TRENTON WORLD-CLASS HARLEY-DAVIDSON
960 U.S. Highway 130 and Interstate 95
Hamilton, NJ 08691
23,991-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 2001. Carries Harley-Davidson exclusively. “I do not play with anything in the aftermarket or in competition with Harley-Davidson in my store,” says Divins. “We carry Genuine Harley-Davidson accessories, plus items on the approved vendor list.” 26 employees.
“The biggest issue is the change in Harley’s production schedule,” notes Divins. “The demand falls in Spring and Summer, and now we’re carrying merchandise all year.” He says that another issue he’s concerned about is loud pipes, “which are on their way out. We sell them only at a customer’s request, then we tell him that state or federal laws are coming and he might have to change his pipes. So does he still want to spend $400? We’re trying to be as fair as we can with what we know, and we get support from Harley on that. Some people understand, but others still want the loudest pipes in town. They’re going to be the first ones to pay fines because New Jersey, in particular, will have every cop in the state looking for motorcycles with loud pipes.”
“We had 12 or 13 the new Softail Deluxe model at the start of the year, and they’re gone,” says Divins. “We have about 75 brand-new bikes, the best inventory in the Philadelphia area. In January we started a Blue Ribbon Inspection program for used trade-in bikes. We’ll take them if they are under three years old and have low mileage. We do a 100-item check; the only thing we don’t check is the inside of the engine, therefore we can’t guarantee them. If the bikes has only 500 miles on the odometer but the tires are close to three years old, we replace them. We check and change the brakes, all fluids, the battery; everything to make that bike a really good buy. We charge more-they’re not NADA priced. Our customers tell their friends, ‘You’re getting a good used bike. They’ve gone over it.’ It increases the confidence level.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Divins says the typical Trenton World-Class customer is 40 to 55 years of age. “Not so many of the younger set, but that is growing as Harley-Davidson changes its models. We sell a fair number of bikes to women; the Dyna Glide Low Rider and the Sportster 883 Low have helped. Our staff spends a lot of time with women customers, and tries to not be overbearing. We just help them buy a bike, not sell it to them.” The Hamilton Harley Owners Group meets at Trenton World-Class Harley-Davidson.
“When our dealership opened, people found out that this is not the Hell’s Angels meeting house,” says Divins. “They had seen too much TV and not enough real life. But now we have a good reputation and our township fathers have been very nice to us. This is one of the best-looking stores, on the exterior, of any in south Jersey. A landscaper cuts the grass in my three-acre parking area three times per week, and there are trees. This weekend we’re restriping it so it continues to look good. We are very conscious of our image, because someday we might go back to the township and ask for an addition. I want their view to be, ‘He takes care of his place.’”
PARTS AND SERVICE
The service department includes five technicians (two Class 1, two Class 2, and one Class 3 who changes parts), a manager, a writer, and two shop associates.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Dealers undermine the brand through discounting,” says Divins. “They are not following Harley-Davidson’s guidelines, which are fair and in the best interests of all dealers and customers. Discounters destroy the image. Yes, it’s more cutthroat in a way; we’re working with close margins. In Winter some dealers think, ‘I’ll place an ad and cut prices 30% or 40%.’ That doesn’t do them or the industry any good.” Divins used to charge a premium over MSRP and would load $1,000 worth of accessories onto every bike on his showroom floor. “I read the market, and with Harley’s production capability being what it is today, realized that premium pricing would go away. I was looking for an edge on dealers around me. Now we sell everything at the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price; it’s printed on every tag. Second, we do not add anything to any bike. We sell the bikes to customers, then talk to them about parts and accessories. We present the products, and they make the decision. Last week we averaged $1,150 in add-on sales.” Trenton takes a similarly low-key approach with finance and insurance. “Our F&I guy is very nice and knowledgeable, one of the highest-ranking in the Harley-Davidson network. He points out the finance and insurance advantages, then asks, ‘What’s your pleasure?’”
– Julie Filatoff