Random thoughts, ideas, and suggestions for a profitable motorcycle shop

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by JagLite, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. SEWERMAN

    SEWERMAN Been here awhile

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    Since we seem to be talking about TMS now, (I don't think we can single them out from the rest of the dealers in town) I'd like to add that I too have had my issues with them in the past but I'm interested to see how things change. I don't think I can throw them under the bus yet, the opening of their new shop will be a good opportunity for them to change. The faces at TMS are not the same, they are younger now and have a different attitudes on how to do business from sales to service. I'll refrain from giving them praises until I see the pudding but from my latest encounters with Brandon and Andrew it seems to be a new attitude and direction and I think it's better....out with the old guard and in with the new.
    However next time I crash my bike, (which I do, a lot) I'll be sure to blame it on TMS, than I'll sell it and by an airplane :hmmmmm
    #41
  2. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............... pudding
    #42
  3. THogland

    THogland Back in Alaska!

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    Two kudos in this vein. AK Leather, that everyone knows about - you go in to poke around, they remember your face, and they're beyond helpful. (This fall, I spent about 50% more on a new rear tire than I would have mail order, simply because they are *always* nice like that. It's worth it to me to keep them open.)

    The second, though, is Denali H-D. I went in to see about picking up one of the angled gas cans that fits into a saddlebag, and they were all "hey - come on in and grab a bowl of chili and poke around. What do you ride?" "Uh, a Yamaha V-Star" "Cool - nice bike. You like it? Hey, let's wander over here and grab lunch and talk about it..." *That's* how you get someone to come back in when they're looking to buy things - don't knock me because I don't ride a Harley, make me feel welcome. Now I *want* to go in a buy something, because I enjoy the time there.
    #43
  4. THogland

    THogland Back in Alaska!

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    I'd say, you limit to the greater Anchorage bowl. But, have some #'s for towing etc. in the valley, Glennallen, etc. that you can refer them to if needed. Be a point of contact for "issues".

    The people I know that had this issue were able to temp-patch a tire, but needed help before riding any distance (something like a decent size cut in a tire, and sticky worms just don't hold). They could have gotten to Glennallen, or Palmer/Wasilla , or probably Anchorage, but needed professional help to continue their ride.

    Oh, and what's with everyone being closed on Mondays? Who invented this insanity? :ear
    #44
  5. AKParrothead

    AKParrothead Alaska Motonaut

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    That comes from races being on Sunday and techs and sales guys needing to drive home and recover on Monday.
    #45
  6. Andrewmc

    Andrewmc Been here awhile

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    "Church on Sunday, ride on Monday" is what I always heard. Sounds more wholesome that way. Personally my motto is "Ride on Sunday, ride on Monday".
    #46
  7. wadenelson

    wadenelson Rider/Writer

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    Where are your scooters?

    Over there.

    Got any of the new S-Max's in?

    What's an S-Max?

    It's the new Yamaha scooter, new for 2015. You going to be getting any in

    *15 minutes later*

    "Well we have warehouses all over the SouthEast, and if you want to order one..."

    "I'd really like to just look at one first. When will you be getting one in?"

    blah blah blah. *no real answer in there...*


    "Well, ok." "What's the story on this Concourse over here. I see it's a 2014, are you gonna be blowing it out?"

    (There's a zero mile 2013 on ebay for $10,999)

    "Well, uh, let me check.... goes and gets inventory list..... $15999 or something equally ridiculous"

    "Umm, yeah, no. Why don't you call me when you get an Smax in"

    ....

    And the reason I want to pay MSRP to a dealer who can't even hire a kid willing to even look through and memorize the 2015 new models catalog is why, exactly?

    Been like this at bike dealers, auto dealers, I go in there knowing FAR more about the vehicle than they do. What "service" is the sales guy providing me, exactly, other than filling in the forms?

    So I'll wait and buy the first one to show up on Craigslist with under 500 miles and save $500 PLUS another $500 in sales tax and assorted dealer charges..
    #47
  8. wadenelson

    wadenelson Rider/Writer

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    Given that I'm flatted in the middle of nowhere, on shop-closed day, I'll pay just about ANY price. What choice do I really have? Stand there and pray the tire heals itself?

