MIC dealer membership comes with a caveat

Publish Date: 
Mar 7, 2013
By Joe Delmont

MORE THAN 150 DEALERS from 38 states reportedly have joined the new dealer membership program launched last month at Dealer Expo by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).

But some question how the largely OEM-funded association will properly represent its retail members, especially when it comes to franchise disputes.

Membership provides dealers access to MIC’s proprietary market research data, technical data, state and federal regulatory support, plus a number of industry discounts. Click HERE for more information.

Annual member dues are based on a sliding scale tied to dealer annual revenues; this can range from $300 for dealers whose annual revenues are less than $1 million to $3,000 for dealerships with $40 million or more in revenues. Typical dealer members are in the $1 million to $5 million range, according to the MIC.

The association's objective in creating the dealer program? Grassroots support.

“Our goal,” said Tim Buche, MIC president and CEO, “is to have at least one dealer/retailer member in each of the 435 congressional districts.” Representing dealer members would give the association additional leverage when lobbying members of Congress, MIC staffers believe.

The MIC learned the value of grassroots support from the local dealers several years ago, when it worked the Hill while battling the lead ban on powersports vehicles put in place by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. National dealer write-in and email campaigns generated more than 1.1 million messages to Washington were given much of the credit for gaining legislative support against the ban.

By adding retailers to its aftermarket and OEM membership, the MIC can dramatically increase its lobbying strength in Washington, said Buche.

“When we work the hill in D.C.,” he said, “we can do so representing a constituent from the district. This certainly adds power to our position.”

Representing the industry's interests on a federal level benefits the retailer at the community level, according to the MIC.  “Everything we do is on behalf of dealers, because we work to ensure that they are able to sell the products their customers want to buy and that the customers are able to use those products,” association General Counsel Paul Vitrano told Dealernews

But the association doesn’t hide one fact that may be important especially to franchised dealers: it supports the OEMs when the conversation turns to state franchise laws.

“MIC will continue to represent the interests of member manufacturers and distributors [OEMs] on matters related to franchise legislation,” it stated in a related position paper on manufacturer-dealer relations. The organization wrote that it “does not oppose reasonable franchise legislation. However, many of the provisions contained in proposed franchise legislation would result in significant harm to both powersports OEMs and their customers and increase costs for all.”  (continued)