Dealernews: What are you doing to reach the next generation of customers?
TRENDS TO WATCH
Scratch-built or modified Harleys
Baker: Not enough — we don’t have a marketing budget to significantly influence that market. Harley has the biggest ad budget and we all benefit from it. There’s also some cool-kid players like Roland Sands who effectively reach the younger audience with his youthful/edgy/progressive image, and we all benefit from that, too.
Flintrop: Our dealerships employees are rather young, from Chaz [Hastings] our owner, and on through the ranks. When considering ideas for upcoming events and marketing we think of what we would like to do if we were the customer, and follow our instincts. For this reason our marketing message is younger and hipper than our competition. The message is all about having fun and the motorcycle lifestyle. We are the dealership known for big parties, lots of excitement, over-the-top entertainment, and a PG-13 atmosphere. Due to these efforts, our customers skew 10 to 15 years younger than our neighboring dealerships.
Rymer: There again, through the marketing efforts of the Motor Co. with either the Dark Custom line or the new hard candy customs, along with the non-stereotypical campaign, we reach out to a more youthful customer. We host motorcycle boot camps to attract and embrace a younger generation rider. We have also hired a full-time social media marketing person who is 25 years old, ridden most of his life and has a degree in marketing.
Dealernews: What parts of the dealer’s business are more important now than they were 2-5 years ago?
Rymer: I am realizing more than ever that today’s customer relies on us heavily for service after the sale -- not only in the most important area, our service department, but from the entire store. By this I mean communicating properly when their bike needs service, and what it needs from us to help the customer have the best experience they can from their investment. That means parts and accessories, as well as general merchandise, suggesting products or services that make it easier and more fun to ride.
Flintrop: We have had a huge push to increase sales in our fixed operations. Beyond an increase in revenue, we see service as the area in the dealership that is the most capable of creating customers for life. Service has the most tools at its disposal to help exceed customer expectations — warranty, extended warranty, diagnostic capabilities and, most importantly, a seasoned staff that has valuable information. Through the labor of experienced techs and advisers we can provide intrinsic value that turns the motorcycle, which are commodities, into something more.
Dealernews: Has the growth in touring changed your business?
Baker: The touring bike trend has made the 5-speed transmission obsolete, and that has been very, very good for our business.
TRENDS TO WATCH
More riders, fewer posers
Flintrop: Our local market is driven by touring sales. They are perhaps 65 percent of what we sell. They are in such demand currently that they are sold before we receive them. It reminds me of the demand we had for Softails 10 years ago. Just as that trend passed, this one will, too, and we need to be watchful of what is coming next. Rymer: Obviously we have had to adjust our new motorcycle inventory, but it has led to a real shift in parts and accessory inventory as well. It has also led to physical space challenges in our dealership because they are bigger and wider. Throw trikes in there and we have had to take a hard look at our facility going into the future, and are making plans to add square footage in not only the showroom but service as well.
Flintrop: It's great that we have all of these folks on bikes capable of touring, but most were bought for other reasons — the stereo, the look or for comfort. If we could just get them all to take those capable bikes and put on another 2,000 miles a year, it would change the landscape of our business. The bikes are capable, but so far the owners are not willing. (continued)