t Harley Davidson motorcycle was built in a 10 by 15 foot shed in Milwaukee Wisconsin

>> In 1903 the first Harley Davidson motorcycle was built in a 10 by 15 foot shed in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Since then the name Harley-Davidson Motor Company has been synonymous with Milwaukee. In the home of Harley how can any one dealer stand out? Hal’s Harley-Davidson does it through creative relationship building in their approach to personal selling.

>> The Milwaukee area people have a pretty good understanding of Harley. They’ve — they either know people that own or ride one or they have friends or family that work there or worked there over the past several years. So for us it’s important to brand Hal’s and differentiate us as a place to do business as opposed to other local Harley-Davidson dealerships, for example. We very much try to do that by building strong relationships with people that come in and out of our store in characterizing our place as a place where customers become friends and just a family — have a family, welcoming family environment.

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>> We have 100% greet policy here at Hal’s. Basically what that means is that 100% of the people get greeted 100% of the time. Anybody who comes in our store it’s very important that we make them feel welcome and comfortable. But it’s just simple respect, you know, letting people know that you acknowledge that they’re present and you appreciate them coming in.

>> We’ve been fortunate to be in business for many years and have seen our customer base evolve over time. Today customers have a great deal of choice. They come loaded with a lot more information, a lot more research, they have a lot of opportunities to go places to spend their disposable income on things that they enjoy doing, so we have to be more personally connected to our customers and reinforce relationships to be successful.

>> Because its people are so important to their success Hal’s hires its staff carefully and trains them well.

>> We need to build relationships and connect with people. We look for staff that has passion for what they’re doing, are enthusiastic, energetic, outgoing. We have again great confidence that we can develop the skills necessary to do the technical part of their job but have found over time that behavior is something that’s not easily trained.

>> Employees receive training from both Harley and from Hal’s.

>> Harley’s a great company to work with as it relates to training. They have a umbrella program called Harley-Davidson University that provides both in dealership training as well as ongoing training via satellite broadcasts, workbooks, DVDs, online training and seminars off site. There are modules for various positions in the dealership and our new hires are expected to complete that work in a specified period of time. Beyond that we have job training programs in house. Those programs are introduced to people on their first day of employment and a timeframe of 30 days to meet the things that they need to know to be successful in their position.

>> One thing new hires discover is the importance Hal’s places on listening.

>> The most powerful tool that any of our staff can employ when engaging customers is listening, listening for cues that either our people can take and make suggestions or utilize for follow-up later are vital to keep the relationship going.

>> Harley makes a variety of motorcycles to suit a wide range of needs. Personal selling means putting the right person on the right bike.

>> Some people come in and they have a very clear idea of what they want. It very well may be that that is the right product for them, the right motorcycle for them. We are the professionals here that they are coming to and we owe it to each of them to review, you know, the conclusions that they’ve drawn when making those decisions and make sure that they’re made for the right reasons, and if they’re not we have to present alternatives. Sometimes they may not be the best for the business but they’re certainly the most responsible for the relationship.

>> Taking this approach to selling sometimes means not making a sale.

>> It’s so important for us that people start on the right motorcycle because we are in it for the long haul and again we could sell a bike to somebody today that gets it home and for whatever reason they’re not comfortable with it and typically what happens is they don’t use it. They have some anxiety with it, they leave the bike sit in the garage, they’re not out having the type of fun that led them to consider the purchase in the first place, and consequently they sell it and get out of this sport. So we may have benefited with that initial sale but lost out in the long run over the life of that relationship by not doing the fundamental things to ensure that buyer had a long enjoyable career in motorcycling.

>> After a customer makes a purchase Hal’s follows up the sale using some traditional methods.

>> Our sales staff are required to follow up with a phone call at three days, inside of three days after the delivery, just to check and make sure everything’s going okay, to see if anything has come up in the initial few days of ownership. After that they would follow up with a letter or another phone call within 30 days.

>> But Hal’s also employs some less traditional methods of keeping in touch with their customers.

>> We do also invite everyone who has purchased a bike within the first 30 days back to the store for a social gathering. It’s an opportunity for us to get people back in a little lower key environment to make sure that nothing is forgotten and all the entitlements are covered.

>> Social interactions are an important and ongoing part of the relationship that Hal’s creates with their customers. Customers return to the dealership to have their motorcycles maintained and to purchase Harley apparel and accessories. But beyond a place to purchase Harley products the dealership is a place where customers meet, interact, and community of riders.

>> It’s important to us to perpetuate and keep that sense of family and brotherhood and sisterhood alive. There are several ways to do that. Our staff certainly is, you know, is finite in numbers so the conversations that they’re able to have on a one on one basis with customers is limited so it’s important to try to find ways, mechanisms, to connect other customers so that they have people of like-minded interest that they can share stories with, memories, continue to enjoy the sport and hopefully keep them riding a lot longer.

>> By training their staff to make contact with every customer and listen to their needs, Hal’s Harley-Davidson ensures their customers get the product that is right for them. By keeping in touch with their customers and providing a place for them to interact Hal’s has created a sales environment which is truly personal.

  1. How does Harley-Davidson benefit from frequent face-to-face interactions with customers?  
  2. How did Harley-Davidson build the phenomenal brand loyalty it currently enjoys? 
  3. Discuss the marketing strategies of Harley-Davidson. 
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