PowerSports Business

Powersports Business - May 25, 2015

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30 • May 25, 2015 • Powersports Business MOTORCYCLE www.PowersportsBusiness.com brands include discussing features unique from the competition and test rides. Ducati dealers talk to customers about unique vehicle features 77 percent of the time. As far as test rides of any kind, they're offered 79 percent of the time. Ducati also stands out when it comes to focusing a shopper on three to five memo- rable features and benefits, which O'Hagan says shows the salesperson is listening to the customer's needs and highlighting those aspects that appeal most to his or her lifestyle. Ducati salespeople are also less likely to undersell their bikes when compared to the rest of the industry. OTHER NOTABLE BRANDS The brands that saw the most improvement in 2015 include Aprilia, which rose 10 points, and BMW and KTM, which grew their scores by 8 points each. With its 8-point jump, BMW brought its score above the industry average for the first time since 2012. And like Ducati, BMW pushed for this improvement. "If we go through question by question, that 8-point jump, most of the sales process areas, BMW improved," O'Hagan said. "I know that BMW as a manufacturer was working on this last year. It's not a fluke that the dealerships all of a sudden woke up and decided to do things differently. I know BMW was working with the dealers last year to improve sales processes." Like the industry overall, BMW increased its test ride scores, offering immediate test rides 37 percent of the time in 2015, compared to 22 percent in 2014. With immediate and future test rides combined, BMW offered demos 70 percent of the time in 2015, putting the brand in third place for that category, just behind Ducati and Harley-Davidson. BMW dealers also built rapport with cus- tomers 43 percent of the time in 2015, which is above the industry average. In 2013 and '14, BMW dealers were only building rapport about a quarter of the time. "You know the saying 'You only have one chance to make a first impression?' That's so true when it comes to a salesperson, and if you think about it, what you really are looking for is a salesperson who's helpful," O'Hagan said. "What we've found is that the most successful salespeople build rapport with the customer very quickly." Because of that rapport, BMW salespeople were also able to focus on three to five memora- ble features 82 percent of the time, an increase from about 70 percent in 2013 and 2014. KTM also stood out for its 8-point increase. Though KTM is the brand at the bottom of the PSI list, its dealers achieved a score of 95, which is well above its 2008 score of 86. "I think it is a positive sign," O'Hagan said of KTM's increase. KTM salespeople were more likely to build rapport in 2015, doing so 45 percent of the time, compared to 23 percent in 2013. They also asked how the motorcycle was going to be used and by whom 70 percent of the time in the 2015 survey, growing from about half the time in 2013. "If you add those two together — the build rapport and ask how the vehicle's going to be used — those are behaviors that are used by sales- people who know how to sell," O'Hagan said. ALL ABOUT THE SALES PROCESS Overall, with the scores increasing for most brands, and even those toward the bottom posting some improvement, O'Hagan is opti- mistic about the 2015 results and what they mean for the industry. "If you think about what a general manager or dealer principal faces, if you think about all of the factors that they face day to day — they have to worry about their employees; they have to worry about their facility; they have to worry about their customers — so much of what they face every day is very difficult for them to control, if they can even control it," he said. "You can argue that a lot of it is out of their control — how's the economy, how much is financing available, the brands of motorcycles that they carry, how hot are the products, are the products drawing customers, how's the floor traffic. All of those things, if they can control it in any way, it's very difficult for them to control. "If you contrast that with, as a general man- ager or a dealer principal, requiring that your salespeople follow certain steps in how they sell, that's completely easy in comparison. And the good news is the effort, if they just bothered to care about how motorcycles are sold in this dealership, their effort is so worth it because it results in incremental sales." PSB PSI CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 Harley-Davidson dealers lead the industry in collecting customer information. Aprilia's 2015 score had the largest increase over 2014, up 10 points to 101. An interesting thing happened this week that gave