AS THE INDUSTRY continues to tighten up and business slows down, many dealership service departments find themselves looking to outside OEM franchises to keep technicians busy.
For those shops servicing bikes other than the brands they sell, BikeBandit.com has its dealer account program, which gives qualified dealerships special pricing on OEM parts.
While the program has been around for a while, BikeBandit.com president Ken Wahlster says he started heavily promoting it earlier this year because of increased dealer interest. The program also makes available to participating dealers aftermarket parts, apparel and accessories.
"A lot of shops have called us and asked us if we could get them parts for those brands that maybe don't have a dealer in their area," Wahlster says. The biggest increase in sales, he adds, have been for the OEMs that have smaller dealer networks, such as Triumph and other European brands.
The company has also seen a increase in parts sales for the street segment, especially the cruiser market.
"What we've seen is a lot of times a guy will drive two or three hours to buy the machine, but wants to take it to his local repair shop for repairs," he says. "That local repair shop may or may not have access to the [OEM] parts, so we help them out with that."
Most of the products are shipped our of San Diego, Calif., where BikeBandit.com's 107,000 sq. ft. warehouse is located. Wahlster says that the company has more than 30,000 SKUs of OEM parts in stock, which covers model years back to the mid-1980s.
"When times are tight, everybody is working on everything, so we like to be able to help out," he says.
While rough economics means many shops are taking on work they may have turned away in the past, they should do so with a bit of caution, says Dealernews service columnist Dave Koshollek.
To avoid taking on costly jobs that might require an investment in special OEM tools, Koshollek suggests sticking to the meat and potatoes work such as oil changes, tires and brakes. And, stores should figure out ahead of time which brands and segments they want to work on. He adds that service writers should be especially careful when assessing a job. (Continued)