If you ever should visit Century Harley-Davidson in Medina, Ohio, be sure to wear your shades. If the sun’s shining, you’re bound to be blinded by the gleaming chrome as you make your way uphill to the dealership, located just off Interstate 71 southeast of Cleveland.
Out front, at least two dozen bikes on offer lined the edge of the parking lot. Inside the showroom, an array of 100 more unique used and new Harleys (duplicates are kept in storage) sat ripe for the picking.
But if you visit, you won’t be left looking for long — a friendly Century employee will greet you almost immediately once you walk through the door. It’s one of the many small touches that Century co-owners Pam and Bob Norton take pride in. The Nortons, avid riders who switched career gears from the corporate world to purchase Century in 2005, are truly passionate about Harley-Davidson. Knowing their customers share their excitement for the brand, they strive to give the best possible customer experience from the first showroom visit and throughout the life of the bike.
“Our product is a lifestyle,” Pam says. “And when you share that lifestyle with your customer, it’s really a unique business. We don’t sell a bike and end the relationship — it’s definitely just the beginning for us.”
Century makes its customer connection fun from the get-go — proud new bike owners get to ring a big bell on the showroom floor to announce purchases, and Century staffers snap photos of customers and their new bikes. The pictures are hung on floor-to-ceiling displays on two walls in the showroom —you can’t help but grin back at the array of beaming faces and shining chrome.
“I mean, just look at those smiling faces,” Pam says. “This is really what it’s all about.”
Once a Harley is purchased at Century, the dealership can offer customers a well-stocked apparel department, parts counter and service center, along with a rental counter. When the Nortons purchased the shop in 2005, they also extended hours to Sundays.
“Our big thing is: how do we give the best possible customer experience?” Pam says.
To that end, Century also offers every new Harley owner an orientation led by the service manager giving an overview of warranties, break-in and maintenance information. The dealership also offers ladies-only garage parties that give women special tips and tricks for riding and maintaining their bikes in a friendly, laid-back setting. A tour of each department is given, and must-know safety information and crucial gear are explained. The women are also taught how to safely pick up a tipped-over bike.
“Women riders are a growing community, and it’s great to be able to cater to them,” Pam says.
Century’s staff members — from the service department all the way through to apparel — receive training on a regular basis, so they’re able to answer virtually any question customers might throw their way.
“Everyone on our staff is trained to be experts in their product lines,” Pam says. “There’s new technology coming out every year, and we can’t afford to get behind on it. Our customers rely on us.”
And beyond simple customer service, Century fosters the spirit of family through its HOG chapter, which boasts over 300 members and hosts events nearly every weekend throughout the year. The chapter holds rides, fundraisers and other events, bolstering the camaraderie and sense of community Pam feels is unique to Harley owners. Earlier this summer, the chapter raised over $20,000 for the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, with over 20 Century HOG members embarking on a 600-mile ride to help raise funds while other members rode close to home.
“These are all potential customers,” Pam says of the Century HOG members. “Everyone comes together because you share the enthusiasm for the lifestyle and the product. So it’s a lot of fun, and it makes sense for the business.”
And the Nortons truly do share a passion for Harley-Davidson with their clients. Bob, a rider for over 30 years, and Pam, who went from passenger to full-on rider about 10 years ago, uprooted from Chicago to Bob’s native Ohio when the opportunity to purchase Century came up. Pam says that she and Bob truly feel privileged to go to work each day.
“There’s nothing more exciting,” Pam says. “I mean, this is Harley-Davidson, one of the most amazing brands in the world, so to have the opportunity to run a dealership is just incredible."