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Moto Milano – Windham, ME – March 10, 2003

March 10, 2003
Filed under Power Profiles

CONTACT
656 Roosevelt Trail
Windham, ME 04062
207/892-5420
www.motomilano.com

OWNER
Gerry Milano

BUSINESS PROFILE
4,400 sq. ft. dealership founded in 1990, “but we didn’t become a Ducati dealer until the late 1990s,” says Milano. “Until then we featured service, parts, accessories, and high-performance work, and have offered dynamometer tuning for nine years now.” Milano bought the land for the present facility and built from the ground up, opening in 1997. “We did carry Moto Guzzi, also, but we dropped them when Aprilia bought them. They are not dealer-oriented and just want dollar figures and unit numbers.” Five full-time employees.

GREATEST CONCERN
“I think Internet sales of vehicles should not be allowed,” says Milano. “If there needs to be federal intervention to stop it, then fine. It’s not fair to someone who makes the investment for someone else — who has a bigger bank account and has spread himself very thin — to advertise in that other guy’s backyard, almost below their cost. It happens with all brands. What they’ve begun to crack down on here, in Maine, is customers going to Canada, buying vehicles, and bringing them back into the United States. With the favorable exchange rate, customers actually were paying considerably less.”

WHAT’S HOT?
“In the last couple of weeks we’ve sold half a dozen of the Monster series,” says Milano. “That ‘naked bike’ look is beginning to have a broader appeal. Out of the six, one was 900cc; the rest were 750cc and smaller.”
Moto Milano moves a lot of helmets, gloves, and leather jackets. “We do a brisk helmet business, to say the least.” Milano concentrates on First Gear jackets, although he’d love to sell more Ducati gear.
“Hopefully with new people in charge at the OEM and some awareness, they can supply us better. The problem for a Ducati dealer is, we order the jacket and it’s placed on backorder because Ducati North America doesn’t have it. But the customer can go online, order it from the Italian Ducati Web site, and have it at their house in three days. We dealers look like dummies. The customer thinks, ‘The dealer must be lying to me. I went on-line and had it in three days.’ But that’s about my only complaint with Ducati.”

CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Milano says the majority of his customers are in their 20s, followed closely by men in their 30s and 40s. “Stunt riding is growing quickly, since the stunt riders have learned that doing high-speed foolishness on the open road is not a way to gain popularity with your sport,” says Milano.
“Now it’s all done at very slow speeds at an exhibition level, rather than an outlaw level. So a lot of guys want a different color of windshield on their new bike, or want to put on framesavers or rear LED lights. No longer is the new bike alone totally cool. You have to make it yours.”

ANTI-POWERSPORTS ISSUES
“Thankfully, we’re not facing too many anti-powersports issues, because this is vacationland — as it says on our license plate,” notes Milano. “Snowmobiling is a very large part of the economy of this state. And the ATV market here is large, because it’s a year-’round sport that can easily be done in the Winter. A lot of the snowmobile clubs are working it out with the ATV clubs so they can share trails all year long.”

PARTS AND SERVICE
Moto Milano has three Ducati-certified technicians and two full-time parts folks (and one part-timer during the busier months). “Right now I’m looking at five to six feet of snow,” says Milano, “but it’s warm today — in the 30s — and we’re actually going to test ride a couple of bikes this morning. We’re on a main street, so it’s all dry, just mostly sandy.” Moto Milano recently added new point-of-sale and service software. “It has a few glitches that hopefully will be worked out before Spring.”

WORDS OF ADVICE
“Don’t overextend yourself,” advises Milano. “Be conservative and we will all make it through it. This is just part of history. The early 1980s were terrible. Nobody sold anything and the major Japanese brands had warehouses full of bikes collecting rust. It took Honda something like five years to sell all their early 1980s bikes, and Yamaha wasn’t too far behind.
“My rep, like all of the OEMs, is encouraged by his bosses to wholesale X number of bikes. The smartest thing to do is play it safe — move what you have first, then maybe buy some. But only buy half of what you think.”

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