The Internet: Good for More Than Just Porn

Publish Date: 
Feb 1, 2010
By Rick Fairless

I REMEMBER A time when there was no Internet. We did everything by hand and it wasn’t so bad. We had dictionaries, calculators and typewriters, and got by just fine. But that was many years ago. Nowadays you need a computer, and if you want your business to survive, you have to have a presence on the Internet.

For the first 10 years I was in business, one of my biggest expenses was the Yellow Pages, where I was spending more than $2,000 a month on ads. Not having a phone book ad was unimaginable. Today? I haven’t spent one cent on the Yellow Pages in four years because really, does anybody use the phone book anymore? Everyone searches online, and that’s where we need to be.

The Internet is more useful, popular, timely, and a heck of a lot cheaper to use than the Yellow Pages or newspaper. For advertising, it has successfully replaced both and is very important in helping us sell our products, both directly and indirectly. (In this stinking economy we need all the help we can get!)

The Internet, like the newspaper before it, is where people look for sales, price shop, do research and get information (right, Arlen?). People want instant gratification and the Internet is the place to get it. They aren’t walking into their local bike shop and buying whatever the dealer happens to have in stock. A lot of people already know what they want and what the competitive price is before they even walk into your store.

People searching for bikes or parts online may find several stores across the country offering the same product. Why should they choose your store? Maybe you have the cheapest price or the closest location, or maybe you have neither. Either way, you can still win the sale. Use your website as your best salesman. Let it sell the products for you with large, detailed pictures that show your professionalism.

It’s also important to have your contact info readily available and easy to access online. If a customer has a question about something, he needs to know who to call. If they can’t get in touch with you, you might lose a sale. This is especially important for search engines — make sure that when someone searches for you, they can find all of your contact info. When sales are slow you need to amp up your online presence. You should strategically use online avenues such as eBay, Craigslist, Cycle Trader and the other online sales sites to help promote your products and your business.

eBay is a great place to post those miscellaneous take-off parts (Lord knows we all have plenty of them) and cool accessories that you have trouble displaying in your store. There could be someone in your town looking for that certain part or even someone in the jungle of Detroit looking for that part (is anybody left in Detroit?). My basic simple rule is, Nobody can buy it from you if they don’t know you have it for sale, so make sure to let people know what you have.

The Internet doesn’t only have to be a direct source of income. You can also use your website to sell your company. Here’s a quick story: A friend I know from the gym asked for my e-mail address so he could send me a funny motorcycle joke. I gave him my e-mail address and my web address. The next day at the gym, all he wanted to talk about was bikes, babes and beer because of my website. This guy is a 70-year-old retired dentist and now he wants to bring his golf buddies up to Strokers. Bingo! My website worked.

The Internet is not only good for selling products online, it’s also a good avenue to bring prospective customers into your store. I’ll bet you a nickel against a doughnut that when that cat from the gym and his golf cronies come up to see the joint, they will buy some T-shirts and a few beers or burgers while they’re here. There, an indirect sale through my site. If my website was boring and didn’t give a feel for my business, that guy never would have wanted to come check us out. (Continued)