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

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

  1. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Absolutely!

    That is an example that should have been taken to small claims court.
    (Edit: If all else failed to rectify the problem. Legal action is last resort)
    Except that would require him to fly back up and take more of his valuable time.

    Did he get any compensation from the shop?
    Did they make any effort to make up for their mistake/dishonesty?
    Did he get anything in writing (email even) that the bike was ready to go before he flew back up?

    Did he sit down with the shop owner/manager to try to resolve the situation?

    Mistakes happen to everyone and sometimes they have terrible consequences.
    (the person on the phone thought it was done, the parts were to be installed that day but turned out to be the wrong parts, etc.)

    A good shop recognizes mistakes happen and will do all they can to make it right.
    That is customer service.
    A bad shop has no repeat customers...





    Recently I had an unacceptable situation (outside) full of mistakes and problems for something I had to pay the full amount in advance.

    I sent an email explaining the situation, why I felt it was not what I had paid for, and what I wanted them to do to make it right before I started posting everywhere about the terrible experience.

    I was called within the hour and asked if I would give them a day to get the information to the top management.
    I got another email that day asking if I could join a conference call with the top manager and vice president the next day at a time of my convenience.

    They called and were very professional and agreed that my situation should NEVER have happened and that it must never happen again to anyone.

    After listening to me detailing all the problem and then asking a few questions, they were very glad I had contacted them to tell them the situation.

    They asked if I would be willing to give them another chance in the future and asked if I would accept $500 of the $850 I had paid as a refund.
    I probably could have said no and told them I wanted more but I felt that was very fair and accepted it.
    After all, the job was done well, it was other factors that had been the problem.
    Factors they subcontracted out and thought was up to their requirements.
  2. Brendon@TMS

    Brendon@TMS The Motorcycle Shop

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    These blanket statements are pretty dangerous. I make a point to have our shop try and accommodate older BMW's since we've been a dealer since the 70's. BMW in particular because they still offer great support as an OEM.

    So long as a traveler makes a call ahead, even if it's a day, we do everything in our power to help. At the very least we can give them an idea of what to expect, what tires we have, wear parts, etc.

    On average, most folks traveling on older equipment aren't on a strict timeline and are happy that you even know what bike they're on!

    Positive attitudes can be contagious, kill it with kindness.
  3. mach1mustang351

    mach1mustang351 Long timer Supporter

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    Having worked retail in the automotive industry I can definitely say that customers have changed in the last few years too. I'm not sure if its the internet and access to information, more options for places to buy etc. but it seems like they expect more than they used to. This isn't necessarily a problem but it can be harder on the folks providing the service.

    It is almost a daily occurrence where someone comes in upset over something that is not the fault of us, or the part but something outside. They misdiagnosed, the shop that did it took too long, they found the part cheaper on Ebay or whatever. When trying to provide the information, help etc it is not unusual to get called out, disagreed with or outright insulted for my effort.

    It just means that anyone on the service end of business needs to remember that word SERVICE and do everything they can to make every customer happy every time and go above and beyond.

    As a customer I always try to look for the good service and acknowledge the hard work and be appreciative of the effort. Let them know they did well. Speaking from experience it is hard to do a lot for a customer and have them still make you feel like you owe them more or that you still failed. Maybe a bit of a rant but I still think I made decent points.
  4. Wheeldog

    Wheeldog Long timer

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    The guy was a retired doctor. He didn't want to throw good money after bad. Just wanted to put the experience behind him and go home. How do you prove what was on the bike when it was taken there? Not sure if he had receipts or not for the aftermarket stuff??

    The only way he even got the bike ride-able is because he bugged them every day for a week. Of course the owner knew about the problem. But I don't know if the owner knew the "whole story" or who to believe.
  5. Trayvessio

    Trayvessio Super Strom Trooper

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    Bingo. I believe that, with the advent of the internet, customers have increased complaining about the prices of brick and mortar stores (claiming they can get things cheaper from the internet) while at the same time taking advantage of brick and mortar stores (trying on helmets at a local store and then ordering same product for cheaper on the internet now that they know what size to order thanks to a brick and mortar store.

