Local long-serving business Road and Sport Harley-Davidson has out-gunned the big guns across Australia and New Zealand to win the Overall Dealer of the Year award for the second year running. In fact, Road and Sport has taken the title in three of the last five years over the other 56 dealers in the region!
Owners and Dealer Principals Barry and Shelley Sproule are obviously proud of their awards success and their business. They joined the H-D Dealer network 32 years ago, in 1990, which now places the store as the oldest H-D Dealership in New Zealand.
Barry emphasises that the lead given by the Motor Company – whether in new Motorcycles, new Apparel and Accessories, or new knowledge and technical training – is the store’s heart-starter. But the subsequent oxygen comes from Barry and Shelley’s genuinely caring and honest business ethos.
“We ensure that the entire staff and management team is fully trained and totally immersed in bringing the brilliance of the H-D brand and lifestyle to the store’s friends and customers,” Barry says. “People know that we’ll be here when you want us here, that we’ll do what we say we’ll do, and that we can be trusted to answer all the questions… or to solve all the problems.”
That adds up, Barry says, to genuine customer service. “Our team here in the dealership is the best asset anyone could have. Shelley and I ask them to learn, and to fit in, and then we let their enthusiasm and knowledge off the leash. And I think that’s what the customers feel… our enthusiasm and passion for Harley-Davidson.”
All that H-D Factory training includes, of course, the three “outside the box” all-new models introduced into the Waikato by Road and Sport in the last two years.
“Plenty of doubters didn’t believe it possible, but Harley has brought the LiveWire Electric, Pan America Adventure Tourer and the Sportster S into the market, and each one is utterly brilliant,” Barry says. “All three were, and still are, category sales and performance leaders, almost as soon as they were released.”
Behind all that, a walk through the Dealership shows that there is quality everywhere! An immaculate Service Department with soft rubber flooring so any items accidentally dropped are undamaged, a Dynojet dyno, a fully capable machine shop and protective covers are placed over the motorcycles being worked on.
And even though no-one sees them, the Apparel, Parts and Accessories back-room storage areas are impressively neat, clean and dust-free. Quality matters, even out of the customer’s sight.
As well as the Road and Sport team, Barry also acknowledges the massive part other local-area Hamilton and Waikato businesses have played in their award’s achievements.
“Our success depends on the trust and reliability of our accountants, bankers, lawyers and suppliers of all kinds. We’ve partnered with nearly all of them for about 40 years, they believed then – and now – in our vision and integrity, and we’ve become genuine business partners.”
Barry’s knows full well that the dealership is nothing without its customers and the relationship they have is more than just business.
“Getting to know the customers is our favourite part of this business. Just like us they are enthusiasts and we know the H-D lifestyle keeps them young at heart. The Harley brand, the bikes and the lifestyle… riding and freedom… it’s addictive and it’s wonderful. We’re so proud to be in this business, and proud of the connections we make every day.”
The dealership is a family affair, and Barry and Shelley are involving the next generation in more senior roles in the business. “Hannah, Peter and Blair have already been with us a long time and done the beginner-work learning, so that when they move up into higher roles, they’ll be very well prepared and ready. They understand every aspect of our customer-service because they’ve done it all in person.”
The Harley-Davidson Dealer of the Year award is assessed across a range of dealership operations, including customer satisfaction, Motorcycles, Parts, Accessories, Apparel, and Service performance, commitment to training, marketing and events, and business reporting.
Harley-Davidson AU/NZ Managing Director Nigel Keough says, “Barry and Shelley know how to run a great business, they excel in customer service.”
A visit to the Te Rapa store will confirm that the friendliness, enthusiasm for the store and for the H-D brand is all-encompassing, and it’s an ethos the whole team is committed to.
And Barry’s estimation of the dealerships is correct; it’s the entire Road and Sport team powering the Dealership to three-out-of-five years as Dealer of the Year.