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Texas Harley-Davidson lands as Power 50 No.1

Texas Harley-Davidson principal Adam Smith (second from left) and general manager Shane Talbert (right) receive the 2018 Power 50 No. 1 dealership award from Dave McMahon and Abby Larson of Powersports Business. Check out four full pages of photos from the event beginning on page 6.

The Power 50 Awards Dinner took its show on the road to a new city for the third time in six years. This year, with AIMExpo being held in Las Vegas, there was no better time to throw a celebration that honors, recognizes and promotes the top 50 dealership storefronts in the U.S.

After getting its start during AIMExpo in Orlando and then moving on to Columbus, Ohio, the Power 50 Awards Dinner ventured to Las Vegas, home of the 2018 AIMExpo. And unlike most things that happen in Las Vegas, Powersports Business is more than happy to share that the retail execution and business best practice stories will not be staying in Las Vegas. You’ll be reading about them over the next year on these pages of PSB, thanks in large part to our 2018 Power 50 sponsors — Manheim Specialty Auctions, Synchrony and Roxor Off Road.

And while the memories were made in Nevada, it was a Texas dealership that stole the show — Texas Harley-Davidson in Bedford, to name names. Part of the Calculated Risk Motorcycle Group of dealerships that has a strong foothold in the state, Texas Harley-Davidson used key performance indicators to capitalize on pre-owned motorcycles sales throughout 2017. Unique market conditions that had produced a narrow value gap between new and used bikes was disappearing, and Texas Harley-Davidson capitalized on the intelligence. Dealer principal Adam Smith made other changes that allowed this individual storefront to thrive during calendar 2017.

Titles of motorcycle sales director and marketing director were eliminated, allowing Shane Talbert, the general manager at Texas Harley-Davidson, to have complete responsibility for these areas. In the end, it helped put the decision-makers closer to the customer. It also ended up improving sales performance, customer experience and team culture.

The service department at Texas H-D is second to none. Literally. Thanks to an enhanced commitment, the dealership was named the No. 1 volume service department in the world by the Motor Co. All technicians, with the exception of those just starting out, are paid flat rate. The dealership promotes its service and maintains strict dispatch procedures to get the right job to the right tech. Both of those approaches combine to maximize performance and profitability in service. Also in 2017, multiple service technicians made over $100,000.

A four-time Power 50 dealership, Texas Harley-Davidson knows a thing or two about events also. A crawfish boil brought the house down, with near a ton of crawfish served. The transaction count meter exceeded 400 on the day of the event. The lineup of people waiting for crawfish all apparently decided to make a purchase while they were inside the store.

Also, the dealership’s Lumberjack Show brought a 56 percent increase in transactions over a comparable business day and nine bike sales. When customers weren’t buying, they were admiring chainsaw art, log rolling and wood chopping contests.

The dealership also supports the local Community Storehouse throughout the year. The store donated a Softail Breakout to use as a raffle, and at the nonprofit’s annual Hope Dinner, they drew the winner. The raffle raised $25,000 for the association. An additional $27,000 was raised throughout the year by the store and the DFW HOG Chapter.

“Texas Harley-Davidson set itself apart this year with so many targeted accomplishments,” Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon said. “The use of data and intelligence allowed the store to remain a step ahead of the competition, and their role as an influential business in their community is one they don’t take lightly. The Bedford dealership stood out above all others in this year’s Power 50, which had more competition than ever. We’re looking forward to see how all our Power 50 lead the retailing experience into 2019. And we’ll look forward to celebrating the industry’s longest-running dealer awards program in 2019 in Columbus during AIMExpo.”

Once again, Powersports Business ranks the Top 10 dealerships in addition to handing out Best in Class Awards. Here’s a closer look at some of the accomplishments of the top five.

No. 2: Lakeshore Harley-Davidson, Libertyville, Illinois — Once again in 2017, this dealership saw its average technician efficiency increase to 94.2 percent. The top 25 percent of Harley-Davidson dealers are at 92.2 percent. Using data collected and tracked by management has allowed the dealership to constantly implement new processes and procedures to streamline the shop’s flow. This year, the focus was on continued improvement to the dispatching process. The process of pre-staging bikes for the techs continues to evolve, and the dealership streamlined requesting additional parts for a repair in progress. Each technician has a computer next to them where they can digitally request parts, which instantly alerts the parts person who is dedicated to the technicians.

Service techs got the spotlight with tech talks being added during winter months. Live motorcycle customizations were presented on the showroom floor. A Facebook post would allow customers to vote on what customization project should be performed, from camshaft upgrades to handlebar installations. One winner had the opportunity to allow the tech to perform the upgrade to their own personal motorcycle.

No. 3: America’s Motor Sports, Madison, Tennessee — A six-time member of the Power 50, this dealership’s location could not be more supreme. The 40,000 square-foot store is settled in between major intersections and four suburbs, a block away from the highway and a quarter-mile from a new outdoor shopping mall.

They attracted those prospects with a heavy emphasis on social media. The in-house marketing director took the most popular social media platforms and devised different content for each one, posting an average, three times per day.

An in-house customer service representative was added in 2017 to follow up with customers, both old and new, to ensure that their time at the dealership was well spent. They follow up with new customers through their first service, as well as with warranty customers and customers who have not visited the dealership within two years. The dealership has seen an increase in CSI scoring and higher starred reviews as part of the new program.

No. 4: Black Jack Harley-Davidson, Florence, South Carolina — A Power 50 dealership for five years now, it was an honor to have the dealership join us in Las Vegas in spite of the recent flooding in their town.

