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Business Management

Counter Culture

People need what the parts department has, unlike simply wanting the other stuff in the showroom or accessory areas. The real action happens here because your motorcycle won’t run without the necessary parts.


Cheers to the Parts Counter

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat is it about nuzzling up to a bar on a comfortably padded stool? Once I settle in, I feel welcome and become an integral part of my surroundings. No longer just a wayward observer, I become a real participant who belongs here… I become Norm from Cheers!

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The parts counter has always reminded me of the motorcycle industry’s equivalent of the bar in Cheers. It’s the place most frequented by your customers. It’s also where you can make the deepest impressions about the entire dealership. People need what the parts department has, unlike simply wanting the other stuff in the showroom or accessory areas. The real action happens here because your motorcycle won’t run without the necessary parts.

Just like a good bar, the parts counter attracts men (and increasingly women) to sit down and socialize while they chat about, shop for or buy parts. Like a cocktail bar without booze, there should be all sorts of good “eye candy” around – carbon fiber widgets, titanium wrenches, lithium-ion powerpacks, anodized billet spacers… you know, the good stuff!


There should also be a flat screen TV up on the wall showing Supercross, MotoAmerica and MotoGP races, which can increase customer retention times dramatically. In turn, this gives your staff more time to convert shoppers into buyers. As a customer, I also meet more people in the parts department than any other section of a dealership. It’s a social place.
The parts counter is also a museum of retail from a visually intensive point of view. A well displayed parts department shouldn’t be just about OE replacement parts. Show me the high performance parts rotating on a black velvet-covered stand under a sparkling halogen light. Stop unpacking, stacking and racking – start elevating, showcasing and illuminating!


The parts counter is a man cave. Women aren’t excluded, but we know the parts department is really built, designed and decorated for men. That DOES NOT MEAN it has to look like my home garage. To the contrary, consider making it look like Chip Foose’s garage on Overhaulin’. It’s more powerful when a man cave is decorated tastefully and isn’t simply a “hang and hope storeroom” of randomly arranged parts and accessories.

Determine the décor of your parts department: neo-retro, futuristic space age, high performance laboratory, bio-mechanical bat cave, light and bright contemporary or the classic/vintage racer theme. Unfortunately, most metric stores I visit take the lazy route with the “cornucopia” theme of display. Stools, catalogs, magazines and a foot rail? Refreshments available too? If customers can hang out while you still get your job done, they will inevitably buy more from a place of comfort. It’s a lot better than letting them shop the Internet at home!


The parts counter is an entertainment center. We used to come here to buy Cycle News and watch re-runs of last weekend’s races. That “feel” is still there when a parts department offers “news” alongside “new products.” The staff are the broadcasters, of course, preaching the latest. The TV screens also cast news and offer a full array of races plus recent OE and aftermarket advertising. I love the TV visuals and action, but I tend to prefer music inside the department more than the screaming SX announcer – that way I can concentrate on the entertaining shopping experience. All the colors, new products, apparel, performance parts – it’s edu-tainment at its best – learning while having fun, too. Keep it upbeat and I will stick around longer… and spend more.


The parts counter is where the biggest impressions are made. Google doesn’t give me all the answers because I don’t always know the right questions to ask it. However, my parts manager makes new recommendations every time I visit – that’s proof of my ignorance on the latest tweaks, tuning tips and performance mods. I have come back from the Internet to my trusted parts and service managers in town. The knowledge base at this counter makes big impressions on where and how I spend my motorcycle money.

This is especially true since I taught them to add a few important words to their classic reply, “We can order it for you.” Those words are “…and we can ship it to your house.” I am that guy who doesn’t have time to visit a second time next week for one part. Dropships from your counter make my life way easier.


Make your parts counter a real cultural place to hang out so we customers buy more… you know, the place where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. Cheers!

Confessions of a ­Customer™ is one of columnist Eric ­Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training ­efforts and service to the MIC Board of ­Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom ­Network, an ­­industry-specific ­consulting company specializing in ­marketing, training and brand ­development.


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