Erico Motorsports/Vespa Denver – Denver, CO – July 26, 2004
July 26, 2004
Filed under Power Profiles
2855 Walnut Street
Denver, CO 80238
John and Tai Beldock
20,000-sq.-ft.dealership founded in 1993. At present location — a converted warehouse near Denver’s baseball stadium — since 1999. Carries Triumph, Ducati, and Moto Guzzi, and recently acquired Colorado Vespa, closed that facility, and moved the scooter dealership to the main store. Triumph’s number-one North American dealer in 2003. 22 employees.
“The ways that we market motorcycles are incredibly antiquated,” says Tai Beldock, co-owner and marketing director. “If this industry is going to move forward, we need to address the old way of getting our message out. Our customers are smarter and more sophisticated. Motorcycling stems, obviously, from that feeling of freedom, the wind in your hair, a bit of ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’ But with the advent of the Internet, people are doing their homework before they buy a bike. We need to be a little more savvy.”
Beldock says Vespa made its “new debut” in 2000. “Everyone who was riding an ET2 and an ET4 is now upgrading to the new Granturismo GT200. As for Triumph, everybody’s really excited about the new Rocket III. For our unveiling party next week we sent a mailing to 500 Triumph customers. We have a pretty long waiting list for the Rocket III. Moto Guzzis sell in ones and twos; there isn’t any particular hot-selling model. Ducati’s Monster 800 is a nice around-town bike, and Denver has about 350 good riding days per year.” The Beldocks toured the Dainese factory in Europe last year, then became a dealer. “Dainese is doing really well for us — I think because these leathers are European and super-high-end, like the bikes we sell. Scooters are starting to catch on, and it has been a challenge to find scooter gear. Mad Dog’s fun, funky shirts and jackets have sold well.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“The scooter industry has two different demographics,” explains Beldock. “One is the customer in his or her early 20s who can afford a $1,000 Japanese scooter because they’re going to college or money is really tight. Most people who buy a Vespa in our store are 30, and some are in their 40s. They own a loft downtown — or a cool, urban townhouse — and the scooter is a fun toy to commute to work, the grocery store or the gym. As for motorcycles, we definitely skew older there, too. 85% of those customers are male, about 40 years old, with a household income of $75,000 or $80,000. Moto Guzzi is for somebody who has refined taste, because you don’t hear a lot about them in the United States. Our Guzzi following is incredibly loyal.” In terms of the trends she’s spotted, Beldock says, “As customers get older, first they buy for speed — then later for style and comfort. They get more established in their careers. Speed isn’t as important as those classic Italian lines. A lot of our customers’ first bike was a Honda or a Kawasaki. Then they move up to Ducati, the sign that they’ve made it in the motorcycling world.”
“Colorado has no mandatory helmet law, and there’s a strong lobbying group to keep it that way,” says Beldock. “Our newspaper has a motorcycle columnist on staff. There are many motorcycle dealers in Denver, but it’s not a cutthroat environment. We dealers are always very nice to each other. It’s a great town to do business in.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Beldock says visitors to Erico Motorsports are immediately greeted. “We make sure to get them to the right person — whether in sales, parts, or service. We spend a lot of money so our techs attend all the OEM training available. We’re sending two techs to Rocket III training, although Triumph only requires one. With the volume of Rocket IIIs we’re going to sell, we need more than one expert. Our technicians really work as a team. If one can’t figure out something, he doesn’t spin his wheels. They’ll all huddle briefly to discuss the problem.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Erico’s Vespa Scooter Street Team members, attired in “Vespa Denver” jackets, attend special events, park their scooters with take-away postcards stuck in the seat, “and say, ‘Hey, hey’ to people, telling them how great it is to ride,” says Beldock. “People see the group around town. They look like they’re having fun — and they are.” For the last five years Erico has sponsored the Denver Cycle Sluts’ float in the Mile High City’s Gay Pride Parade. “That’s my favorite event of the year,” says Beldock. “For a week before the event, the Cycle Sluts come to our shop to build the float on our trailer, which John pulls in the parade. The riders throw condoms to the crowd that are printed with, ‘Ride Safely, Always Wear a Helmet.’” Every April Fool’s the Beldocks and staff throw a customer-appreciation party. “We clear out the bikes, eat barbecue, and dance. It’s truly not about selling anything — just, ‘Thank you, and have a beer and a couple of ribs on us.’” Other promotions: Sponsoring racers (including John himself, who took first place in the 125cc class in Sicily’s prestigious vintage Motogiro roadrace — the first American ever to do so), on-track riding days, the T3RG Safety School (which uses Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum), and a line of riding gear for women called Moto Gal.
WORDS OF ADVICE
The modest Tai says the Beldocks have been successful based on “dumb luck. We look forward to the next 20 years, because every day we learn something new. We love our business — I think that has gotten us where we are. My husband always says that when he races, he never looks in the rearview mirror because it doesn’t matter what everybody’s doing behind you–what really matters is in front of you. We never bad-mouth our competition or an employee who has quit. We don’t look in the rear-view mirror.” psb
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