4820 N.W. 13th St.
Gainesville, Fla. 32609
Mike and Marion Jones
The dealership was founded in northern Florida in 1948, and Mike Jones became a mechanic for the original owner in 1963. “One thing led to another, and I ended up buying the dealership from the original owner in 1989,” he said. Now he and his wife Marion run the business. “At the time I bought it, we were Honda only at that point,” he said. Immediately, he added Yamaha and Kawasaki, and in 1999, Streit’s expanded to a five-line dealership, adding Suzuki and Triumph. What brings customers to the store is its reputation in the area. “The main thing is just simply how long we’ve been here,” Jones said. “We’re literally selling to the third generation of customer. We’ve just got a huge amount of experience. We’ve got a huge amount of recognition among the local people.”
Like many dealers, Jones is worried how the economy will continue to affect sales. “The main problem is obvious. It’s lack of consumer confidence,” he said. Florida has been hit especially hard, causing more customers to be cautious about spending. “People are more and more reluctant to either commit to financing or at least let loose of cash,” Jones said. Despite the concern, he’s hoping 2011 will be better than last year. “I’m cautiously optimistic for the coming year. I don’t think we’re going to see a dramatic increase, but we’re going to see a slow, gradual improvement.”
To pinpoint exactly which models are selling well is difficult for Jones. “One of the frustrations right now is there really is no pattern. It’s really all over the map. We’ll sell a heavyweight cruiser, and then we’ll go in and sell a scooter,” he said. “We have such a wide variety of product that there’s just no one product that’s doing better than the other.” However, one of the brands has done better than the rest. “By brand, Triumph is doing quite well. It’s the only brand we didn’t see a decrease in last year. With Triumph, it was basically flat.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
After more than 20 years at the helm of the dealership, Jones is beginning to see more women in his store. “We have certainly noticed there’s more and more women entering the market, and we cater to that,” he said. Because of that trend and because women tend to be the decision-makers even in men’s purchases, Jones has designated a special area of the store for women as well as trained his staff how to work with them. “It’s one thing that I’ve trained our sales guys to do. When a husband and wife come in, include the wife in the sale from the start. Don’t let her stand to the side like a wallflower,” Jones explained.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Streit’s has two A-level technicians, who have each been with the dealership more than 10 years, and one C-level technician. Experience sets the department apart from those at other dealerships. “We invest a lot in training, and basically, if we can’t solve the problem, it can’t be solved,” Jones said. For promotion of both parts and service, the dealership relies mostly on e-mail blasts, a newsletter and its Facebook page. A recently introduced promotion also has created a buzz around the departments. Each Thursday evening, an e-mail blast reveals a special “Friday surprise” deal. Often discounts are available, such as 25 percent off a jacket with a glove purchase, and once the dealership even gave away a motorcycle. “We’ve only been doing that (promotion) for three to four months, and people have been really following that,” Jones said. It has become so popular that those in the store before Thursday night often try to get a sneak peak at the surprise, though Jones won’t reveal it early.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Though the dealership participates in rides and annual events, one of its hottest marketing tools has been its store-branded T-shirts. “We go through a lot of T-shirts,” Jones said. At the dealership’s annual support the troops ride, each participant gets a T-shirt. “When somebody buys a bike, we give everyone in the family who is here a T-shirt,” Jones reported. Also, serious prospects are given the clothing even before purchasing a unit. Each shirt is a $3-$4 investment that Jones says has paid off by having everyday people advertise his store around the area.
WORDS OF ADVICE
One of the things that Jones has talked to with other dealers, especially those in his 20 groups, is not letting go of fundamentals in an attempt to save money. “Stick with the systems you know work, your sale process, your service process, whatever you’ve got that works for your dealership,” he said. “Don’t let the bad times divert that. That’s what you need to survive.” One of those fundamentals is customer service. “Every customer that walks in the door, treat them like they’re the only customer. On any given day, they might be.” PSB
Streit’s Motorsports-Gainesville, Fla.-3/14/2011