Dealer races forward with Speed Shop at track
The Transportation Revolution’s efforts draw bike and accessory sales
With all the pomp and circumstance a three-year project deserved, The Transportation Revolution opened its Speed Shop at the NOLA Motorsports Park in April.
The New Orleans-based dealership not only unveiled the Ducati 1199 Panigale at the event, but it also showed its customers its service shop, retail store and lounge at the recently opened park.
The grand opening of the Speed Shop had been a long time coming. Well-known boat builder Laney Chouest approached TTRNO in 2009, asking if the dealership wanted to be a part of the multi-sport racetrack he was building. Zach Materne, the dealership’s general manager of sales, was eager to get on board, as the store was beginning to see its Ducati sales take off.
“We figured that if we could really promote people using their sport bikes on the race track, it would increase our business,” he said.
So the dealership set off to create a facility at the track where customers could have their bikes serviced and stored, and where they could watch races on TV, relax and socialize. Already it has been a success.
With racing beginning in January, NOLA opened up its member services, which allows users to pay $5,000 for 100 days on the track, including exclusive member-only days. For an additional $195, motorcycling members can receive TTRNO’s valet service, in which the Speed Shop stores a rider’s bike and leathers and preps the bike for each visit. Service and maintenance is also built into the package.
“When the customer shows up, the bike is in the member paddock, ready to go in the tire warmers, and if they have leathers, the leathers are there,” Materne explained.
As of mid-May, before the track had even hosted its own grand opening in June, TTRNO had signed eight customers to its valet service, and four had already bought new bikes from the dealership.
“Customers are now having conversations with us that this will be my track bike and this will be my regular bike,” Materne explained.
Beyond the bike sales, PG&A sales are also bringing in extra profit for TTRNO.
“It’s not just the bike purchase. If they’re on board with that, they’re probably going to want to upgrade their suspension; they’re going to need tires once a month too, so it’s not just the bikes, it’s the ancillary products, too,” Materne said.
In addition to the member valet service, the Speed Shop also offers one-time valet services and leather rentals on public track days, as well as tire and trackside service.
To research its impending track venture, TTRNO first began attending track days at a facility about an hour and a half’s drive from the dealership. The staff offered to bring riders’ bikes to the track, and soon they were easily filling up their truck for the trip. Through that experience, they learned that people were actively using at least one local track, so they were confident the NOLA Speed Shop would be a good addition to their business.
With the valet service and 400-square-foot air conditioned lounge at the new NOLA park, TTRNO found it could encourage its customers to get involved in the facility closer to the city.
“It gives us an opportunity to kind of build a community around the facility,” Materne said.
In addition to the regular events at the NOLA park, some larger motorcycle events have been booked at the track. The AMA Superbike finale, the Triumph Big Kahuna, will be held at the track the first weekend of October, and testing was run in late June. A WERA race was also held at the end of June. For such crowd-generating events, the Speed Shop is open as a retail store, and the lounge is available for members.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get in front of a much larger audience,” Materne said.
He admits that investing in a facility such as the Speed Shop was a bit of a risk, but he says it was a calculated risk. In addition to the facility costs, a staffer has to be available each member track day, and the monthly public track days are all hands on deck. But, with bike sales already improving and a community being built, Materne knows it was the right step for his dealership.
The dealership not only has the advantage of having its shop along the main entrance, but it also is unique among other track facilities.
“At this point we are the only motorcycle dealer involved, and we’re the only retail business outside of the businesses that are need for the track to run,” Materne said.
With 2012 being TTRNO’s 10th anniversary, Materne said it’s a good time for the dealership to focus on racing, while still serving its scooter customers.
“Symbolically, this is our 10th year, so his is kind of a shift” he said. “This year, we’re really promoting that side of our business.”
The dealership’s anniversary celebration will even be centered around the AMA race in October.
The staff at TTRNO is hoping the track draws in a variety of riders and customers and encourages more people in the community to become involved in racing.
“We’ve never been a motorsports town,” Materne said. “This track is 15 minutes out of town, and now is the time for us to become a first-class motorsports town.”