Hastings Honda | Streamlining systems keeps motorbike businesses on track

The doors of Hastings Honda were opened ten years ago by Dennis and Christine Mills, a couple who are no strangers to the world of motorbikes and ATVs.  The Mills had been running Mills Honda in Waipukurau for four decades when the opportunity to open a store in Hastings arose.

For the past eight years, Grant Merwood has been Hastings Honda’s general manager, but his association with Dennis and Chris Mills tracks back over 30 years.

“I started sweeping the floor at the Waipukurau store, then trained as a mechanic, working through the service, parts and sales divisions of the business.  I had a taste of everything so when the Mills bought the Hastings store, I was asked to run it.  Having two stores means we can collectively cover a much bigger region and it also gives us greater buying power, which is great news for our customers,” he says.

Hastings Honda sells road bikes, motocross bikes, two- and four-wheeler farm bikes, rural MUVs or ‘side-by-sides’ (similar looking to a golf cart) and scooters.  It also stocks clothing, equipment, accessories and outdoor power equipment.  Ten staff are spread across the Hastings operation, which includes a workshop, parts department, retail showroom and administration.

“A large percentage of our customers are rural clients wanting farm bikes,” says Grant.  “But we also sell lots of road bikes.  At any one time, we can have 20 or 30 road bikes on the floor including Hondas and second-hand bikes of all brands – BMW, Harley Davidson, Triumphs and others.

“We only sell Hondas new but have good stock of used bikes plus we sell on behalf.  There is a big shift towards the ‘side-by-sides’ or MUVs.  With ATVs getting bad press around safety, it’s scared people off quads and into these new vehicles that have a roll frame. Another big part of our business is servicing, parts and repairs.”

Hastings Honda’s customers hail from Invercargill to Whangarei and with online retailing becoming increasingly popular, the business has had to adapt.  “We have our own website with online shopping, plus we have a presence on Trade Me.  We also promote the business on social media, in particular Facebook,” says Grant.

“The internet has definitely changed the way we do business.  Although we still get a lot of walk-ins, our customer base has expanded throughout the country.  The downside of that is that we aren’t able to service the vehicles on an on-going basis if they’re out of the region.”

Although the Waipukurau and Hastings businesses are run as separate entities, they share common functions and recently streamlined their systems.   Earlier in 2015, the Mills engaged Moore Stephens Markhams Hawke’s Bay director Dan Druzianic, who along with business advisor Michael Ward, helped them co-ordinate the financial reporting processes between the two businesses.

“It’s a relatively new relationship with Moore Stephens Markhams,” says Grant.  “We were using different methods of reporting for each business and so wanted to streamline that, to make it more co-ordinated and therefore more efficient.

“I am involved in the monthly meetings and finance is an area I’ve grown into and am really enjoying.  Dan is easy to converse with and the meetings give me a good view of what’s happening inside the business and a chance to discuss future direction and performance.”