MONTEREY, Calif. - Ducati dealers ranked tops among mystery shoppers for the first time since 2009, according to the 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) U.S. Motorcycle Industry Benchmarking Study.
Industry-wide, dealers improved their prospect service scores "substantially" from 2013 to 2014, with 12 of 17 motorcycle brands achieving higher results than they did last year, researchers said. Dealer sales personnel mentioned the availability of test rides, asked for customer contact information and offered to write up a deal more than they did last year, the survey noted. But they still have work to do if they're going to achieve higher numbers, according to Pied Piper Management Co. LLC.
The 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index U.S. Motorcycle Industry Study was conducted at dealerships between July 2013 and April 2014 using 1,885 anonymous shoppers at dealerships throughout the United States.
Harley-Davidson dealers ranked second on the survey with a PSI score (111) identical to its 2013 results, which last year led industry-wide list. BRP's Can-Am brand, included for the first time in the survey, made a strong debut (107 score) with a third-place finish. Ducati (with a top score of 114) or Harley dealers led all other brands in half of the study's measured sales activities, researchers noted.
The industry-wide average score this year was 104. Achieving above-average scores, in addition to the top three, were dealers selling Victory (106) and Triumph (105). Below the industry average were, in descending order: Star (102), Indian (102), Suzuki (101), BMW (100), MV Agusta (98), Kawasaki (98), Husqvarna (96), Moto Guzzi (95), Honda (93), Yamaha (92), Aprilia (91) and KTM (87).
Brands that improved the most from the 2013 survey were KTM, up 14 points; Aprilia, up 12 points; and Ducati, up 7 points.
Brand performance varied "considerably," according to the report.
- Test rides - Dealerships on average mentioned either immediate or future availability of test rides to customers 52 percent of the time, compared to only 36 percent of the time three years ago. However, test rides varied by brand. Ducati, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson and BMW dealers mentioned test rides to more than 60 percent of customers, while dealers selling Moto Guzzi, KTM, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda mentioned the availability of test rides less than 30 percent of the time.
- Writing it up - Dealers selling Can-Am, Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Ducati and Triumph were most likely to suggest going through the numbers and writing up a deal, according to the report. Dealers selling KTM, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Victory and BMW were least likely to do so. Industrywide, sales personnel attempted to write up a deal 39 percent of the time, compared to 30 percent of the time three years ago.
- Customer contact info - Dealers selling Harley, Ducati, Can-Am, Victory and Triumph were most likely to ask a customer for his or her contact information, and dealers selling Moto Guzzi, KTM, Suzuki, Aprilia and Yamaha were least likely. Across all brands studied, sales people asked customers for their contact information 52 percent of the time, compared to 46 percent of the time three years ago.
Despite the progress made, there remains room for improvement, according to researchers. The survey found that sales associates suggest sitting down at the desk to discuss the possible purchase only 39 percent of time, mention the availability of financing options 62 percent of the time, and ask for the sale only 63 percent of the time.
"Proactive salespeople who follow simple steps are rewarded with higher sales," said Fran O'Hagan, president and CEO of Pied Piper Management Co. O'Hagan said that if sales associates boost asking for the sale by four points, to 67 percent of the time, they will sell 34 percent more motorcycles. Asking for contact information at least 75 percent of the time leads to 20 percent more motorcycle sales, and immediately offering test rides at least 50 percent of the time will sell 44 percent more motorcycles, he said.
And often, the viability of making a sale comes down to the first words uttered. Sales people still greet customers with "Can I help you?" 84 percent of the time, which often elicits the answer, "No thanks, I'm just looking."
Press image courtesy Pied Piper Management Co.