Texas is a big state, that’s for sure. And the pride Texans have in their home state is equally massive. Add to this the satisfaction of ownership most riders feel for their motorcycles and you can bet that any Harley-Davidson dealership in the Lone Star State operates with more than a bit of righteous swagger.
The problem most non-Texans have, or at least riders who don’t live near Dallas/Ft. Worth, is that there are several Harley dealerships in that metro area; in fact there are half a dozen. So if you’re looking for the benchmark H-D dealership around Dallas, where do you start? My solution: go with history.
Though its location in Allen, Texas north of Dallas might make you think otherwise, H-D of Dallas is actually the descendant of the original Harley dealer in these parts. Back in 1929 when a Harley shop first opened by this name near Main and Elm Streets in Deep Ellum, Texas, motorcycle shops were rare.
But if there was going to be a Harley shop in this part of Texas then Deep Ellum, with it’s flat-out hooligan vibe, was the place for it. (Don’t believe me? Google it.) And though the identity of the intrepid entrepreneur who started that shop is lost to timeeven the H-D archives don’t have definitive records on the original ownerthe shop thrived in spite of its Great Depression roots and was passed on to several different owners through the years.
One of them, Eddie Conley, moved H-D of Dallas to Plano Road in 1974. It moved again in 1985 to Shiloh Road, then in 1999 the dealership found a home in Allen. At that time Allen was populated mainly by cows but things have changed drastically in 15 years, revealing H-D of Dallas’ solid planning skills and forward thinking. Why put a bike shop in the middle of a crowded city anyway? And with a mindful respect for its 84-year legacy, current owner Paul Langford has operated H-D of Dallas since 2009, full steam ahead.
In the service department, trained techs not only maintain and repair but they tune and dyno bikes, too. Dealer-built customs fresh from the in-house custom shop grace the showroom floor, offering riders the option to buy and ride a one-off bike without delay. They don’t stop at ergonomic upgrades and cosmetic changes, either. Several Big Twin touring models have 120R engines, built and tuned for maximum performance. At any given time there are several dozen customs on the floor, from tweaked XLs to full-blown Ultra Classics.
H-D of Dallas knows that community relationships are important. To that end they sponsor the Allen Americans hockey team and fund the fireworks display on the 4th of July in Allen. They also support the local VFW, Toys for Tots, and Navy recruiter by involving them in fundraisers at the dealership. As if the armed service flags hanging prominently in the showroom didn’t show it, one employee added, “We are very patriotic!” Spokes For Hope, an organization that provides bicycles for under-privileged kids, is another pet project. It’s all two wheels, right?
With several other H-D dealers in the metro area it’s important to distinguish yourself. One way is with a Harley Owners Group and the dealership’s Panther Creek HOG club is the areas largest and most active. In fact, they drew over 150 riders for their Frosty Hog Ride on January 1, 2014. The club’s members have been recognized for their riding skills.
H-D of Dallas partners with the Quaker Steak & Lube for bike nights every other Wednesday starting in March. They also offer a customer loyalty rewards program. Once rewards accrue from spending, customers receive a gift certificate to use on whatever they want. Tweaking the deal further, there’s a sign-on bonus and a HOG member upgrade, too.
Every business owner knows it’s vital to stay in touch with your customers and being savvy with social media facilitates frequent contact. H-D of Dallas maximizes contact with its customers via its own YouTube channel, an e-newsletter, online shopping, and a new texting club that pushes out exclusive news and specials to members only.
An annual lifestyle photo contest encourages customers to send in pictures for a chance to win a professional photo shoot and be featured in a 10-foot by 10-foot mural in the shop for a full year. Talk about bragging rights!
No question about it; shop owners these days have to stay on the innovative edge to keep customer interest and foot traffic high. H-D of Dallas employs solid concepts that have worked well for years while continuing to add edgy current notions to the mix. After all, that’s what it takes to thrive.
Harley-Davidson of Dallas
304 Central Expressway
South Allen, Texas 75013
OEM: Harley (of course)
Number of employees: 60