I recently sat down with Motoworks Chicago General Manager Milan Vujnovic to talk about the purchase process, tattoos and music. If you’ve ever come in to buy a motorcycle from us, Milan’s the guy who helps make the numbers work. When he’s not wheeling and dealing, he’s keeping the business side of Motoworks running smoothly.

How long have you been with Motoworks?

I think I just passed my nine year mark back in February, actually.

Motoworks is only ten years old, so you’ve been here…

…pretty much from the beginning.

And you are the General Manager?

Currently yes, I’m the General. I guess I’m the Sales/General Manager currently, so I’m doing kind of a dual position.

From a customer perspective though, you’re the guy they make a deal with, right?

Sure, I’m the last say as far as numbers are concerned, yeah.

So, if someone comes in here to buy a bike, they’re definitely going to run into you.

True. I mean even if they like the price, they’re going to need to talk to me. It’s not about haggling. It’s making sure they know exactly what they’re looking at.

The buying process

So let’s walk through it. What’s it like to buy a bike here, new or used?

Basically, when somebody walks through our door, having someone feel welcome coming into our shop is important. If you’ve been here before, you probably know you’re way around, but we’re still going to want to say hi and see what’s going on. What’s bringing you back in today? Is there some way we can assist? Then if you’ve never been here before, we start with the tour.

This building is large and not so, laid out well, if you will. There are lots of entrances and exits. It doesn’t quite make sense. So you walk in the front doors, and you think the building ends at the doors at the back of the showroom, but it doesn’t. We’ve got the big warehouse room in the back, we’ve got the service department, plus the boys in the back actually wrenching. We like to show everybody around and show them the facility because it’s unique. Kind of funky, dirty cool. It also has a smell to it that I’ve become immune to.

The biggest thing is that we want to find out what that the customer is looking for. I mean, I could easily just sell someone a bike. It’d be “Here you go. Here’s a bike. Let’s do some numbers.” Ultimately I want to find out what they’re going to be doing. What kind of riding are you going to be doing? Is this just transportation? Is it transportation/weekend? Is this strictly just for fun? Are you doing any touring? Basically, I’m just trying to find out from the customer how we can help them purchase the vehicle they really want.

So from a purchase standpoint, when it comes to figuring out those final numbers, what are some things that people often don’t expect when it comes to ways that they can actually save money in buying a bike or trading a bike in? Like tax savings, for example.

Sure, if you’re trading in, you’re saving tax on the new vehicle. So say you’re purchasing a vehicle for $10,000, and your trade-in is worth $4,000, well it’s not really $4,000. In the city of Chicago, it’s going to be more like $4,400 because of taxes you’re not going to have to pay. With the trade you’re paying a little over half the tax that you otherwise would.

Another opportunity for savings is if you buy a service contract where you’re actually pre-paying for your vehicle services, for example. You’re saving a good 20% [on your service] and the nice thing about that is that when you come in for your scheduled maintenance you’re not pulling out your wallet because this is all something you’ve already paid for, and saved money on. Even extended warranties or something like tire and wheel [insurance] is a great way to save some money. It’s so inexpensive relative to what replacing a tire or wheel would cost out-of-pocket. Sometimes people don’t look at at it as savings because it’s a little bit of money up front, but in the long term you’re actually really saving. I mean, it’s not like things get cheeper. Wheels don’t get cheaper every year. Parts don’t get cheaper. Everything goes up, so being able to purchase up front, and at a discount, costs the least over time. Does that answer your question?

Absolutely. I think people come in just assuming that we’re going to try to get every last cent out of them, but there really is an opportunity where yes, you’re buying something new and it’s going to cost what it’s going to cost, but it’s not just expense, there’s actual value.

Well it’s like anything else. I see that you’re a photographer. You don’t just buy a camera and a lens. It doesn’t end there. You’ve got lenses. You’ve got cases. You’ve got stands. You’ve got flashes that you might purchase. Things go along with the sport, if you will. And with motorcycling, it doesn’t start and end at the motorcycle. You’re going to want to wear a helmet and be safe, plus a jacket and gloves, boots — the whole nine yards. Maintenance is a part of that too, like we talked about just a couple minutes ago where you can buy pre-paid maintenance. You’re going to pay for these things one way or the other. Might as well get the most value — get the most bang for your buck.

I mean, I’m into instruments. Nobody sells you just a guitar. You need a pick and a tuner and the list goes on and on.

You’re going to go through strings…

Exactly. There’s maintenance on it. There’s going to the Luthier once a year to get the thing adjusted and so forth and so on.

Then you start getting into amps and pedals and on and on, and that gets really expensive.

Yeah, I’m asking for a raise. (laughs)

So ultimately, people just have to remember that motorcycling is an adult activity in the end and it costs money.

Absolutely, and going back to your original question of what is it like to buy a bike here. It’s our job to let our customers know everything that’s available to them. It’s up to them what they do and how much money they spend, but we’re here to help them know what all their options are and end up with the bike and what not that’s going to give them the most of what they really want. We’re here to help, not really to sell.

