Power Profiles

Dunbar Euro Sports – Brockton, MA – Aug. 18, 2003

1600 Main Street
Brockton, MA 02301

Tom Fournier

9,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1955. At this, the third location, since spring 1994. Carries Ducati and BMW. Seven to nine employees.

Fournier’s greatest concern is the multi-line, discount dealers that he calls “the Wal-Marts of the motorcycle industry. These number-one dealers are selling all over the country. I think the biggest killer of this industry is if it’s no longer about what the customer is buying, but about how much he’s paying. People don’t spend nearly enough time researching what they’re buying, and talking to somebody who knows about the vehicles. Or customers can go to a local dealer who knows what he’s doing, pick his brain, then go on the Internet and probably find it cheaper.

“But when dealers stop carrying those products, people don’t try them on to buy over the Internet, and the product sales starts to diminish. Ultimately, the customer is not going to know anything.”

Fournier says some customers ask him to match an online price. “I say, ‘They’re going to charge you $20 for shipping.’ They reply, ‘Where does it say that?’ I say, ‘Go home and look.’ The computer is a double-edged sword; it’s great for information, but as far as a marketing tool, it can really kill you.”

Hot models at Dunbar include the Ducati 999 and the Monster range, “and the new Multistrada looks like it’s going to be a good seller,” says Fournier. “With BMW, the whole range of R1150s is pretty good, as is the F650. Some bikes sell a bit more than others, but the whole lineup does well. We sell a lot of BMW hard parts — we’ve been around so long that people come to us with 25-year-old bikes. Plus the new items, like saddlebags; a lot of Genuine BMW accessories; in clothing, Dainese and Ducati Performance; and in helmets, Arai, HJC, and Schuberth, which have been really good for us.”

Fournier says his customers range from “the guy who can barely afford an oil filter to one who could own this shop seven times over. It’s surreal selling the Ducati and BMW lines.

“There’s the desire for Ducatis — they have a good image with the younger kids, yet carry a premium price, so we may have to tell them that they can’t get financing. Ducati also appeals to the 50-plus crowd because it’s such a neatly-designed bike.”

Fournier adds that BMW’s quality also draws a diverse group of people. “In the 1960s and 1970s it was, ‘Save your cash, buy your motorcycle.’ Nowadays it’s, ‘Finance regardless of present financial status.’ Customers take advantage of these attractive financing rates, instead of taking money out of the bank. Or they do home-improvement/refinance loans and take an extra $10,000 or $15,000 to buy a toy. And with the investment market being kind of soft, people are no longer trying to make the big killing for their retirement fund, so they’re spending. Also, the retail parts and accessories side has gotten totally plastic — almost all sales are with credit cards.”

Dunbar Euro Sports has two full-time and one part-time employee in parts, and three in service. All Techs go through the OEM schooling. The dealership was using the Lightspeed computer system, and just upgraded to Lightspeed NXT, “which is for the whole business but tied more tightly to parts,” says Fournier.

“Take care of your customers and be product knowledgeable,” advises Fournier. “Don’t try to sell to everybody in the world who calls you. If people call me who are closer to my competitor, I talk to them but say, ‘There’s a dealership in your area that probably could take care of you better if you ever have a problem.

“My theory is, 10 motorcycles at $1,000 apiece profit is better than 100 motorcycle at $100 apiece. I make the same amount of money, but I have 10 happy customers instead of 10 happy customers and 90 ticked-off customers who thought they didn’t get serviced right.

“Ultimately, if you don’t keep people happy and understanding what’s going on, they’re not going to be satisfied with the product. Then what are the chances of repeat business?

“Also, keep your facility customer-friendly. We don’t hang up calendars or posters of scantily clad women.”

Despite subtle pressure from BMW, Fournier resists making his store look like everyone else’s. “I believe that you want a clean, nice facility with attractive displays. As much as we think motorcycle sales is just another retail business, it still has a personal touch. There’s a reason why certain people want to do business with us.”

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