In a world of increasing consolidation and multi-line dealerships, Cascade Moto Classics Inc. in Beaverton, OR, is not only forging its own path as a family-owned, single-line dealership, but is succeeding by following that path. In fact, they are doing so well that owners Kelly and Janice McCarthy will be receiving an award for “Outstanding Contribution to Triumph Motorcycles” at the Triumph Global dealer’s conference, held in London, England.
“We have some two generation families,” said Wayne Monahan, general manager of Cascade Moto Classics. “We call them ‘Born-agains.’ Father comes in with son and tells son, ‘You need a Triumph.’ Son isn’t sure that he needs a Triumph when he walks in, but after taking a look around here and going on a test ride, it’s, ‘Yeah, I need a Triumph.’”
How do they do it? By running their dealership in a traditional way, as a community gathering spot. The McCarthys said their business philosophy can be summed up in one word: Relationships. “Building a long-lasting relationship with our customers is our genuine goal. Seeing our customers as friends, we strive to ensure that they receive the best support before, during and after their purchase. After all, we do not want to disappoint friends.”
In the mid 1920s, Harley-Davidson started an initiative to organize and design enthusiast clubs that would meet at dealerships. This idea proved popular, and other manufacturers followed suit. A lot of people got through the Depression through the motorcycling community that had formed around their local dealership. In turn, the local motorcyclists supported their dealer. In the 1960s, with increased sales, dealerships started becoming more businesslike. This was overall a good idea, the traditional dealership could be dirty and not particularly welcoming to new customers, but in some cases, the idea of customer service and being a center for the local motorcycling community got lost along the way.
Cascade Moto Classics Inc. has taken the idea of the traditional dealership and updated it for the 21st century world, with bright lighting and clean restrooms. The twin aims of the owners are to maintain the enthusiasm of the existing customer base while adding new customers. Regular events sponsored by the dealership support these aims. The dealership sponsors two rides on the third weekend of the month, with a Triumph Tiger dualsport ride on Saturday and a classics road event on Sunday. Breakfast for all customers takes place the first Saturday of every month at a local restaurant. Customers are encouraged to go to the racetrack and root for Mackenzie Ancien, who is mopping up the competition on her 675 Triumph racer. The dealership sponsors a very active RAT (Riders of Triumph) club, which has a yearly rally at a scenic spot in the nearby mountains. The club shares the welcoming attitude of the management. A sample email exchange: “I don’t have a Triumph right now. Can I show up for the ride?” Answer: “Absolutely!”
The well laid out and sparkling dealership, staffed with enthusiastic, polite service people, encourages new customers to enter. A pot of coffee is always warming in the sales department, enhanced by fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
The friendly clubhouse feel of the dealership would not be possible without outstanding employees who enjoy coming to work.
“The McCarthys and myself want to see a smile on each of our employees’ faces when they clock in,” Monahan said. “We are staff oriented. The staff comes first. Everyone working here is well paid and appreciated. We have a staff breakfast on the first Wednesday of each month. We honestly ask all employees how we can improve. We encourage discussion.”
A great dealership deserves a great website, and Cascades’ online presence is very user-friendly, with easy-to-navigate features, including the well-filled event calendar, a gift certificate offer for veterans and active-duty military, a long list of testimonials and photos of all staff. Unusual items include GPS coordinates (for the dualsport crowd) and a recommendation for a nearby diner.
Although much has been made of the graying of the motorcycle world, Cascade Moto Classics does get a lot of millennials walking through the doors. “Millennials yearn to create relationships they can control,” Monahan said. “More than price, they are looking to create a bond.”
As a result, the ready-made community and welcoming attitude of Cascade entices young folks in the door. A typical review on Yelp from a millennial: “Being a new biker, I read great reviews of this place and went to check it out a couple of times,” wrote Vish. “I was getting similar bikes at different dealerships a lot cheaper, however, the level of customer service just made me give my business to Cascade. Every person in this store was helpful and helped me make up my mind, will buy here again.”
Cascade Moto Classics, by the way, has a five star rating on Yelp — unheard of for a motorcycle dealership.
One way new customers find out about the dealership is through motorcycle training classes. Cascade Moto Classics Inc. works with Team Oregon, the local motorcycle training organization.
“A lot of the instructors are Triumph owners,” Monahan said. “We advertise in the brochure attendees get with their training. We offer a free safety vest and an invitation to breakfast. Lately, Team Oregon classes are filling up fast, which is a cause for optimism.”
Cascade Moto Classics Inc. got its start as the part-time hobby of the owners. They partnered with a friend to run a parts and accessory business. The business grew, and eventually the friend sold them his share in the enterprise. When Triumph decided to return to the U.S., the McCarthys applied for the franchise, and, after a 7 a.m. meeting with then-CEO of Triumph America, Michael Lock, and Tom Hicks, who was to be the area rep, they were chosen to be the Triumph dealers for their area.
After running out of room in their old location (a two-bedroom house turned into a retail store), they moved to a larger facility in 2001. Since the move, Cascade Moto Classics has consistently been one of the top 10 in Triumph sales for the U.S. In 2009, they received an award for, “top dealer since 1994.”
Monahan has been in the motorcycle business for over 30 years and has some advice for dealerships.
“E-commerce is a real challenge. To meet it, dealers must differentiate themselves from everything else that competes for a customer’s attention and dollars,” Monahan said. “It is a real fight for attention from the public, in a world where there are thousands of distractions. You want to be that destination, the place that people want to go.”
Cascade Moto Classics Inc. has met that challenge and continues to flourish.