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Dealer Survey 2002

The Little Italian Dealership on Aurora Cleans Up - But Why?

What a difference two years makes. Lots of store remodels, relocations, shuffling of department managers and an economic recession all played a role in the results of this year's 2002 Dealer Survey.

Dave Richardson of Moto International flashes a full set of teeth - and four Dealer Survey Wins.

Two years ago we held our first Dealer Survey allowing Sound RIDER! readers to rank each Puget Sound dealer they'd done business with. Again we asked our readers to rank each dealer they had done, or attempted to do, business with over the last 24 months. Each reader could rank a dealer once (duplicates were thrown out). In 2000 300 people participated, this time close to 600 readers participated.  

All motorcycle stores in Puget Sound that sell new manufacturer product (new bikes) are eligible for voting. It's not a popularity contest, as all the voting is tabulated on a curve basis, not cumulative numbers.  However if a dealer receives less than 10 entries they are disqualified on the basis of not enough data to assume a reasonable sampling of their store.

You can't bilk the voting either, although some have tried. But due to the wonders of the web we can see when someone is trying to bilk the readings, which surprisingly only about two people attempted this year. We tossed all bilks.

Four categories make up the survey. Sales, Parts, Service and Store Look & Feel. Each category has four to seven sub-categories. Points are awarded for each sub-category, the statistical madness begins, and ultimately we wind up with a 100 point possibility in each of the four major categories. A final Overall Store category is created that sums the four major categories for each dealer. Confused yet?  If so sign up for Statistics 101 next semester.

Top Sales Stores

Where's the best place to buy a motorcycle in Puget Sound? Who has the best customer service, selection, satisfaction, refund policy and is most knowledgeable about their machines? The winners are:

MOTO INTERNATIONAL

86.75

DESTINATION HARLEY DAVIDSON - Tacoma

83.63

DUCATI SEATTLE

80.67

RIDE WEST BMW

79.62

AURORA SUZUKI

74.16

You will notice very soon that Moto International is something of a sleeping giant in this years results. The little Moto Guzzi/Aprilia dealership that could, located on Aurora Avenue in Seattle has a devoted customer base who is very vocal about their satisfaction with the dealership.  

Honorable Mentions: Destination Harley makes a point of providing a number of 'social' events for their staff to get to know customers, and the follow-up with things like rider training programs seals the deal. It may be the first time you've heard this, but Ducati Seattle was the number two Ducati dealer in the US, behind the San Francisco store. Ride West BMW lost an 'ace in the hole' when Howard left in 2000, but hired a Puget Sound favorite, Sean Siem, to fill the slot. As for Aurora Suzuki, their laid back style means you get all the attention and we can't even get them to pose for a photo.

 Destination Harley-Davidson/Buell finished the survey with the maximum amount of wins - 5! Ed Wallace (center front) and his arsenal of department managers managed to sneak a moment of time during a grueling store remodel to pose.  Somehow they've managed to keep their customers interest a top priority.

Top Parts & Accessories Departments

Customer service, knowledge, selection, pricing, refund policy and special order turnaround all play a role in the results of this category.

MOTO INTERNATIONAL 87.15
DUCATI SEATTLE 80.81
DESTINATION HARLEY DAVIDSON - Tacoma 77.57
RIDE WEST BMW 76.26
EASTSIDE HARLEY DAVIDSON 70.78

Again Moto International takes the top spot. What you may not know about Moto International is that owner, Dave Richardson, is known the world over as the Moto Guzzi parts guy able to access long out of print parts. He has customers all over the planet and provides stellar customer satisfaction from both over the counter as well as on the phone,web, and through the mail."Dave knows Guzzi's better than anyone and was honest and straightforward to deal with" comments one person on their entry.

Honorable Mentions: Ducati Seattle shows they are indeed a new dealership that's making a difference. Despite a remodel, Destination has stayed on their toes. Ride West pulled together a few new lines like Gerbing and BMW Clothing that are exclusive in the region. Eastside's parts department is one of the first things you see when you enter the store - a risky thing to do, but if done right it pays.

