Smart retailers understand their brands and storefronts are more than warehouses for things. They’re rallying points for people. Chattahoochee Harley-Davidson® gets it.
The dealership, which shares a county with Fort Benning, an active Army base, recently partnered with the local community to transform a 15,000-square-foot pavilion into “The Bunker” in honor of the servicemen and women in the area. They decked it out with signs, a stage, flags from armed services branches, camouflage netting, and sandbags to fit the theme.
The dealership hosts its flagship event, “Bike Night,” at The Bunker every third Friday of the month from March to October. The event features local food, music, and an array of bikes. Vendors sell their wares as well. Last month the event attracted 174 bikes and 220 people.
“At first, we were offering big-name performers, but the community wanted us to support local acts. So, we changed things up,” said Marty Davis, who works in sales for Harley-Davidson® Chattahoochee and oversees The Bunker’s activities. “This is new to us, so we’re learning as we go and listening to the community’s feedback about what they’d like to see in terms of acts and vendors.”
According to Marty, while Harley-Davidson® Chattahoochee technically owns The Bunker, it’s become a destination point for the community at large. In addition to bikers attending the dealer’s poker and dice runs, people are getting married there, hosting receptions, and raising money for charities like Children’s Miracle Network Ride for Miracles. The local H.O.G.® chapter and the local ROTC hold their meetings there as well. You can even practice Zumba.
The dealership’s community-driven marketing strategy extends beyond The Bunker to the digital realm. Visit the dealership’s Facebook page and you’ll find event announcements related to The Bunker mixed with pictures of customers with newly purchased motorcycles. Each post says: “Welcome to the family.”
The dealership also uses video to cultivate community. John Maxwell, an H-D tech who works at the dealership, produces a Shop Vlog on YouTube. With his sense of humor, knowledge of Harley® engines, and video editing skills, Maxwell has amassed more than 100,000 subscribers.
“I bring people to work with me,” said John.
The dealership’s latest initiative is “Food Truck Saturday.” Marty recently extended an invitation to local food truck vendors to set up next to their dealership every Saturday from 11-2 p.m. Coming soon is a tent with picnic tables.
“Bikers want a place to stop and eat while they’re out riding on the weekends,” said Marty.
With increased business, Marty says their investment is already paying off, so they plan to move full steam ahead with more events in the works.
“We’re only getting started,” said Marty.