Spring servicing: Get ready for your first customers

Publish Date: 
Jan 17, 2014
By Tracy Martin

They'll be here before you know it, so be ready with batteries, tires and other items they'll need off the bat.

MANY ENTHUSIASTS’ magazines run stories in their September or October issues about how to store motorcycles or ATVs over the winter season.

These articles typically offer useful advice about how to prepare batteries, tires, engines and other components to survive cold winter months with the goal of easy spring “reactivation” of two- and four-wheel vehicles.

While you can lead a horse to water, you can't make it add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank or connect a smart charger to the battery.

In a perfect world, if your customers followed the advice that these articles suggest, they would not have many of the problems that show up in your service department at the end of winter. While you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, or connect a smart charger to the battery, and this annual neglect of powersports vehicles stored in garages, sheds or outside provides an opportunity to sell parts and service come spring.

You know they’re coming. Phone calls like “My bike won’t start,” or “Do you offer towing service?” Pickup trucks or trailers transporting motorcycles that show up in your parking lot with non-running engines. Now is the time to get your service department ready to deal with spring.

PREPARE YOUR INVENTORY

Let’s start out with inventory — after all, when spring customers show up you have to have the right parts and accessories to sell them. The two most common items are batteries and tires. Make sure that you have these in stock for the most popular vehicles that you sell.

Batteries are usually shipped dry, but you should have some filled, charged and ready to go. When a customer shows up with a bike that had to be jump-started, and you install a new battery, they won’t be happy if they have to wait while you charge it before they can leave.

In addition to your usual inventory of tires, look back at what motorcycles you sold two and three years ago. These are the vehicles that will typically need new tires, especially if owners only ride a few thousand miles per year.

Having sufficient quantities of air and oil filters, and spark plugs is an inventory no-brainer for the start of a busy season, but there are some non-OEM parts that are not as obvious that should be stocked.

If your loading dock is tied up, or you don’t have one, you’ll have to use ramps to unload all those bikes with dead batteries. Your customers may have used a 2x6 board and three people to muscle the bike into the bed of a pickup truck, but with the right set of ramps it’s a one-person job.