    In my opinion, many customers have a sense of entitlement today that was not around before the internet that makes dealing with them very difficult. My hat is off to anyone who can provide quality customer service in this day and age because I believe it is harder now that it ever was before.

    Also, I had a great experience at Alaska Cycler Center last summer.
  6. Wheeldog

    Wheeldog Long timer

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    Do you have a problem with reading comprehension?? I said SOME OLDER BIKES......didn't say ALL.:norton If you have been following this, you would know we were talking about Lizzard323. Nobody in Fairbanks would change his tire despite the help of locals giving him advice of who might help. Here is a link to that deal.
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1004595

    Are you saying if he showed up at your shop you would have changed his tire? Let me know.:deal

    Now I am making a "blanket statement" about any motorcycle business/shop in Alaska....not picking on you specifically. When it comes to service......shit flows down hill. It is the owners/managers fault when employees screw up and treat customers bad. Mostly it is a lack of training. When a company owner says we can't stay open 7 days a week during the summer......I say Harley does it and makes a profit. If another dealer can't figure out how to do it, either they don't want to or are too stupid to figure out how to make a profit doing it. Let me know if there are any other excuses for a bike shop not being open 7 days a week during the summer......I could have missed one.

    Now I am talking about YOUR shop. My wife wanted a new BMW and we went to your shop. At the time there was a good deal on BMW financing. When we walked in I let her do the talking, it was her deal, I was wandering around the shop and look at the bikes. The salesman who I think was the owner of the shop at the time.....kept following me around talking to me and wouldn't listen to my wife. I asked about demo rides and the answer was NO!! Needles to say my wife was pissed of and we left.

    We asked around on the motorcycle forums where she could get a good deal on a BMW. The most answers we got was Deming Cycle Sales in Deming NM. We went there. Showed up at the shop around 10:00AM. Looked at the bike we were told about on the forums. I asked about a test drive......they said no problem. I said what time we should we have the bike back......they said we close at 5 have it back before then. Needless to say.....we bought the bike there.

    I travel on a Harley Ultra. In the last 14 years I have been from Alaska to Key West and back not to mention most places in between. Only had 1 bad experience with Harley service. Most of the time traveling, I show up unannounced and they take me right in and service my bike....end of story.

    Your right about about positive attitudes. I am positive I won't show up at your shop.:roflWhen your service gets as good as Harley and you do demo rides.....let me know and maybe I can deal with your shop.:D
  7. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    #1 Rule is: In order to HAVE a Business, you must have Customers. THEN you can think about profit.

    Do something that sets you apart from the thousands of other shops. If not, you are "run of the mill", and average at best. Do something regularly that is outstanding, and noticably better than the competition.

    Take care of customers in good economic times, and in bad. Becoming rude and complacent when times are good, is bad, because you'll need those Customers you turned off back some day when the economic tide turns south... which it will.

    Never take your Customers for fools or suckers. They aren't.

    Do not take on more work than you can handle, from both a workload, and a technological perspective. This creates way more negatives than positives. Maybe you can look at hiring on retiree's on a part time basis for the work overload times? Form an alliance with another reputable shop?

    Happy employee's do happy work. P.O.'d employees do poor work. Take care of them, and treat them with respect and dignity.

    NEVER have employee's/mechanics working on commission. This always leads to selling valued and needed Customers expensive parts and components they don't need, and they leave. Not a good plan.

    Be 100% honest and fair, and never try to "trick" a Customer. Don't try to make maximum profit with each transaction. Be flexible and it will even itself out over time. No Customer ever enjoys the feeling of being "nickeled and dimed".

    Always make the Customer feel like they are someone special, and an individual... because they are. Know their names, look them in the eye, and care. No... actually care - they can tell the difference.

    Train your staff to respond "I don't know, but I'll find out for you", when in doubt about the proper reply. This statement is always appreciated over some B.S. answer, or an ill-concieved personal opinion. No one knows everything.

