Anyone who frequents franchise powersports dealerships has likely noticed an expansion in the pre-owned inventory on display, but another recent retail trend is the increasing number of businesses popping up all over the country that specialize only in pre-owned motorcycles.
Dealing in pre-owned bikes is an especially compelling business venture at the moment, as the sour economy has dried up consumer credit opportunities for customers who have the desire to ride but are having a tough time obtaining credit on higher priced new models retailed by franchise dealerships. This bodes especially true in the sportbike marketplace, as many buyers of sportbikes tend to be younger, and thus representative of the main demographic suffering from the credit crisis.
Here in Minneapolis, there’s a new pre-owned shop called Simply Sport Bikes (SLXi). The endeavor, run by fellas named Brian Cox and Matt Johnson, grew out of a pre-owned luxury automobile business Cox has with his father.
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I recently stopped at SLXi to take a look at the operation. Cox, a long-time cycle enthusiast, told me he felt adding sportbikes as a sister venture to the luxury auto business could be an equally profitable and exciting opportunity. So, he hooked up with friend and long-time cycle technician Johnson and opened shop.
Johnson served as a franchise dealer tech and is the former of Full Power Cycle in Hopkins, Minn., a service-only operation.
Advertising the business is done two ways: through sponsorship of the Minnesota Sportbike Riders online forum (MNSBR.com) and, more recently, via 30-second ads run on local television. For SLXi, while the TV ads have managed to attract a larger audience, the MNSBR.com forum – a direct link to local sportbike enthusiasts – has proved to be a particular boon. For example, two weeks ago, the two entities teamed up to sponsor a group ride that resulted in an estimated 400 riders meeting at the store. Imagine the sales opportunities inherent in 400 sportbike “customers” in one location at one time.
SLXi currently has 109 bikes in stock and markets itself as among the largest sportbike-only retailers in the Midwest. Cox says obtaining stock isn’t an issue as advances in motorcycle development allow bikes to run longer with fewer problems, sportbike enthusiasts tend to buy and sell their rides much more often than other cyclists, and a decade of growth in motorcycle sales has brought more bikes into the pre-owned marketplace.
SLXi customers in need of financing are turned on to local banks and credit unions.
Like most sport bike dealers, SLXi does not offer a test drive on motorcycles. However they do offer a test drive “after the fact” – if you want to purchase a bike, you can fill out the documents for purchasing and pay for the vehicle. Once you’ve finalized the documents you can take the bike on a 10-15 minute test drive to ensure that you are comfortable with the machine. If there is anything you don’t like, you can bring the bike back and get a full refund, provided the bike is in the same condition as when it left.
Another SLXi benefit: The store offers “while-u-wait” service on things like accessory Installation, brake services, carb cleaning, chain/sprocket service, fork seal service, inspections, oil change, and tire mounting and balancing. “It’s kind of like the Jiffy Lube business model,” Cox says. “The customer brings the bike in and Matt takes care of it for them so they can be on the road again as quickly as possible.”
Parts, garments and accessories are procured from distributors Tucker Rocky and Western Power Sports.
I recently wrote a lengthy article about another successful pre-owned-only retailer, All Pro Motorsports in Wisconsin. Check out All Pro’s story HERE.