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

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

  1. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    736
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    But wouldn't you rather the shop truck to show up to the rescue so the shop can get a few more of your c-notes. Imagine how the tech would treat you if they have to drive 4 hours to fix a tire.

    Piston
    #61
  2. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,756
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Well Beezer, this thread is supposed to be about what we WANT to see at the local shops... :ear

    This forum is excellent and we all enjoy learning and teaching, asking and answering questions, and helping each other.
    But meeting new people in person and learning about your bike with friends is always fun.
    You know that, you mentioned the tech days you did with the KLR's (hmmm, Killers?) and pre D2D. Good times. :1drink

    I agree that it is great to carry the tools and have the knowledge to fix a flat when riding, but the reality is, not many do.
    (Center stand or jack stand, axle wrench, bead breaker, tire levers, patch kit and/or spare tube, tire lube, and a compressor or tire pump.)
    I am guessing that adventure riders are about the only ones who might be able to fix a flat tire (that has a tube) beside the road.

    Tubeless tires are so easy to fix. I wish all my bikes had them :clap
    #62
  3. akrider

    akrider mild adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,848
    Location:
    Anchorage, Ak
    Ok.....Now that we all know how to run a successful motorcycle business lets all run down to the bank and cosign the loan thats fronting this operation.

    Little harder to pontificate when it's your dime isn't it.
    #63
  4. Andrewmc

    Andrewmc Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    510
    Location:
    Palmer, AK
    Last I saw, a BMW franchise was $1,000,000, plus an additional $1,000,000 in private owner equity. :deal Shouldn't be THAT hard.
    #64
  5. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    15,388
    Location:
    In Your Head

    In December of 2005 I met w/ BM to discuss a new dealership in another Alaska location. I met w/ the appropriate management heads, brought my checkbook, an xlnt business plan, and stated clearly that I would write them a check for $1mm on that day.

    There's more to it than that.
    #65
  6. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,756
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    I had to look it up:
    pon·tif·i·cate

    verb \pän-ˈti-fə-ˌkāt\: to speak or express your opinion about something in a way that shows that you think you are always right



    Hmmmmm....
    Offering ideas, suggestions, and examples to help shops be places we want to frequent, to spend our money at, and help them make a profit while doing so is bad?

    It requires deep pockets to open up a new shop for a certainty.
    You can be almost sure to have $1M in the bank at the end of the first year.

    If you start the year with $10M. :rofl
    #66
  7. Andrewmc

    Andrewmc Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    510
    Location:
    Palmer, AK
    Now THAT'S Optimism :rofl
    #67
  8. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,261
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    so ya... you want dealers to do stuff for you? well, yer dreamin'... prolly not happening. what do they care? they live in a different world with different priorities. I'd settle for one that simply sticks to the deal you made when you bought the bike, and carries the normal maintenance parts for the product they sell... and sells those parts to you at a price commensurate with the going rate. don't treat me like the red headed step child, don't have a condescending asshole at the parts counter, don't rape me on every part I buy, because.... after a while I will notice.

    if you are an Alaskan dealer...tell ya what... the last couple years I'll pay extra just to not go into your store for the simple reason is that you went out of your way to fuck me out of 2 bucks on a simple $5 maintenance part..... that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    I have an airplane....thats a black hole for money like you can't believe... by comparison bikes & and bike parts are CHEAP.... but when you screw me (for 2 bucks).... now I'll spend double... even more, to never see your smirkin' ass again. am I bitter? nah... I got the internet... I can order it myself. you no longer matter to me at all:deal
    #68
  9. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,396
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    This is probably my 2 biggest complaints. I understand how expensive it is to ship up things up here and keep the heat on in old buildings all winter long, but dang i gotta keep the heat on too...
    #69
  10. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,351
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    [​IMG]
    #70
  11. Wheeldog

    Wheeldog Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,670
    Location:
    Wasilla, AK
    Hmmmmmmmmm........going to most motorcycle dealers in Alaska is like :baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy......it only feels better when you stop. I haven't set foot in an AK dealer in 10 years or so.:evil

    As my father always told me......anything mechanical is only as good as it's ability to be fixed. There are some outstanding motorcycles made these days, but if you can't get them fixed tn a timely manner, they are worthless to me.