    Return phone calls. Call Customers if things are running late, or the Plan changes. NEVER perform unauthorized work.... never!

    Learn to recognize "Bad" Customers, and figure out a polite way to get rid of them. You know who I'm talking about. Life is too short, and dealing with them is always a "no-win". Say goodbye nicely.

    If a Customer walks into your shop / Showroom, immediately greet them. If you are on the Computer, on the phone, doing paperwork - pause for a second and make them comfortable. The worst thing to do is continue doing whatever task you were at, and ignore them. Say "Hello", and at least set them in the right direction. You can finish what you were doing afterwards.

    Lastly, be honest... always. If you accidently screw something up - which you will - admit it, and make it right both financially and mechanically. Never get defensive, or try to weasle out or point fingers. Customers appreciate honesty over most everything else.

    Good Luck,


    Bob:D
  8. nuttynu

    nuttynu NuttyNu Rider

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    It's interesting how I've heard better from the HD shop compare to these other shop.


    Go Harley !:clap
  9. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    ya Wheeldog.... I've head that same story from other female riders too (see my post 16).

    as for "entitlement"..... yes, I am entitled to certain things if you want my money. I already posted what they are. I don't expect to have my ass kissed, it simply boils down to courtesy and honesty.

    and I know for a fact that a lot of shops won't work on an older bike. a BMW.... sure, get in line. Bring in a 10-15 year old J bike & nope. I know this because I have fixed a few (not mine)
  10. Andrewmc

    Andrewmc Been here awhile

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    We may have, but I don't think this individual contacted us so we have no way of saying for sure. We've done that sort of thing before so it is definitely a possibility.


    I'd be curious to know who and when this was. I've been the only person consistently working on the sales floor for over three years, and I've never been accused of being preferential to men over women. If anything it's the other way around because when a couple comes in it's almost always been my experience that the wife is driving :rofl If you're talking about something that happened a decade ago, I don't know what we can do except invite you back to see what's changed.


    We do offer demo rides on many motorcycles. Our insurance has restrictions on certain circumstances, and it is something we've been able to make a lot of headway on this year. If we don't have a bike in stock for you to demo, we refer you to a local rental company and will cover a day of rental if you decide to purchase a bike from us. As far as service goes, it's all relative. You won't come to our shop because you don't think we have good service, but it also sounds like you also haven't been to our shop recently enough to make that assessment in the first place? Or am I mistaken and you've been in in the last three years?

    I don't mean any offense, I just don't get it. :(:

    Like Brendon said, we'd love for you to come in and introduce yourself so we could show you what is different and talk about your concerns in person, but if you're not willing to give us that chance then what can we do?
  11. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

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    Legion's first axiom of business:

    An established business with a significant number of disgruntled customers is an opportunity for a new management team to look like heroes.
  12. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    Another thought:

    When you get to a point that you disdain Customers, and you start to see them as the "enemy", as individuals to be corrected, or as total pains in the A$$....

    it's time to take a vacation, get away for awhile, do something else. You see this behaviour in Service Managers very often. People are sometimes difficult to deal with. Treating Customers as enemies is a guaranteed losing venture.

    Take a break. Come back when you are in a better state of mind, and truly believe that the Customer is NOT always wrong.
  13. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    Yep. Recently I had a manufacturer tell me that the local place I was dealing with gave them info on my riding style and places I had recently gone too. They wouldn't budge on the issue based on that and I ended up eating a cost I don't believe I should have. I did get some runaround from the local shop as I did with the manufacturer so I'm not happy with both. Anyone who knows me I am not an aggressive rider and whatever places I had been were on a different bike. At the end I let it go because I have other things to deal/worry about and its a lost battle.
  14. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    as in... you didn't buy it here we won't touch it?

    heard that one too
  15. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    It is also an opportunity for the competing Shop down the street to gain some new customers. :ricky
  16. Wheeldog

    Wheeldog Long timer

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    First off that deal didn't have anything to do with you or any shop in Anchorage. I gave him advice that it wouldn't be a big deal to get a tire changed in Fairbanks. Then it turned out it was. If he had gotten hurt I would have felt real bad. The situation really pissed me off. He came to the MTF first asking for info. I sent him to this forum to get Fairbanks info. Don't think anyone on here figured he would have problems getting his tire changed.....or a least didn't mention it.

