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2015 MPN Feature Highlights

Throughout the 2015 calendar year MPN focused on a number of different topics to engage you readers. Therefore, it was an awfully tough task to pick some of the year's top feature stories to highlight in this special issue. But here are the top 10 we chose.

2015-Highlights_Header

 

Building Community At Your Dealership  (January, http://bit.ly/1SinRo9)

2015-Highlights_JanBuilding community is not a new concept for motorcycle dealers, yet very often it is overlooked as a way of increasing sales. While “community” itself is an intangible concept, for many successful dealerships it’s part and parcel of generating happy customers as well as a solid sales base. Community is the way they serve their customers – a way of connecting in a meaningful way and making them feel like family. It’s also an effective means of generating customer loyalty and giving back to the public that we serve as dealers. It is important to remember that the community spirit your dealership creates should be authentic. There are many ways of fostering the idea of community and many ways to develop it. Getting creative with defining, or redefining, the sense of community you create can only help your customers be more engaged with your dealership. Chances are it will help your bottom line as well.

 


 

Developing An Off-Road Market (February, http://bit.ly/1Ys1Pmy)

2015-Highlights_FebThe powersports industry has seen the off-road market expand far beyond hard core motocrossers. Dual-sport bikes, the burgeoning popularity of the Adventure Touring market, custom and even V-twin powered street trackers are all worth taking note of… and that is just the motorcycle market. UTV sales are exploding and reaching all-new customer bases as well. More importantly, dabbling in the dirt expands your reach into potential customers too young to get a license for the street, brings in entire families in the process and generally creates a sense of community based around your dealership. In a word, dirt is good for growing more than just potatoes! Look at the number of 50cc-100cc youth bikes in use and check out what the OEMs have been focusing on like the new ­V-Stroms from Suzuki, the revamped Kawasaki KLR and the ADV bikes from BMW, Triumph and KTM, suggests Vee Rubber’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Leale. “Go where the money is,” he sums up. (See sidebar on top of page 22)

 


 

Map Policies: Leveling The Playing Field (Sidebar from ‘Dirt’ feature, bit.ly/1Ys1Pmy)

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The off-road market used to be the Wild West when it came to pricing for parts, garments and accessories. However the industry seems to have begun policing itself, starting with the implementation of Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policies. From ANSR and MSR HardParts to Progressive Suspension and Vee Rubber, many companies have rolled out a MAP policy to protect the integrity of the brand and keep traditional brick and mortar dealers in the game. Nobody wins in a race to the bottom, explains Vee Rubber’s John Leale. Now there is a concentrated effort to prevent the discounters from undercutting traditional retailers.


 

Insider’s Guide to Helmets
(April 2015, bit.ly/1I8GR8f)

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2015-Highlights_AprilMPN has been lucky enough to explore many of the major helmet factories over the years. While there are certainly proprietary secrets, the basics are remarkably similar. Most modern day motorcycle helmets have two fundamental components: The shell and the internal liner. Typically made from polycarbonate plastic, fiberglass, or Kevlar, the outer shell is thin and hard. It has to be abrasion resistant and able to withstand impact. It also needs to be lightweight, aerodynamic and as compact as possible to prevent riders from suffering bobble-head syndrome.

 


 

2015 Powersports Profile
(March 2015, http://bit.ly/1MPdogl)

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This year, our random sampling of dealers contained some interesting nuggets for sure. First of all, the number of respondents who were franchised dealers vs. non-franchised dealers was split nearly down the middle. One of the more striking examples of what the survey illustrated was how many of you are at far ends of the spectrum: Dealers carrying four OEM brands or more increased, while dealers that only carried one brand also increased. We think this coincides with another chart on gross sales volume. More small businesses with sales of $500,000 or less reported sales were up compared to last year. In the more than $5 million range, franchised dealers dropped from 25 percent to 22 percent. On the other hand, non-franchised dealers picked up considerably in this category with a gain of 4 percent.

 


 

Track Days Speed Your Sales
(April 2015, bit.ly/1LxH8wo)

2015-Highlights_April3

2015-Highlights_April4Involvement in track days is controversial among dealers, with more than a few believing that the expense and time involved do not justify the return on investment. Conversely, the dealers MPN spoke to who regularly sponsor track days are positive that track days give a major boost to their business. Dealers say there are both short-term and long-term benefits. The short-term benefits stem from service department work preparing bikes for the track and doing suspension and performance upgrades. Track days also sell merchandise. The long-term benefits are in customer loyalty and enthusiasm and in eventual bike sales.

