BY ABBY LARSON
At any time today, stop and take a moment to look around. What are the people around you doing? Where is their attention focused? Of all the people around you, how many are looking down, scrolling through a device?
You know where this is going. Times are changing, and social media has taken over the internet. Though some may scoff at the thought of people, both young and old, spending so much time browsing the web all day, others may see those devices for what they truly are: a huge business opportunity. A report from eMarketer states that as of June 2018, U.S. adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on a mobile device. That’s about one full day per week — a full 24-hour window to get your dealership’s name in front of a huge audience.
Austin has utilized nearly every social media platform since the day of his dealership’s inception in 2004, having realized the opportunities presented by social media. “I was on Facebook when it first began as a site solely for college students, and I knew immediately that social media was going to be an important tool in building and maintaining a successful business,” Austin told Powersports Business.
Knowing where customers are focusing their attention is a key component of successful social media marketing. “I watch social media trends and make sure I’m up to date on everything that is grabbing our target market’s attention so I can better relate to my customers and know what they might be looking for.”
Back in 2004, Austin was a new college grad who knew he had no desire to work for anyone but himself. With the help of his friend and former partner — and Bintelli founder — Justin Jackrel, they established New Scooters 4 Less, with the target market being University of Florida college students. Austin took over the store as a solo venture two years later, and it now carries a variety of brands, including Vespa, Piaggio, Genuine, Bintelli, Adly, Wolf Brand and GenZe Scooters. NS4L, in fact, was named the No. 1 Genuine dealer in the U.S. in 2017.
“New Scooters 4 Less was started 2 months before I graduated from UF and I was very tuned in to the struggles college students were facing when it came to transportation to and from class. Buses were always full,” Austin said. “You couldn’t park a car on campus. UF was building new classrooms on land that used to be parking lots. This was a problem that needed to be solved. We set out to do just that. One of the early challenges we faced was trying to change the perception of scooters. In the early days of NS4L, parents would come in with their students offering to buy them a scooter, but so many of these students perceived scooters as ‘dorky.’ We had to quickly focus on building tight relationships with students and focus on making scooters ‘cool’ by building an awesome physical and social environment.”
The first step in breaking that perceived stigma surrounding scooters was to create an exciting environment in the store itself. The dealership, located just down the street from the University of Florida, offers customers a warm welcome the moment they enter. With a snazzy graffiti wall, a task force of welcoming employees and rows of vibrant scooters, New Scooters 4 Less offers the quintessential environment for anyone in the market for a reliable scooter and an unrivaled experience.
“We started by making the store into a lively and welcoming environment. We have the graffiti wall, bean bags for our customers and team members to sit on, and we just wanted it to be an overall fun place for people to feel welcome in as soon as they step into the store.”
The service counter is perhaps the most unique aspect of the dealership. Rather than advertising oil and other scooter accessories at the counter, an array of arcade prizes, such as teddy bears and NERF guns, adorn the back wall. Prizes can be redeemed from points that customers acquire through in-store purchases.
Yet another fun aspect of the store: Austin’s business card doesn’t have his phone number, but his Snapchat code so the dealership’s mostly young customers can “snap” photos or videos to him at any time with questions or concerns about their scooter or the store. Their snaps also might include images of their food or drink, etc., just to keep their daily score in tact. And if you don’t know, that counts for relationship building among the kids these days.
Though students are the dominant demographic that frequent the store, many adults come through from time to time as well. “Adults and parents of students come into the store every so often to see for themselves what the hype is all about,” Austin told PSB, “and of course they give me a funny look when I give them my Snapchat code at the end of their visit, but students know what it is right away.”
Morale in the dealership is built not only through superb customer service, but mutual understanding between team members. “We have a term that we use in the store, UCE. It stands for Ultimate Customer Experience,” Austin explained. “We can whisper UCE to one another and we’ll be on the same page and know what each other is talking about. That’s just another thing we do to focus on delivering the ultimate customer experience to everyone that walks through our doors.”
With a team of 22 employees and growing, Austin says that the future at New Scooters 4 Less is burning bright.
“Every year we’re growing,” Austin said. “Sales have increased year over year and I’m pumped to see what the future holds. We work really hard but have a ton of fun. We love to celebrate with our customers with lots of balloons, loud music, group pictures, and other crazy elements in our dealership. It’s always been about the culture and that has come from building an incredible team by hiring the right people. It will be 15 years in March and I’m still having a blast.”
Dealers can get behind-the-scenes with the team at NS4L and see many of these things first-hand through their vlog on YouTube at http://NS4L.TV. Also, Austin’s talks on social media for small businesses can be found on his YouTube Channel at http://collinaustin.tv.