Editor’s Note: Don Bova has been with J&P Cycles as an Inventory Specialist in the J&P Cycles SuperStore in Ormond Beach, FL. since May 2007 Originally from Michigan, Don attended Wayne State University and Detroit College of Business. He brings to J&P Cycles his experience with marketing, cost accounting and supervising staff at 15 Miss Hawaiian Tropic International Pageants in addition to retail supervising and training. Don bought his first motorcycle in 1970 upon returning from Vietnam and has never looked back. He spent the next 14 years riding from last snow to first snow in Michigan, then eight years of TRYING to ride 12 months a year in Dallas, and finally 20 years of riding all the time in Florida. Don brings to the J&P Cycles blog the view of motorcycling from a rider’s point of view with 42 years of riding behind him and a good 50 or so yet to go!!!
Did you ever watch one of those time lapse videos of some convention arena? They start out cold, dark, and vacant. Then as the time lapse begins in a matter of seconds things start changing, people are flitting around, walls appear, lights, furniture, and then BAM there is a home show or boat show or convention or some other big production all finished and ready to go. Sometimes when we go into one of those shows and we see all the glitz, glamour and activity, we forget about all of the work, all the hair that is pulled out, all the screaming back and forth, and the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into making the room look and feel the way it does. If you are like me (and pray that you are not) you kind of go in there thinking that it must always look like that. Well, it is pretty much that same kind of work, that same hair pulling, that same screaming, and that same BS&T for J&P Cycles as we prepare for any one of the several annual motorcycle events that take place around the country.
Right now I am specifically talking about the Daytona Beach Biketoberfest that comes about every October. With the opening of the J&P Cycles SuperStore in Destination Daytona five years ago the J&P rally presence has evolved from a very busy temporary store on Main Street in Daytona Beach to an event within an event in the Destination Daytona complex in Ormond Beach. But this “event within an event” doesn’t just happen overnight. No Siree Bob!! There is a whole bunch of planning and scurrying and the aforementioned pulling out of hair and blood, sweat and tears around to get us to where we want to be AND to make it look like it is always set up like this to all of you. All of this starts pretty much as the last biker rides away from the previous year’s Biketoberfest.
If you are one of the lucky dudes or dudettes from around the country who has been able to witness firsthand what J&P Cycles has to offer during one of the Daytona events, you already know that walking onto our lot is like walking onto a playground for bikers. There are vendors and dealers galore who are not just there to sell-sell-sell, but also to just talk motorcycles (although you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you just happen to buy-buy-buy). Food and drink is aplenty to make sure you keep full and refreshed while you browse about scoping out all the deals to be had. AND there is, of course, the store itself. Personally, I think that the store all by itself would be enough to give the average motorcyclist goose bumps. What a sight!!! Roughly 150,000 square feet of BIKER HEAVEN!!!!
Let me tell you something – if you had seen the store and parking lot just a few days earlier you would have seen just that – a store and a parking lot. Granted it is a nice store and parking lot, but still – a store and parking lot. Tents have to be arranged for, and not just some little 8×8 cover on four poles, but REAL tents, and not just one or two, but we range anywhere from five to seven tents covering up to 10,000 square feet. Those are just the J&P tents not the tents that vendors bring for themselves and set up. We have to arrange for several Port-a-Potties to be reserved along with the contract of having them serviced. Having ample numbers of clean Port-a-Potties help if you have been partaking in the aforementioned “food and drink aplenty.” Extra dumpsters have to be in place with an agreement for extra pick-ups. Overnight security has to be contracted for all nights when merchandise and equipment are left in the parking lot. Signage has to be laid out telling visitors what is available and to give directions. The parking lot has to be sectioned off and marked around the tents and vendors to allow for the bike only parking during the event. All of this arranging has to be done at the same time that 100s of other businesses and venues in the area are trying to arrange the same items the same period of time. These are no small tasks and those responsible do a darn good job.