    In the past I have been the Alaska coordinator for the MTF (Motorcycle Tourer Forum) when they have done group UCC rides. The MTF has been around since '01. We try and provide people with the best information on where to get things from food, hotels, service work etc. That's why I get so pissed off with shitty service. We recommend a rider to a shop and they get screwed or treated like shit it reflects back on me. BTW The rider I mentioned who got screwed and had parts missing from his bike, wasn't at your shop, but another Anchorage dealer. Don't think you deserve the rap for that one.

    I own a trucking company and open my shop to MTF members to work on/service their bikes. Many are doing IB rides and don't have time to screw around waiting for dealers to "get to them". The MTF purchased a tire changer and keeps it in my shop for members to use. Members can ship tires to my place and change them when they get here.

    From what I understand it was the owner. It was a good 10 years ago. You didn't do it. I have been around since the early '80 and used to go to your place quite a bit. After we got the bike in NM, we took it to your place for some "recall and warranty work" . The work was done properly, but the owner kept bitching at us for not giving him a chance to sell us a bike. We tried to explain that we did, but he wouldn't stop ragging on us. That was the last time I walked through the doors of your shop. Like I mentioned before.......shit flows down hill. I figured if the owner felt that way the rest of the place would would be the same or worse.

    Guess I can understand why you don't "get it". I am sure you are asking yourself....."Why does this fuckin asshole keep ragging on us about service when he rarely rides in AK". Again, it goes back to the MTF, which I explained above. Jack (Alcan Rider) and I are the only Alaskans who hang out there on a regular basis. People on the forum depend on our information. I will admit Jack has a little more patience than me.:D

    That is why I keep on dealers asses about being open 7 days a week. I don't understand how one company, Harley, can be open 7 days a week, take bikes in for quick service and nobody else can. :eek1

    This is a "re-run" of a thread back in '12. Somewhere back there there I posted link to it. Same shit today as there was back then. Nothing has changed. I heard a lot about giving us a second chance back then. I think we are on 3rd or 4th chances now.:evil

    Right now I advise folks to call Alaska Leather or Friar Mike for the best prices on tires. The Friar can do some work on bikes, but the diagnostic equipment isn't available to independent shops. He can only do so much. I have mentioned Adventure Cycle in Fairbanks, but now that I know they won't work on some bikes I will be a little more careful.

    You tell me......what am I supposed to tell people about getting their bike worked on in Alaska after so many problems?:deal

    BTW I do give you credit for coming on the forums to "face the music". That's more than the other shops will do.
  17. Andrewmc

    Andrewmc Been here awhile

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    We appreciate your feedback, and being on the forums every once in a while (especially during the winter) is the least we can do. As painful as it is sometimes, we like to hear about problems, it's just when criticism turns into complaining that things get harder, so thank you for explaining your view.

    I know what thread you are talking about in 2012, and I guarantee that we have made major changes since then. Literally NONE of the processes we used when I started in 2012 are still used, thanks in large part to what Brendon has brought to the table. There are plenty of things that make me cringe when I look back at them, but with our staff we've been able to tear apart the way we used to do things and come up with new ideas that have been very effective.

    We're not asking for third or fourth chances, we're just asking that people who are willing to criticize us actually come to the shop at least every 5 years or so before they do. If someone has had a problem within the past couple of years, we can talk to them about it and explain or remedy the situation. Past 2010 or so, basically none of our staff was here and we can't do much except apologize for our past employees and invite you back.

