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Business Management

For the Love of the Road

Attract, retain and gain new customers

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Yeah, to some extent it’s about the money and making a living, but people don’t go into the motorcycle business the way people become meter maids or insurance adjusters. You don’t own or work at a motorcycle dealership because you ran out of other options — you got into this business because of your passion for the ride (and maybe for that sweet retail discount).

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As many dealers are still struggling to keep the door swinging open, we want to remember not only our personal love of the ride but the joy of sharing that experience with other riders — whether it’s a first-timer who just scored his endorsement and is looking for that used starter bike or the veteran who is ready to get a few more horses under his saddle.

To that end, in this issue, managing editor Brendan Baker premiers his new regular “Why They Buy” column (page 12). Each month, Brendan will track down a rider who has recently purchased a new or used unit and conduct an exit interview of sorts that explores the reasons a rider chooses not only a particular unit and accessories, but why they’ve chosen a specific dealership, why or why not they might return to that dealership and, just as importantly, if they’d refer their friends and family.

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Want some tips on increasing your referral rates? Check out Rod Stuckey’s suggestions on page 38.

Referrals and return business are definitely at the heart of your business, but attracting new riders is also key to growth. I recently attended the Milwaukee Rally in my hometown (which it turns out I still share with Harley!), and before I headed over, I put out a shout out on my Facebook page to see if anyone wanted to join me. Several non-riding lady friends readily raised their virtual hands. They were excited to check out the bikes and swing a leg over, but they probably never would have attended the event if I hadn’t invited them. Now, Basic Rider Course plans are in the works!
 
You need to create these opportunities for curious non-riders to get over that intimidation factor in your dealership and in your community at large. Is there a major fair or festival where you can set up shop and attract people who are drawn to the idea of riding, but for whatever reason have never made it into a dealership?

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Take a cue from smart scooter marketer Philip McCaleb at Genuine Scooters — his units are placed in consumer advertising and editorial spreads, raising the profile of his brand. You can emulate this tactic on the local level. Talk to the editors at your local newspaper or lifestyle magazine and see if they’d like to include a powersports unit in an upcoming photoshoot. The worst thing they can say is no!

How else are you attracting and retaining customers? Write me at [email protected] or join in the conversation online: Post your comments on our Facebook wall or tell us what you think of our stories at motorcycleproductnews.com.

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