He cited the Harley-Davidson’s “fit shop” concept as a great way to specialize in parts or apparel, but for dealers selling other brands, there isn’t a corporate template. Developing a niche for your store is worth the effort, he noted, because it creates more foot traffic and “once [a customer] walks out the door with a new unit, all the rest is cash sales.”
Moderator Eric Anderson pointed out that three-fourths of motorcycle sales in the country are “driveway-to-driveway” – private party sales that often begin with Craigslist or other online advertising. That creates a great opportunity to exploit the higher margins of used bike sales in a post-meltdown financing atmosphere, John Paliwoda of the California Motorcycle Dealer Association noted. Others agreed.
“In the past, the average dealer was probably running 5 to 1 new to used sales,” Cameron said. “We’ve always tried to run at 3 to 1. There is very little margin in new bikes now. Used stuff still can average 25 to 30 percent.”
Dealers may have to be creative to get the used bikes. Anderson gave the example of service managers who ask every customer in for an oil change if they’re interested in selling or trading their bikes. Cameron said consignment is also an option to increase foot traffic and choices.
Dealers need to think bigger than rhinestone-studded jackets and pink do-rags if they want to attract women customers. The man cave that’s a beacon to the core male demographic is often a lighthouse to female potential customers. That environment ignores the fact that females influence 80 percent of purchasing decisions in the U.S.
“I firmly believe that the average motorcycle [dealership] experience is uninviting to the wife, the girlfriend or the daughter,” Burleson said, noting that things like sales personnel who only address men, and dirty or unisex bathrooms will send women out the door. “We need a gut check about the intimidation. We need to create a Target type of experience that appeals to the whole family.”
Jim XXXX of AMA, who helped structure the Costco referral program, noted that 70 percent of the referrals from Costco were first-time buyers, and a significant number were women who had never visited a dealership.
Women who see other women having a blast riding are more likely to take an interest in the sport, Slate said.
“There are not enough of us in visible places for women to see themselves as riders or passengers,” she said. “I want to see more women dirt riding. It makes women say, ‘if that woman can ride motocross, then I can at least get on a road bike. If that woman rides time trials, I can get on a dirtbike.” (Continued)