Rider’s Harley-Davidson/Buell – Birmingham, AL – Sept. 29, 2003
September 29, 2003
Filed under Power Profiles
1830 Gadsden Highway
Birmingham, AL 35235
Bill and Joanne Peek
Opened as an aftermarket shop in 1976; became a franchised dealer in 1984 in Gadsden, northeast of the present location. Currently 27,000 sq. ft.; in January, moving into a 67,000 sq. ft. facility two miles away. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. 24 employees.
“My greatest concern is insurance,” says General Manager Tim Peek, Bill’s brother. “That includes insurance for the shop, but primarily for my customers. With Harley-Davidson insurance, customers have to be 25 years old before they’ll write anything. Another concern is litigation. I’m afraid the motorcycle industry is going to be hit like the tobacco industry was, and the gun industry is starting to be now, and that bothers me.”
Rider’s biggest sellers are touring bikes — like the Ultras and the Road Kings — and also the Softail Heritage and the Sportster. “Right now, the 100th Anniversary items seem to be pretty hot.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Peek calls his clientele “very diverse. If you’ve done this long enough, you’ll see the logical progression. Customers start off with a smaller Sportster, find out that they’re not hard to ride, do more riding, then move up into either the Dyna family or a Softail. Then they start taking trips and migrate toward the touring bikes.” Has the women’s segment grown? “Very much so. We do some special events, like Ladies’ Nights, and try to cater to them a bit.”
Peek says, “The reason we’re not a Rider’s Edge store is that there’s a state-sponsored rider education program less than a mile from here.” No anti-powersports issues lurking.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Peek says there are nine employees in service, all of whom have been through Harley’s various training courses, and seven in parts. “In the new store we’ll be able to carry more items, because we’re cramped for space here now. We’ll be able to stock a lot more of each item, and a wider variety. We’ll have to add employees. The MotorClothes section alone should grow greatly.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Rider’s Harley-Davidson is home to the Birmingham HOG chapter, which has 862 members.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Pay attention to your customers,” advises Peek. “I try to empower my people and tell them, ‘Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and you’ll almost always make the right decision.’ I have this thing about courtesy. If somebody walks in the door, I want somebody to say hello to them, to be polite, to be courteous. There’s no way to get on my bad side quicker than being rude to a customer. Being polite doesn’t cost you anything, yet you’ll reap a lot of benefits from it.”