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Backstage Pass to Service builds rapport

St. Paul, Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson showcase service department to customers

The Backstage Pass to Service event is the kickoff to the 2016 season at St. Paul Harley-Davidson and Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson in Minnesota.

And while the temperature was blustery with a “minus” sign in front of the single digit, the service bays at both three-time Power 50 dealerships were warming up with customers in January looking forward to warmer days ahead.

St. Paul Harley-Davidson service manager Brent Godwin has enjoyed the results of the day-long event for the past four years, and this year was no different as it builds a closer customer relationship, not to mention product interest.

Customers who attended the Backstage Pass to Service at St. Paul Harley-Davidson got acquainted with the service department staff while learning about department offerings.
Customers who attended the Backstage Pass to Service at St. Paul Harley-Davidson got acquainted with the service department staff while learning about department offerings.

“It’s been a really good event for us at both locations,” Godwin said. “This was the fourth year we’ve done it, and the main objective is allow the customers a chance to meet and greet the service techs, get to know the guys spinning wrenches on their bikes. They build that rapport, and you can’t go wrong after that. It leads to sales down the road, if not right then.”

Godwin estimated that attendance was up compared to the 2015 event, which is a good sign heading into the spring selling season. “We do get a lot of residual sales from it, but it’s also been a great team building event for the staff also,” Godwin said.

The dozen or so vendors on hand set up shop on small tables adjacents to the service bays. Godwin reported that many customers who are already in the store’s winter storage program are always sure things at the event, but there were more new faces than a typical January event.

“We do have a pretty loyal customer base, and they enjoy coming out here to see what’s going on. Plus it seemed like there was a lot of interaction with new customers this year,” Godwin added. “So looking ahead to the year, it’s good start.”

The 9 a.m.-4 p.m. event, held simultaneously at both St. Paul Harley-Davidson and Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson in Eden Prairie, Minn., provides customers with a behind-the-scenes look at the service department.

Among the stations were:

• Paint protectants and installation
• Clear coat repair processes
• Maintenance requirements
• Diagnostic equipment and testing procedures
• Tuning tools and techniques
• Current jobs and customization work in-progress

More specifically, each store had a lineup of experts who set up tables in the service bay area to educate customers as they strolled past.


The St. Paul Harley-Davidson event featured experts in the fields of Paint and Body, along with Performance and Customization. Paint and Body experts included Rob Broker, owner and operator of Adrenaline Customs; Dusty Gilbertson, certified and preferred installer at Ron Gilbertson Enterprises; Reese Weber, technical service engineer at 3M; and Aaron Wachholz, owner and operator of X-treme Paint.

On the Performance and Customization side, experts included Pat Cunningham, service and customization consultant from Harley-Davidson Motor Co., R.J. Clutter, national sales rep at RC Components; Mary Fuller, regional sales rep at Drag Specialties; Eric Miller, motorcycle tire key account manager at Michelin; Geoff Sheldon, Midwest Territory manager at S&S Cycle; and Dave Wendinger, product and training specialist at Progressive Suspension. The dealership’s own service advisor lineup on hand included Sam Hacker, Phil Gork, Tom Zechmeister and Howard Hirsch, in addition to Godwin.

At Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson, the experts included Derek Kern from Skip Chips (paint protection film); Tracy Hilgers, owner of TJ Design (custom paint); and Rick Ward, owner of Ward Performance (performance head work). Jerry Kamrow in sales at Wild Prairie H-D customs presented the store’s 2016 Road Glide Special. Harley-Davidson Manufacturer Design and Manufacturer Paint were showcased on the bike.

Parts and service experts on hand from the dealership included Mike Burke, P&A manager; and Toby Borger, P&A associate. Also, service manager Doug Hough was joined by service writer Mark VandenBosch; service writer/accident specialist Aaron Brasch; service writer Chris Dorman; and service advisor John Keller. Technicians Dan Erickson, Eric Gilbertson, Anthony Helmer, Adam Huberty, Jeff Thesius, George Tix and John Wickham also met with customers.


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