It seemed fitting to speak with a dealer whose goal was to turn their dealership into a “destination” and as many dealers know, it all circles back to the experience.
Aaron Zeigler, owner and president of Zeigler Motorsports in Kalamazoo, MI, had his heart in the industry before owning his first powersports dealership.
“I’ve always been a motorsports enthusiast,” Zeigler said. “I grew up riding all of the different vehicles and then I raced jet skis on the pro circuit for about six years and I’ve been riding snowmobiles since I was a little kid. So, I’ve always been involved in motorsports.”
Interested in purchasing a snowmobile, Zeigler went to his local powersports dealership and ran into a problem.
“I couldn’t get anybody to call me back from the dealership,” Zeigler said. “I couldn’t get pricing and it was a lousy experience. Then I started thinking to myself, I think I could do a lot better than these guys could. So, I approached the owner and said, ‘Hey, would you like to sell the dealership?’ They wanted to, so I bought it.”
With experience running 29 auto dealerships in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, Zeigler wanted to improve the processes for powersports.
“As we’ve grown as an organization on the automotive side of things, we learned a lot. And one of the things that I noticed when I went to motorsports is that they are about 10 to 20 years behind the sophistication of the auto industry,” Zeigler said. “We wanted to take what we did in automotive and bring that into motorsports so that the customer can have the same type of experience with motorsports that they would have with us with automotive.”
Changing that experience for the customer meant updating technology, websites and how they approach customer service.
“We do a ton of delivery and pickup on vehicles,” Zeigler said. “I think this year we went out and picked up 800 personal watercrafts, brought them into the dealership, winterized some, stored them on site during the winter, and then in the spring, we will take them right back and put them in the customer’s dock for them.
“A few years ago, a recall came out on the Goldwing motorcycles. We got a list and we called up everybody in a three-hour radius and went and picked those bikes up and got the recalls done. We do a lot of things where we’ll go out and go after business versus waiting for it to come to us.”
A benefit of their service department is their indoor service lane, where a customer can pull up in their truck or trailer and drop off and pick up vehicles inside.
In the winter, storage in Michigan is a necessity, and Zeigler made sure to accommodate his customers’ storage needs.
“We have a lot of space for storage too. Because that part of the dealership is new, we were able to add car lifts, which you need for the side-by-sides to be able to do the work on them. So the shop is laid out a lot like an automotive shop would be.”
Maximizing on his knowledge of the auto industry, Zeigler amplified his marketing strategy to improve social media.
“From a marketing standpoint, we’ve got a huge presence on social media with Facebook and Instagram and that’s how we communicate with a lot of our customers,” Zeigler said.
Like many dealerships, Zeigler’s service department is very busy.
“We are open both earlier and later because we run two shifts since service is extremely busy,” Zeigler said. “We have 16 technicians now. When I first bought the dealership, we only had three. So, we’ve dramatically grown in the service business.”
Another aspect of Zeigler Motorsports that makes them stand out from the competition is their facility. When Zeigler purchased the powersports dealership, he built a brand new 85,000 sq.-ft. facility, added more brands to their showroom, a space for local clubs and groups to meet and host events and created a motocross track behind the dealership, emphasizing the experience that a customer would want to have when they visit.
“It’s fun because we do a lot of things for motorsports, but then also we have a lot of other people who host events here as well,” Zeigler said. “So, you might have the Red Cross for example, hosting an event, and we not only have a big room that that we rent out, but we can provide food and drinks for them as well.”
The food and drinks are complements of their newest addition, Trak Houz Bar & Grill, which opened in October 2019.
“My goal was to create a destination for enthusiasts. The last piece of the puzzle was to be able to have a restaurant and bar,” Zeigler added. “We’ve named certain things on the menu subtly after motorsports like the Triple Whip burger, Fender Flare fries, Table Top nachos, which are my favorite!
“Trak Houz Bar & Grill opens up a lot of doors for us, especially when it comes to being able to host events, so we can have a live band play there and have bike nights and ultimately, it’s for the general public to be able to come in and enjoy great food and drinks. Next thing you know, they start looking around in the dealership at motorsports products and end up buying stuff from us.”