While many see pre-owned unit sales as a secondary profit center, Nick Rank, owner of Road Track and Trail in Big Bend, Wis., has thrived with a focus on the used market.
Rank started RTT as a one-man consignment shop in 1999, and the business has grown into a full-service dealership with 29 employees specializing in pre-owned sales offering a full range of P&A, F&I products and service offerings.
Rank knew that pre-owned was an untapped market, and he didn’t want to be held back by the red tape of floor planning and franchising.
Fast-forward to 2011, and Rank’s concentration on pre-owned units has proven to be a formula for success. “We are seeing plenty of people who buy a used bike and an aftermarket warranty, instead of buying a new bike,” says Rank. “They are up front with us about it. It’s their money, and when gas prices are so high and job security is low, a purchase from us seems to make the most sense! “
Rank believes RTT’s warehouse-atmosphere communicates that the dealership delivers its customers the best pricing available. “The more glitz and glamour, the higher the bikes will be priced to pay for the rest of it,” says Rank. “We are not going to sell you a $90 T-shirt or put accessories in glass cases. That’s definitely not our style.”
While Rank didn’t add service to his offering until 2006, this department has grown into a dependable source of revenue. “Many people already have motorcycles and don’t have the want or the time to work on them, and to these customers we offer Cycle Care,” says Rank. “In this package, we offer routine maintenance, seasonal pick-up/delivery, discounts on parts and storage, and more. This plan was designed specifically for RTT. It is a way for us to save our customers from spending time and money they may not have. In this economy, service plays a major role. Why buy something else when you have a bike in your garage that needs a little work?”
Spreading the Word
Traditional advertising still play a role in new customer development at RTT, but Rank notes that customer referrals are the key to new customer acquisition. “Referrals and word of mouth are the top resources we have,” says Rank. “There is definitely a dollar value attached to the words of our customers.”
Rank also places a high value on mass emails, social media and website content.
“We offer specials to Facebook fans only,” notes Rank. “For instance, Facebook is the only place that we are actually advertising our snow clearance. We post regularly, but not just about products and sales. We encourage people to get out and ride. We use social media so we can be a part of the lifestyle, not just as a place that solicits sales.”
Events held at RTT exemplify that belief. Last year, the team welcomed the crew from Stealth Rider featuring Jason Britton, Tony Carbajal and Eric Hoenshell. “That was a big event, but it was not for us,” explains Rank. “It was an effort to thank our loyal fans and friends!”
Winters in Wisconsin are harsh, but the RTT team doesn’t close up shop and head to Boca Raton. “We have what we call ‘sled season,’ where the snowmobile sales overtake bike sales,” says Rank. “We also sell ATVs, which do well in the winter, especially with plows. We aren’t going to stand around and close every time it snows. We are here to tell you to get out and enjoy the Wisconsin seasons, no matter if it’s on Road, Track or Trail.”
The RTT crew has also expanded its reach to where the snow doesn’t fall — selling and shipping bikes across the country. “Since year-round motorcycle riding isn’t an option in Wisconsin, we advertise to reach the people that can,” says Rank. “Prices fluctuate due to proximity, and we are lucky to be able to beat our competitors, near and far.“
In this tough economy, Rank and his team are very cognizant that there’s more to the sale than the unit itself. “We want to touch every customer we can, to let them know that we sell the products and service plans that they may be interested in,” says Rank.
Ranks also notes that management systems play a larger role than ever in the dealership’s day-to-day operations. “Having the processes documented for each prospective buyer is important. Tracking their purchase history could give us a solid prediction in their future as a consumer.”
Tracking and analyzing customer wants and needs is what will help RTT stay dialed into their customer base in the years to come. “As things change, we have to change,” concludes Rank. “We must recognize what is hard to find, what is selling fast, and what is the secret weapon, because that will change for each season. In fact, it could change tomorrow, and in that case, we are ready!”