me reason to reflect on the fraternity, the family of motorcycle riders that go to unusual lengths to look out for one another. We wave at each other, nod, lift a couple of fingers or just acknowledge another biker while never consid- ering doing the same to all those in their cars. I've observed this all over the country over something like four decades. I once was crossing Ohio, when I caught up with a fellow on a similarly sized bike. After riding a bit together, he motioned to the shoulder under an overpass, and following a quick name exchange, we determined we'd both be going the same way for a bit … at least to New York. He had some cheese, and as luck would have it, I had a bota bag of red wine and bread. Later we parted ways, shaking hands at 70 mph on a busy New York free- way, and I never saw him again. On another occasion I joined a rider in South Carolina on a run to Daytona. We rode together till the ocean, and since the Beach Patrol wouldn't let anyone sleep on the beach, we had to take turns staying on guard while the other caught some zzz's. I never saw him again. I rode out to San Diego in '76, and on the way to Utah, just out of Colorado I ran out of gas. I could see Salida in the distance and was coasting slightly downhill when three good old boys from Rose Hill, Iowa, stopped on a pair of Yamahas and a Honda, and we managed to get enough fuel out of the Honda to let me ride into the city with them. They insisted I tag along as they were headed to Las Vegas. We shared a hotel room, and later I was invited to spend a night at their uncle's home in Vegas before heading across the desert in the morning. The uncle woke me at 4 a.m. and fed me eggs and toast before I started out. I corresponded with them for many years, sending annual Christmas cards. Why does this happen? Are we just trav- elers, or is it more? What makes riders that likely would make no effort to talk to each other if in cars so easily find the common ground of motorcycles the lubricant needed to strike up friendships that can last years? I believe it is the bikes. By choosing to ride we add an element of adventure and a little risk and definitely a degree of roughing it that reminds us we are not common or ordinary. That simple recognition when you encounter another motorcyclist also binds us to the need to look after each other. The other evening, a customer called me late and having just purchased his first bike that morning, asked me what I thought might be the reason he couldn't get it started. You see, he had experienced a bit of an inci- dent … it sorta got away from him when he tried to take off, and he was stuck in a neigh- bor's yard. Now if you haven't done some- thing dumb before while on a motorcycle, then you haven't really been riding much, or worse, you're not being truthful. I wouldn't tell this to embarrass the young fellow but rather to compliment him for calling me, a fellow rider, for assistance. After talking him through a couple of ideas I told my wife we needed to put dinner back in the oven and go see if I could get him out of a jam. You can't leave a guy in a lurch with his new bike stuck in the neighbor's grass overnight. He'd never get a wink's sleep, right? It was fine, just a goofy learning moment. He felt really bad about calling me, and I told him "Hey, you're not drunk, and your last words before taking off weren't 'Hey watch this!' so no worries. We all do goofy stuff." As I drove home Nan and I reflected on the people we know that ride and couldn't think of any one of them that wouldn't do the same thing any time. Alan, Bud, Bill, Don, Danny, Gary, Brent, Mark, Mike, Jim. Heck, Jim would ride home, hook up the trailer and drive back to Arkansas if needed. Dustin would lend you his trailer and bring it to you. A couple of years back a customer was trailering his bike in for service, saw a cou- ple on the road broke down, so he unloaded his bike, loaded their bike onto his trailer, gave them the keys to his bike and had them follow him to our shop. Who does that? Bikers. A lot of years ago when I was young, I took off for a trip but had failed to gas up. I had not gone far when reserve went dry, and I was pushing the bike in the wrong direction when a guy in a truck stopped. He asked if I had anything to put gasoline in so I dumped out my canteen and a few minutes later he was back with a quart of fuel. He wouldn't let me pay him, said it had happened to him once, and he was not allowed to pay either. I always carried a quart of gas after that when GUEST COLUMN The motorcyclists I know would do the same Dealership owner Tim Woodsome figures out "what it is" about motorcyclists by reflecting on some of the folks he's encountered on his journeys. See Woodsome, Page 31

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