Parts Manager,Ryan James; owner Bev Thompson and Operations Manager Jon Martin of clinched two awards for Eastside Harley-Davidson/Buell this year.  

Top Service Department

'Department' is the operative word in each of these categories. It's not just who the department manager is that makes these results wind up way they are. Often it's the entire crew. As for service the question is - who are these techs that send away customers with a smile; who is the service writer that takes care of business and slips you in at the last minute for a 15,000 maintenance? Turnaround, customer service, pricing and quality of work are the major factors at work in these results.

MOTO INTERNATIONAL 93.24
DUCATI SEATTLE 84.38
DESTINATION HARLEY DAVIDSON - Tacoma 84.03
RMC MOTORSPORTS 82.03
hiNSHAW'S 81.88

Moto International takes the top spot again, but you won't find Mr. Richardson back there wrenching, so you best take a stroll in and meet the techs.

Honorable Mentions: Ducati Seattle sent all their techs to Ducati tech school a while back and it's great to see the numbers come in the way they did. Destination ranked high in customer satisfaction in this area two years ago as well.  RMC has maintained a steady staff the last two years with both Andy Moore and Nick Zeihe taking lots of training from all four of the dealers manufactures.  Hinshaw's provides a lot of support for the local MSF bikes so it's nice to see them acknowledged.

RMC's service team includes Service Writer, Patrick Henry; RMC owner, Tom Stever, Technician, Andy Moore and Service Manager, Don "Junior" Queen.

Top Store Look and Feel

Do you want to shop in a store that feels like Grand Pa's hardware store from 1960, or do you like the sleek clean makeovers and relocations that have been all the rage the last few years? The later seems to be the answer. Store cleanliness, parking and overall access are the critical factors for this category.

DUCATI SEATTLE 92.36
DOWNTOWN HARLEY DAVIDSON/BUELL 85.94
RIDE WEST BMW 84.42
DESTINATION HARLEY DAVIDSON - Tacoma 82.27
RMC MOTORSPORTS 79.91

Now I don't want to see all you dealers start putting fireplaces into your main showrooms or anything like that, but I guess that does help warm riders up a bit when they visit Ducati Seattle's South Lake Union location on a cold winter day. "Winning an award like this is a team effort" says the stores principal, Dave Roosevelt, "everyone on staff has a hand in how great the store looks each day."

Everyone else who placed in this category has either done a major remodel, or relocated their store in the last 24 months.

Right: Russ Tom doesn't just build state of the art motorcycles, he's got a pretty nice store too.

OVERALL STORE

The cumulative scores from each category go like this:

MOTO INTERNATIONAL 85.78
DUCATI SEATTLE 84.55
DESTINATION HARLEY DAVIDSON - Tacoma 81.87
RIDE WEST BMW 78.47
EASTSIDE HARLEY DAVIDSON 71.34

Maybe Moto International doesn't have a fire place and all, but in the end they wound up on top this year.  

Honorable Mentions:

Ducati Seattle, being so new and all, is obviously cementing a reputation for themselves and you'll note they won in all five categories.

 The staff at Seattle's favorite Duc Shop, Ducati Seattle. Conveniently "Duc" close to Lake Union, they were only one of two dealers to clinch five awards this year.

Destination has been a proven dealership winning four awards two years ago and five this time around. You can't win more than that. While owner, Ed Wallace, has been busy tending to multiple store renovations, his staff has been keeping the customers satisfied.

Keith Thye, at the helm of Ride West BMW has had his share of challenges in the last few years with both a store move and change in department managers. According to our readers he's made the right moves and picked up four awards as a result.

Eastside Harley had consistent scores across the board which is why, although they only placed in one major category, they picked up enough points overall the win in the Top Store Overall arena.  

Congratulations to all the winners and we'll meet back here in 2004 for round three.

Patrick Thomas/Spring 02


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