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Shine bright like a Harley: How lighting makes all the difference for dealerships

Step inside the Viking Land Harley-Davidson dealership and you might not pay special attention to the 20-foot ceilings with over 50 light fixtures. You might not notice the way the lighting is at a specific brightness and angle, and the way it glints off the rich paint of each Harley-Davidson bike.

You might not notice it, but you’ll feel it. It adds to your overall in-store experience. And that’s what makes all the difference.

Seth Walton, Viking Land co-owner, knows this well. He’s seen the difference.

“High-quality, efficient lighting is often not viewed as part of the customer experience,” he said. “But it’s crucial to creating a good representation of your product.”

With a brand as well-respected and well-loved as Harley-Davidson, this becomes a critical part of managing a dealership. In fact, once a year, Harley Davidson sends a representative to each dealership to ensure they are meeting brand standards for their showrooms and service departments.

“We know as Harley-Davidson dealers that we are selling the most well-known premium brand of motorcycles in the world, and therefore bear a certain level of responsibility,” Seth said.

“Not only do we as dealers see the value of good lighting, but the Harley-Davidson Motor Company also has very specific guidelines that the dealers are required to follow for all departments of the store. From the showroom floor in the front to the parts counter and service bays in the back, the lighting guidelines that Corporate sets are for the benefit of employees and more importantly, the customers.”

That said, when Seth and his father first began designing their dealership, Viking Land, they knew they had to uphold those same standards for layout and lighting. The building was formerly a Cadillac dealership, with 20-foot-high ceilings and more than 50 fluorescent light fixtures. But they quickly realized this wasn’t going to be the most sustainable option.

“Because the lights were fluorescent, the lumens went down over time. So we had to go around a few times a year to change the bulbs,” Seth said.

However, with such high ceilings, it wasn’t as simple as unscrewing a bulb. With the time and effort it took to find and replace the dimming bulbs, Seth quickly realized they needed a better lighting solution. After a bad experience installing some LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures that he found in a sale, he decided to search for local lighting experts. He heard about the work Goodbulb was doing with other dealerships and decided to contact a GoodBulb lighting expert.

“When you care about your product, you want to show it in the best light possible.”

Right away, GoodBulb worked with Seth to create a lighting design that offered the best lighting experience throughout the store. For instance, some fixtures hung down 15 feet from the ceiling; GoodBulb helped reduce that number to make one cohesive level of lighting. GoodBulb also upgraded all the lighting fixtures to LEDs for better quality light and long-term sustainability.

The Viking Land Harley-Davidson showroom

“GoodBulb has been there from start to finish, helping us plan out a design plan that was able to meet and exceed my facility requirements both on the interior and exterior of my buildings while staying within my budget requirements,” Seth said.

After upgrading to LED and cleaning up the lighting layout design, Seth noticed the difference immediately — and, so did his customers.

“A lot of people remarked, ‘Wow, it’s brighter and looks more open.’”

“A lot of people remarked, ‘Wow, it’s brighter and looks more open,’” Seth said. “But the biggest indicator was what they said about the paint.”

The Viking Land Harley-Davidson showroom

For anyone who’s a true Harley-Davidson fan, you know how important the paint is for a Harley-Davidson bike. Whether jet black or cherry red, Harley-Davidson has a very specific process of painting and finishing the bike. Good lighting helps to highlight this feature for the customer, Seth said.

“There’s so much depth to their paint,” he said. “In the proper lighting, you get a lot more compliments on how much you can differentiate the colors and the metal flake.”

Another important reason for proper lighting is for the mechanics in the showroom, he added. Here’s it’s crucial that the lighting helps them see each part clearly and do their best work.

“We want customers to see the depth and contrast on the high quality of the manufacturing process and paint, and we want our mechanics to see the details of each part they are working on in the back,” he said.

“Not many can people can say they know their lighting guy.”

Since partnering with GoodBulb, Seth has been able to maintain the high standards of the Harley-Davidson brand, and provide a better customer experience through proper lighting design. And of course, whenever a bulb dims or a wiring problem occurs, GoodBulb is there.

“Not many can people can say they know their lighting guy,” Seth said with a smile. “GoodBulb regularly checks back in so see if we need anything. You don’t get that level of service from a lot of places.”

Now, as a business owner who has seen the value of proper lighting, Seth notices the difference it can make in any showroom, in any industry. It’s something he encourages other business owners to prioritize as well.

“Good visibility is a concept applies to all kinds of retail,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves and our customers to provide the best experience you can. When you care about your product, you want to show it in the best light possible.”