Destination Dealership: Temecula Motorsports

This dealership combats its spread-out customer population by implementing some innovative business ideas.

Murrieta is a town in Southern California, southeast of Los Angeles and just down the road from the fabled Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park. Recreational opportunities abound in this area — in addition to motocross, the nearby lakes invite personal watercraft, and the neighboring desert lures off-road enthusiasts. The mountains to the north challenge sport bike riders.

This may sound like dealership heaven, but there are challenges: the population is spread out, and with so many opportunities to choose from, a dealer could be run ragged trying to cater to each and every customer group. Temecula Motorsports, based in Murrieta, copes by being organized, having the right people in the right places, and by successfully implementing some innovative business ideas. The dealership has won high praise for both above average sales and exceptional customer service.

The dealership opened its doors 20 years ago, and Jerome Gilding and Phil Acton purchased it in 2008. “They came in with a new marketing strategy,” says Codi Hinkley-Greene, marketing director and events coordinator at Temecula Motorsports. “They wanted to cater to all aspects of the motorsports market, from dirt bikes to watercraft, and both on- and off-road vehicles.”

Temecula Motorsports sells Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Can-Am, Polaris, Spyder and Victory motorcycles, as well as Bombardier, Sea-Doo and Honda power equipment.

Temecula is extremely organized; for example, all the cruisers are in one area, subdivided by the brand, and further subdivided by the engine size. Quads are in a different area, and the commercial 4-wheelers are separated from the recreational and racing quads. This makes it very easy for customers to find exactly what they want, despite the size of the store and the number of different types of products on display.

One employee is charged with greeting each customer as they come in the door. “It is very important to the owners that every person who walks in is greeted,” says Hinkley-Greene.

The dealership not only sells retail, but also sells to wholesale accounts and has an extensive mail-order business. Most brick and mortar businesses struggle with the lure of Internet sales, but Temecula takes the market head on, beating the Internet-only retailers at their own game. The dealership offers to meet any validly advertised price, and offers free mail-order sales as a way to cope with the large sales territory and spread out population. It is much easier for many customers to have parts, accessories and clothing delivered than it is for them to drive long distances to the dealership.

The wholesale side of the business allows Temecula to sell JE pistons and other parts to race teams and other custom businesses. Marketing at Temecula is, like the dealership itself, carefully planned out. An important aspect of Temecula marketing is outreach to people who are not currently involved in motorsports, or, if they are riders, are not current customers of the dealership.

The biggest event of the year is the autograph party, which features top National motocross stars. “This is a multi-brand event,” says Hinkley-Greene. “The Oakley and Red Bull teams and many others come. We get 800 to 1,000 people, and 50 to 75 percent of the people who come are not current customers.”

Temecula runs promotions at the nearby Marine base, Camp Pendleton, encouraging the troops to learn to ride and then visit the dealership. The business has good contacts with the many international groups who come to the area to ride motocross. “We have people from Ireland, Germany, Australia and other countries coming here to ride. We provide them with a shopping experience to complement their riding experience,” says Hinkley-Greene.

Kids in the Murrieta area don’t get to see much snow. Temecula Motorsports brings in a snow machine to accompany Santa Claus at the Black Friday event every year. The snow piled in front of the store brings in many new customers, who see the snow as they drive by and stop to check it out. Other events include demo tours by the OEMs, bike nights and contests posted on the dealership’s Facebook page and website. 

With motocross and off-road racing being an important part of local sports, Temecula sponsors motocrossers in junior, adult and vintage events, as well as competitors in quad racing and desert events.

Marketing doesn’t end when a customer visits the store. After a customer makes a purchase, employees are instructed to follow up, making sure that the customer is happy with their selection and that all questions are answered.

The challenge for Temecula’s website, which mirrors the challenge presented by the large physical location, is how to organize and present the numerous brands, aftermarket accessories, safety gear, and clothing and services offered by the dealership. Although the website presents many different pages, it loads quickly and is easy to navigate. The link to the online store is right on the home page. A parts finder is available, as are credit applications and an online order form. There is a separate page for the used motorcycle selection, and each used bike is posted online with out-the-door prices. In addition to its own website, Temecula maintains an eBay store for outdated items.

Temecula believes that it still has room to grow, and plans to continue to grow its customer base through family-oriented events. The dealership is planning barbecues and is establishing a riding group. As Hinkley-Greene says, “We are expanding from the fundamentals already established.”  

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