Business Reviews

Open House at Gail’s Harley-Davidson

Written by  November 30, 2004

Gail’s Harley-Davidson has a fabulous new home at the northeast corner of the intersection of Highways 71 and 152 in Grandview, Missouri. The migration process began with a groundbreaking ceremony on February 9 and culminated in the first day of business at the new location on November 6. The open house celebration at the new 55,000 square foot facility took place on Friday and Saturday, November 26 and 27. The throngs who came to shop and tour the new dealership were impressed by the building’s attractive design, convenient layout, and by the wide variety of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and merchandise on display. On Saturday, Rukus provided musical entertainment. In keeping with the tradition established at the Belton location, Kelly and LeAnn prepared free burgers and hot dogs, served with all the trimmings. A stock car and junior dragster sponsored by the dealership were on display. Inside, members of the American Heartland Chapter of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) greeted visitors and conducted guided tours. On Saturday afternoon, Shriners of the Ararat Pipes and Drums
unit marched and played to the delight of children and adults alike. Video from the “Open Road” TV series was shown on the big screen TV in the customer lounge, and TVs in the showroom showed video of the dealership’s construction. Radio coverage of the event was done by 610 Sports, 98.9 The Rock, and 99.7 KY.

The employee count at Gail's has increased to 52. I wanted to hear about the benefits of the new location from the unique perspective of several key members of the staff. I asked each to describe what the new dealership means to the customers and to the employees.

Darrell Moffit, Service Manager: The move has been an exhilarating experience. My employees think it’s awesome. They have much more space and better lighting. It’s all better from floor to ceiling, and it needed to be done. At the old building we ran out of space. We were elbow to elbow. Here, once a customer drops off a bike for service or repair, it can remain inside until it’s returned to the customer. The only time it will be outside is when we test-ride it after the service is done. Bobbie and D.W., the Service Writers, have plenty of indoor space to greet customers and attend to their needs. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. We currently have six technicians on staff and will be looking to increase staff by two or three after the first of the year with one devoted to PDI. That’s the pre-delivery work done on all of the new motorcycles. A new bike is removed from the crate and set up from top to bottom according to factory specs. From belt tension to handlebar settings to switch housing settings - everything from A to Z. We have 16 lifts in the service area. There are large windows in the customer lounge to allow customers to watch their bikes being worked on. It’s great!

John Crabb, Executive Director: For our customers, we are finally going to have space available for us to be able to carry more inventory with a wider variety. We can have special events without people having to be elbow to elbow in the dealership. Waiting in checkout or restroom lines will be a thing of the past. People will have a lot more space to enjoy the experience. For the staff, the way they do their jobs has changed. We are now set up to be a lot more interactive with our customers. We want the employees to be able to hang around with the customers and do their jobs at the same time. Our staff is very accessible to all of the customers that come in now. Areas are open so we can’t hide behind a counter. A customer can walk up and lean against a counter with an employee, on either side of the counter. It’s a lot better experience. Don Rooks and I share the title of Executive Director. We can both participate in any area we want, but we focus in our areas of expertise-myself in parts and motorclothes and Don in motorcycle sales. We are both getting more involved in all aspects of the business to see things from a different perspective. I might look into an area I don’t work in all of the time and contribute a new insight, and Don can share his insight with me. We are really trying to look at the details in every area so nothing is overlooked. We feel that the facility is really something to see. There was a lot of thought put into the layout, the openness, and the amenities we have here. We think of it as a Disneyland for the Harley enthusiast. It has a little bit of everything including a burnout pit. Once the weather warms up we’ll be able to take advantage of all the new features. The increase in parking area is huge. We currently have over 300 parking spaces for cars and 90 for motorcycles. Once our Rider’s Edge Course area is paved we will have two more acres of parking. That will really come in handy when we have big events and rallies.

Don Rooks, Executive Director: I’ve been with this dealership since the beginning; right at 27 years. I have about 35 years working in the industry and 40 years as an enthusiast. This is pretty exciting! I’ve got to say that I’m as excited as I have ever been in all those years. I couldn’t be any prouder to be part of it. I could never have envisioned the motorcycle industry reaching the point were it is today. This is my future for as many years as I have left. It’s certainly Gail’s future. Everything we have done here was done with the idea of making it easier for the customer, and obviously we hope that by doing the right things the right way, it returns to us a good business. Gail takes better care of her customers and her employees than anybody I know. Obviously, we are able to do a lot more of everything here. All of the merchandise is openly visible. It’s easier to show and display the products. The showroom capacity increased from less than 20 bikes to more than 75. It creates a whole additional exciting atmosphere that we didn’t have before. Harley-Davidson told us it would take us two or three weeks to move everything we had to move and get ready to open, but we did it in four days. That’s because we have a really good staff. My title doesn’t mean anything. I’m just part of a team that tries to do a good job taking care of the customers and making it fun.

