Starting out as Moby Dicks Scooters, in 1999 Richard Hulland and family became owners and were awarded a Kawasaki franchise, becoming Derby Kawasaki in 2017. Along the way they have picked up a number of awards, moving in 2013 to their current location, between Nottingham and Derby, just off the A52, Junction 25 of the M1 in Chapel Row, Borrowash… in a former chapel! As well as being able to buy new Kawasakis and pre-owned motorcycles, you can also bring your motorcycle in for servicing, MoT test repairs and general motorcycle maintenance if required.
With over 20 years as a dealer, they must be doing something (or rather a lot of things) right. BOB PICKETT spoke to Richard to see what makes him and his business tick.
A good motorcycle dealership is a special place. Aside from selling the latest and greatest bikes, the best ones are pillars of the community, offering guidance, advice and quality customer service that make punters come back for years to come. That’s why we want to shine a light on the workof one we’ve heard nothing but good things about: Derby Kawasaki.
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MB: Why Kawasaki?
Richard: From the moment we started out dealing motorcycles, the desire was always to partner with Kawasaki. I honestly believe they’re the best bikes in the world with the best philosophy. Top Gun also had a positive impression in my teenage years, so of course I wanted to work with them. And I put my money where my mouth is, as I ride the best motorcycle on the planet, the awesome ZH2!
MB: You’re based in an old chapel! How did you get your hands on this building and was it a challenge converting?
R: Previously we dealt out of an old Renault car dealership site close to the centre of Derby, which was pretty much like a lot of dealerships out there, a square box and soulless.
I lived in Borrowash for a couple of years and the old Wesleyan chapel (1825) was put up for sale in 2009.The building has had many uses after closing as a chapel in the early 1900s. It was a joinery sawmill for several decades up until 2006.
The chapel was in really bad shape and an eyesore as it had fallen into serious disrepair. Interestingly, the chapel was used for dealing in the ‘green’ prior to Derby Kawasaki, as 20 firefighters tackled a fire at the building in 2009, where a cannabis factory had an electrical fault through tapping into the street’s electricity and the chapel was set ablaze.
It was not long after the fire when the building was put up for sale and some doughnut (me) purchased the building and committed themselves to the challenge of breathing new life into the building.
The chapel has real character and a lovely place to ride the journey of time, oh, and all bikes go with a free blessing!
MB: Someone comes into the dealership and says: “I want that bike, but 30 miles down the road they’re selling it for £500 less, can you match it?” What do you say?
R: Why would I devalue the product they are buying by putting it out for less than the price Kawasaki has carefully worked out? If I sell it for less, then what am I saying about the bike and what are we doing to the bike’s future value? Yes, I could play that game, but it’s not what we’re about. We’re about developing long-term relationships with our customers, not just pushing bikes out the door.
MB: This very much reminds me of when I spoke to MV Agusta’s CEO, Timur Sardarov. He has no time for what he refers to as ‘Supermarket Dealers’; outfits that ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em low’, with no real connection to the brand.
R: Absolutely. We are Kawasaki; we love and know the brand inside out; we take our time to understand our customers’ needs; we extract as much information about what they want so we can advise on what they’ll possibly need. For us it’s all about communication and information; we want all our customers to make informed decisions.
MB: Do you stock the full range as demo bikes, or is it select models? If the latter, if someone wants to test another bike, is this something you can arrange?
R: We normally have a six-bike demo fleet which will always consist of the latest models and most requested bikes. Also, annually we host the Kawasaki Demo day event where the full range of Kawasakis are available for testing. We are holding the demo event next year in July. We also have an extensive range of used bikes that can be taken out for a ride.
MB: What’s your approach regarding your pre-owned stock?
R: Well, there’s more wiggle room here, but again we’re not looking to shove them out the door; we only offer quality used bikes that are fully inspected and prepared before sale. We want to provide our customers with a passionate experience, premium advice, and a quality bike, followed up with an after-sales experience that is second-to-none.
MB: You come back to long-term relationships time and again, is this core to your strategy?
R: Totally and it works. We have customers that have been with us since the beginning, buying 20 bikes in 20 years. The ones who will just drop in for a chat. And for them, we go the extra mile. Call up and say: “Can you do us a favour and take a look at my bike?” We’ll put in an extra shift and stay on a bit later in order to keep these customers/friends rolling.”
MB: Outside of selling bikes, what else do you offer your customers?
R: We’re really into bike racing and working in partnership with Leon Haslam’s racing academy (Affinity Sports Academy). We have use of their hospitality suite facility in the British SuperBike races so that our customers can enjoy VIP hospitality at BSB rounds and WSB at Donnington. We offer free coffee mornings on every first Saturday of the month, when customers come in for a cuppa, pastries and discounts in-store. We like to run giveaways on special dates all-year around – a way to emphasise the love for bikes on any occasion and give nice treats to our customers. Customers are always welcome to pop in for a drink and relax in our VIP lounge upstairs, where we also hold events with music and snacks.
MB: Do you stock kit outside of the Kawasaki clothing range? What about crash helmets?
R: We stock pretty much everything Kawasaki offers, from its clothing and merchandise line up. Also we have some Alpinestars rider wear and a large range of Oxford products. We have had HJC helmets in store for more than 10 years now and believe they are great value.
MB: I’ve seen some reviews. This was typical: ‘I cannot say enough about this dealer. You are treated like an old friend as soon as you walk through the door for the first time and they bend over backwards to look after you. I’ve bought a bike from there and a small but niggling fault was put right without the slightest fuss as soon as possible after I’d contacted them.’ How does it make you feel when you get this kind of response to you and your team?
R: It’s lovely when customers feel our passion and motivate us with warm comments. We are here genuinely to have fun and enjoy the day-to-day challenges of the motorcycle world. Honesty genuinely is the best policy.
MB: Your passion for the business is obvious, so what keeps your enthusiasm for the job, year after year?
R: I can honestly say that when I wake up in the morning, I am looking forward to coming in. I can’t call it work, I’m coming in to talk about bikes and green bikes at that… what could be better than that?”
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