    The LAST time it happened to me, between El Centro and Yuma it cost me appx $250....$175 for the tow and $60 for the tire repair. Was I angry at the price, or grateful not to stand there another hour in 105 degree heat?
    #48
  9. Random-Water

    Random-Water Been here awhile

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    How much would this service cost now during "regular" hours/days by whoever does it currently. If no one does, is it worth it to end up charging $500-750 for a tire replacement tow?

    Why $500-750 (or more)?

    Ask your techs, how much they would 'extra' they would want to perform this service on their free weekends/time off.

    Ask yourself, how much would it cost to TRAIN your techs to load just about every make/model bike onto a trailer and tie it down properly. (different trailers require different methods).

    Those Techs are representing your shop/company. Are you confident your techs will do it properly, with respect for rider and machine?

    How much would it cost to extend your insurance coverage for trailer/bike/rider in case something goes bad during a tow back? Think medical bills, not just bike repair/replacement.

    Lastly, what if after the $500-750 tow, you don't have the tire in stock. Are you going to ask the tech to drive the rider to a local motel as well? Where does the "customer service" experience end? How far are you willing to ask your tech's to go?

    It's a LONG and COMPLICATED equation...and the $ are going to add up making the service nearly unaffordable. So now, when someone calls your emergency # and you quote them $500-750 for a trailer pickup/tow, you become one of those "money grubbing dealerships" in their eyes, possibly earning your company bad reviews. Is it worth it to your company and your companies reputation, to offer the service at a discount? How much of a discount? Who knows...
    #49
  10. AKTREADs

    AKTREADs Been here awhile

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    One FACT is clear-

    You can not & will not please everyone....all the time!!!!
    #50
  11. nuttynu

    nuttynu NuttyNu Rider

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    everyone needs to go ride ...
    #51
  12. nuttynu

    nuttynu NuttyNu Rider

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    #52
  13. AKParrothead

    AKParrothead Alaska Motonaut

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    Why in Odins name would I want someone to pick me up way the F out in the boonies and trailer me back to Los Anchorage for a new tire? If you flat way out there obviously you are heading somewhere. Imagine riding to Dawson, flatting in Eureka, and having some dill hole trailer you back to the big shity? Dumbest idea ever. Do they tow big rigs in when they get a flat? No. A fully rigged truck drives out, jacks up the rig, takes off the flat, mounts a new tire, and sends the trucker on his way. To do this same thing for bikes would be super easy. Hell, get a Sprinter van and you could even pull the bike inside to do all the work. Probably isn't much mechanically that couldn't be done from a set up like that. Stage 5 or 6 vans in strategic spots throughout the road system, it's not like we have many road options anyway. Help for those to stupid to learn, or to lazy to try and change their own flat would only ever be a few hours away from a van.
    #53
  14. wadenelson

    wadenelson Rider/Writer

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    A swing and a miss. The point of discussion is that bike shops need to work around their CUSTOMER'S emergencies, not vice versa. At least if they're trying to build that sort of undying customer loyalty where the customer walks in and buys their NEXT bike there with no regard to the fact that they can buy it considerably cheaper elsewhere.

    With at least 4 employees trained to mount, repair, replace a tire, being "on call" for tire emergencies once a month is not onerous. Most times there will be no calls.

    Providing SERVICE to customers, especially those in trouble, will provide a business an endless source of revenue. Simply holding a franchise, even Harley-Davidson, will ultimately fail, either because HD fails, tastes in motorcycles change, or customers choose to buy from a different HD franchise that DOES provide service when they need it.

    I'm so sick of MC dealerships that provide little or NO service and charge premium prices ---that I could puke. I'll trailer my bike 800 miles to Phoenix to avoid going into the Durango Kawasaki dealer parts or service -- Fun Center. Their parts guys' lack of knowledge --- about duplicate keys, KiPASS, transponders, etc has cost me hundreds of unnecessary dollars.
    #54
  15. SEWERMAN

    SEWERMAN Been here awhile

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    How about offering some wrenching classes so riders can fix their own problems an do their own maintenance. Classes taught by certified mechanics build confidence and trust in your shop and when there is a problem the rider can't fix, they will remember your class.
    #55
  16. AKParrothead

    AKParrothead Alaska Motonaut

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    Not really, the point of the discussion as per the OP
    If we are going to discuss hypothetical amenities a shop will provide. roadside assistance is as viable an option as a tow.
    #56
  17. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Some interesting ideas, suggestions, and thoughts have come up.

