Riding Classes Produce Customers

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JACK NICHOLSON ALWAYS MAKES ME laugh, and think. His latest movie with Morgan Freeman, The Bucket List, showed the two living their last days filled with activities they felt they needed to experience before they "kicked the bucket." These you-only-live-once activities like skydiving, race car driving and mountain climbing were enriching to their souls, bonding, and hilariously funny. One message to carry away from the movie was to start on that list today, and live your life "along the way" instead of postponing the adventures until the door is almost closed. A second, more subtle message from the movie occurred to me several days later.

Unlike in the past, all the great experiences exuberantly enjoyed by the Bucket Boys can now be instructed or coached by professionals. By this, I mean "lessons." Skydiving schools across the country give lessons. Drag and road racing schools give lessons, then provide track days. Scuba lessons. Horseback riding lessons. Ceramics, rock climbing, photography, guitar, voice, computer and sewing lessons. You can pay coaches for lessons in sailing, surfing, rowing, throwing, running, jumping or any other activity or sport on this earth. It never ends. I should know; I paid for a lot of those lessons for my kids while they were growing up. Society has become obsessed with taking lessons.

So where do you find out about lessons for a new activity in which you or a relative may be interested? At the local retail outlet, of course. The music store offers piano lessons. Camera stores offer photography classes. Go to the scuba store to learn to dive. A golf and tennis club may have at least a dozen instructors or coaches for private instruction. Baseball pitching lessons? No problem. Go to the local sporting goods store, and you'll find a business card there for, sure enough, pitching lessons. So why do motorcycle dealerships seem to have nothing to do with riding lessons?

Why do all males assume they are born with the motorcycle-riding gene on their Y chromosome? "Lessons for me? Why?" Many menfolk seem to think they've inherited riding skills from a distant male relative. But isn't a broken leg more of an embarrassment than a badge of courage? Would getting the bends while scuba diving be honorable? Would losing a baseball, tennis or hockey game from ineptitude be something to be proud of, too? How about screeching a solo on that saxophone? Macho? No! So why should motorcycling be any different? Riding lessons could make everyone better riders while preserving and building our customer bases.

Track days are becoming more popular for intermediate riders, but what about those who really want to get started just by learning to shift and steer across a parking lot? When's the last time you contacted an instructor with the local training program endorsed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation? Have you volunteered to become the "dealership homework assignment" for the classes? If you have never made the move to contact and integrate with local motorcycle lessons, pick up the phone right now, call 800-446-9227, and ask about how you can help. The MSF instructors will help you build your business, and you can help build theirs. Build the local population of riders who keep coming back to your store as customers. Learning to ride a motorcycle is on everyone's bucket list — I guarantee it.

Longtime columnist Eric Anderson is vice president of Scorpion Sports. Contact him at eric@scorpionusa.com or via editors@dealernews.com.