September 14, 2004
Filed under Features
16123 West Colonial Drive
Winter Garden, FL 34787
Ralph and Wyn Kern
10,000-sq.-ft. dealership, built from the ground up, near Orlando in 2001. Ralph and his son Wyn also own Performance Engineering, which performs motorcycle engine and suspension modifications, and machines clutch baskets, triple-clamps, etc., for motocross bikes. Carries Honda’s full line, exclusively. Largest-selling segment is cruiser–60% of sales, followed by ATV (20%), dirtbike (15%), and scooters/PWC (5%). Also opening a new dealership, Performance Honda New Tampa (in Tampa Bay). The Kerns hope to close on the property soon and have the 19,000-sq.-ft. dealership up and running by the first of the year. 35 employees.
Wyn Kern says his greatest concern “is probably the media, with their continual negative ATV articles. We no longer have a helmet law in Florida. During Daytona Bike Week, if somebody gets killed it’s always because they didn’t have a helmet on. Who knows if that’s so? They could have been walking across the street at that time. For sure I don’t advocate not wearing a helmet — I think people should. But I think the mainstream media is our biggest detriment.”
The largest-selling units at Performance Honda are the Shadow Aero 750 and Shadow Spirit 750 cruisers, while the hot sportbikes are the CBR 1000RR and 600RR. Top-selling dirtbikes include the CRF 450 and CRF 250, while the sizzling ATVs are the utility-oriented Rincon and the sporty TRX 450R. In Aquatrax PWC, the three-seater turbo is heating up the water.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Kern says the typical Performance customer “is about 45 years old, and we have a lot of female customers, too.”
The Kerns also own Unlimited Sports, doing business as Gatorback Cycle Park. “We are the promoters of some large motocross events,” explains Wyn, “like the Florida Gold Cup Series, the Winternational Olympics — the largest amateur motocross event in the world right now, and the Florida Winter Am series — in its 33rd year. We’re really into dirtbiking, but it’s hard to get approval for another dirtbike track. Here in eastern Florida we have some pretty good riding areas. The biggest issue I’ve seen is no-wake zones for the manatees in the river, which is totally ridiculous.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Performance’s parts department has 10 salespeople, and the 12 folks in service include six technicians, two service writers, two bike assemblers, and two porters who clean vehicles. “We’re always changing up things in the parts department, as far as marketing and the way we display our products,” explains Kern. “We try to move them around a lot.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
The Gold Wing club meet the first Tuesday of every month at Performance, and the dealership sponsors a lot of rides, including a monthly event for the Honda Rider’s Club of America and Aquatrax watercraft club rides. “We actually advertise that we’re in the town of Winter Garden, because Oakland is a really small community,” explains Kern.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Honda has a philosophy of ‘lifetime owner loyalty,’ and we really stick with that philosophy,” says Kern. “I think we’re good at being personable with our customers. Customer service is what drives people back to our dealership. We have a great product, and we have great support from Honda, also.” psb
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