    I admit work gets in the way of riding, and I don't do much in the summer. BUT I do ride my KLR when I have time. I can order parts online and fix it myself faster than a dealer would. I learned a lot about wrenching on the KLR from various tech sessions I have attended. If I get in over my head, I can call Beezer and he will help me out.

    We buy our new bikes and keep them down in America. We do most of our riding in the winter. Lots of dealers and independents who are hungry for sales/service. Pretty easy to get bikes worked on at reasonable prices. I had a Harley Dealer in Fl take me right in for an oil change last winter.......and it was a few days after bike week when everyone was busy.:thumb Can't say enough good things about Twisted Metal in Lake Havasu.....OUTSTANDING service!!!:clap

    Threads about bum AK motorcycle dealers have been going on since I have been on the forum. If they haven't figured out what good service is by now......they never will.:norton
    #71
  12. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2003
    Oddometer:
    4,521
    Location:
    Over the rear wheel
    Regardless how many great ideas the armchair quarterbacks come up with, in the end the reality of economics will be the final determinant of what a dealership may be able to offer as far as pricing goes. If profit margin is too low they cannot afford to keep the doors open. Too high and there will be no customers coming through the open doors. Both extremes will have the same result – the dealership disappears. So if you see a dealership that has been in business for more than 4 or 5 years it is apparent that they have somehow found a reasonable balance. Some brands can command a higher margin on new bikes, others must rely on volume a la Walmart. Their shops' rates will usually be commensurate with the sales prices of new bikes.

    For those of us who do all our own maintenance and repairs there is no way a dealership can compete. For a job that flat rates at 90 minutes I can take an entire day, checking everything along the way and assuring a precision that few dealership mechanics can afford to spend the time achieving. Parts are available online for virtually every make and model made for the past 2 or 3 decades, at prices the dealerships cannot match.

    But for those who don't know a grade 10.2 metric cap screw from a brass rivet the dealership is where they go, only mildly upset at the price of repairs as long as they get to ride with their friends the next weekend. For some (no brand names mentioned :wink:) it's almost a matter of pride to have the local dealership take care of their ride. And there are those of us who, perhaps due to painful experience, will not let a dealership mechanic within wrench length of our motorcycles. That's probably a fair description of me and some of the others on this forum.

    But pricing alone is not the only factor to be considered. As others have pointed out frequently in this thread, trust is important and may have a greater effect than pricing on customer satisfaction. A dealership (whose name I will not mention) has twice given me reason to avoid their shop. The first incidence was when a friend and I were preparing to leave on a quick 1500+ mile ride to Haines, Whitehorse, and return. His bike needed a new rear tire. The dealership got him in quickly on a Saturday morning, for which he bought pizza for the shop crew in addition to paying the usual high charge. But the tech doing the tire mounting grabbed a random valve core off the machine and reinstalled it in the stem. By the time we reached Haines Junction the tire was going flat almost as fast as we could pump it back up. My friend rode around back alleys in the Junction until he found an old, abandoned car from which he could “borrow” a replacement valve core. That same dealership, a few years later, managed to destroy any trust I might have retained in their shop's expertise. On one of my bikes the final drive input shaft seal was seeping a bit, so I took it and a new seal (purchased from their own parts department) to have it installed, since the shop manual indicated the task would require a brand-specific special tool. Despite paying for a professional job I got a bill and a final drive that now leaked worse than when I took it in. More than likely I could have done a better job with makeshift tools. The next year, for a price about equal to the shop charge plus a little shipping, I got a new, unused final drive off the internet.

    Another dealership put so many gouges into the rear rim when dismounting/mounting a tire that after that I have done all my own tires on all the bikes – other than when I have them done at AdventureCycleworks in Fairbanks. Dan can be depended upon to do a stellar job on anything he touches and is one of only two or three people I will allow to lay a hand on my machines.

