Remember the old Spaghetti Westerns with the tumbleweeds blowing through desolate ghost towns? Does this describe your dealership these days, but without the bitchin’ musical score? Do you have the trickiest new powersports products parked, posted and parlayed into artful displays just collecting dust because there is no floor traffic? Have your customers’ smartphones become their two dimensional retail space instead of old-fashioned, 3D, brick & mortar dealerships? It is the Wild West out there from the look of the bankruptcies and mergers in the retail chain store world. That’s not good – it is bad and downright ugly!
It isn’t just the motorcycle industry. Even more social sports such as cycling, hiking, skiing, mountain climbing and general outdoor activities are experiencing challenges with slow floor traffic these days. Outdoor activities are up, but brick & mortar retail activity is flat or down. Have e-commerce giants actually behaviorally modified the way our customers are thinking and shopping? Damned right they have! Between the industry specific dot.coms, Amazon and Craigslist, floor traffic to your “destination dealership” has likely dwindled tremendously. So, what does it take to preserve and protect what’s left of your customer base and maybe even get some of those older customers to come back occasionally?
There is only one answer for a store like yours: Make it worth the trip!
Heck, even museums these days are re-inventing themselves to be more interactive with action displays and things to TOUCH. The good news is that the internet can’t deliver touch, smell and taste via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable. It can only deliver visual images and audio sounds. Think of this as one of those Sergio Leone shoot-out scenes between Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. The eyes dart back and forth, music comes to a crescendo and then you slap leather to see who the last man standing is.
You, Mr. Store Owner, can out-draw the bad guy by delivering all five of the human senses (not that we encourage tasting tires, but some of us do miss the smell of castor bean oil). An electronic “smart” device can only deliver two senses (sight and sound). So how can you specifically take advantage of your strengths and draw more customers into your business?
Can’t Beat Them? Then Join Them!
Stop focusing on just floor traffic. It’s important, but you don’t have to always have walk-in traffic to make a fist full of dollars. You can ship UPS boxes just as easily as anyone else if you position yourself as the local source of expertise and product selection. Sell online, too… or at least train your parts managers to add the phrase “we can ship it to your house” every time they utter the classic words, “We can order it for you.” Think “local” and steal the business back from “global.”
Bump Up Experiential Experiences
You are taking for granted what is already happening in your store daily. Yep. If you “packaged and promoted” your sales and tech staff as local celebrities by providing “pop up classes and clinics” about the most basic of topics, you would most certainly attract more people. Maintenance 101, ADV trip preparation, Track Days info, sportbike accessorizing, how to buy and sell a motorcycle, navigation and maps, and thousands more.
The trick is to “invite” prospective customers, families and friends to attend these events in the store – or even join in on Skype. Promoted events can be successful even with a small number of attendees because those not attending are starting to feel left out. Consider recording these events and posting them on your own YouTube Channel or Facebook Live – become a free local University of Powersports center. This will bump your SEO (search engine optimization) relevance as long as you keyword the event videos properly. Now, you will be more easily discovered locally when someone Googles “Kawasaki KLR 650 suspension.” If you don’t know how to do this, then take an online tutorial.
Add More Human Interactions
Maybe you’re not into the dating scene, but at least allow people to hang out in your store. On the other hand, maybe a singles motorcycle night would be a great idea? Your staff also needs to bump up the level of interaction with every customer that walks in. Do you notice how every customer walking into a sushi restaurant is greeted in Japanese? Start talking with the customers who are still subscribing to old-fashioned retail visits and speak “motorcycle” to them when they walk in! They will cognitively notice a difference from shopping on their phones or tablets. This is way more fun!
Make The Store Move
Static displays are also available at BigBobsDiscount.com website, so what’s going to make you different. Catch the human eye with movement. Employ sequenced lighting or rotating helmet displays for the most premium head jewelry you have for sale. TV screens from mototvnetwork.com provide action entertainment, selected product info and moto news feed tickertape all on one screen. Have your own staff move around more instead of standing behind the parts counter – movement adds to excitement, plain and simple.
Customers don’t know what they don’t know. Promoting the clinics helps them realize that. Like Trump says, “Who knew motorcycle suspension (sic) could be so complicated.” The fact is, most customers don’t know the difference between compression, rebound and damping. Give your staff more technical name tags: “Bill Smith, Suspension & Exhaust System Expert” makes for a much more intriguing conversation with a customer. Apparel, seating, tire/wheel, UTV, high performance, ADV experts and more will increase dwell time of customers who begin to realize they need more help than they thought when they walked in 10 minutes ago.
Become Conveniently Accessible and Relevant
How can you become more accessible geographically, during off-hours and technically? Are you going OUT to where your customers are? Stop waiting for them to come to you! Do it physically, with promotions and contests or digitally in social media, but stop hiding behind your counter waiting for the saloon double doors to swing!
Consider an online “tech chat” or ordering function beyond normal business hours… the e-tailers do it! A local millennial may be able to provide this to your store from his smartphone in the evenings and weekends. Think out of your “brick & mortar box” in order to elicit more business from all directions – not just door swings.
Ask the next customer who walks through your door how you can make their “trip” to visit your store more valuable. If they feel you “care” enough to ask this question, chances are they will provide you an informative answer and continue returning to your store. Stop the “hang and hope” syndrome and add excitement, action, interaction and conversation to the dealership experience…and watch things begin to turn around as you make more customers’ experiences worth the trip.
The alternative is ending up in boot hill while the bad guys get the girl, grab the cash and ride off into the sunset as the music swells!