Customers as Friends and Family
There are at least 50 bikes parked in the driveway. Many are new, some are old, mostly they are BMWs but some other brands also are thrown into the mix. The doors to the dealership are open, a hundred conversations about bikes are taking place and the man behind the barbecue grill is going full tilt boogie. At Irv Seaver BMW Motorcycles it’s business as usual on the first Saturday of the month.
These mini open houses are a tradition at the dealership, with customers so used to it they’ve incorporated the monthly affair into their routine. Get on the bike, go to Irv Seaver and grab a bite, talk bikes, then ride. Several local clubs meet at the dealership this same day each month, the staff seeing several different groups coming throughout the day.
The store known as Irv Seaver Motorcycles has been in continuous operation since 1911. Originally an Indian motorcycle dealership named Carriker Motors, Irv Seaver acquired and re-named the dealership in 1953… one month before Indian ceased operations. Many other brands were sold at the dealership throughout the years in order to stay in business until BMW emerged as the sole brand.
Evan Bell was a line mechanic at the dealership back then, ultimately working his way up to general manager. In 1979 Bell bought the business but did not change the name. He had become a BMW master mechanic in the 1960s, his son Brian Bell following in his footsteps. Tom Tohal, who has been with the dealership for over 35 years, is also a master BMW mechanic – as are, in fact, all of their mechanics. With this profound depth of knowledge and longevity with the brand, customer bikes are shipped in from all over the country to Irv Seaver for restoration and repair.
Yet for all that they know about the older bikes, Irv Seaver BMW Motorcycles is not a stodgy old classic motorcycle shop. They have young staff members, an ex-Hollywood marketing guy, a sexy and personable female apparel manager and a supermoto racer on staff. And in an area with five BMW dealers within an hour of them, they’ve managed to be a consistent top 10 dealer for BMW since the 1970s, so they must be doing something right.
“We really try to maintain the premium brand image of BMW, so we do not take a discount business model into consideration,” says David, Diaz, general manager of the dealership. “We would rather build value and show the value of the BMW product than discount it. First and foremost we sell ourselves. We sell our dealership as the place to buy and service your motorcycle. We show the vast experience of our service department, and in our showroom, parts department and apparel we have real riders who really know their products.”
Diaz has worked at the dealership more than 26 years and still he leads rides in Death Valley, conducts moto camping experiences for customers and when this profile goes to print he will be taking a group of customers on a RawHyde Adventure down the Continental Divide. The feeling of community is pervasive through everything the dealership does; educational seminars, motorcycle adventure speakers and cookouts with their customers make it feel more like home base than anything else.
“Customers become our friends, and that makes us more than a faceless business entity that just takes their money,” says Diaz. “Riding with your customers, doing things with your customers, really ingratiates your customer base to your store and your staff personally. And with that it really becomes a way to solve problems before they even become problems.”
Sounds like a mutually beneficial friendship.
Irv Seaver Motorcycles
607 W Katella Ave.
Orange, CA 92867
Phone: (714) 532-3700
Aftermarket: Held, Arai, Schuberth,
Shoei, Olympia, Sidi, Touratech,
Michelin, Metzler, Dunlop, Continental,
First Gear and Gerbings