Moving into its new location, the dealership had a major commitment to growing its staff so that it could open the new store with a fully staffed and well-trained team.

The dealer said: “The hardship isn’t about the number of people that you have, but rather the amount of core people that you have, your ride or die people. You need people that you can count on no matter what. I’m sure our store is like most where you have a core that are rock solid and all of the turnover that you have is the peripheral folks that you’re trying to add to the core.”

Even better, they’ve been able to add young employees.

The dealer said: “What’s helped us more than anything to get new customers is the fact that we’ve got some younger employees that work here that are true motorcycle enthusiasts. They ride their old twin cam Softails to high school every day, they pack their gear in backpacks and take overnight trips and they almost always ride to work. They get excited when someone in a parking lot asks them about motorcycling and they get to evangelize about what it means to them.”

No. 5: Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson, Raleigh, North Carolina — A four-time Power 50 dealership, this dealership underwent an ownership change in 2017 and did not miss a beat thanks to its employees. Formerly known as Ray Price Harley-Davidson, the dealership partnered with a local software company that employs 100s of people in their 20s to do a motorcycle giveaway through a raffle. They also teamed up with the USO to be the charity component of the program.

It gave the dealership several opportunities to be involved with the software company’s employee events with the motorcycle on site. A total of 3,000 raffle tickets were sold, and one of the employees ending up winning the bike.

In operations, a CSI coordinator handles all follow-up for sales and service. A
regimented follow-up schedule for the clients is adhered to whether there is a problem or not. The dealer said: “We don’t have just customers. We create fanatics. Happy customers = happy scores. Ultimately, this is what controls our CSI scores. We have a very diverse crowd and this is one of the reasons we love our job.”

Dealers in attendance were thrilled to have Hall of Fame dealer Mike Ratz on hand from Logan Powersports Group in West Virginia. Scooter Pendergrass from Black Wolf Harley-Davidson in Bristol, Virginia, and his 80-something father-in-law opted to let the youngsters do the flying out to the show. Meanwhile, they hopped aboard their respective bikes and logged a hefty 2,000-plus miles one way. And they were already looking forward to the return trip!

As with every Power 50 Awards Dinner, dealerships that stood apart from all others in a particular were recognized by Powersports Business. Here are the 2018 Power 50 Best in Class Award winners.

Ray Price Community Service Award — Lakeside Motor Sports, Mecosta, Michigan

Ray Price was the namesake of Ray Price Harley-Davidson and Ray Price Triumph in Raleigh, North Carolina, who passed away in 2015. Now named Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson, new owner John Morotti graciously joined us to announce the 2018 dealership whose devotion to community simply makes it a better place to live. Ray Price began the Capital City Bikefest in 2005, and today it brings more than 100,000 people to Raleigh for concerts, bike shows, vendors and of course, charity rides. The ownership is new, but Ray’s spirit lives on fully there.

It’s with that type of commitment in mind that we honored Lakeside Motor Sports. The dealership makes a difference for the disadvantaged youth of its community. The Eddie’s Biker BBQ series is run in conjunction with the dealership’s Fill a Trailer, Feed a Kid promotion. The BBQ is held the second Saturday of the summer months and offers free food and live music. Angels of Action, a nonprofit, cooks and serves the food that is provided to customers, and customers generously donate to their cause.

The dealership worked to fill an enclosed trailer with non-perishables, and donated the trailer and its contents to Angels of Action at the end of the summer. The event helps the community as Angels of Action provides backpacks full of food for kids in need every Friday so they don’t go hungry over the weekends. One of the Saturday events was held in conjunction with the Indian demo truck; other times, promotions and discounts were offered during the BBQ. The dealer said: “This has been well received for the second year in a row by our customer base and we will continue to do this in the years to come.”

Fostering Future Riders — Pioneer Motorsport Inc., Chaffeee, New York

By offering a full lineup of youth apparel, this dealership caters to all ages of powersports enthusiasts. The wow factor of what the store has to offer also sticks with youngsters as they come into the store with their parents, likely turning them into future customers. The dealership stocks a heavy amount of youth machines in an effort to get any youngster who is interested on to one of the vehicles. All youth ATVs offered by Polaris, Kawasaki, Can-Am, Yamaha and Suzuki can be found at the store, as well as youth off-road motorcycles from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki and youth snowmobiles from Polaris and Yamaha. An electric stability bike was added this year to attract the youngest of customers. A youth snowmobile ride hosted by the dealership on private property prior to the trails opening is also a way this dealership is promoting the sport to youngsters.

Innovative F&I Department — Spirit Motorcycles San Jose of San Jose, California

In 2017, the dealership implemented menu selling in the F&I department, increasing F&I profits by 49 percent vs. 2016. The dealership also made a significant increase in the number of lenders it uses, from 12 to over 60 last year. All the while, financed deals decreased from 68 percent in 2016 to 55 percent in 2017. Even so, total sales dollars have risen 28 percent.

The ratio of financed contracts is relatively low due to the store’s Triumph customer base. The F&I manager attended a Triumph training certification to capitalize on those deals that did have financing as an option.

Think your dealership has what it takes to join the Power 50 in 2019? Be on the lookout for the launch of the Power 50 dealer application in January 2019, and we’ll look forward to seeing how you match up against the competition. As has been the case since the program’s inception, the Power 50 dealers are selected by Powersports Business editors.

To see the full list of 2018 Power 50 recipients, click here. 

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