Scott Fischer's latest successful motorcycle business stems from a long-held belief he’s fostered: to not be the smartest guy in the room.
Celebrated Southwest Florida entrepreneur Scott Fischer divested of a large portion of his Harley Davidson dealerships a few years ago. Yet the powersports industry adrenaline rush — not just from riding the refined machines, but also in building fast-growing businesses in it — is something Fischer consistently covets.
He’s found that with Fort Myers-based Digital Lead Performance. The company does what its name promises: provide powersports dealers, including Harley Davidson locations, digital leads for customers. The focus, Fischer says, is on providing better response times, quality showroom appointments and stronger sales opportunities for dealers. “We really understand the business well,” Fischer says, “and we understand what the dealers need.”
That understanding has led to some rapid growth: Since launching in May 2019, including the pandemic, Digital Lead Performance has helped dealers sell more than 6,085 motorcycles, leading to $112.57 million in revenue for clients. Dealers that partner with DLP, say company officials, achieve average results of 40-50% of leads converting to a set showroom appointment; 65-75% of appointments showing up; and 30-35% converting to a sale.
Internally, Fischer projects DLP will reach $4.7 million in 2021 revenue, up 193.75% from $1.6 million in 2020. DLP had 50 clients through the end of May, with a goal of having 100 by the end of 2021 and 250 clients by 2023. It’s already moved offices four times to meet expanding payroll needs since it was founded, and earlier this spring it moved into an 8,000-square-foot space in the Gateway area of Fort Myers. It has 40 employees.
Fischer, who built Scott Fischer Enterprises into a national Harley empire, including Six Bends Harley Davidson in Fort Myers and Naples Harley Davidson, believes DLP’s road for more growth is wide open. He anticipates soon getting into RVs, marinas and other sectors. “We don’t plan to just be a power sports and Harley focused company,” he says.
At its peak in 2014, Scott Fischer Enterprises had $121 million in annual revenue and some 360 employees spread through all the dealerships. Those included the ones in Southwest Florida and locations in Huntsville, Alabama, Hickory, North Carolina, New Mexico and California. Fischer was inducted into the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Business Hall of Fame in 2012, and was the Business Observer's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.
Fischer began to sell some of his dealerships in 2016, first in Alabama, then North Carolina and, in 2018, the pair of Southwest Florida locations. Now 61, Fischer — who maintains ownership of his New Mexico Harley dealership — is using a lifetime of lessons learned targeting customers to help build DLP into a national digital leads brand. “It’s very difficult indirectly for a dealer to do what we do,” he says.
The genesis of DLP, says Fischer, goes back to Aaron Barney, one of his longtime management employees. Barney has been with Scott Fischer Enterprises since 2002 and has witnessed the parade of motorcycle buyers who have migrated online in the past decade. Barney came to Fischer a few years ago, suggesting that being first in line to guide powersports dealers through the digital revolution would be a golden business opportunity. “He believed we could take it to the industry in a big way,” Fischer says.
Allowing employees to own ideas — and risks — has long been one of Fischer's entrepreneurial must-dos. Surrounding himself with smart people, like Barney, he says, is another must-do. “I still leverage a lot of the things I did before,” Fischer says. “I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room.”
Barney is now director of operations at DLP, and while Fischer says he believed in Barney’s vision, he’s surprised at how fast the concept has caught on. One key lesson, Fischer says, is DLP stays in its lane: mining digital leads through a variety of social media and software platforms. When dealer-clients ask DLP to do other work, the firm declines. “I tell dealers all the time: we are not a marketing agency,” Fischer says. “We are a digital sales company.”
‘We really understand the business well and we understand what the dealers need.’ Scott Fischer, Digital Lead Performance
One new lesson Fischer has learned with DLP is when to spend on technology. Fischer says he invested too early at first, spending around $1 million on technology and software before DLP was launched. The firm scaled that back to $500,000 in the second year, when it had too much technology for the work. Now Fischer is back to investing in technology, currently working on an expensive transition to a Salesforce platform to push for more structured growth. “We are making a big investment in technology,” Fischer says, “because we need the data to back up everything we are doing.”