Wildcat H-D specializes in customer care and riding events
Whether it be a late-night fireworks show or guided riding experiences, Wildcat Harley-Davidson in London, Ky., knows just what to do to make sure everyone has a good time. From refreshing its training program to signature dealership décor, Wildcat proves it’s a destination spot that customers will never forget.
No place like it
Owner Shane Richmond of Wildcat H-D promises that his dealership is “different than you’ll see at any H-D dealer in the country.” Equipped with maple wood floors and hand-built wooden fixtures, the 33,000-square-foot dealership underwent a three-year design process by a team of architects.
“It’s very unique and rustic looking. All of our fixtures are hand-built wooden pieces or specialized metal pieces. It’s a completely different looking store,” said Richmond. The maple wood was salvaged from a warehouse in Harley’s hometown of Milwaukee, and Richmond says it is more than 100 years old.
Another feature on display hints at Kentucky’s history: “We have an original moonshine still on loan from the sheriff’s department,” said Richmond. “It’s a great piece just to see some of the true history of what we have from our community.”
Growth despite weather
This year’s weather in Kentucky, much like in other parts of the country, has affected the dealership’s overall sales. “We need some good weather; it’s been a real issue for us, since it’s been very wet and very cold. It amazing how weather can make you a king or a pauper,” said Richmond. Despite a late start to the season Richmond still expects sales to continue to be strong, due to the dealership’s strong customer base.
Wildcat experienced a lot of growth in used bike sales this past year, a change that Richmond attributes partially to better price points. The dealership continues to rely on its customers’ word-of-mouth marketing to bring in business: “The best marketing is your word-of-mouth, and that comes from our direct customer service,” said Richmond.
Wildcat also uses a Facebook page, with nearly 25,000 likes, to keep its customers informed on its events and Wildcat’s custom bike shop. He adds that the dealership plans to expand onto other marketing platforms such as Instagram and direct mail pieces in the future.
Back to the basics
“What we really noticed and what we try to work on daily is getting back to the basics,” said Richmond. “Our store is really designed around customer service. Our biggest philosophy is that we’re here ‘before, during and after the sale,’ and customer service throughout the entire store is how we take care of that.”
Richmond says that with the majority of his customer base being from small rural communities, Wildcat’s customers often have to drive quite a distance to visit the dealership. This makes customer service even more important to Wildcat because the employees want to make sure the experience is well worth their customers’ time. The refreshed training program that Wildcat implemented last year focuses on personal training: looking customers in the eyes, shaking their hands and befriending them. “It’s not about the price per se; it’s the experience,” he added.
The dealership relies on traditional staff training from Harley-Davidson, but now also includes online training through its membership with Sam Dantzler’s Powersports Garage. “I’m a real big fan of Sam,” Richmond said. “It has helped tremendously having some real world thought processes.” Since the start of the new training regimen, Wildcat has daily sales huddles with its entire staff, weekly sales meetings and video co-opting with other stores to stay in even better communication.
Wildcat’s goal is to make each customer’s top-10 list in terms of priorities. “We want to always strive for that top-10 experience. That’s what gets us referrals, and that’s what gets us customers that come back,” said Richmond.
Champions of Charity
After earning a spot on the 2014 Powersports Business Power 50 list, Wildcat continues to add feathers to its cap. The London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce recently awarded the dealership two prestigious awards: The 2015 Small Business of the Year Award and the inaugural Tourist Commission Hospitality Award. The hospitality award is given to businesses that display the best example of welcoming and hosting tourists.
Wildcat lives up to its hospitable reputation; it supports a number of charities throughout the year including Toys for Tots, March of Dimes, breast cancer awareness efforts and military veteran causes. “We’re constantly doing different rides from the store. For us riding is a huge part [of the business] that we’re really trying to grow this year. The more excuses I can give [people] to play with their toy, the better off it’s going to be,” said Richmond. “A toy that sits in the garage does nobody good.”
Each year, Wildcat hosts a Birthday Bash that draws more than 4,000 spectators to one of Kentucky’s largest fireworks shows. “It’s a great experience. I actually have to plan it away from July 4, so it doesn’t affect our local community fireworks shows,” he said. “It lines up the highways; it lines up the road in front of us, and a lot of our neighbors have private parties to watch the fireworks.” This year’s fireworks show, now celebrating its sixth year, promises to be bigger and better than before, Richmond said.
The Kentucky State HOG Rally will also be hosted at Wildcat on June 4-6, featuring hours of riding and opportunities for fellowship. “It’s strictly a riding rally that we’re doing. It’s not about having tons of vendors; it’s about getting on the motorcycle and riding,” explained Richmond. “We’ll have over 15 guided rides each day going out to different areas of the Kentucky countryside. It’s beautiful riding that you don’t get anywhere else.”
The dealership strives to offer at least one large event each month and several special riding opportunities throughout the month. “We’ve really challenged our HOG club this year and our customer base this year to ride more. We’re trying to do five or six, sometimes even 10 rides a month that leave out of our store.”
In addition to rides, Wildcat is focused on promoting new rider classes and seminars to educate the next generation of motorcyclists. “Harley’s got their new Street motorcycles, and we’re trying to push that with young people,” said Richmond. “We’re really trying to break down those walls and those barriers to new riders. We want to make it fun.”