Bodine putting his stamp on another success story
New Honda Powerhouse dealership seeing 20 percent monthly growth for NASCAR great
Having won the Daytona 500, Geoff Bodine’s name carries a lot of weight in Florida. Now that recognizable name is attached to a new Honda Powerhouse in Melbourne, Fla.
Geoff Bodine’s Honda of Melbourne opened last October and just like his racing days, the dealership is off to a fast start.
“We’ve really overachieved in just the short while we’ve been open,” Bodine said. “We’re rocking and rolling and we’re really proud of that.”
The Honda-exclusive store offers a wide array of Honda machines from Gold Wing motorcycles to ATVs, UTVs and trikes. The 16,000-plus square-foot facility is open seven days a week with a service and sales staff totaling 15.
Bodine has partnered with A.J. Hiers, who owns and operates three auto dealerships locally. The pair became close friends thanks to each other’s involvement in charity work.
“I moved down here to Melbourne a few years ago and I was just kind of hanging out,” Bodine said. “I started meeting people and ended up meeting A.J. and became really good friends with him helping him with his benefit for Alzheimer’s research.”
As Bodine became more involved in the community from a charitable standpoint, he soon felt the need to take things a step further and open a business.
“We wanted to get involved in this area business-wise,” said Bodine, who has long ridden motorcycles, recently making the switch from Harley to Honda himself as a rider. “The Honda Powersports store had closed in Melbourne. A.J. and I got talking and we thought there’s probably a need in this area for a Honda store, and if we’re going to do it, let’s make it a powersports store and go all the way. A.J. doesn’t do anything half way, and I like to go all the way, too. I drive it in deep and stand on the gas hard to win those races, so that’s pretty much how it all started.”
“I’ve always been a Honda motorcycle and powersports fan,” Hiers said of his motivation to co-own the store.
Bodine called Hiers the “brains of the operation,” but the former racer has made sure he’s more than just a name on the sign.
“When I’m in town, I’m at the dealership,” the NASCAR great said. “I don’t spend 24/7 there. I can’t; I’m on the road a lot and have a lot of other obligations.
“I like to organize the shop. I’m kind of a mechanical guy, so I’m trying to get the service area the way we want. We’ll eventually have it exactly the way we want it. It’s great now, but we’re going to make it even better.”
Additionally, Bodine regularly attends and rides in the weekly local bike night, representing the dealership. According to Bodine, the bike night attracts anywhere from 300 to 600 riders, so it’s important for the dealership to be closely involved.
Hiers said Bodine has been a tremendous partner and has helped drive the success of the dealership.
“My experience is in retail, his is in performance racing and dealing with the public, so it just worked out great,” Hiers explained.
“Each month we keep growing at 20 percent,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling. We have traffic coming in all the time.”
Hiers’ experience as a car dealer has come in handy in his first foray into powersports.
“We actually run the powersports business much like the car business,” he said. “People say you shouldn’t do that, but I disagree. For instance, we don’t have a dealer fee, we don’t have a setup fee, and we’re very high in CSI. We are very, very in tune with customer satisfaction.”
Hiers pinpointed the used motorcycle and accessory departments as areas he’d like to see growth in the dealership, while he expects the already growing trike segment to keep moving. The early success has Bodine thinking big, even mentioning a desire to expand to more dealerships in the future.
“We’d like to be No. 1,” Bodine said. “It’s going to be hard because these dealers have been there a long time, but we want to be one of the best.”
In addition to Bodine’s illustrious racing career, he is also involved with the U.S. Olympic bobsled program, having helped design and build the sleds for the athletes. Using Bodine’s sleds, the men’s team won gold in the 2010 Olympics, while the women took gold in 2002. Bodine hopes that track record of elite performance translates to customers.
“I’m proud of all those things, but I hope it shows people that we only deal with quality products,” he said. “The bobsleds are for the United States of America. In NASCAR, we won the biggest race you can win. We try to deal with just quality projects and quality products and that’s how we feel about the Honda dealership; quality products, a quality company. I’m really proud to represent them.”