Only half the stuff is for sale — the rest is just fun memorabilia. Fairless also has his Strokers Ice House bar and grill that attracts a lot of business. Mix in his tattoo parlor, Strokers Ink, and his friendly staff, and you can’t help but feel Strokers appreciates your visit, and your business, too (in that order).
You see, the V-twin community is not a herd of simpletons ready for slaughter using slick sales gimmicks. V-twin riders are maturing and they want more out of their retail experience. They want value in exchange for their time. Make it fun and make it beneficial, or they will take their business elsewhere.
It’s unreasonable to believe all it takes is displaying expensive gear and accessories to motivate customers to buy. Money is tight and customers want to feel their dealership appreciates them. As Dennis Johnson, Dealernews editor-in-chief, told me, “Customers, I feel, want to be appreciated for giving their business to a store/company. I know I do. When I don’t feel that level of appreciation — something as simple as the guy at Trader Joe’s knowing that I ride and asking me about riding — I’d just as soon take my money elsewhere.”
Connecting with the V-twin rider isn’t complicated. Start by considering "What's In It For Me?" from their perspective. Some dealer best practices to consider:
- Hold customer appreciation events. Make them extra special for your top 100 customers — those who frequent the store often, assist during events, are officers in the local club and who spend the most on an annual basis. Wine and dine them like the best customers they are.
- Train staff to greet customers with a smile and a welcoming remark.
- Thank all customers for their purchases — be they large or small.
- Follow up with customers who made a significant purchase. Do so within 48 to 72 hours by phone, email or text. Thank them for their purchase, get feedback on the experience and personally invite them to your next event.
- Create invitations that include an element of service, education, entertainment and/or special offers.
- Post pictures of staff along with bios so customers know who they’re doing business with.
- Celebrate customers and employees who have purchased a vehicle. Take pictures and create a binder that other customers can look through.
- Ride with customers or, at least, mingle with them at the start and end points.
- Capture customer testimonials and document them with pictures to make it more interesting.
With today’s tight budgets, cultivating the customer connection along with good product merchandising makes more sense than ever. If the customer’s "What's In It For Me?" is the driving force, I don’t think you can go wrong.
This story originally appeared in the Dealernews January 2012 issue.