Corbin only builds seats to order. It will work with a dealer to get detailed information about the rider, data it combines with decades of experience to make an educated guess on what seat would work best. “Our batting average is very high, in the high 90s,” Corbin says. “It’s like buying a new baseball glove or new boots; they feel stiff at first [but eventually break in]. If something does go wrong with the customer, they can send their seat back with comments, and we’ll make adjustments for them.”
A retailer also can write an order, send the customer to Corbin’s headquarters in Hollister, Calif., and make money off the transaction. (Customers using Corbin’s Ride-In Service are able to go directly to the facility and get their seat made while they wait.)
“Seats are a profit center and can carry anywhere from 25 to 40 percent profit for dealers. … They can charge for install and for shipping and handling,” Corbin continues. “It’s a good dollar volume item [too].
“A small seat can be close to $400 now. Seats go all the way up to twelve-hundred bucks. At 40 percent, there’s a good chunk of money there.”
AT THE STORE: HOW TO STOCK AND DEMO
Tom Motzko of Drag Specialties says seat sales are a good way for dealers to connect with their customers, given that so many want to swap out their stock saddle and need help getting properly set up and comfortable on their motorcycles. Dealers should be adept at showing customers such features as backrests and different kinds of leather, even gel padding and heating options. And consider this: Seats can carry a 30 percent to 40 percent margin.
(Image: Low Profile Touring Seat from Drag Specialties Seats.)
The problem is, much like with handlebars or exhaust systems, seats come in a myriad fitments, styles and configurations, and are bulky and awkward to stock and display. And then there’s that comfort factor: what works for one customer might not work for the next. It’s also a product that begs to be tested — usually for a good, long stretch of highway miles.
Some seat manufacturers have programs or systems in play that allow customers to at least sit astride a couple different seats, or even install them for a demo ride. Harley-Davidson has a dealer demo program that allows customers to test a variety of popular seat models. Saddlemen dealers can obtain a fixture on which different seats can be mounted and tried out. The team at Corbin uses detailed customer information to custom-build a saddle that founder Mike Corbin says fits the bill most of the time. (continued)