It's not uncommon to see a couple of wheels sitting along the side of the service drive. But at Sheehy Subaru in Springfield, Va., that pair of wheels is affixed to a 2016 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special.
The bike, in gold-flake paint emblazoned with flames, is on loan from Patriot Harley-Davidson, which the dealership's owner, Sheehy Auto Stores, acquired in March 2015 to add a new dimension to its portfolio.
The Harley store does more than just add to the bottom line for the Sheehy group, which now comprises nearly two dozen new-vehicle dealerships. By leveraging the motorcycle market expertise and used-sales operation of the dealership, Sheehy's auto dealerships now have a more efficient way to handle motorcycle trade-ins.
"The conversation has come up for years," said Brandon Stanhope, general manager of Sheehy Subaru. "There's a market to trade motorcycles in from a convenience standpoint, but it was made that much easier when we bought the store."
Since Sheehy acquired the Harley store, Stanhope says, he has taken about 20 motorcycle trade-ins from customers who bought a new Subaru. His most recent: A customer who moved to the Washington, D.C., suburb from out of state and traded in a vintage BMW R 100 S toward a new Subaru WRX STI hot hatchback.
Accepting a motorcycle trade-in used to be a time-consuming challenge. Stanhope would have to call around to nearby motorcycle or power-sports dealers to determine a trade-in value and find a buyer.
Sheehy Auto Stores COO John Adamson recalls the same struggle from his days as an auto dealership general manager, adding that local motorcycle dealers often would give lowball offers. On top of that, many motorcycle owners simply don't know that an auto dealership can accept a motorcycle as a trade-in, he says.
Now, it just takes a phone call to Patriot Harley to get an offer and make arrangements to retrieve the bike. In addition to the 20 motorcycle trades Stanhope has accepted, Sheehy's other auto stores have taken about 20 to 25, Adamson says.
"Car dealerships have always struggled with how to trade a motorcycle," Adamson said. "All we're trying to do is make it easy for the customer and get them the maximum amount of money for their bike."
Sheehy Subaru also caters to those who miss riding their bikes. The store allows service customers to take one of the store's roughly 50 Subaru service loaners to Patriot Harley, about 16 miles away, and rent a motorcycle while their Subaru is in for service.
Stanhope says the arrangement surprises customers, who sometimes ask rhetorically whether the Road Glide Special on display can be their service loaner.
When they hear the answer, Stanhope said, "Nine out of 10 are like, "Wait, really?'"