When Jeff McLennan and Harry Pacynski purchased Des Plaines Honda from Claude and Diane Sonday in 1998, they decided that in order to be successful, they needed to focus on one thing and one thing only: customer satisfaction. The two recognized that because they were located in the Chicago area, unit sales were subject to the seasons. In order to keep customers coming back in the off-season, they needed to satisfy them and give them the best possible experience. To this day, Des Plaines Honda still ranks customer satisfaction as priority No. 1 and makes a concerted effort to give everyone who walks through the dealership an experience.
Des Plaines Honda was founded in 1983 by the Sonday family. Claude and Diane Sonday put in their time growing the dealership, and even in the business’ early days, they focused on selling experiences. The Sonday family grew the dealership through marketing to the touring crowd and becoming the premiere Honda Goldwing dealer in the Chicago market. McLennan was a part of the Sonday team throughout the ‘90s and saw the dealership grow to not only be one of the largest Goldwing dealerships in Chicago, but in the Midwest.
Learning from the Sonday family, McLennan and avid motorcyclist Harry Pacynski purchased the regionally known dealership. “We put forth a strong effort in making the purchasing experience fun and exciting,” said McLennan. “We all must
recognize that we are selling a want, not a need.”
Des Plaines Honda takes advantage of its regional presence by staying very well connected with the local community. “Des Plaines Honda believes you need to be involved in your community and local motorcycle community,” said McLennan. “We have supported our community by purchasing, servicing and training the police department on ATVs. We’ll also send a representative each month to our local motorcycle clubs and have a presentation for them.”
These are just a few of the things that the dealership does for its community. Des Plaines Honda also runs a “Customer of the Month” article on its website highlighting a customer, their bike and a few personal riding stories. Des Plaines also sponsors numerous charities such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Pediatric Brain Tumor Association and Ronald McDonald House, as well as individuals like Damian Jigalov, a local 8-year old who recently won the 2013 road-racing championship in his class. Jigalov will move on to the WERA Circuit in 2014.
The dealership holds in-store events, such as new rider classes, service clinics, ladies nights, an annual Christmas party and more. “Events like these have driven our fourth quarter sales up over 10 percent year by year since 2011,” said McLennan.
Des Plaines Honda has also hosted a Treasure Hunt Series where customers can sign up to ride their vehicles to three secret destinations and collect “random artifacts” that will be worth points at the end of the treasure hunt. The teams with the most points at the end of the entire four-event series win a grand prize from the dealership.
Des Plaines Honda reaches national buyers as well. Because the dealership is located just five miles from the O’Hare airport, customers will fly in and ride home from there. “Chicago is an international hub, and we’ve seen an increase over the past few years in people who purchase a motorcycle to ride the country and sell it back to us three months later,” said McLennan. “It’s created a nice flow of late model used motorcycles for us.”
This past June, Des Plaines Honda celebrated its 30-year anniversary. “We’re proud of that accomplishment,” said McLennan.
Des Plaines Honda is still growing, and new and used sales is just one of the ways that the dealership turns a profit. The dealership has a strong service department and even an award-winning finance department. Des Plaines Honda also takes advantage of the wintry Chicago season by offering customers winter storage — something that keeps the dealership going through the off-season. No matter what though, Des Plaines Honda puts customers first and in return, customers are loyal to the dealership and always want to spend more time with them at events and around the community. “We are always doing something for our customers,” said Dan Lavergne, finance manager.