I’d like to think that when somebody comes in we’re not just saying “Awesome. You’ve got a bike. Congratulations.” and do them the disservice of not telling them about all the other details.

Bikes and riding

Obviously you’re also a motorcycle rider, so what are you riding these days?

Currently I don’t own a bike, just because I’m pretty busy, but I do manage to get a couple thousand miles in each season. It’s not the 10,000 that I used to do in a year, so I don’t have a bike of my own. Thing is though, I have access to our demos here and it actually really benefits me to be familiar with what we sell. It helps me to understand what we sell and be able to talk intelligently about what these [bikes] are really all about. Even if I don’t know all the little specs and everything, just riding our bikes I can give somebody a real world review, if you like. And obviously those are demo bike, so our customers are more than welcome to ride them too. That’s what they’re for: evaluation. Obviously they need their motorcycle license.

A helmet and a license, and a helmet and some sleeves.

Right. The basics.

If you were going to snag a bike for yourself, what would be at the top of your list?

You know right now I’m kind of fighting between the [Ducati] Multistrada and the Monster 1200S.

I can believe that.

And I think right now the Multistrada is absolutely winning because I have a total passion and love for touring and travel.

What’s your best trip so far?

Yellowstone. And with that, touching the southern part of Montana. I did — can’t remember the name of it — Big Bear Pass or something like that, and it was beautiful. It’s an elevation of roughly 10,500 ft.

Where do you want to go next?

Oddly enough, I haven’t thought of it for a couple of years, just with everything going on here, but I want to do something, but I’m not sure yet. I want it to be somewhere I’ve never been. I’m leaning towards the New England area. Thinking I’d like to head out east. I’ve gone out west. I’ve gone south. I’ve been through the desert southwest and the southeast of the country, but I’ve never just gone east.

Due east then, to the old country.

Yes, the old country. The new old country. The biggest challenge there is figuring out what time of year to do that because obviously riding season is when we’re the most busy here at Motoworks.

Yeah time of year would be critical. Don’t want to do Vermont in the middle of February probably.

Yeah, probably not.

What was your first bike?

My first bike was a 1981 or 1982 GS650L.

So a Suzuki?

Yeah, a Suzuki. It was shaft drive and I bought it off of a friend of mine for 150 bucks. He’d bought it and actually laid it down at one point, but then got a wild hare to move out of the state. He was just getting rid of all his belongings and just took $150. It was worth more than that at the time, obviously, but because we were good friends he was willing to part with it for a great deal. He sort of gifted it to me.

Thing is, it was hideous. It was hideous blue color. It had these hideous, half ape-hanger handlebars. I don’t even know how you would describe it. So put some new bars on it, rattle-canned it flat black and just rolled around on that for a couple years before I got something better.

The man, the myth, the Milan

So tell me about your tattoos.

It’s not finished.

Is it ever? Everyone I know who has ink is always a work in progress.

Well this is literally not finished. It’s been ten years and I still haven’t finished the color, but I did find my tattoo artist recently. Betty of all people actually goes to the same tattoo artist I was using years ago. I ended up finding her on Facebook and being like “I’ve been looking for you!”

So you didn’t know where she was?

She never really had a shop per say. She always just worked out of her house and I lost track of her.

For what I’ve got now, it’s nothing too crazy. I’ve got about a half sleeve, but like I said, it needs color.

You do a lot with music, right? Do you have a lot of guitars? A guitar? I’ve seen a lot of different things on Facebook.

Music is what I do for fun. It’s my hobby besides motorcycling. Riding obviously means that I’m going places, but with music I can just be at home and relax and do my thing. I have a little studio in my apartment, although music is another one of those things that I don’t have as much time for as I used to. But tonight, for example, the girlfriend is going to a girls night party with her friends, so I’ve got the night to myself. So I’m going to just sit down and play the drums for a while. I play drums, and base, and I’m just starting to pick up playing the guitar.

Do you play with anybody?

You know, I used to many years ago. I’ve got a buddy who years ago we used to record together a lot. We used to record songs together and that was really fun. Of course he got married and had babies and all that stuff, then his job put some distance in there, so that is what it is. But I’ve got a couple of guitars and yeah, it’s my outlet at the end of the day. It’s how I clear my mind.

What do you like to play?

Oddly enough, I just like to play lots of rock stuff, but it’s heavier rock stuff than I actually listen to, which is the weird thing. So the things I’ve recorded are more like hard rock / metal, but I don’t actually own any of that kind of music. I don’t really listen to any of that. That being said, when I was younger I was a punk rocker, so obviously that aggressive sort of music was something I was into. I mean, I do own the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Dead Kennedys, and all that punk rock, but as for actually heavy metal — it’s not like I have any Megadeth albums laying around.

Have you got all the amps and the pedal setups and everything?

Oh yeah, I spend way too much money on musical equipment.

I can just imagine you in your space and it’s all set up like Mission Control.

Yeah, I’ve got my orange home theater chair and my amp next to me and all my pedals, then all my guitars. Something happens when I get inside that space. It’s a world of my own.

Next time you’re in the shop, be sure to say hi to Milan and show him your meanest air guitar.