    Dealership management needs to recognize that their mechanics/technicians are human who can – and do – make mistakes. If someone screws up my motorcycle and I bring it to their attention, I don't want to have to listen to someone in management explain to me how it must have been my mistake because their techs never do anything wrong. If that's what happens, you have just ensured that you'll never get another dime out of me, nor anyone I can tell of how you just ripped me off. In over 60 years of mechanicing the mistakes I have made are too numerous to count. But virtually every one has been made right, and any cost to me has been charged off to education. If shop managers try to cover up or deny their technicians' mistakes, they are fostering an atmosphere of carelessness that will eventually come back to bite them. There are two dealerships in Anchorage that I would not send my worst enemy to, because the quality of their shops' work is so undependable.

    For you in management: Don't let the number of customers coming through your door be the only metric by which you measure your success. The ratio of repeat to total customers tells you a lot more. When the economy takes a nosedive it will be the faithful, repeat customers who make it possible to keep your doors open.
    #72
  13. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,756
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Yes, there are many threads complaining about the dealers here.

    However, THIS IS NOT ANOTHER ONE!


    This thread is for your suggestions, ideas, and dreams of what a really good shop, independent or a dealer, would be like.

    For all who hate the local dealers, tell us what YOU would like to see.

    I have had bad experiences here too, but I would love to have a shop that we could rave about.

    Like you said:

    So tell us why Twisted Metal deserves your highest praise.
    We all want a local shop like that!
    #73
  14. Wheeldog

    Wheeldog Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,670
    Location:
    Wasilla, AK
    I already did, along with others a couple years ago. Same BS is STILL going on. It's pretty much a waste of time as in :baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy :dhorse:dhorse:dhorse:dhorse. They pay lip service but do NOTHING.

    Check out this thread where I told them what good service is and was basically told to kiss off. My post starts at 66.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=807833&highlight=dealer&page=5

    Just this fall a guy couldn't get a tire changed at ANY DEALER OR INDEPENDENT SHOP in Fairbanks. You think after this thread someone in Fairbanks will change his tire next summer...... :dunno:topes:scratch:csm

    I blew the engine on my bike. They sent the bottom end to a machine shop that screwed up. It blew again the following year.....the machine shop would do nothing. Next time they sent the bottom to S&S who rebuilt it right. I paid S&S for the bottom end and they ate the rest of the rebuild, both labor and parts. There was a couple minor problems.....they took the bike right in and fixed it no charge while I waited. I could walk in there tomorrow and get my bike serviced while I go to lunch.

    I know good service and making money can be done. I see it all the time with Harley Dealers wherever I travel. (last I checked Harley Dealers were making a profit). All the dealers in Alaska have to do is copy Harley service and you won't need threads like this. It ain't rocket science.:norton

    :dhorse:dhorse:dhorse:dhorse:dhorse:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:baldy:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3:lol3

    Beautiful day here in AZ.......you guys get the dealers to give good service. I am gonna :ricky:ricky:ricky:ricky:beer:dg:kumbaya:jkam
    #74
  15. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,540
    Location:
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana
    I wonder what a thread that was about describing the ideal customer would be like? Just imagine what a conversation between dealers must be like when they discuss unreasonable customers.

    Think this bitch session has run its course.
    #75
  16. GRIZ

    GRIZ COMMANDANT

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    TEAM PTERODACTYL HQ. SPEARFISH, SD
    Think this bitch session has run its course.[/QUOTE]


    AMEN:D
    #76
  17. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,261
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    yep... no other point to make. every shop will do what they think they need to do to stay in business. so.... if they are still in business now, expect more of the same. the rest is just jabber. as I was advised.... "don't expect anything, then you won't be disappointed"
    #77
  18. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,396
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK

    For those not afraid of the internets, the facebook group "Why Servers and Bartenders Hate People", that would probably correlate well to how dealers and other CS folk think of the general public.




