OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – You don’t even have to click your heels together to make a Bikewish. This new service is designed to connect buyers with dealers via an online platform that lets the buyer stay anonymous until there’s a deal on the table.
Like a lot of startups, the idea for the business came from the owner’s personal experience. Chase Johnson was shopping for a motorcycle about a year ago and got frustrated with the traditional process, especially what felt like a disconnect between the online and dealership experience. He started his quest online.
“Once I waded through the mess and found a motorcycle I was interested in, my only option was to submit my contact information and hope it wasn’t distributed indiscriminately. Sure enough, within a few days, my inbox was littered with all types of unsolicited spam. I eventually had to retire the email address as a result,” he said. “I decided there had to be a better way.”
What he came up with launched March 25 as Bikewish.com. The site lets shoppers specify the make, model and configuration of bike they want, then choose from participating dealers in their area to solicit offers.
For consumers, the appeal is the ease of shopping without running around to different lots, and with no chance of a high-pressure sale until most of the deal is done.
“While the introduction and initial negotiation between a consumer and dealer may happen through our platform, the consumer still must still visit the dealership to set up financing and complete their purchase,” Johnson said. “This is where the salesman will have the chance to focus on customer experience, selling additional products and asking for referral business.”
For dealers, the service offers prescreened, in-market buyers. The platform includes an internal CRM, configurable real-time text/email alerts, and direct integration with third party CRM/DMS vendors.
“We give dealers access to a previously underserved demographic — namely, those who either lack the time and patience to endure traditional shopping methods, or simply the price-conscious consumer that values transparency,” Johnson said.
Bikewish.com charges dealerships either a per-lead fee of $30, which is charged after the dealer submits an offer and the offer is viewed by the buyer; or a flat monthly subscription rate of $199. Bikewish’s staff of five vets each customer that submits a price request using a series of questions to verify in-market status. Requests originating from shoppers that don’t pass the vetting process are not forwarded to dealers.
Bikewish reportedly trains dealers to use the platform and ensures the infrastructure integration to handle Bikewish leads.
So far the service has signed up about a dozen dealers in the greater Kansas City area, and has completed just one transaction. But Johnson said the 5,000 unique visits to the website are a harbinger of interest. The company is working on a marketing strategy that, he said, will include booths at Dealer Expo to engage more dealers. On the consumer side, Bikewish plans to reach riders at events like Sturgis and Bikers for Babies rallies, and prospective riders at concerts and sporting events. Marketing will also include a social media campaign.
So far Bikewish is limited to new motorcycle and scooter purchases, but Johnson sees opportunity in the pre-owned market. “We’re actively developing the infrastructure to handle used inventory as well, with a projected launch by June. Unlike existing classified products, our used platform will be limited exclusively to dealer inventory, providing a more cohesive environment for dealers to distinguish themselves on product, price and service.”