Focusing on people, not tasks, helps retain business

Publish Date: 
Mar 19, 2014
By Dave Koshollek

It’s getting busy now, and that’s when we’re more likely to slip into 'robot mode' -- when we focus too much on the task and not enough on the person.

We get the vehicle checked in, complete the work, collect payment and deliver the vehicle back to the owner, all without even learning the owner’s first name. That’s OK, but it isn’t great.

We live in a business of passionate interests. Few people purchase a motorcycle out of necessity. We do it for fun, for an escape from the real world, and to enjoy the company of like-minded others.

I’ve seen numbers that show less than 50 percent retention of new buyers at the 12-month point of ownership. That’s pretty sad when you consider most motorcycles come with a 24-month warranty. 

Customers want to feel appreciated when they visit. They want a little personal attention and to feel we have their best interests in mind. They want to know and trust that we are the right people to take care of their “baby.” If we don’t make a personal connection, customers can lose trust and are more likely to consider getting their bikes serviced elsewhere. That can result in an immediate loss of business, lowered customer satisfaction scores and reduced customer retention.

Retention of new motorcycle buyers is not nearly as good as it should be. I’ve seen numbers that show less than 50 percent retention of new buyers at the 12-month point of ownership. That’s pretty sad when you consider most motorcycles come with a 24-month warranty. You’d think the owner would at least stick around until the warranty ended.

When you consider that the dealership spent a bundle attracting these customers to the store to buy the new vehicle and possibly gave up margin to close the deal, it’s depressing to realize so many customers leave the flock so soon. But buyers aren’t obligated to return for maintenance, customization and repair, so why wouldn’t they look for options when they don’t feel appreciated? They could be doing the work themselves, have a friend do it or take the bike to an independent shop or another dealer. That leaves the selling dealership’s service department with the warranty work and safety recalls, which is the hard road to earning a living.

Even in a busy environment, service advisors and technicians need to invest a little time to develop personal connections with their customers. It only takes a few minutes and it’s as simple as smiling when they arrive, shaking their hand, learning and using the customer’s first name and establishing the common ground you and the customer share.

Common ground is golden because customers want to do business with people like themselves. You’re no different, admit it. You prefer the company of your best friends -- people with whom you have a common interest.

Continued