift wrapping. The parties gives the employees more of a chance to converse with customers. We have a special night for our HOG members that includes dinner.” In addition to her marketing and PR duties, Joseph is the dealer rep for the Pomona Valley HOG chapter, 278 strong.
“We keep advertising low-key,” she says. “We advertise in Thunder Press and, during our major events, in Full Throttle. Occasionally we strike up a deal with the local newspapers. In trade for advertising we’ll put them as a sponsor on our event flyer. The local businesses are really great about supporting the causes that we present to them.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Get to know your customers,” advises Joseph. “This is a really personable dealership. It probably takes 10 seconds when a customer walks in the door to hear ‘Hello.’ At other dealerships, it may take 15 minutes for someone to notice you. Being friendly is a really easy way to get to know your customers. It makes people feel like they’re home. We have hot coffee all the time, and a lounge to sit in. It makes people feel comfortable when you take the time to know their name and their face.”
— Julie Filatoff
If you would like to share your story with the readers of Powersports Business, please contact Julie Filatoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.