DeSimone Motorcycles, LLC – Cherry Hill, NJ – July 25, 2005

406 East Route 70
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Michael DeSimone
6,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in May 2002 when DeSimone purchased an existing BMW franchise (RK Motorcycles) from Rob Kiviat (who is now the service manager). Exclusively BMW until April 2005; now also carries Ducati and Victory motorcycles. Part of the DeSimone Group, which includes two automotive dealerships (Cadillac and BMW). Six miles from the center of Philadelphia on a major thoroughfare between Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore. “The traffic is phenomenal; it's great for advertising, but terrible for riding,” says Keith Cramer, general manager. Cramer was in sales and marketing for 15 years, had ridden since age 10, and had been a BMW rider for a decade. 11 full-time and two part-time employees.
“My greatest concern is government regulations that are limiting,” says Cramer. “Within reason, I don't see any issues with noise restrictions. But New Jersey is the second-worst state to live in from an emissions standpoint. There are serious issues with insurance-for example, certain insurance companies (like State Farm) have pulled out of New Jersey because of the automobile industry. It was nice for our customers to have options. And roads are too small, too straight, too flat, and too congested.”
BMW has four hot new models that are all doing very well,” says Cramer, “particularly the K 1200 S and the R 1200 RT.” Best-selling Ducatis include the 999 and 749 superbikes, plus the Monster series, while Victory's Hammer leads the pack, followed by the Vegas and the King Pin.
“Until we took on Ducati and Victory, it would have been easy to say who our typical customer is,” notes Cramer. “Now our customer base is diverse, encompassing everything from 18-year-olds looking at Ducatis to 70-year-olds who are into the touring scene and considering BMWs. The average person is 35 years old, with occupations varying drastically from unskilled laborer to lawyer or doctor. We have a good selection of BMW, Victory, and Ducati apparel and accessories. But we also sell Vanson leathers, Olympia apparel, Kevlar-reinforced Draggin' Jeans, Jesse luggage dealer, Givi luggage, and helmets from Arai, Nolan, and Schuberth.”
Cramer says he's not aware of any negative legislation right now.
DeSimone has three A-Level technicians and two C-Level technicians. “The goal for the automotive industry is that the service department should cover about 80% of fixed costs,” notes Cramer. “While we're nowhere near that at this point, our service department is definitely one of the better revenue centers, followed by parts and apparel. Diversifying our product line has allowed us to bring in some different aftermarket companies with a good margin. People love to show off their bikes. Victory, Ducati, and BMW are all high-quality and worthy of that type of devotion. We carry a very good selection of their offerings and are learning what to carry as we go. These customers are extremely diverse, but all very dedicated.”
DeSimone Motorcycles uses radio, television, and newspaper advertising. Its annual summer open house draws 400 to 600 people. “Recently we partnered with American Express to send a direct mail piece to cardholders who had bought at least $600 of motorcycle accessories or services,” explains Cramer. “They received a spiff to come into the dealership, use their card, and get something in return.” The DeSimone Group owns an entertainment company and an advertising agency, resulting in cross-promotions. “We keep motorcycles in both automotive showrooms. The entertainment company produces outdoor concerts, especially in summer, and we have vehicles at all those events. Print and radio are shotgun advertising, but getting the bikes in people's faces is best.” The dealership also holds track days at Pocono (2.5 hours away) and Summit Point (3 hours from the dealership).
“Learn your market-become a part of it,” advises Cramer. “Ride with people and talk to them. Seeing you out there riding on Sundays gives customers more confidence in asking you questions. Conduct a focus group. This is going to sound corny, but don't always try to sell. Listen. Become a part of the community and allow the community to dictate-to a certain extent-how you run your business. Figure out what your customers truly want. It's all about trying to create a destination - which we're not in a good location to do. But guys will trek here through incredibly crappy traffic every Saturday for a free pizza lunch. That promotes camaraderie.”

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