YAMAHA DEALER MEETING: RIDE program provides tools to secure customers


LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Despite a rainy week in Las Vegas, the weather did not dampen the spirits of the over 200 assembled dealer staff that came to the Hard Rock Hotel for the 2012 West Regional Dealer Meeting held by Yamaha Motor Corp. USA.

While admittedly a more conservative affair than some of the pyrotechnics-lit national dealer meetings of just a few years ago, Yamaha brought a host of new programs and models that are designed to make the most of the “new normal” and help dealers grow despite the challenging economy.

Despite this dealer meeting being more modest, dealers were treated to several surprises, including appearances by “King” Kenny Roberts and newly crowned two-time champion Josh Hayes, and plenty of door prizes including high-end POP materials and useful tools such as GoPro HD cameras. Guest keynote speaker Peter Hirshberg of the Re:imagine Group was also hand to give attendees a presentation on the benefits and success stories of fellow dealers when it comes to social media.

From there, it was straight to business. One of the biggest announcements for 2012 is Yamaha’s new R.I.D.E. program, or Rider Instruction, Demonstration and Events. Designed to help dealers become the “center of the motorsports lifestyle in their local community,” the RIDE program is a multipronged, multimedia plan to bring key aspects of the motorsports lifestyle (and the customers that live it) straight into dealers’ doors.

RIDE starts with various levels of tie-ins with local training programs, such as sponsorship and cross-marketing, all the way to having dealers take the steps necessary to run their own recognized and staffed in-house rider training. Currently, only 5 percent of Yamaha dealers are involved in rider training, and Yamaha intends to expand that number substantially to better reach new buyers and support the sport at the same time.

RIDE will also expand national demo events and encourage dealers to do the same. Currently, about 60 percent of Yamaha dealers refuse to offer demo rides, in no small part due to insurance and other risks involved. With RIDE, Yamaha aims to provide dealers with the information and resources to identify and reduce those risks, as surveys show that demo rides lead directly to increased sales.

Finally, RIDE aims to offer dealers better tools to create both local events and maximize national events, such e-learning workshops and improved CRM (customer relations management) tools such as the all-new Rider Track. Described as “CRM on steroids,” Rider Track helps discern buyers who are looking to buy now versus those customers who are just looking, and also integrates leads from the 30 million visitors to Yamaha’s web presence. Taken as a whole, the RIDE program intends to better connect dealers with potential customers and then convince those customers to get off the fence and into their local dealership to take the next step.