[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost of us are in this industry because we enjoy riding, fixing, talking and dreaming about motorcycles. We like being around them. We like people that like being around them. We belong to the powersports community.
Does your shop belong to the powersports community? Do you foster enthusiasm among your employees? Do your employees foster passion among your customers? Do you belong to the powersports community? Do your customers appreciate that you are part of and participate in the powersports community?
Do you promote the sport? By that, I do not mean do you sponsor racers. I’m still not sure that helping to pay for someone else’s hobby helps me in any way. That can work but you have to be very judicious in how you spread your largess, or you’ll soon find that you’re sponsoring many of the customers that would be buying (at retail!) parts and accessories from you.
What I mean is do you help organize events for your customers to ride in, whether it’s off-road or on-road? If it’s the right event, it grows exponentially. One cross-country ride I founded went from 24 riders the first year to over 450 riders the last time out. I have initiated several charity runs over the years that have generated many thousands of dollars of donations. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot. Most clubs are looking for charity runs to raise money. All you have to do is figure out a theme. Perhaps have some trophies made, and donate some prizes. The truly entrepreneurial clubs will go out and get more prizes, and will have a great time manning the runs. Let them do the work and donate the money to the charity of their choice. (With your guidance, of course!)
You should show up and offer to help. You’ll be surprised how much next-to-free marketing these events will garner. You can be a presenter or a judge; anything to be front and center. Be a personality, have a high profile in the industry. Encourage your staff to do the same thing. Does someone you employ have a pet charity? A family member struck down by cancer? Support them in their efforts to create a charity event. And all of these people will need tires, oil, tune-ups and new farkles for their bikes. If you can present yourself and your shop well, who are they going to come to?
In all of the years I’ve been attending these events (even those where I’m not fiscally involved), I’ve only seen the dealer principles at two of them. Pretty sad. Good for me, though.
Encourage evening rides after the shop is closed. Maybe a local club can meet at your store on a Friday night and go for an hour-long ride before dinner. These should be fun rides with maybe a t-shirt draw at dinner. With a little promoting, it can be a wonderful meet-and-greet.
Are you involved in local trade schools, or state powersports regulation committees? It’s in our best interest to belong to the community in all aspects; not only for the bottom line, but perhaps you will do some good at the same time. The world is full of opportunities, but we have to grab them as they go by. And if they don’t go by, then create one and launch it yourself.
To paraphrase JFK: “Ask not what motorcyclists can do for you, ask what you can do for motorcycling.”
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