    As for the gentleman who needed tires two years ago I sure hope he got his bike serviced somewhere eventually. :puke1


    Thinking about it, the best thing to fix Alaska's motorcycle shops is probably global warming. That way riding season (and peak demand) isn't just from May to September and shops can afford to hire more techs to change tires or massage colons or whatever else people want like they do in Lake Havasu and other places where people ride year round.
    #78
  19. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    15,388
    Location:
    In Your Head

    It would appear that a few feel their colon has already been overly massaged. :1drink
    #79
  20. aalexander

    aalexander Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    Oddometer:
    774
    Location:
    Anchorage
    This.

    And I'm talking to you, AndrewMC.

    I hope that this will be taken in the spirit of constructive criticism as it is intended rather than just pointlessly ragging on you and your shop.

    I have a KLR. Somebody at your establishment said that is your best selling bike. I don't know if that's true, or just something that he was saying, but I do know there's a bunch of KLR's around South-Central AK . But, I've been pretty disappointed with trying to get parts from your shop. It seems the answer is almost always "we can order that for you". As others have pointed out, so can I. I'd like to support a local business, because I think there's a value in having that business, and it's parts inventory, right down the street about a half mile from my house. (except you're moving further away) And I'm not averse to paying a little more to walk out of your shop with the part in my hand today, vs. ordering it online and getting the rock bottom best price and having it some time in the future. (not crazy amounts over list mind you) But there's really not much value to me in having someplace that can order parts for me. For even money, I'd rather order it myself online, if it needs to be ordered.

    I'm not talking about obscure parts deep in the bowels of the bike that nobody ever sees unless they're doing a complete teardown, I'm talking about fairly common items, seals, gaskets and o rings on things that get taken off frequently. As an example, here's the most recent one which comes to mind: I was checking my valve clearance. I had a little oil leak which I discovered was coming from valve cover bolts. It was leaking because the last guy to open the cover had screwed it back down with some dirt and sand in the bolt recesses which damaged a couple of the rubber seals. The undamaged seals were hard as a rock from being a 6 year old rubber part in a hot location. So I was going to replace all 4. Or would have if I could have got them locally. Which I couldn't. And it was summer and I wanted to go riding instead of having my bike apart for another 4-5 days. So, I kludged the old seals back together with some sealer, and next time I check the valve clearance, I'll have ordered new seals ahead of time.

    Gradually, I find myself becoming less inclined to check your shop first for parts, as it's often a waste of time.

    I know that it costs money to maintain inventory, and it's probably not an easy thing to know how much inventory is the right amount to maintain. But it's more than purely a question of "how much are we making in parts sales vs. how much are we spending maintaining inventory" There are other less tangible considerations. For example, more that once I've left your shop with something I hadn't come there to buy, because I saw it upstairs while I was in there picking up a part. But If I don't come in to get a part, (and I'm doing that a lot less) I'm also not in there also browsing the stuff in the displays and finding something to buy. Having a better more reliable selection of parts is going to mean more people doing business with you, and more people doing business with you will result in more sales of other merchandise.

    How many other potential customers are there in the area who are shifting business to online sales because you frequently don't have the parts they need.

    Another consideration: If the parts inventory is meager, what does that say about the service department? How does not having a good parts inventory affect the quality and timeliness of the service available at the shop?

    Hypothetically, what would have happened if I'd brought my bike in to your shop for the valve check and your tech had discovered the damaged seals?

    Would a one morning job turn into a half a week or more waiting for new seals to be ordered and shipped? (In the middle of riding season, when I thought I was bringing it in for a quick oil change and valve check, finished in the same day)

    Would he have just stuck the old damaged seals back in and let my oil keep leaking?

    Would he have kludged it back together with sealer? (It's one thing to kludge your own bike, with a plan to re-do it correctly the next time, it's another to do business that way.)

    Again, my intent isn't to run you down here, but to give you some things to think about, and hopefully convince yout that having a better OEM parts inventory will benefit your business beyond just the increased parts sales.
    #80