Most people go on Yelp to complain. It is really hard to get people to post compliments about a business online, but Music City Indian and Victory, located in Nashville, Tenn., home of the guitar picking, strumming and twanging Nashville Cats, has done it. Music City has managed, despite the odds, to get a five-star rating on Yelp and Google. Customers rave about the prices, service and experience. “I have owned about 20 bikes over the years. This was about the best buying experience ever,” said one customer. “This may well be the best Indian dealer in the country,” said another from Southern California.
This Southern California customer is not the only one who came to Music City from out-of-state. Kameron Amstutz, the general manager of Music City, explains that today, consumers educate themselves about a major purchase and will compare prices and ratings online before even calling a dealership. “The average Music City customer shops 18 dealerships before settling on a purchase. We finance coast-to-coast. We have a program where a customer can fly out on our dime and stay overnight to hear some of the great music around here. Nashville is a drinking city with a music problem.”
“Nashville cats, play clean as country water / Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew / Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies / Nashville cats, get work before they’re two”
−Nashville Cats by John Sebastian
Kameron has been in the motorcycle industry for years, with his major experience running Eaglerider franchises in Phoenix and Southern California. More recently, he worked in the corporate arm of Eaglerider, managing the acquisition section. The seed for the Music City dealership sprouted when Kameron ran into Ricky Kelly, the owner of a group of dealerships, at a conference on the East Coast. “He asked me about Indian.”
Indian was one of America’s first motorcycle factories. After surviving both the Model T Ford, which cut the bottom out of ride-to-work sales, and the Depression, Indian succumbed to bad management and a downturn in the motorcycle market in the 1950s. The name retained its magic, and efforts were made over the years to revive the company. These efforts went into overdrive in 2011, after Polaris bought out the Indian trademarks from the small startups that were then building bikes with the Indian name. With Polaris behind the brand and doing a good job with both the product and promotion, Indian has been growing rapidly. Kameron continues: “Polaris was doing a good job with the R&D, and Victory was right there with them. Ricky and I struck a deal.”
Kameron and Ricky Kelly decided that they would start an Indian and Victory dealership, with Kameron running the operation. The spot they decided on for the shop had previously been a bank. After extensive renovations, Music City opened April 17, 2015. From the start, it was different. “We are unique. Our crew is four people. We operate as a boutique dealership, with everyone cross trained. The sales guys ink their own deals, although only two of us are qualified to do finance and insurance. I work as backup tech for the service manager – who is a professional photographer on the side.”
When Kam opened Music City, most of the customers were baby boomers, but that changed rapidly. “We are getting increasing numbers of first-time riders and younger people, down to age 21. We are also selling to a surprising number of women. Indian Scouts and Victory Octanes appeal to entry level riders.”
Kam’s unusual approach to running the dealership also extends to merchandising. Instead of traditional print and radio ads, he has taken full advantage of the interest of the Nashville Cats in the bikes he sells. “A lot of the country artists ride our motorcycles. You are talking about people with millions of Facebook likes and Twitter followers. When someone gets out in front of thousands of people at a concert wearing our branded T-shirt, you can’t beat that. Jewel rides an Indian she bought from us, which has been great for outreach to lady riders. Kip Moore, Montgomery Gentry, and even Paul Mitchell hair care products and Patron Tequila co-founder John Paul DeJoria ride Music City Indians.”
The business model for Music City is above-and-beyond customer service, which translates to enthusiastic online posts about the business. The five-star reviews show up in online searches conducted by potential customers, who then contact the dealership already primed to expect a great experience. “We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes,” Kam says. “All fees are disclosed up front. We believe in full disclosure.” This fact is mentioned in many of the customer testimonials posted on Yelp and Google. Kam monitors web traffic about his dealership and responds to most posts.
Since most Music City customers learn about the dealership from friends or their favorite music stars and then go online to learn specifics, a positive Internet presence is extremely important to the bottom line. The shop website is very interactive, with buttons to value a possible trade-in, arrange financing, and schedule test rides. Prices for all inventory, new and used, are posted on the website. There is a specific page to order parts, and the shop advertises its proficiency in customizing. “We customize motorcycles all the time, so let us help you design yours!”
In addition to the shop website, Music City maintains a very active presence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The shop Facebook page announces it is about, “Riding to Dive Bars, Great Hotels and the occasional Country Concert across the US. Come and join the fun. Also, we have our share of GREAT Charity Rides.” Kam and company post numerous photos of happy customers with their new bikes, announcements of deals, announcements of food bank drives and videos of riding in the snow. Music City even managed to turn a video of Kam and Ricky driving back to the shop at night to see why the burglar alarm was going off into an ad for the dealership.
In addition to great customer service, Music City holds its customers’ attention by nurturing community around the dealership. Dealer rides occur two to three times a month, except in the winter. As Kam says: “We ride with our customers. All of the staff ride.” The dealership sponsors frequent Bike Nights. Winter holidays are the time for charity drives and Santa Special deals.
Kameron is very optimistic about the future of Music City and the Indian and Polaris brands. He believes Indian and Polaris will continue to interest entry level riders and younger people and pick up market share from experienced riders. He says that people like riding their Indians and their enthusiasm is contagious. As the shop ad says, “100 Years of the Classic Indian tradition.
“Come ride one to your favorite National Park or Beer Joint…You Decide.”
Music City Indian Motorcycle / Music City Victory
1003 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Number of employees: 4
OEM: Indian and Victory
Aftermarket: Bell Helmets, Tucker Rocky, Freedom Exhaust and Klockwerks