POWER PROFILE – H-D/Buell of Lancaster
October 19, 2004
Filed under Features
HARLEY-DAVIDSON/BUELL OF LANCASTER
1759 West Avenue J-12
Lancaster, CA 93534
Ron Emard and Scott Kellerman
50,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in December 1985; Emard bought out Kellerman’s original partner six months ago. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycles, plus Kendon trailers. 27 employees.
Kellerman’s greatest concern is if the interest rates rise enough "to where it doesn’t make sense for people to buy motorcycles. But right now — with gasoline prices climbing — our market still looks good. California is in a different situation than the rest of the country. We have year-round riding conditions, so we stay busy consistently."
Hot sellers at Lancaster include the Motor Company’s entire touring line—like the Electra Glide and the Road King—"and we’re also having good luck with Sportsters right now," says Kellerman. "The Buell XB 12 is really moving well."
At this time, Lancaster can’t take advantage of the Rider’s Edge program to promote the small-displacement Buells. "Two dealers were just approved for Rider’s Edge as a pilot program in California, because the state has its own rider-training program. We’re on the list to become a training site later."
In PG&A, Kellerman says, "anything chrome sells well, and performance parts are hot right now, too."
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The typical Lancaster customer is in his mid-40s with an excellent income, probably a successful businessman. "More people are paying cash for bikes than they used to," says Kellerman. "Due to the low rates, people are refinancing their homes then coming in with cash to buy a motorcycle."
"We’re working hard at keeping noise levels down, because we’re hearing across the country and from Harley-Davidson that noise is going to be an issue in the near future," Kellerman says. "It’s better to self-regulate than have the state do it for us."
PARTS AND SERVICE
According to Kellerman, "every position in the building is a ‘sales’ position. As long as I have counter people showing our customers what’s available, the customers are happy to put it on their bikes to make theirs different from everybody else’s. After all, we’re the ones who are close to the cutting edge, doing all the research."
The service department includes a staff of 12, and all the technicians are PHD trained and continually going to school.
"A dealership has an advantage over an aftermarket shop because we are continually training—and retraining—our employees. That’s something that Harley’s big on."
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Lancaster’s 2nd Annual Victory Ride (www.victoryride.org) is a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The dealership also hosts the Mojave Desert Regional Chili Cookoff each October, and holds a Fallen Officers’ Ride each September to raise money for local law enforcement and firefighters who have been disabled or killed in the line of duty.
"We co-sponsor an annual event called Thunder on the Lot in a city park that includes a bike show, a car show, and a concert," explains Kellerman. "Last year, at the 13th event, we raised more than $180,000 for local children’s charities." Antelope Valley HOG, which is affiliated with the dealership, has 250 members.
WORDS OF ADVICE
Kellerman believes it’s important to remember that things are continually changing. "It seems like just when you get into a rut, something new and exciting pops up to reinvigorate you so that you get excited again about the product and the customer."
In order to help that along, "Keep an eye on what’s going on, get all the training that you can, and go to the dealer shows," he advises. "Getting involved with the community has helped us. The more you give to the community, the more they give back to you." psb