 


 

Your Dealership Can be a Resource for Classic Bike Owners (June 2015, bit.ly/1XcvbrT)

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2015-Highlights_June2“Relationship” is a common buzzword these days, often used to mean a completely artificial connection between people or companies. However, you, your crew and the local classic bike enthusiasts have a real connection. All of you love motorcycles – some newer, some older, but all running on two wheels. The trick is to take that connection in a direction that benefits both your dealership and people in the surrounding area with old bikes. One of the best ways to build that positive relationship with the classic bike crowd is to build a reputation in the community as a resource for owners of vintage bikes related to your OEM. If you sell Hondas, you can expand your customer base by catering to owners of the classic Twins and Fours of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which are now surging in popularity. If you sell Ducatis or Moto Guzzis, more people will come to you if it becomes known that you have resources for older
Italian bikes.

 


 

The Art of War
(August 2015, http://bit.ly/1I8N6ZD)

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Little is known about Sun Tzu, a mysterious person who lived in China 2,000 years ago, but the book he wrote, “The Art of War,” is still being studied by military strategists and business people. The strategies discussed in Sun Tzu’s book can be applied to any sort of conflict: including your personal fight, as a retail seller, against the Internet. Yes, you can fight the Internet, and the strategy suggestions of Sun Tzu may help you win. Sun Tzu first instructs you to carefully and sincerely measure your own strengths and the enemy’s strengths. The strengths of the Internet are well known: low prices, excellent selection for many items, ease of access, no need for a customer to leave the comfort of their own home. Experts agree that a large part of the shopping experience is the ability to see and touch the item to be purchased – which is why those people are in your store petting the merchandise and covertly entering information about it on their smartphones.

 


 

Apparel Construction: Materials and Techniques
(August, http://bit.ly/1lg9l5o)

2015-Highlights_August22015-Highlights_August2AIn April of this year Motorcycle Industry Council members launched Gear Up Every Ride, a new initiative encouraging motorcyclists to wear proper riding apparel. The initiative is good for riders and no doubt good for the industry. Chances are riders that are well protected will be able to continue riding should the worst happen, keeping them on the road longer and coming to dealerships for service. It’s also good for dealers, of course, because they can have altruistic reasons for selling more apparel. Many customers do not know what apparel best suits their purposes, and this is where dealer personnel can add great value from the sales floor. Not only knowing what features and values differentiate the apparel lines, but also knowing a bit about the way that the motorcycle garments are made can be of enormous help to your customers. It can even help create repeat business because happy, educated riders will keep coming back to your shop for your staff’s expertise.

 


 

Malcolm! Motorcycling Legend Tells All at AIMExpo
(September, http://bit.ly/1XoQGQZ)

2015-Highlights_September

There are some truly iconic images that define motorcycling. The little woodshed where Harley-Davidson was launched back in 1903 resonates with the V-twin crowd; the shot of Rollie Free stretched flat-out on his Vincent on the Bonneville Salt Flats wearing little more than his underwear rings true for speed demons to this day; Marlon Brando in his black leather jacket on his Triumph still defines rebellious bikers… the list goes on. But for generations of riders, Malcolm Smith is the source of all defining images. Nobody this side of Sochiro Honda did more to put Americans on motorcycles than the collaborative effort of Malcolm Smith, Mert Lawwill, the late Steve McQueen and film maker Bruce Brown in On Any Sunday. However, that seminal movie is just one chapter in the new book, Malcolm! The Autobiography. “I’ve done a lot in my 74 years,” Malcolm says. “I even managed to remember a lot of it despite falling on my head a few times!” This is an understatement… Malcolm’s memory is borderline photographic and he can still tell you the weather conditions, tricky sections of trail, the bike he was on, and intricate details from races decades ago. Now he is sharing his incredible memories with everyone. After two years of work, Malcolm Smith’s long-awaited autobiography is finished and ON SALE. The book is a must-read for any motorcyclist, off-road enthusiast and off-road racers. At this year’s AIMExpo, Malcolm signed many copies as the AIMExpo Show Champion. Copies are available from Malcolm Smith Motorsports for $49.95. In addition, Tucker Rocky will distribute the book to dealers across the country.

 

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