Power Profiles

Wilwert’s, Inc. – Dubuque, IA – Dec. 25, 2006

145 North Crescent Ridge
Dubuque, Iowa 52003
939 Galena Square Drive
Galena, Ill. 61036
Clay Wilwert
Business Profile
Clay’s parents started Wilwert’s in 1959 with a Harley-Davidson exclusive shop. Since that time, the store has relocated five times, including to the newest 53,000-square-foot location in 2003. Along the way, the dealership added Suzuki, Buell and finally KTM to the product mix. The metric and Harley mix has “been really good because I feel like I have an advantage over most Harley dealers because I can sell to any age,” said owner Clay Wilwert. “Most of them can’t do that.” In 1999, Wilwert’s opened a second location 15 miles away in a popular tourist area. The Galena store, which is 6,000 square feet, carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. Between the two stores, Wilwerts has 32 employees.
Greatest Concern
“Flooding the market with motorcycles” is Wilwert’s top concern. “That probably comes more on the Harley end of it than the other brands,” he said. “When customers start seeing three or four of the same model on the floor, they’re more apt to want deal rather than if I have one or two. There is no urgency to buy when there’s a bunch there.” Plus, he said the additional bikes “affect the bottom line when you start paying interest for all the inventory.”
What’s Hot
Suzuki King Quad ATVs have moved quickly at Wilwert’s. “They’re just a great ATV and the magazines have all pumped them up for what they are,” Wilwert said. On the KTM side, “we’re a 950 dealer and we do really good with 950s.” Plus, he expects big sales from the company’s Super Duke model. “All ages are coming in all the time wanting to know if it’s here yet,” Wilwert said.
Customer Buying Trends
Wilwert sees an exploding sport touring market, and has seen increased sales on the KTM Adventure, Suzuki’s V-Strom and Buell’s XB12X. He also noticed this increasing trend on his way to Sturgis this year. “When we go, we usually travel by bike and I’ve seen more of those types of bikes on the road than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “That seems to be the model that the older generation is going back to.”
Parts and Service
Like some dealers, Wilwert asks his staff to ensure new bike buyers get an introduction to the dealership’s different departments. Unlike some dealers, Wilwert asks his staff not to make the introduction a sales pitch. “It’s more put together as an information thing to show the different clothing that you should be (wearing) when you’re riding, the different accessories that fit the model of your bike, whether it’s the manufacturer accessories or aftermarket accessories,” he said. “Give them some catalogs. Show them our service shop.” The intent of the walkthrough is to educate the consumer, not sell the consumer, Wilwert said. “I don’t want my employees trying to sell-sell all the time,” he said.
Promotional Home Runs
“My theory is we need to have an event in the store once a month and I need to have a motorcycle event in the area once a month,” Wilwert said. “So we try to concentrate on two events per month that are going to be for enthusiasts.” To do that, Wilwert supports motocross, hill climb and drag racing teams.
Wilwert also has established events for those outside the industry, including a women’s shopping day. “We went to the Chamber of Commerce and did an ad with them to invite all the working women to come to the store,” he said, noting the goal of the event was to provide food, beverages, a relaxed environment and the message that “we’re a motorcycle shop and we’re not going to bite you.”
Words of advice
“Don’t go too big too fast without having a plan to get there,” said Wilwert, who moved his main store to a facility that was roughly four times larger but has yet to see a tremendous difference in the amount of new unit sales.

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