7331 George Washington Memorial Highway
Yorktown, VA 23692
12,000-sq.-ft. dealership that was purpose-built in 1995. Carries Ducati and Aprilia motorcycles plus Aprilia scooters. “Yorktown is a pretty small community, but Virginia Beach is just a half-hour away,” explains Lillard. 12 employees.
“I get so tired of people saying, ‘Motorcycles are unsafe,’” says Lillard. “Almost all of the accidents that we hear about in our shop are due to what we consider rider error. A rider should not be doing 75 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone, then be ticked off that a car pulled out in front of him. It’s something that he should expect, because the car driver is not expecting him to be going 75 — plus a motorcycle can be hard to see. We talk to customers about safety — training and gear — so that if a crash does occur, they remain a powersports customer, they remain a Redline customer, and will hopefully come back and buy from us again.”
According to Lillard, the whole Ducati and Aprilia lineups are selling well. “Our shop is a Power Commander tuning center, so we perform fuel injection service and tuning for Harley-Davidsons and all other brands of bikes. In leathers we carry Speedy’s StreetGear, Technic, Dainese, and SBK, and our customers like Arai helmets.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Lillard says the average Redline customer is in his late 20s, a married professional in a bit higher income bracket. “Many of our customers have lusted after a certain product — like a Ducati — in their mind for a long time, and once they have the resources to afford it, they buy it. Often they do buy other motorcycles meanwhile, because of the price point. They may want a superbike, but the cheapest one Ducati offers is $12,000. For $9,000 they can buy a Japanese motorcycle. Still, they like to come into our store and kick tires. Lately a lot of people are complaining about gas prices, so they’re looking at motorcycles as alternative transportation. Anyway, it’s a good way to sell it to the wife!”
“No, not at all,” says Lillard.
PARTS AND SERVICE
In addition to Aprilia and Ducati, the Redline techs will service all the Japanese marques, Moto Guzzi, BMW, and Harley-Davidson. In addition to the dyno, Redline has a full machine shop to bore out engines and so forth. Lillard believes that “the new models are not really complicated, but we do send our technicians to update seminars and schools. We just try to keep everybody up to par. Plus it re-energizes the guys to get out of the dealership and receive education someplace else.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Redline is affiliated with Corner Speed, a roadracing school held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) and Summit Point. Lillard and his staff members teach and encourage customers to attend. “Some of our customers are knuckleheads on the street. Once they’ve ridden and have been aggressive on the track, they really slow down on the street. They have no desire to ride wheelies everywhere. That’s been a huge success for us. Also, we educate people on apparel. Several of our customers have scars on their arms and legs. After they’ve purchased the proper apparel, they crash their bike, get up, and see that their leathers are just scuffed up a bit — but the bike’s totaled. They say ‘Wow! This is pretty cool. I can buy another bike. But I’m fine — I have no injuries.’ Advertising media include yellow pages and radio. “But most effective is word-of-mouth. There are many dealers in our area, but they’re the typical big Japanese franchises. It seems that a lot of people are not happy with those environments and are looking for another choice. Once they’re here, they usually don’t leave, which is nice. We’re a small dealership. This is my bread and butter. My paycheck and my employees’ paychecks really rely on that customer. They want to respect, and be respected by, the customer.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Be honest,” advises Lillard. “If a customer doesn’t know much about motorcycles, a lot of dealers take advantage of that. But when they become more educated and more experienced, they’ll realize that they’ve been ripped off. That’s bad for everybody.” Lillard also advises his fellow dealers to “make lots of money, do a good job, and promote the sport. Remember that many people are at an entry level in this sport, and they should respectfully be treated that way.”