Scott Fischer Enterprises purchased Blue Ridge Harley-Davidson located in Hickory, North Carolina (a town of 40,000 residents approximately 45 minutes northwest of Charlotte) in March 2012 and worked with PTE, their public relations counsel, to ensure smooth transition, effectively communicating the ownership change to staff, customers and community members, and obtaining buy-in from local H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Chapter members—in just 8 weeks.
PTE started by establishing clear goals:
- Brand BHD as an SFE store
- Effectively communicate the transition to target audience members internally (store staff) and externally (customers, H.O.G. chapter members, area residents)
- Create a plan that could be replicated in other store purchase situations (since SFE planned to acquire other stores in the future)
PTE researched the audience and market, created key messages, coordinated website updates and developed social media content, mass media and community relations plans, facilitated media relations/publicity efforts, as well as facilitated internal communication and marketing material development.
A grand re-opening event was designed to invite customers, H.O.G. Chapter members and the community to come see the changes and meet the new management and SFE executives first hand. Additionally, a private behind-the-scenes tour of the store to learn more about changes to come and to meet the new management and SFE executives was arranged for media, serving to develop relationships between new store management and local media outlets.
With thousands of attendees the grand re-opening was the most successful event the store had ever had and the store continues to be successful.
- 100% of local H.O.G. Chapter members were in support of the change, enthusiastically attended the event and even volunteered at the grand re-opening.
- An estimated 5,000 people (approximately 12.5% of the entire town’s population and 1,666% over the goal) attended the event, more than at any other previous event at the store.
- Five media outlets, including local and national industry publications and area blogs, covered the transition and/or event resulting in an estimated 79,000 media impressions, excluding the chamber which did not provide site traffic.
- 341 attendees (170% of the goal) completed surveys and were added to the store’s database.