“Dyno” Mike Wilson, Performance Manager: In the new dealership, we have much more room, making it more comfortable for a customer to go one-on-one with the technicians, the parts guys, or the dyno people. We have several new additions to the Performance Center. First, we brought the machine shop in, and we plan to do a lot more in-house customization such as wide-tire kits and altering the way parts fit. Our new dyno has the eddy current brake that allows us to fine-tune the fuel-injected bikes better. It’s a way to load the motorcycle with the dyno so we can set all the different throttle positions. On a fuel-injected bike we have to physically set the throttle at 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent at every r.p.m. With the eddy current brake we can do that more efficiently. As fuel-injected bikes become more the norm, our performance equipment has to follow the trend. The dyno room is bigger, so we can actually get customers into the room next to the bike so they can get a better look at what we’re doing and understand why we are doing it. In the new dealership, our computer systems are a little more elaborate, and our phone system is a little better. The Performance Center has always been about getting the customers involved in the performance aspect of their motorcycles. We have two lifts in here, and the lighting is much better. Our quality and turn-around time will remain the same-it’s a one-day turn-around. We’ll still give you a one-year warranty on your motor when we build it. Even if they don’t do any performance modifications I encourage riders to dyno their bikes at least twice each year. There are things that can get out of adjustment, and you can lose one or two horsepower per month and not even realize it. If you’re down ten or twenty horsepower, you can feel that. Throttle cables stretch. You may have a bearing going bad. Maybe the oil pump isn’t evacuating the oil out of the motor fast enough. Lots of little things can happen. If you keep a current record of the dyno tests, you can compare your current run to the old ones and make sure everything is perfect. If you’ve lost ten or twenty horsepower in six months, you’ve got a problem, and we have to find it. When you think about the cost of a motorcycle, $50 every six months is not much of a cost to keep everything perfect.

Roger “FatBoy” Fleener, Customer Relations: Since September 7, I have been on staff as the customer relations person. My duties have not changed significantly with the location change. Part of my job is to make sure the customers are happy. When a person buys a new motorcycle, I visit with them and explain that they can feel free to come in and talk to me at any time. I can serve as a liaison between the customer and the dealership. I am able to call each one of them as they receive our customer satisfaction surveys. We want to be rated as a 10 as often as possible. We encourage our customers to return the surveys. That’s how we better ourselves as a dealership. A purchase-ownership survey grades us on their experience with the sales and financing people and other aspects of the purchase experience. Eighteen months after the purchase, owners receive a second survey. At that point they have better insight concerning the service department and other areas of the dealership.

CC: In addition to your duties with the dealership, you are also the Director of the American Heartland H.O.G. Chapter. Please talk about that.

Roger: That’s awesome to me! We started the chapter in March, 2003. The chapter has always been my passion. That’s where I cut my Harley-Davidson teeth. We have one of the finest groups of officers that I know of. I’ve been able to travel all over the country and meet a lot of people from H.O.G. Our group is very knowledgeable, but the big thing is that they all care. They don’t just care about themselves but about all 1,200 members. They try to plan rides that are diverse enough to handle the needs of all of those people. They listen. One of my ideas when I first became involved in this is for a group of volunteers to sit around a table. One person puts an apple on the table. Then I want someone else to put a banana on the table. Then someone else will add an orange. I want to build a horn of plenty full of ideas to give to the chapter. If my apple gets thrown out, that’s fine. We are known as a riding chapter. We all love it. It’s a passion. Lasting friendships are formed. We all come together no matter what walk of life we are from, and our common bond is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

CC: What does the new dealership mean to the H.O.G. members?

Roger: For one thing, it means having access to the bathroom before going on a ride. Gail has always been a heavy sponsor of the H.O.G. program. She realizes that the chapter is an extension of the dealership. Harley-Davidson requires every dealership to have its own H.O.G. chapter, and Gail is behind this one all the way. In the new dealership, we have our own H.O.G. meeting room with its own entrance. If we have a ride when the dealership is closed we can still get in and use the rest room before we leave. We are adding a B.R.A.G. unit-Buell Riders Adventure Group. They will share our meeting room. We look forward to joining with the Buell people and riding with them as one motorcycle family. The main thing about the H.O.G. chapter is the heart of the sponsor. She believes in us, in each one of the members. That’s what makes the difference. That’s why we are 1,200 strong, and we will always be strong because of Gail Worth!

Gail Worth, Owner and President: What the new dealership means to our customers is that they have a place to go to have fun. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what it means to the staff also. We are just having a ball! You can read our motto above the main exit doors. It says, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well-preserved piece. The intention should be to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, and defiantly shouting, 'Wow! What a ride!’ ” That is what this is all about. That’s what we are all about. We want customers to come here and have a good time. People share camaraderie. We have a lounge where they can play pool, watch TV, play on the internet, or just relax on the comfortable couches and chairs. Then they can shop for whatever they want. If Harley-Davidson makes it we have it. There is so much more room. Just look at all of the people here today! If we were still at the old location, many of them would have been parked in the field across the street, and they would have been packed in after they got inside. Now they can spread out a little bit, shop comfortably, and just have a good time. Our new features include a burnout pit that’s already been put to use. There is a self-detail area where, after the weather warms up, customers can detail their motorcycles with products we will have available. Customers have a ton of new motorcycles to choose from. That’s true for parts and motorclothes too.

CC: Gail, thanks for making us welcome. On behalf of Cycle Connections, congratulations and best wishes for continued success!

Please note that the dealership has new phone numbers as well as a new address.

Gail’s Harley-Davidson
5900 E 150 Hwy
Grandview, MO 64030
Phone: 816-966-2222
Swine Line (Recorded H.O.G. info): 816-966-6530

Story and photos by Stripe


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