Staffing!!!! Holy Moly – not only does J&P use all of the regular Daytona SuperStore staff, but as many bodies as possible from the J&P Cycles Destination Daytona call center. These poor souls who spend most of their working days sitting at desks staring at computers, and being generally very successful at satisfying most customers’ motorcycle needs and questions, now have to STAND on a hard floor all day long (we’re talking 10-14 hours). Believe me, that is a tough enough request for someone who is used to standing, so for the phone reps it is really above and beyond. To prepare for this, they start by joining the Showroom staff on a rotating basis to get used to the store layout, accustom to running the cash registers in addition to preparing to stand. When you stop into J&P during Biketoberfest and are greeted by smiling faces you know that the smile and greetings must be sincere because the days can be long and brutal, and one doesn’t fake smiles during long and brutal days. On top of the Daytona people there are many who come in from the “Mother Ship” in Anamosa, Iowa. They pretty much hit the ground running when they arrive, helping with the last minute touches to get things ready to go and don’t really stop until they are leaving for the airport to return home. Lastly, there are the contract workers, hired by J&P for a particular length of time. Some work events for J&P year-round and all over the country. Others are locals who work just for the one event.
The logistics of putting all that staffing together is monumental. There has to be arrangement for parking whether they ride a bike or drive a car. J&P provides lunches for ALL the staff during the event. This has to be arranged weeks in advance, the food has to be delivered daily and there has to be enough to feed ALL the staff for lunches starting at 11 a.m. and go well until late afternoon. Special event staff shirts have to distributed and maintained for all the staff regardless of their position and job. Housing and meals have to be provided for all the out of town staff members. Just keeping track of hours and payroll would be a big job, but add in all the other logistics and man-o-man-o-man!!!!
The arranging of and making agreements with all the participating vendors who set up both inside and outside the main store has to be done. We have to make sure they have all that is required by them to set up properly. Parking details have to be worked out for all the people who man the vendor locations (and there are a LOT of them). The lot and store has to be laid out just right so we can fit everyone appropriately. Here are a few of the vendors who will join J&P during Biketoberfest this year: Custom Chrome, Cycle Care, Scala Rider, Primo Rivera, Air Hawk, Mustang Seats, Memphis Shades, Powerlet, and several others. There is also a large food concession area with covered seating. In the midst of all of this J&P will have the huge Clearance and Close-Out tent, where unbelievable treasures can be found at unbelievable prices, a luggage and seat tent, and an outside counter for purchasing tires. An independent mechanic’s tent is set up to do installs, tire mountings, and general bike repairs on most motorcycle makes and models.
Lastly, but certainly not even close to least, we have to receive, warehouse and display the millions of dollars of merchandise available to the Biketoberfest guests. Pallets and boxes come flooding into the receiving area weeks before the event. No system is ever perfect, but great care is taken to try and provide ample quantities of parts, accessories, apparel, and other merchandise that will be most needed or desired by you and our other event guests. To receive and warehouse this flood of extra merchandise along with all the displays and sales aids is quite a task, but is handled efficiently so that when you are asking about a part, your sales consultant can tell you at the flick of a keystroke if it is in-house and if there is one available, and exactly where it’s located.
For those of you who cannot make it to Daytona for the event, every effort possible is made to insure that even though there is a massive event operation in progress there will NOT be any interruption or hiccups in our phone or internet customer service and shipping. This step of planning is every bit as important as anything we do on the ground inFlorida.
The goal is that visiting bikers and enthusiasts can step onto the J&P lot in the morning and virtually spend the whole day shopping, eating, talking motorcycles, sharing stories, and sightseeing hundreds of motorcycles that pour into the lot. If you are in Daytona Beach, Florida for the 2012 Biketoberfest you have to make it a point to come by Destination Daytona and spend some quality motorcycle time at the J&P Cycles SuperStore. Hey, ask for Don Bova….I’d be tickled to death to come out and meet you.
Enjoy the ride, talk atcha again soon!