In-Store Travel Guide

Establish your dealership as touring-friendly... you will meet a need in your motorcycling community and sell more stuff.

Road trips are a uniquely American experience. The U.S. with its vast proportions has always beckoned restless spirits to take to the road in search of adventure or just to seek a different scene, away from the same old sights, sounds and smells of home. We all took the dreaded family vacation, with everyone cooped up in the Oldsmobile for a little forced quality family time. The advantages to road tripping by motorcycle are obvious, including the chance to travel with companions without being compressed into the tight boring space like in a four-wheeled vehicle. It’s the perfect road trip scenario. What isn’t perfect are the special requirements of motorcycle travel.

Hopping in the car and hoteling it across the country is a no-brainer, but travel by motorcycle is a bit more complicated. There are physical limitations and requirements imposed by traveling exposed to the elements. This is your opportunity to help make your traveling customers’ life a little easier and by doing so increase the likelihood they will return to your store the next time they need to make a purchase or are looking for sound moto-traveling advice.

Your touring customers can be some of your best. They will need regular maintenance, tires, widgets, gear. Active riders need stuff and often on short notice. If you can establish your dealership as touring-friendly, you will meet a need in your motorcycling community and sell more stuff. Does that sound win-win to you? It does to me.

It’s not rocket science to understand what a motorcycle traveler needs. Imagine yourself heading out of town for a week’s ride out west, or north or south. You need to stop at the dealership for a few items — maybe small ones. You walk in and there’s a display with maps used as the background (maps are inexpensive display materials and instantly tell you what’s in that display). In that display you see rain gear — you recall yours has a rip, so you pick that up. You see a weather radio and think, "Hmm, that’s handy on the road." Next you see a gel seat pad — ah, that’ll help. So you walk in with a list of one or two items, and you walk out with a bag full of stuff because this dealer made it easy for you to buy.

It’s targeted marketing. You went in with a purpose and the dealer targets products based on knowing your purpose for being in their store. Because he/she had a clear travel section, instantaneous communication was established without talking and without incremental staff effort. The dealer maximized that sale by making it easy for you to see all of the items related to your purpose. He made you happy by saving you the time and effort of searching all over the store.

Holy cow! This type of thinking separates the marketers from the retailers. Visit a Cabela’s store for a lesson on expert retailing. They make it easy for the buyer, and even if it means some items are placed in multiple locations in the store, they display based on interest. Not all water bottles are displayed together, some are in the ATV section next to the rack that holds gear. You buy the gear rack and boom, you see the auxiliary water storage container and remember you need one. Locked and loaded, they pull the trigger with admirable speed. Put those traveling items together — think about the items that a touring rider needs. Show that you understand your customer and that you value their time. They’ll appreciate it and value you in return.

Once you have a section for your traveling riders you can hone and tweak. Maps and books aren’t high margin items, but if they bring in the riders maybe it’s worth stocking the best-known titles. Consider including some freebies, maybe flyers like a motorcycle trip check list or hints for great road trips. People love to anticipate and plan their road trip almost as much as they enjoy taking the trip. Providing some flyers may help whet their appetites and bring them back in when it’s time to buy.

The idea is two-fold and based on the idea that both you and the active touring rider will benefit if your store becomes the touring riders’ resource. If you have questions or feedback about this idea, I would love to hear from you!

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