Power Profiles

Big Bike Motorcycles – Jacksonville, FL – May 4, 2009

Big Bike Motorcycles
3842 Sunbeam Road
Jacksonville, Fla. 32257
Keith and Rick Berryman
Big Bike Motorcycles was a spin-off of an automobile dealership that also sold used motorcycles. Due to the dealership’s success, a couple manufacturers approached founder Joe Berryman to start a separate motorcycle dealership, which is now owned by his two sons. “We’re a family owned dealership, and that’s a unique experience,” said Buddy Key, vice president of operations, who is the owners’ brother-in-law. “It’s personal. We’re not Mom and Pop. We’re bigger than that, but there is that personal touch of the family legacy.” The personal feel is evident throughout the staff of 14, especially with owner Keith Berryman, says Key. “Keith is in the store all the time. He’s extremely personal and knowledgeable in the industry,” he noted. “Customers pick up on that with him and with the rest of us.” The dealership has found its niche with Big Dog and Victory.
“I’d be crazy if I didn’t say the economy,” Key said. “That’s everybody’s concern because there are dealers that have been around for years that are closing their doors. There’s a fear of uncertainty, so people are hanging onto their money longer.”
It depends on the customer who walks through the door for which bike is going to sell. “It’s almost a 50-50 flip between Big Dog and Victory,” Key said. “They both sell well because Big Dog starts around $25,000 and goes up to $40,000-$42,000. We have some Victorys that start at about $12,000, and their loaded tours go up to about $23,000-$25,000.” The lower price point was a big reason the dealership took on the Victory line, which helped broaden its demographics.
People are looking more than ever at dollar value, says Key. “We’re seeing customers spending a little more time talking with the dealer,” he noted. “They’re going to look at you a little closer. They’re going to make sure you’re going to be there.” While Key says there’s no guarantee, they can ease customers with the fact that the dealership has been in this particular location for three years and in the industry for 47 years. “The second thing we share with them is no matter what happens with us, we are working hard and being as efficient as we can. We want to be here, but if God forbid something did happen, ‘Here’s your next network of dealers. You’ll be immediately plugged in; your warranty will be covered at dealer A, B or C.’ Those steps typically solidify any butterflies they might have at that point.”
Big Bike Motorcycles is aiming to be the go-to place for V-twin parts, Key says. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re working extremely hard on increasing our resources to have the stock on the shelves,” he said. “You can’t build Mt. Everest overnight, but we’re pleased with the pace it’s at and the direction it’s going.” The dealership is also in the process of upgrading its service department. Key says last year, they hired a service manager who had 15 years of experience. “It’s taken him several months to evaluate,” he said. “Now we have a game plan. Not so much as how to grow in size but in quality of service. The quicker you can get the job done and no callbacks, you’re going to make money.” One way the dealership is increasing the quality of service is more training. “Now our new techs have to work under one of the existing techs. They come in as an assistant tech,” Key said. “They work with them not so much to learn the mechanics but to learn the process that we want in place. That could be six months to a year depending on what experience they have.”
They’ve done everything from bus wraps to radio to direct mail, but the thing that has worked the best by far is going out into the community and meeting people, Key says. “Last year, it was a political year. We had our staff out shaking the hands of the people. That kind of started off as a joke, but it has become the cornerstone of our marketing,” he said. “We took the grassroots idea and took it literally to the streets with bike nights and large rides, events, passing out cards with specials, VIP passes. We’ve done everything from RV shows to boat shows because you’re not just competing with the other motorcycle companies, you’re competing for the extra spending money.” Key added, “People like dealing with people. If you can build relationships, you’re going to get them in your store.”
“Keep a personal relationship with your clients whether it’s their first or 50th time in the door,” Key said. “You want to treat them all the same, whether they buy the $13,000 bike or the $50,000 bike. No. 3, learn your staff. See what you can do better and what can you do more of with less. When we challenged our staff with that, everybody stepped up, like reducing lighting at night. It helped cut down our monthly expenses greatly. Then, the grassroots, hosting activities, going out to rides, getting involved in the community.”
— Karin Gelschus

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