Wiltshire and Sons in Farnham, Surrey, began selling Piaggio scooters and its
associated products in 2006.
The company is also a Seat and SsangYong dealership. It decided to sell motorcycles to create another profit stream.
Sales manager Barry Wiltshire says he went for Vespa, which is part of the Piaggio group, because he wanted the “Rolls Royce” of scooters.
He sold 58 in the first year and 102 in the second.
Wiltshire says: “People must realise the margins are smaller. However, I can buy one car for £10,000 or five bikes and make more money.
“I sell a lot through eBay because it is a seasonal product and provides a wider customer base.
“We thought if you get teenagers through the door they would come in with their parents who would hopefully be looking for a car.
From motorcycles to cars
He adds: “In the two years we have been selling bikes we have had two teenagers go from bikes to cars. One bought an Ibiza and the other a Leon.
“The bikes are also coming to the end of their two-year warranty so there is an opportunity to extend this.
“We don’t do service plans because the bikes only do about 4,000 miles a year so it’s not worth it.”
Wiltshire advises dealers new to the market to immediately advertise their motorcycles on the internet to raise awareness.
He also sells used two-wheelers and stresses the importance of being honest about any damage as it is normally not financially worth fixing.
Aftersales opportunities include top boxes, which are popular with commuting riders, chrome kits plus gloves and jackets.
Due to his car sales background, Wiltshire says he is used to forward-ordering, which helps when selling motorcycles.
He says: “If you forward order you know what you have got. There is no point waiting for someone to choose a bike and then order it because they may go somewhere else. It’s an emotive thing buying a bike and people want it there and then.”
Liaising with three local scooter clubs has been a bonus for Wiltshire and Sons.
It has helped boost sales because the members bring their friends to the dealership.
Wiltshire plans to organise ride-outs during the summer and provide a barbecue which may cost £200, although this should be recouped through aftersales.
He says: “Dealers will struggle at first because you need to build a reputation.
"There is a scooter community there, though. And there are also the environmental issues.
“I have sold bikes to people who have had big cars but preferred a bike because it is cheaper to run.”
Fred Stevens, network development manager for Piaggio Group, is currently talking to three car dealers about selling its products.
He expects potential dealers to have an interest in motorcycles so they understand the market.
Aftersales must also be provided and the motorcycles have to be displayed in a separate area of the showroom to the cars.
Technicians are sent on a free Piaggio training course while dealers would be expected to contribute to the CI costs, although how much depends on individual business’s circumstances.
Piaggio regional managers also supply dealers with statistics about motorcycle sales in the local area.
- Security chains or wheel locks can retail from £40 to £200.
- Luggage racks or top boxes can cost £30 upwards.
- Jackets retail from £60.
- Winter and summer gloves can be priced from £10.
- Chrome kits for Vespa scooters cost £300 and can be fitted at the dealership.
- Bigger motorcycles provide a chance to sell more accessories such as full leathers, storage bags, boots and helmets.
Wiltshire and Sons offers a protection accessories package which includes a fly screen, top box and full motorcycle cover for £300, saving £50.
The dealership also offers a basic jacket, gloves and helmet deal to get buyers started for £200, saving £50.