Making Money at Rallies

Another Way to Turn a Profit?
American Iron Retailer

April/May 2006 - Volume3, Issue 3
The main type of work we perform at rallies is the same type of work we perform at our shop in Watertown, South Dakota. We do everything from dyno tuning of fuel-injected and carbureted bikes to complete motors, cams, pipes, air cleaner, fuel-injection modules, ignitions, and anything else having to do with performance. We also have a mobile retail store set up for customers to buy products. We probably tune more motorcycles a year than anyone in North America, which fives us a good understanding of which products and techniques work and which don’t.

We work Daytona Bike Week, Biketoberfest, Arizona Bike Week, the Laughlin River Run, the Myrtle Beach Rally, the Laconia Rally, the Four Corners Rally, Las Vegas BikeFest, the Steel Pony Express, and the Dennis Kirk Open House. We also fill in six or seven smaller events between our main events, doing an East Coast swing one year and a West Coast swing the next.

Customers from all over the country were coming to our shop in South Dakota, so we started doing work at all the events across the US. We knew that because of our reputation, hardworking background, and our experience in performance products, going to events would help better service our customers’ needs and enhance our reputation, as well.

The amount of income that can be expected varies greatly. Travel expenses, spot fee, licensing fee, tax fees, employee payroll, and inventory costs are some of the determining factors. The overall figure is reflected by these factors as well as the products and services you will offer the consumer.

One of the challenges a new business will face at an event is finding a spot that fits into your budget. A few more challenges include the mount of investment it takes to get started, the long hours you’ll need to work at an event, and the number of employees needed. One of the major factors is the travel time required, which results in time away from your shop at home and from your family.
Getting started takes a good business plan. You’ll need a way to transport all your business needs, including shop and business equipment, tools, display, and inventory. You’ll need employees to help with transport, setup, and tear-down, and, of course, to sell parts and work on the bikes during the event. You also need to take the cost, size, and length of the events into consideration. And one of the most important things you’ll need is the experience to do a great job so that your customers return year after year.

You’ll want to have a location that your business and customer are comfortable with. However, we’ve seen that almost any location can work for any shop, depending on its reputation and work ethic. We found that is works quite well for us to set up near other shops that perform similar work. We send our overflow work to the shops around us, and that keeps them very busy, as well.

It’s very important to let people know where you’re set up at each rally, and what services you offer. We advertise in national magazines and local rally publications, and we post signs at the events where we’re set up. We also have a web site listing the locations where we’ll be set up at every event. Because of our track record and our good reputation, our corporate sponsors also advertise on our behalf and send us work throughout the season. And don’t forget that work of mouth is one of the best ways to spread your name throughout the motorcycle world.
Keeping the same location is important for the returning rider at certain events. But remember that motorcyclists are very loyal. If you have a good reputation and treat them right, they seem to find you no matter where your business is.
Jason Hanson

Speed’s Performance Plus Crew tackling a performance upgrade.

Speed’s Performance Plus at Daytona.
Reprinted with Permission, American Iron Retailer Magazine

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