Steering ahead: Motorcycle Land Ballarat

Having recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, Motorcycle Land Ballarat, led by owner Matt Brown, has made it their mission to provide quality products and service at the best prices, reports JACKIE JOY.

BUSINESS: Motorcycle Land Ballarat
PRINCIPAL: Matt Brown
LOCATION: Wendouree, VIC
WEBSITE: www.motorcycleland.com.au

Home to one of the best collections of motorcycles in the market, the team at Motorcycle Land Ballarat believe “buying a motorcycle is a major event”. 

“Motorcycles aren’t a one-size-fits-all commodity. Every person is different, and wants different things from their bikes. At Motorcycle Land, we help motorcycle enthusiasts find the perfect one for them,” says dealership owner Matt Brown.

Having first opened their doors in 1972, Motorcycle Land has over the five decades, grown to become Ballarat’s most respected motorcycle shop. It has been awarded the title of ‘Victorian Honda Dealer of the Year’ for 2014, 2016, 2018 & 2019; National Sherco Dealer of the Year 2017; Victorian Sherco Award Winner for 2016 & 2018 as well as Victorian CFMOTO Dealer of the Year for 2015 & 2017.

“Our friendly team is known for their experience and knowledge about all types of motorcycles, and our loyal customers trust our valued opinion,” says Matt.

Their impressive showroom on Howitt Street in Ballarat, stocks an enviable range of motorcycles from market leaders CFMoto and Honda, apart from a wide selection of accessories, spare parts and pre-loved bikes as well. Whether it’s competitive and recreational motorcycles or those required for touring and commuting, from scooters, cruisers and classic motorcycles to ATVs, SSVs and AG bikes, they offer it all.

THE BEGINNING

Motorcycle Land Ballarat is a second generation family business that was started by Matt’s father Don in September 1972. Across the 50 years, they have operated out of three locations across Ballarat. 

“Don started his working life with a printing apprenticeship. With his apprenticeship completed, he decided he wanted to follow his passion for motorcycles and set about opening a motorcycle dealership,” informs Matt.

“The business has grown and so has the need for our facilities,” he adds.

Today, not only is the business a one-stop-shop for motorcycles, it is also known and trusted for their service centre. “Our state-of-the-art workshop has the latest equipment and gear to ensure that your motorcycle is always performing at its peak,” says Matt.

THE CHALLENGES

Milestones in business, especially achievements, should be acknowledged but it’s important to look back at the challenges as well. As part of our dealer profile series in PEA, we always ask successful dealerships about the roadblocks in their journey and how they overcame them to make it insightful reading for our readers. 

“Growth has always been a challenge, particularly in our industry,” says Matt.

“When we grow, we simply need more motorcycles, and that means more financial outlay as well as physical space to store and display them,” he says.

With supply chain the worst hit at the peak of the pandemic, Matt admits it’s been challenging to manage customer expectations as well.

“We are still suffering for stock manufacturing delays and freight hold-ups…the level of service we could previously deliver just cannot be done in this post-Covid world. Some of our supply is worse than it was at the peak of the pandemic,” he says.

With regular lockdowns, restrictions and irregular supplies, Covid did make 2022 a challenging one for many dealerships. 

“It has also been hard on staff as supply of spare parts and freight issues created a lot of double handling, and at times disappointment for customers,” says Matt.

On the other hand, he admits there were some unexpected surprises. “In some aspects, there was a very positive impact on our business as people could not travel and they spent money on new toys (motorcycles). We had a large uptake on new vehicle sales, which was an industry-wide experience, not just for our dealership,” he says.

TEAM EFFORT

To establish a successful business, you need a hard-working team. Matt admits he’s lucky to have a friendly and experienced staff who are equally passionate about motorcycles. 

“We are very lucky to have a great team around us with many long-term employees,” says Matt. 

“Brent in motorcycle sales has been with us for 15 years while Marg in administration/payroll has been with us for 28 years…to mention a few,” he says.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE SATISFIED CUSTOMERS? 

Dealing with a diverse customer base, Matt says it’s important to be able to cater to their specific needs and product demands. “Product knowledge and the ability to listen to the customer is very important,” says Matt as he goes on to add, “We need to understand what the customers (intended) use is for the product and then by knowing our products inside out, we can best advise what product will best suit their needs, budget and expectations.”

To be successful in the industry, Matt says it’s equally important to embrace the changes that happen.

“Whether its new products or new ways of doing things, you just always need to keep moving forward. If we keep doing things like we always have in the past, just because it’s the way we always have, it will slowly become less relevant to the market and our customers,” says Matt.

LOOKING AHEAD

Speaking about the future of his business and the industry in general, Matt says: “As a motorcycle dealership we operate in both the ‘essential’ space, as many of our customers need UTVs and ATVs for farm work, as well as in the pleasure/recreation space. While farmers will always need our products to operate, when the family budget gets tight some of the first things that get cut back on are pleasure/recreation items.”

When it comes to new product launches, the excitement, admits Matt, never ends.

“It’s like Christmas every day for us as our suppliers show us new offerings and product lines, but it’s our range of CFMOTO UTVs that are evolving so fast. They make life for our farming customers so much easier,” he says.

IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE PRESENCE FOR A DEALERSHIP

While a strong digital presence gives brands and businesses an ideal platform to engage with consumers, some businesses require a brick-and-mortar store.

“Our business is geared around being a brick-and-mortar business since we are a destination for all things related to motorcycles. While we acknowledge online has a space in the motorcycle retail world, we focus our time and energy in our local customers,” says Matt.