Bold Idea No. 5 – Dialing for service department dollars


Location: Ottawa, Ill.

Brands: Harley-Davidson

Staff: Sales 3, motorclothes 3, parts 3, service 5, admin 4

Sales volume: 260 new and used units in 2009

Increasing service department work in the winter time is an annual goal at Starved Rock Harley-Davidson, a dealership that prides itself on keeping its techs onboard through the traditionally slow period.

However, that goal grew even more important after a challenging 2009 resulted in a dip in new unit sales.

In response, the Ottawa, Ill., dealership put more emphasis and staff time in not only building its winter bike storage business, but also increasing the amount of parts and accessory work done on those bikes over the snowy months.

To do that, Starved Rock started a “dialing for dollars” campaign, a program that had staff contacting dealership customers to ask them if they would take advantage of a winter storage special.

“We wanted to keep the service department busy,” says Tom Vandervelde, sales manager of Starved Rock. “There are a lot of places that in the winter time will simply lay their people off because things get slow. We have a big push to get as many storage bikes in as possible so we have work for the guys to do over the winter time.”

Some adjustments to the program last fall helped the dealership increase parts and accessory sales by a double-digit percentage.

The dealership started by contacting a number of clients and asking them simply, “What would it take to get your winter storage business?”


“We wanted to see if there were similar jobs that we could do some specials on and give deals on that,” Vandervelde said. “As it turns out, people’s storage plans and work plans were kind of all over the place.”

So the dealership wound up offering two specials: 1) Do a certain amount of parts and accessory business over the winter and the dealership would waive the storage fee on the bike; and 2) If consumers purchased a certain dollar amount and were part of the store’s rewards program, they would be given an additional percentage off parts and accessories. (The dealership, however, does not discount service labor rates, a store policy.)

This program went out to the store’s rewards program participants, a database that includes more than 1,000 consumers.

What the dealership found is that 80 percent of their customers went ahead and did the required amount of parts and accessory work to get the free winter storage — typically a $300 fee.

While the number of motorcycles stored wasn’t particularly high vs. a year ago — although undoubtedly in a tough economy it would have been less without the “dialing for dollars” effort — the parts and accessory revenue did increase. Vandervelde said the dealership revenue from this part of the business increased 10-11 percent over a year ago.

“I think it’s something we’ll try to expand on next year,” he said, “and get some more people on the phone and hopefully drum up some more business to the point where we need to find an off-site facility to store some more bikes in.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button