December 29, 2010
Filed under Features
HONDA OF COOL SPRINGS AND YAMAHA SUZUKI KAWASAKI OF COOL SPRINGS
Honda of Cool Springs and Yamaha Suzuki Kawasaki of Cool Springs
1096 and 1124 West McEwen Drive
Franklin, Tenn. 37067
866/376-9300 and 866/778-1989
Jim Osborn Sr. and Jim Osborn Jr.
Jim Osborn Sr. and his son Jim Jr. opened their Honda dealership in 2002 after years in the aftermarket transmission business. The duo had operated AAMCO shops, but after selling their last AAMCO shop, the two became interested in the powersports business when Jim Osborn Jr. became a motorcycle enthusiast. The Honda dealership became theirs shortly after it opened. “Basically, this was an open point for Honda, and the Harley-Davidson dealer had contacted Honda and said this area needed a Honda dealer,” Jim Osborn Sr. recalled. The Harley dealer took over the new Honda dealership, but quickly decided the metric business was not for him. The Osborns then bought the dealership in 2002 and applied for the Powerhouse program that was just launching at the time. They were approved and built a Honda-specific dealership that reopened in June 2003. “We were the second Powerhouse dealership in the United States,” Osborn said. The next year, another opportunity became available. “In December 2004, Yamaha and Suzuki wanted us to represent their brands, and we had some additional property next door, so we built another facility.” Then in early November 2010, the Yamaha Suzuki dealership signed on with Kawasaki, and the second dealership was renamed Yamaha Suzuki Kawasaki of Cool Springs. “In our area, which is Nashville basically, we have probably the nicest, newest facility with a modern look,” Osborn said.
“My greatest concern of course is customers have been extremely reluctant to buy anything because of several factors: No. 1, they’re concerned about the economy; they’re concerned about their jobs, and they’re concerned about going further into debt with discretionary purchases,” Osborn said. Despite the economy, interest in powersports products in the Nashville area has remained high. “But when it comes down to, ‘I’m going to take it,’ people are not in the same temperament to buy,” Osborn reported.
Though Osborn sells ATVs and PWC as well as motorcycles, the bikes continue to sell the most. “The biggest seller we have year in and year out is on-road motorcycles because that’s our biggest seller in all three brands,” he said. The dealership is consistently a top dealer in its established brands. “We have probably the biggest selection of on-road bikes, and our sales staff is very knowledgeable about on-road bikes,” Osborn said. The area, with its city roads and adventurous hills, is also popular for motorcycling. “Basically, the biggest thing that really helps (on-road bikes) is the fact that we’re in a metropolitan area, and it’s a great metropolitan area,” Osborn said.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The biggest trend Osborn has seen is a lack of sales. “Obviously the industry has suffered a massive reduction in sales from September 2008 to the current period of time,” he said. “Powersports sales in general are off about 50 percent. We’re off slightly less; we’re off about 40 percent.” Throughout the recession, PWC sales have remained somewhat steady, but ATVs and on-road motorcycles have seen more of a decrease. “We have what we call discretionary income for what people use to buy our products,” Osborn explained, adding many do not have discretionary income in their personal budgets anymore. Osborn is hopeful his holiday sales have done well, and 2011 will see a slight increase over 2010.
PARTS AND SERVICE
With a service director, two service managers and six technicians between Osborn’s two dealerships, the goal is to get customers in and out as soon as possible. “We put a lot of emphasis on immediate service work with our customers,” Osborn said. “Each customer’s vehicle is looked at quickly, so it can be diagnosed immediately.” The Honda dealership also offers a unique service not available elsewhere in the area. “We have a chassis dynamometer in our Honda facility, so we can tune sport bikes,” Osborn said. Though the machine is at the Honda dealership, the service department will dyno any make, including Harley. The department advertises through e-mail and direct mailers to customers. Also bringing customers in is its three-year pre-paid service contract, which includes quicker service, discounts on parts and free mounting and balancing on tires. The parts departments at the two dealerships work hand-in-hand to offer a variety of products. “That’s kind of a nice little deal. Rather than having the same brand at both stores, we have different brands at each store,” Osborn explained. To increase sales, the department advertises through direct mailers, does in-house merchandising and sells noncurrent inventory on eBay.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“Our most successful promotion we ever had was this year when we made a special purchase of noncurrent (personal) watercraft from Honda,” Osborn said. The powerhouse dealer ordered 250 PWC and sold every one. “We were able to do that through special pricing,” Osborn reported. The promotion was advertised through TV ads and on the dealership’s website, but it grew even more after that. “Word of mouth was huge,” Osborn recalled. “Once this thing took off, it was like wildfire. We had people coming in from three states.” Events like this work for the Cool Springs dealerships because they’re focused on selling volume. “We try to pick up on something that is limited, make a special purchase and try to sell them at an attractive price,” Osborn explained. “We don’t give everything away, but we still offer great value.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“I think the most important thing we do is we have a 100 percent customer satisfaction model at both dealerships,” Osborn said. At the Cool Springs dealerships, if a customer makes a complaint, it surpasses the floor staff and goes directly to the hands of the owners, principal or general manager. “If it’s a valid concern in their mind, it’s a valid concern,” Osborn said. “We go out of the way to make sure the customer is satisfied.” PSB