Power Profiles

Motorsport Freaks – Daphne, AL – March 9, 2009

Motorsport Freaks
26032 Capital Drive Bldg. 1 CR 64
Daphne, Ala. 36526
Jim and Harmony Bodtke
What was meant to financially support a motorcycling hobby turned into an independent shop. Owner Jim Bodtke started selling parts out of his garage on eBay. “I’ve been riding forever and needed money for my bike so I started selling used parts,” he said. “As I grew, I moved into a warehouse doing service work and stuff like that.” Motorsport Freaks officially became incorporated in April 2004, and it moved into a storefront building in August 2007. Bodtke says the dealership’s main focus is sport bikes, but they do sell some off-road vehicles. With only four employees, Bodtke says having a small dealership gives them a competitive advantage. “I think that’s what helps us is we’re not so big we can’t focus on the customer and provide them with exceptional service,” he said. “I think the larger dealers can’t focus on the customer as much as they’d like to. That’s probably what sets us apart.”
“The economy is a given. Everyone talks about the economy,” Bodtke said, noting that’s not his only concern. “Honda and Kawasaki are pulling their race teams out of the AMA (American Motorcycle Association). This is what drives people to the sport. These guys are the ones building the bikes; they should be the last people pulling out if anything.”
The 600cc sport bikes are Motorsport Freaks’ top sellers. In addition to the models, Bodtke said, “Right now consignments are really hot because everyone is needing cash. It works out good because there’s no upfront cost to us. We’re just advertising the bike for someone else. It’s a win, win situation.”
Since overall sales are down, Bodtke says they have to do a lot more price matching. “Everyone is shopping around on the Internet, eBay and stuff,” he said. “We’ve been ramping that (eBay) up a bit lately to make up for store sales.”
The service department is the key to Motorsport Freaks’ business, says Bodtke. “People are constantly calling, ‘Hey, my friend said you guys do good work over there. I’m going to start bringing my bike to you,’” he said. “Service-wise, we do a lot of customization that most customers can’t get at a franchised dealer. That’s what mainly drives our business.” The dealership’s two technicians take care of uncommon requests, including installing nitrous kits, chrome work, custom paint jobs and prepping bikes for road racing. “We’re a specialty shop. This isn’t something you can go to any dealer and say, ‘I want this race kit put on my bike,’ and they would be knowledgeable about it.” Like the service department, Motorsport Freaks is on top of the latest requests from customers. “That’s the cool thing about our store, even though we don’t have the big budget for a lot of inventory, we try to carry the latest and greatest hot products,” Bodtke said. “We have all the latest Joe Rocket and Icon stuff, the cool stuff the sport riders want. That’s what we focus on.”
Motorsport Freaks hosts about six big events a year as well as smaller gatherings in between. “Last year we started a weekly bike night at Hooters and that’s worked out really well for us,” Bodtke said. “We used to have about 60 sport bikes that would show up and a handful of cruisers. We also do charity rides even though they don’t really bring us new customers. It’s a way to show the community these guys riding sport bikes aren’t all bad. Besides the events, word of mouth is our biggest advertisement.” To spread the word faster, Bodtke says the dealership has social networking sites like Myspace, and it sends out an e-newsletter about twice a month announcing upcoming events.
“Support the sport. Get out in the community and start riding. Get some wind in your face. Go to races. Do something for free once in awhile. Lend a hand to someone in need,” Bodtke advised. “If they’re not our friends already, they become our friends. We’re not just selling a product. We’re out there racing. We’re out there hanging out with everyone. Everyone knows us by first name; they don’t know us by Motorsport Freaks.”
— Karin Gelschus

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