    What I would recommend to riders coming to Alaska is to call ahead for regular service or tire changes, or to even check in with us or people online to actually see what they will need. I would wager that 90% of visitors we have that go into panic mode could have had a nice smooth trip if they had taken five minutes to call us and schedule an appointment (or ask if they would need new tires after riding from Miami to Deadhorse :ear). The problems we see normally involve people showing up unannounced with destroyed tires and oil with 10,000 miles on it that need to leave RIGHT NOW.

    We are working on a service system that will take care of these people without interfering with locals or scheduled travelers. That said, if a traveler wants to know what they can do to prepare for service here, just have them get a hold of us ahead of time.

    As for riders that run into unexpected trouble while they're here, we handle everything on a case by case basis. Our staff volunteered to sacrifice a lot of weekends last year to help travelers and locals alike who were in trouble or needed work done quickly. Just because not everyone we help on a weekend posts on ADVrider or MTF doesn't mean we didn't help them.

    We are looking into the feasibility of being open more, but there are a lot of hurdles involved with going to a 7-day schedule. We have had a lot of requests for this, and it isn't off the table, but planning it is a lot of work and not something we can just "start doing."

    Hope this clears up a couple of things!

    Andrew
  18. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

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    Being open at least 6 days a week would be nice. HOH ain't open 7 days a week. They're closed Sunday & Monday too.
    http://www.harleyalaska.com/map_hours.asp
    I really don't like someone else working on my machines but did have some warrantee work done on my Uly at the HOH. Having to go thru the "service writer" there instead of talking directly with the mech that was working on the bike & seeing what was happening really sucked.
    I thought that the "service writer" I dealt with pretty much sucked too.
    Some of his 'explanations' of things were so completely wrong that it boggles the mind.
    Then when he tells me that a certain part is not covered under warrantee & sticks to it even after I tell him it is & exactly where to find it in his 'book'. :baldy
    After all the times I'd had to talk to that guy he never seemed to recognize me when I'd run into him somewhere either. Others there that I'd had little to no contact with did. I'd been nice & hadn't given the SW guy reason to avoid me. :dunno
    I get much better treatment at TMS even though I
    hardly spend a dime there.
    And I can, & do, BS with the mechs or ask their advice so I can do my own work any time I want. That needs to stay that way.

  19. Brendon@TMS

    Brendon@TMS The Motorcycle Shop

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    Tom,

    Your BS is always welcome in our shop ;)

    Andrew summed up our immediate restructure pretty well. We have 3 and 5 year plans in the works for each department. They're still "under construction" at the moment.

    We're thinking of having each tech come and deliver the bike to each customer rather than go through a service writer/manager/director. That elimination of the "middle man" helps clear up quite a bit of communication. At the same time it will change how we schedule jobs since time needs to be allotted for said tech to do said delivery.

    Regarding the 7 day a week schedule, it makes quite a bit of sense in the summer especially. Since we're moving to a much larger facility we'll be beefing up staffing. We'll see how our management structure deals with the increase in employee count, then start playing with a schedule.

    Some people have pointed out that Harley is open 7 days a week, etc. One of the big reasons it's more difficult for us is because we sell SEVEN brands. Not just one. One brand is quite easy to manage. Seven is just like having seven small businesses, then divide each of those seven into three more businesses (parts, service, sales). Each with their own order process, tech training, bike ordering, warranty submission, etc.

    I'm not arguing against being open for more or longer hours. Simply pointing out that good/skilled/educated help is much harder for us to find due to our diversity of products and brands. Without the staffing, working our current employees seven days a week during the summer is a great way to have huge amounts of burnout.

    As Andrew said quite well, we're not asking for a 10th chance or whatever. All we want to point out is things change over time (at least for us), and it does a body good to try new things!

    Thanks to everyone for their input!
  20. beamertwin

    beamertwin Paul

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    Since the shop sounds 'new' in many ways I'll swing in, after your open at the new location, and see if the parts guy knows there are two different plugs for a twin spark 1150.

    Glad to see a turn around and......the past is the past.

    Good to see resonable heads thinking in positive ways.

    So.......what kind of pre-moving sales are you having......?

    Test rides from old shop to new shop?