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2006 Dealer Survey Results

Two independents, BMW and H-D stores lead the pack

It’s an interesting time in the Motorsports industry. Growth is slow which means the customer base has been riding longer in general. And with that we saw some of the most discerning dealer surveys in the seven year history of the exercise.

Overall averages were lower than in years past and low scores were more prevalent, especially on big box metric stores. In 2004, the average score on a scale of 1-100 was 70, this year it was 65. We’d never expect to see a lot of 100 scores, or even 90s but what this trend is showing is a decline in overall customer satisfaction.

Photo:  From out of nowhere Teri & Vince Palazo of Vince's Motorcycle Store in Lacey scored five awards this year including Top Dealer Overall.

Times are different now. Money isn’t rolling is from a thundering stock market or a booming Northwest tech market. Today money is harder to come by, people are working harder and longer to get it and when they spend it it’s more important to them now then ever before that they get their full value expected on a purchase, service or parts and accessories.

And what’s most interesting this time around is how two independents slipped into the top ranks and gave major brand dealers a run for their money.

OVERALL

Dealer Award Score
Vince's Motorcycle Store  #1 Dealer - OVERALL (Independent) 90
Harley-Davidson of Seattle #1 Dealer - OVERALL 84
South Sound BMW   Top 5  Dealer - Overall 83
Gervasi's Everett Motorsports Top 5  Dealer - Overall 82
Destination Harley-Davidson/Buell (Tacoma) Top 5  Dealer - Overall 74
Moto International Top 5  Dealer - Overall 73
Skagit Powersports Top 5  Dealer - Overall 73

Vince’s Motorcycle Store in Olympia stole the #1 position in the overall category. A brief history of Vince’s. The store has been around for several decades and operated out of a small cinder block location on Pacific Highway. They used to sell Moto Guzzi, but lost the franchise several years back. Eventually they moved to new digs on Martin Way, added a few small brands and capitalized on their reputation for great service.

Then there’s Gervasi’s up in Everett. The shop started out as service only business and garnered an SR! Top Independent Service award back in 2004. At that time we knew they were planning to expand to a new shop and bring on a major manufacturer line, but nobody would reveal much more than that. Finally last fall they opened the new shop with the Kawasaki name on the marquee. For the two year term the survey covers, when they didn’t have the Kawasaki line, Gervasi’s is considered an independent shop, but that won’t be the case two years from now.

Photo: By dividing dealerships, Cycle Barn Motorsports Group owner,
Jim Boltz, scored five awards for Harley-Davidson of Seattle.

We’ve never seen this kind of competition in the rankings before from small independent shops and don’t know if we will in years to come. Vince’s and Gervasi’s are included in the awards categories that they placed in as well as the top five major manufacturer dealers for each category. This explains why when you read the final rankings you’ll see seven and not five dealers in each one.

That’s not the only oddity of this year’s awards. Midway in 2005 Cycle Barn split into two moving their Lynnwood store a mile up the road and leaving behind their Harley-Davidson franchise to fill the old building. We were able to discern which CB customers were H-D owners and thus re-classed those surveys as H-D of Seattle, rather than Cycle Barn. The results were stunning. H-D of Seattle walked away with awards in every category. We’ve known from years past that Cycle Barn’s H-D customers never felt at home with all the metric iron side-by-side and vice versa for their metric customers. The split has been good all the way around and we expect Cycle Barn Lynnwood’s satisfaction level to rise over the next term.

SALES

Dealer Award Score
Vince's Motorcycle Store  #1  Dealer - Sales (Independent) 85
Harley-Davidson of Seattle #1  Dealer - Sales 83
South Sound BMW   Top 5  Dealer - Sales 77
Destination Harley-Davidson/Buell (Tacoma) Top 5  Dealer - Sales 76
Moto International Top 5  Dealer - Sales 74
Gervasi's Everett Motorsports Top 5  Dealer - Sales 73
Lake City Powersports Top 5  Dealer - Sales 73

Vince’s - the little store with big results. Vince’s stocks a number off small off shore brands. They’ve chosen manufacturers like United Motors, who provide good warranty support which translates to a happy customer.

