Service is key to scooter shop profitability

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You say you sell scooters and you’re wondering how you can survive, much less make a profit? Joel Martin has the answer for you. Sell repair service, repair service, repair service. That’s the message Martin delivered to dealers Friday in a Learning Experience seminar, “Maintaining a Profitable Scooter Shop.”

“Service is what is going to keep you in business,” Martin said. “Seventy percent of dealers turn away this business.” Noting that many Chinese brands do not provide repair services, Martin said it’s a void that can be exploited.

Don’t worry about matching them on selling price, he told dealers; rather, provide the repair services that many retailers avoid. “Many Chinese factories sell consumer direct and bypass the dealer. You cannot win, so stand out. Change the plan. If you can’t beat the Chinese,” he told the audience, “join them. That means fixing the scooters they sell.”

Few scooter sellers can give service or are willing to invest the time in finding correct parts for a customer, he said.

While urging scooter dealers to put more emphasis on providing repairs, warranty service, and other services for scooter owners, Martin offered a couple of interesting tips about ways to develop more service and repair business.

One way, he noted, is to advertise service for so-called “dead” brands -- those that are no longer sold in the U.S., such as Vento, United Motors and Adley.

“Advertise that you can get parts for those scooters; people want to fix their scooters, and they will respond.” (Martin is president of Martin Racing Performance Corporation (MRP), a supplier of scooter parts for many Asian and European brands.)

Another way, he said, is to get signed up as a service center for big box retailers such as Pep Boys that sell brands from China, Taiwan and Korea. “They all need service,” he said. “Are you set up as a Baja Powersports, Sam’s Club or Aaron’s service center?” he asked.

Then, remember to follow up. “Scooter dealers need to stay in touch with riders. Follow up in a month, two or three. Invite them back. Offer to check the bike for free.”

In addition to placing a new emphasis on repairs and service, Martin told dealers to increase the comfort level of their shops for scooter owners. “Provide an environment that makes riders say, ‘Wow, that’s a cool shop. I don’t want to just buy there, I want to hang out there.”

For example, get yourself an espresso machine. “Fifty espressos a month won’t make much money,” he said, “but it can add $2,000 in revenue a year.”

– Joe Delmont