Consumers Prefer Single Line Dealers

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You're more likely to have better sales experience if you purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer than if you buy one from a dealer that handles several brands, according to a recent survey of motorcycle owners.

"Satisfaction among those who purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer has increased slightly over the last five years, while satisfaction among those who purchased from a multi-line dealer has declined," says Tim Fox, research manager for powersports at J.D. Power and Associates.

Based in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is an international marketing firm providing market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction services. The company is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. "While overall satisfaction has steadily increased," notes Fox, "satisfaction with the sales experience has remained relatively flat since 2003."

The results are part of the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study. In its 10th year, the study measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles by examining five major components of the overall ownership experience: product, quality, cost of ownership, sales and service.

The 2007 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study includes responses from 8,796 owners who purchased new on-road motorcycles between September 2006 and May 2007. Owners were surveyed in September and October, 2007.

Even though overall satisfaction has increased over the last five years, a number of owners reported problems when getting their bikes serviced by dealers. More than 20% of participating owners took their bike in for repairs, and when the work was not performed correctly the first time, 22% said the dealer created a new problem.

This is a significant increase from the 16% reported in the 2006 study. "Quality of the work being performed significantly drives satisfaction with service," points out Fox, "so it becomes critical to ensure not only efficient service, but also accurate and high quality repairs the first time around."

The study also reveals:

  • Thirty-eight percent of participating consumers found information on a manufacturer's Web site and 32% indicate that a past experience with a particular manufacturer aided them in their purchase decision. Fifty-six percent of new motorcycle owners report that they acquired information about the model they purchased from displays on showroom floors.

  • Overall satisfaction with the cost of ownership has increased among motorcycle owners for a second consecutive year, with owners being most satisfied with the initial price and resale value of their bike. Satisfaction with maintenance/repair costs, cost of accessories and insurance has also increased.

  • Motorcycle owners are strong advocates of their brand and dealer — 68% said they "definitely will" recommend their brand and 56% will recommend the dealer from which they purchased their motorcycle.