You're Not That Good

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Each fall for the last 10 years, J.D. Power and Associates has surveyed new-motorcycle owners to determine their satisfaction with their motorcycle experience in several areas. This report discusses the major areas of the survey: Overall Satisfaction, the Buying Experience and Dealer Service. The 2008 Helmet Survey results, based on data collected last fall, will be reported in the spring. For the results of the 2007 Helmet Survey, go to www.dealernews.com.

PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE a good sales experience if they purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer than if they buy one from a multiline dealer. So says the results of a recent survey of motorcycle owners.

The survey also found that despite giving theirdealerships generally high scores throughout the survey, participants didn't seem too eager to recommend the dealership to anybody. Only slightly more than half said they would definitely recommend the dealership. However, another three in 10 said they probably would recommend the dealership.

On the service front, respondents liked their dealership's servicepersonnel and service amenities, it was the actual servicesperformed that was problematic. Some claimed service workerscreated new problems while the bikes were being worked on.

The results are part of the J.D. Power and Associates 2007Motorcycle Competitive Information Study. Now in its 10th year, the study measures owner satisfaction with new on-road motorcyclesby examining five major components of the overall ownershipexperience: product, quality, cost of ownership, sales and service.

"Satisfaction among those who purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer has increased slightly over the last five years, while satisfaction among those who purchased from a multiline dealer has continued to trail the performance of single-line dealers," says Tim Fox, research manager for powersports at J.D. Power and Associates.

"While overall satisfaction has steadily increased," notes Fox, "satisfaction with the sales experience has remained relatively flat since 2003."

Participating consumers rated theirsatisfaction with multiline dealers as 8.2 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being outstanding. That's up only slightly from the 8.1 score posted in 2003. By comparison, single-line dealers scored 8.5 last year, up from 8.4in 2003.

The 2007 Motorcycle CompetitiveInformation Study includes responses from 8,796 owners who purchased new on-road motorcycles between September 2006 and May 2007. Owners were surveyed inSeptember and October 2007.

MORE PROBLEMS WITH SERVICE

Overall satisfaction has increased over the last five years, with more than 90 percent of survey participants saying that service was done correctly the first time on their most recent visit to the dealership. Survey takers generally had a good overall experience with their service department. The weighted average score was 8.21 points out of apossible 10, a 10 being outstanding.

However, some owners reported problems when getting their bikes serviced by dealers — about 60 percent saying the service department either couldn't find the problem or didn't completely fix the problem.

More than one in five participants who said the problem was not fixed correctly said the service department caused a new problem. This is an increase over 2006 and 2005.

"[The] Quality of the work being performed significantly drives satisfaction with service," explains Fox. "It becomes critical to ensure not only efficient service, but also accurate and high-quality repairs the first time around."

Despite the service problems noted by participants, nearly 70 percent rated service department availability — hours, time to get an appointment, etc. — very high. More than half gave their service department eight points out of a possible 10. Service department workers also scored high marks, with about three-quarters of the respondents giving their back-shop workers at least eight points out of a possible 10 on the basis of courtesy, knowledge and honesty.

THE BUYING EXPERIENCE

On the sales side, more consumers opted to spend more for motorcycles than they have for the past five years, often paying more than $20,000 per bike (see table). Meanwhile, bikes in the $5,000 and under category surged in popularity with 5.56 percent saying this is what they paid in 2007, compared to 1.32 percent in 2006.

Purchases for parts and accessories at the time of a motorcycle purchase declined in 2007, after holding steady in 2006 and 2005. The median cusyomers spent in 2007 was $843 compared to $1,000 in the two prior years.

About 75 percent of dealers arranged financing for consumers participating in this survey. That figure has increased every year since 2003, when only about 68 percent of dealers arranged financing.

THE STUDY ALSO REVEALS ADDITIONAL BUYING HABITS:

  • Thirty-eight percent of participatingconsumers found information on the vehicle manufacturer's Web site, and32 percent indicate that a pastexperience with a particular manufacturer aided them in their purchase decision. Fifty-six percent of new-motorcycleowners report that they acquiredinformation about the model theypurchased from displays on dealershowroom floors.
  • Overall satisfaction with the cost ofownership has increased among motorcycle owners for a second consecutive year, with owners being most satisfied with the initial price and resale value of their bike. Satisfaction with maintenance and repair costs, cost of accessories and insurance has also increased.
  • Motorcycle owners are strong advocates of their brand — 68 percent said they "definitely will" recommend their brand.