Over the last two year’s Harley-Davidson of Seattle has seen a lot of change. Sales manager, Scott McMillan left the dealership in early 2005 and later that spring several top sales staff resigned or were let go during a restructure. The challenge will be for H-D of Seattle to maintain their customer base and keep it happy following the installation of a new sales team and management structure which is underway now.

Destination Harley-Davidson once again scored in this category. A lot has changed for the dealer from two years ago. Ed Wallace, Sr. who held a strong place with many of his customers has now retired, turning the reins of the business over to his son, Ed Jr. Top sales earners Stu Ness and David Yeoman have left and begun their own enterprise down the street. But the dealership was up for the challenge and the numbers show they’ve managed to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

South Sound BMW, Washington’s newest BMW dealership had quite a challenge ahead when they secured the old Tacoma BMW franchise several years ago. Build a clientele and operate the largest single line BMW motorcycle dealership in the world. The work is paying off as the sales staff scored well with their customers.

Photo:  Great deals, top notch service, parts & accessories support aided Moto International in scoring no less than six awards for 2006.

Gervasi’s places here because they carried the Kymco scooter brand during the term of the survey.

If you watch the industry newslines you’d know that things haven’t been that rosy in the Italian motorcycle world. But Moto International’s Dave Richardson and crew took advantage by purchasing a number of new units at auction over the last few years making new bikes available to customers at great prices.

Some people just like the small store feeling.  Tom Lambert's and John Heale's longevity within the Lake City Powersports structure has gained and retained many customers for the Seattle dealership over the years.

PARTS, ACCESSORIES & APPAREL

Dealer Award Score
Vince's Motorcycle Store  #1  Dealer - Parts (Independent) 92
Gervasi's Everett Motorsports Top 5 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 84
Harley-Davidson of Seattle #1 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 82
South Sound BMW   Top 5 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 80
University Honda/Yamaha Top 5 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 75
Destination Harley-Davidson/Buell (Tacoma) Top 5 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 73
Moto International Top 5 Dealer - Parts, Accessories & Apparel 73

For Vince’s and Gervasi’s the challenge has always been to provide parts and accessories in addition to their service. Gervasi’s in particular has built an inventory of parts for the major Japanese manufacturers and Harley-Davidson, even though they only provide service on those brands.

Although Harley-Davidson of Seattle shared store space with Cycle Barn, several years ago they separated their parts department from the metric half and have since then had dedicated staff who only handle H-D parts, accessories and apparel.

What’s unique about South Sound BMW’s parts, accessories and apparel is the diversity. It’s not all gaskets, helmets and oil, but SS BMW has ventured into carrying some outdoor gear such as tents and has an expanded selection of Touratech product. Everything for the touring rider all in one place.

Sarah Boersema returns to University Honda/Yamaha/MZ and brings with her the same customer service ethic as her husband Mike, who formerly ran the Capitol Hill shop’s parts department. Oh – okay – she taught him everything anyway. University is more than happy to accept orders over the phone, do prompt dealer locator searches for hard-to-find parts and is prompt to call back when special orders arrive.

Photo:  Tom Wicken, owner of University Honda/Yamaha/MZ and his sister, Sarah picked up a Top 5 Parts & Accessories award - just like they did in 2004.

The interesting difference between our other two winners, Moto International and Destination Harley-Davidson is that one is a big box store, while the other is a small shop. But both maintain a staff of knowledgeable people who are well versed in what they sell. That’s an asset you can’t win this award without.

SERVICE

Dealer Award Score
Vince's Motorcycle Store  #1 Dealer - Service (Independent) 97
Harley-Davidson of Seattle #1 Dealer - Service 91
Gervasi's Everett Motorsports Top 5 Dealer - Service 88
Waldron Kawasaki/Arctic Cat  Top 5 Dealer - Service 85
Moto International Top 5 Dealer - Service 78
South Sound BMW   Top 5 Dealer - Service 76
Northwest Harley-Davidson Top 5 Dealer - Service 75

It could be repeated that one important thing to note about both Gervasi’s and Vince’s is that they both built and expanded their businesses based on providing good service. Since both owners are techs themselves, it’s not something you’re going to see get left behind at either location.

