Scott Fischer Enterprises expanded its Harley-Davidson franchise base to five stores in April, when it added Blue Ridge Harley-Davidson in North Carolina. It’s a sign that business is up for the Fort Myers, Fla.-based group, which has been named a member of the inaugural Powersports Business Power 15.
“We look at market potential, gauge market share vs. market potential, and if those are in our sweet spot, we’d be interested in the dealership,” partner John Greene explained. “Looking at the four same stores from last year, all of them are up with the exception of Thunderbird Harley-Davidson in Albuquerque, N.M.”
That store has been undergoing a full remodel all year, and is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.
Of the 3,000-3,200 units sold by the dealerships in 2012, about 1,200-1,300 will be pre-owned.
“Used as a percentage of new will fluctuate based on the availability of new, and we’ve been fortunate to get new product,” Greene said.
Harley-Davidson’s Material Requirement Planning system that generates forecasts allows general managers and sales managers to keep abreast of product flow.
“Our sales managers sit down every month with the sales staff to determine individual goals,” Greene said. “They work backwards, so that they know what they need to do by the month and by the day. The managers also meet with them every day to let them know what they need to do today. A lot of people run a similar process, but we’re very meticulous about the coaching and statistical side.”
“Our belief is that process will get you a certain result in F&I, and talent will take you beyond that,” he said. “We were seeing some disparity that was either positively or negatively impacting F&I sales, so we got that taken care of and it’s been a good finance year.”
SFE same stores through October had seen a 15 percent rise in gross PG&A sales compared to the same period a year ago.
“The 110th anniversary clothing has driven a lot of the MotorClothes sales,” Greene said. “Demand for that product across the dealer network has been much higher than they expected. They’re back ordered through Christmas. It has a great design and it’s merchandised well. And it sold well. Everybody is looking for more. That was a home run.”
SFE stores switched to appointment-based service, and the result has been a 20 percent increase in service department sales.
“We made big shifts this year,” Greene said. “We were always first-come, first-served, but in March we flipped to appointment-based service. It took a little while for customers to get it that they had to call ahead and set a time, but it’s allowed the flow and timeliness to improve. It’s been a real convenience to customers. We looked hard at customer service in the different departments, and service wasn’t on par with the experience they were getting in the rest of the store.”
In addition, SFE pulled all administrative work from the service side, and hired an additional employee to handle the administrative duties in service.
“Now they’re available to focus on the person in front of them,” Greene said of the service staff. “It wasn’t without its challenges, but we’ve had a lot of positive feedback. The service managers and advisors and customers reaped the biggest rewards. It increased the payroll a bit in that department, but the experience improvement far outweighs that.”
Education for new and existing customers helps steer events at SFE dealerships, which include successful Cinco de Mayo and Halloween events. An active social media presence is contracted out to a local firm, and has performed well.
A “very, very regimented open to buy program keeps inventory levels in check and obsolescence in check,” Greene said.
What attracts employees to your dealership?
Morale, lack of politics and a set of core values are three assets that the company can offer.
“We over-communicate to our employees where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Greene said. “It allows them to be empowered. When a customer leaves the store, if they’re only commenting about the product, we didn’t impress them. If they were talking about the people they dealt with as part of their purchase, then we’re doing a great job.”
A voluntary employment satisfaction survey, completed by about 80 percent of all employees, is offered at each store. Based on feedback of the questions asked, focus groups of a representative group of employees are formed, and solutions are made at the executive level.
“It’s honest and candid feedback,” Greene said.
Location: Fort Myers, FL
# of Locations: 5
Full-time employees: 280
Year founded: 1987
Principal/Owner: Scott Fischer
OEM brands: Harley-Davidson