7. Gender roles are negotiable. Who asks who on a date these days? Why would you wait for a custo-mate to approach you? Approach them first. Speaking of genders, women still control more than 70 percent of the discretionary income in America, and I suspect they account for less than 20 percent of your floor traffic. So either get more women inside your store, or go wherever they hang out. You’re dead without them, either as riders or pursestring holders.
8. Forty is the new thirty. Personally, I’d like to expand eHarmony’s concept to “50 is the new 40” — it works better for our aging baby boomer riders, and for you, too. Your custo-mates need to represent every age demographic possible, from seven to 70.
9. Marriage is no longer always the goal. Old School thinking says we tie the knot and live happily ever after. New School thinking says we can be happy without the tribal ritual and burdensome paperwork of tradition. Your custo-mates also are no longer married to your local brick-and-mortar store like they used to be, because so many new techno-savvy options are available at their fingertips. It’s not that we are unfaithful; it’s more about 24/7/365 convenience. Is your business conveniently available to service our motorcycle needs whenever we are ready to buy?
10. Do not assume exclusivity. Multi-dating is part of the modern scene and so is multi-shopping. Technology has enabled us to shrink our shopping circles closer to home. We don’t have to go outside and hunt around anymore. If we can get the love we need from a business that delivers the technical information we want and has it in stock, then that’s likely who we will “date” this time around. If our bike needs servicing, then convenience usually takes the priority again.
11. The world is smaller than ever. If you can break away from the barriers you put up in the 1980s to insulate yourselves (such as automated voicemail), you might have a chance to pull customers back inside. E-commerce stores are getting more personal and are now experimenting with video chat. What are you doing with technology that makes it easier for customers to talk/Skype with a real human being?
12. Charm matters more than ever. Do you remember when written notes, thank you letters, phone calls and surprises used to be part of the dating scene? In the age of quick tweets, texts and posts, all that seems to have evaporated. So any examples of remaining charm are especially noted.
Ready to get back into the dating scene? If you have been married a while, you are probably nervous. Get over it. This is business, and custo-mates would love to be courted — and be the center of your attention.
This column originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Dealernews.