Business Reviews

Riverfront Harley-Davidson – A Lasting Impression

Written by  December 31, 2007

Riverfront Harley-Davidson has brought the same things to the city of Lawrence, Kansas that the venerable motorcycle manufacturer brings to all its riders—a huge smile and a lasting impression.
Mike Patterson is a third-generation owner of Topeka Harley-Davidson and graduate of Kansas University. As a student, he enjoyed Lawrence enough that 17 years ago he began searching for a suitable location to open a second dealership in the city. Patterson wanted to be near downtown Lawrence, but not in it.
He found the perfect location at 608 North Second in North Lawrence—barely a minute drive from downtown and just moments off I-70. The doors opened on December 15, 2006 under General Manager Eli Geiger, who guides a crew of eight full-time and three part-time employees.
The smile of Lawrence was evident when the Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in April 2007 welcoming Riverfront Harley-Davidson. Representatives of the North Lawrence Improvement Association see the dealership as a tremendous asset toward reinforcing the city’s goal of shaping the “gateway” to Lawrence. That’s because Riverfront Harley-Davidson is one of the prominent businesses greeting motorists on what is the first entry into Lawrence for westbound traffic exiting from I-70.
Riverfront Harley-Davidson welcomes the opportunity to help shape the impression of Lawrence. Creating lasting impressions and satisfying people is how they’ve built their brand.
Eli Geiger doesn’t see building and maintaining a brand as some sort of corporate marketing plan. He sees branding, and measures it by satisfied customers. “There are a lot of 'big box’ shops out there, but we wanted to build something that’s personal,” said Geiger. “We selected a location and a facility to offer a full-service dealership that helps people through every step of the motorcycle experience. We provide an educated purchasing decision process, full maintenance and service, and a complete range of accessories.”
Customers like Riverfront Harley-Davidson because they’re recognized, known, and taken care of by an exceptionally friendly and highly-skilled crew. And, that satisfaction is evident in the growth occurring with Harley-Davidson and the Riverfront dealership.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are seeing a wider age range and increase of women riders—a 10% increase according to some industry analysts. And, for the people already riding in Northeast Kansas, more and more are choosing Riverfront for service, accessories, and group rides.
One example is the Toys for Tots ride that Riverfront has now hosted for the second year. The event saw a 30% increase in the number of riders and donations from the first to second year, which makes it clear that people are hearing about Riverfront and happy to return.
The 9,000 square foot facility has enough adjacent parking that it’s also served as the meeting point for demonstration rides, barbeque cookouts, and organized rides initiated by the OZ Hog Chapter, which is headquartered in Topeka.
Geiger points out that the best way to stay informed about social opportunities is to sign up for the e-mail list, which is available at www.riverfronthd.com. In fact, he says signing up is also the best way to stay aware of the many sales promotions and discounts that the dealership routinely offers. “We enjoy helping people be part of the family, whether that means riding together, obtaining service, or just sharing what’s new in motorcycling and Harley-Davidson. Joining our e-mail list is a great way to stay connected.”
That sense of connection will grow enormously when Riverfront Harley-Davidson features the equivalent of a family reunion in May 2009 as hosts of the annual state HOG rally.
While many businesses see a need to “be different” to confirm their market presence, Riverfront Harley-Davidson sees their role in more simple terms. They don’t seek to be different, per se, but simply to be the best at what they do. And what they do is make customers happy. “That’s what built this brand, and that’s what brings people back through the door. Ultimately, that’s what makes them choose to be part of our Harley-Davidson family,” says Geiger.
Creating lasting impressions and satisfying people—that’s what’s behind the doors at Riverfront Harley-Davidson.
By Chris Hess

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