    The desire to have a dealer set up to offer roadside assistance is understandable and I think some new bikes offer it?
    (Not a new bike buyer so I don't know)

    The logistics for a dealer to do that would be very involved.
    And extremely expensive.
    I don't see that as a reasonable expectation unfortunately.

    And,

    I just don't see any rider being very thankful when he gets the bill for his bike towing into town from a couple hundred miles away.
    "$480!!!! are you nuts!" :kboom

    However, as a reasonable alternative... :ear

    I keep roadside assistance on my RV that also covers my cars and motorcycles for about $100 a year.
    (I have the basic plan, for more money you can get more benefits)
    http://www.goodsamroadside.com/enroll/

    If I have a breakdown or a flat I can't repair, I will call them and they send a slideback truck to haul my bike (and me) to the nearest service center.
    Not a gas station, a shop that CAN service your vehicle (bike, car, RV).
    Which for a bike can be a long, long way!

    I can see a good dealer providing a bike buyer (new or used) with the first year membership as an excellent alternative to offering it themselves.
    The buyer can decide if it is worth it to keep.

    I think all bike riders should have the roadside assistance and for less than $10 a month, why not?

    True, I have never had to call them with bike or car problems. Yet. :eek1

    They will even come and bring you gas! (You do have to pay for the gas) :lol3
    Or just air up your tires, or any mechanical problem you have.

    Over the past 15 years that I have had the coverage I have called them 3 times for RV breakdowns. :cry

    Each time my RV was towed at no additional cost.
    One tow in Canada was over 200 miles!
    There were many shops closer but none that worked on my RV.

    Whatcha think towing a 36 ft diesel pusher over 200 miles would cost? :evil

    Keep the good ideas and suggestions coming, and please, keep it positive.
    We all have many bad experiences at shops so let's tell them what we want and maybe, just maybe, one or more of the shops will listen and improve. :clap

    Another important point for the shops to always keep in mind is that EVERY employee represents the shop.
    Too many shops hire people who want to hang around and talk bikes.
    Not to be good at customer service.
    ("Maybe if we ignore these people with money to spend, they will go away?")
    #57
  18. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    An excellent suggestion :clap
    Many people buying bikes know very little about how to maintain one.
    A monthly evening fun class for basic wrenching would be great.
    I would sure recommend it to all new riders to learn how to check the tire air pressure, the oil level, how to remove the seat and check the battery connections, how to adjust cables and levers, even how to remove a wheel and fix a flat tire.
    Basically, the stuff that is in the Owner's Manual.

    A "next" level class could be on adjusting valves, and other more technical maintenance jobs.

    Some of the benefits to the shop would be:
    1. getting people in the shop to build a relationship :freaky
    2. showing owners that working on their bike is within reason
    3. that many of the jobs to maintain a bike require special tools
    4. and that many jobs are worth having the shop do for you (adjusting cam over valves, changing tires, etc)
    5. building trust from riders in the shop mechanics
    6. making your shop the hub of mc activities where we want to go
    7. all at a very low cost to the shop for 2 or 3 employees for 2-3 hours
    #58
  19. Tim McKittrick

    Tim McKittrick Long timer

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    I do think there would be a market for this, or something like it. The shop could even charge a nominal fee for the trainer's time- in fact, a small fee would likely boost the attention and participation of the attendants.

    I would note that the issue here isn't confined to motorcycles: in many respects general handiness and familiarity with tool use seems to be in decline. I will often encourage my home repair clients to watch and ask questions if they show an interest in what I am doing, and this has almost always lead to more work later on. Most folks want to know how to do the work but don't want to actually do it. Learning basic roadside fixes, such as how to plug a tire or make a temporary fix to a hole in a tank or valve cover, would go a long way to increasing a riders peace of mind but would likely add to a shops traffic in the long term.
    #59
  20. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    fuck the dealers.... why depend on them for anything. it's mostly don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out... see ya next time.

    we have a great forum right here. you want to learn to change a tire it's pretty easy.... all you gotta do is post "teach me how to change a tire" and someone will chime in. we used to do a lot of tech days for the KLR crowd (other brands showed up too), we used to do a pre D2D... only reason we don't do them as much now is nobody asks.

    anybody that rides farther out of town than they want to walk should know how to deal with a tire repair.... AND carry the tools to do it
    #60