Many dealers are just learning about the latest incarnation of Cyclepedia.com, but its developers have been beta-testing the redesigned website for two years. About 200 dealers are now using the site’s labor times, technical specifications, diagnostic trouble codes and full-color workshop manuals.
“The amount of information that you can get out of this is unparalleled to anywhere else in the industry,” says C.R. Gittere of Cyclepedia Press LLC. “Nobody has amassed this amount of data. And it’s aimed at making your service department as profitable as possible. Saving time and money inside the dealership is really our goal.”
Packages start at $24.95 per month, and dealers can sign up for a 30-day free trial at www.cyclepedia.com/data. Subscriptions are per-rooftop, meaning dealers can have an unlimited number of users in both the service department and at the parts counter.
Gittere recently gave Dealernews a walk-through of Cyclepedia.com, which began life in 1999 as a repository for ATV and motorcycle specifications. (Click here for further background as well as short bios of the site’s developers.) Here's a quick rundown of what the site has to offer.
Cyclepedia.com’s database includes labor times for 11,000 motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, UTVs, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, boats and generators. Years range from 1974 through 2010 for manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. “Some manufacturers have been very gracious enough to license us the data,” Gittere says. “For manufacturers that haven’t, we’ve gone out and sourced that data on our own.”
The database contains more than 1.4 million different labor operations, from minor repairs to major overhauls.
As an example of how one would access the labor times (or any other site feature), Gittere leads us through this series of mouse clicks: “Motorcycles”>”Yamaha”>”2005”>”YZ450F”>”Labor Times”>”Brakes” (the path is illustrated below).
At this point, the right side of the screen shows various labor times, and the left side contains a link to a blank labor-and-parts estimate. Once we click on one of the rates, the dollar amount cues automatically into the estimate. Users can add their own labor times and parts to the estimate by typing them in. When they’re done, they can export the estimate information to their dealer management system — if they use the Commander software sold by MIC Systems & Software. “Some of the other dealer management systems and I are going through negotiations now,” Gittere says, hinting at future integrations. “Dealers can also export to an Excel spreadsheet so they can map it into QuickBooks.”
Gittere says all dealers should be using labor times, whether they use his system or the ones provided by the OEMs. He says too many dealers are having the technicians themselves estimate the times. This can lead to costly overestimations. “The technician is going to tell him it takes two hours, and then he goes and haves a smoke for an hour and a half,” he says. “So you’re overbilling the consumer and losing business because the shop down the street doesn’t do it this way.”
Conversely (and perhaps more likely) technicians may underestimate a job. “He told you it would take him 30 minutes," says Gittere, "and it took him an hour and a half. Now he wants to bill the consumer an hour and a half, and the consumer is upset.
“Dealers don’t really have a good idea of what’s going on in their service department, not up close,” Gittere says of most store owners. “It’s like the forgotten land.”
Continuing with the above example, Cyclepedia.com users who’ve made their way to the 2005 YZ450F page can click on “Service Schedules” to see Yamaha’s recommendations.
A more important feature is one that happens not to apply to the YZ450F: diagnostic trouble codes. Cyclepedia has collected all the codes for Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. “So whether you are working on the fuel injection system, the ABS system or even the ATV power steering system, we have sourced out the codes to help make your diagnostic job easier,” Cyclepedia Press says in a press release announcing the redesign.
The next feature does apply to the model: a wiring diagram as an Adobe PDF.
A “Specifications” button gives users quick access to more than 100,000 correct fluid levels and tightening torques. A parts counter employee, Gittere notes, can use this function while assisting customers. “He can make sure that he sells the right amount of oil to the consumer or the right spark plug,” he says. “Or if the consumer comes in and says, ‘Hey, I’m buying a dirtbike tire, and I’m going to mount it myself. What’s the torque spec on the axle?’ he’s able to service his consumer in that way.”
Independent repair shops especially will appreciate Cyclepedia’s collection of step-by-step online repair manuals for vehicles made by Arctic Cat, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KYMCO, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha. The folks at Cyclepedia have authored more than 125 manuals for more than 900 year-make-models. All manuals present full-color photos and color wiring diagrams.
Of course, dealers wishing to implement Cyclepedia.com must give employees ready access to the Internet. Gittere claims that today this won’t be a problem in most dealerships. “I talked to a dealer earlier this morning, and he’s requiring each one of his technicians to have a laptop,” he says. “He’s set them up with their own private wireless network so that it’s a network solely for technicians to access repair data via a Web-based portal. All the OEMs are heading in this direction.”
Gittere says that with new-unit sales in the dumps — and with margins being squeezed for both vehicles and P&A — dealers are in more need of a profitable service department. “So how do we make sure our dealers are successful in a service department?” asks Gittere. “You wouldn’t ask a mechanic to fix a bike and only give him a hammer and a screwdriver. He’s going to need tools. Well, we feel like having the right information, whether it be a step-by-step repair manual or just being able to access labor times, technical specifications and diagnostic trouble codes quickly and easily, is a tool. The more time a mechanic spends turning a wrench, the more money he’s going to make your service department.”