Harley-Davidson of Seattle has always maintained a staff of H-D-specifically-trained techs and now we see that they are well regarded by their customer base.

When South Sound BMW built their store into what was a concrete box left behind by a United Furniture warehouse, they went state of the art with design, making it a great place for techs to work and customers to have their bikes serviced.

Micha at Moto International scores well with his customers, but if the other techs on staff didn’t perform as well we’d hear about it in the surveys. These awards don’t come down to one person alone.

New entries to the category this year are Northwest Harley-Davidson and Waldron Kawasaki. Waldron has traveled a long road to transfer the customer satisfaction they’ve provided their snowmobile customers over the decades. When they added the Kawasaki line to their shop back in 2003, you knew it would only be a matter of time before we’d see them come above radar in this category.

Photo:  From service winner in 2004 to winning five awards in 2006 Kevin Guernsey and Rick Gervasi of Gervasi's Everett Powersports are poised for success as they embark on their journey as a major OEM delaer.

STORE LOOK AND FEEL

Dealer Award Score
South Sound BMW   #1 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 98
Skagit Powersports Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 87
Vince's Motorcycle Store  Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 86
Downtown Harley-Davidson/Buell  Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 83
Gervasi's Everett Motorsports Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 83
Ducati Seattle Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 82
Hinshaw's Motorcycle Store  Top 5 Dealer - Store Look & Feel 80

This year’s first place winner is South Sound BMW. If you haven’t checked out the store, stop by the next time you ride through Fife – even if you don’t ride a BMW. A comfortable atmosphere with wall to wall carpet, a fireplace and always some coffee on the brew. The design aspects are as modern as it gets without coming off ‘sterile.’ It’s also fun to view the images and actual vintage bikes scattered about the store. This explains why the store captured 1st place in the 2005 Powersports Dealer News Survey as well.

This category sees the entry of Skagit Powersports, their first ever Dealer Survey Award. It’s not easy getting six lines of bikes into one store and showcasing them all, but Skagit manages to do it day in and day out. Skagit has also become more active with getting new customers up to see their digs, such as when they participated in last years Old 99 poker run.

Downtown Harley-Davidson showed up again in this category. It will be interesting to see what happens if the rumored sale and move of the franchise go through this spring.

Photo:  Having built the largest BMW dealership in the world, Keith & Anne Thye and Brendan Ferrer of South Sound BMW pick up five awards in the 2006 Dealer Survey.

Ducati Seattle scored in the category again as well. Ducati owners tend to like style and the downtown Seattle store continues to satisfy their tastes.

Finally – Hinshaw’s Motorcycle Store scored here this year. The store, built several years ago across the street from their old location, is well laid out, easy to park at, get around in and, best of all, showcases many stunning restorations from owner Ron Orr’s private collection.

BY MANUFACTURER

Dealer Award
Moto International #1 Dealer - Aprilia
South Sound BMW #1 Dealer - BMW
Skagit Powersports #1 Dealer - Ducati
Harley-Davidson of Seattle #1 Dealer - Harley-Davidson
South Sound Honda #1 Dealer - Honda
Skagit Powersports #1 Dealer - Kawasaki
Moto International #1 Dealer - Moto Guzzi
Skagit Powersports #1 Dealer - Suzuki
I-90 Motorsports #1 Dealer - Triumph
Skagit Powersports #1 Dealer - Yamaha
Skagit Powersports #1 Dealer - KTM

With Independents, BMW and H-D taking many of the top awards, Skagit Powersports scooped up top OEM awards on every line they carry leaving a number of big box metric stores empty-handed this year. 

Special thanks to all the readers who participated in this year's survey and to Greg Maust who performed much of the meticulous number crunching required to make this survey happen.

Photo: Skagit Powersports enters as first-time winners in the Dealers Survey and takes a record seven awards in doing so.

At the bottom of the barrel was Cycle Mart in Lacey.  The dealer has since been purchased by Moto International so keep an eye on this space come 2008.

Congratulations to all the winners and be sure to check out the ones you haven't stopped into yet. 

TM/Spring 06

 


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