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

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

  1. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Tom, it's winter and those are winter hours listed. They are open 7 days in the summer tho not always the service dept. I know cause I'll often swing by there on a Sun/Mon on my way in or out of town as those were my only 2 days off during the week.

    Hey, guess it's time for more H-D accolades. Our House of Harley washes and sometimes even waxes most every bike after a service. They'll also pick up or deliver your bike for some service jobs and this year they're planning on having a shuttle service too.

    Now if you'll excuse me I have to go decide what I'm wearing to their VIP Party tonight that includes live music, free food and drink, prizes and heavily discounted items throughout the store. It's free. They said they kind of copied it after our REI Festivus Party that also includes free beer, live music and storewide discounts. (Sunday night, PM me if you're really interested) Anyone care to join me in mingling with a bunch of "pirates" this evening? Yeah, it's kind of a "lifestyle," albeit quite a social one at that. :choppa

    Marko the Mad Mingler :lol3
  2. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

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    Yeah, your right. Thought about that later but you beat me to it.
  3. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    wow.... it's like they are giving stuff away. oh wait, they are giving stuff away. they also hold a couple outdoor shows every summer with live music as well as free food, prizes,and trophies

    Barb does stuff like that too

    how dooo they stay in business with such reckless behavior? and not pinching every fukkin penny out of you every time you walk in the door too. astounding
  4. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    :lol3 I've always wondered how Barb has survived this long. I always send her business and recommend her whenever I meet new riders or those crossing through. She has treated me like gold and actually knows and remembers me even after months of not stopping in.

    Word of mouth to me is the most important marketing tool IMHO. Unfortunately many businesses don't realize it. I think it's because they think since they are the only ones selling a particular product, they can do whatever they like. Take it or leave it attitude. New customers may not see it in the start but they always seem to find out later. I tell you what, if you aren't dropping big money , you won't get the handjob feeling. :1drink
  5. FlyRescue

    FlyRescue Support S&R, Get lost!

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    Only brown guy on a GS. Duh.
  6. FlyRescue

    FlyRescue Support S&R, Get lost!

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    Harley shop and beemer shops are an interesting juxtaposition. I would think they would be very similar in every way. Very dedicated, brand loyal riders with specific taste in expensive hardware and a penchant for branded merchandise.

    Rambling digression:
    I effectively own two 2010 R1200GS Adventures that were not purchased in Anchorage. I can't say TMS wouldn't have given us the same deal, as the east coast sale was a logistics thing rather than a dealer preference. We did, however, travel 154 miles to find a dealer that was willing to work with us. Max BMW in NY/NH felt like a Harley shop. They had a lot of hardware, a lot of merch, and really got into the riding culture with newsletters, personal phone calls, parties, etc.
    On the other hand, our local shop was a small showroom hole-in-the wall that scoffed at the idea of sourcing two '10 GSA's in yellow at one time, and basically treated us with an air of dealer entitlement and exclusivity. Long story short, my dad and I might not be the smartest of critters, but we aren't willing to throw that kind of cash at someone that makes us feel like shit.
  7. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    Obviously there is more than one since I've supposedly have ridden every road in Alaska with a bike with 3k miles on it. :lol3
  8. Firestone

    Firestone Adventurer

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    Its all about the Service + Price value.

    Poor Service, Good Price = Score 50
    Good Service, Poor Price = Score 60
    Good Service, Good Price = Score 100

    We have one Cycle Gear store in Oklahoma City. They had terrible service. I went there as a new street rider and tired on helmets and other gear. I waited for about 30 minutes to an hour and people kept coming in the store behind me. People waited on out of sequence, and other not even greeted, wandering around trying to figure out what to buy. I finally walked out of the store and ordered my $1,000 worth of boots, gloves and helmet online.

    Recently a new manager was brought in from the Northwest. He is a rider, he greets me personally, learned about my ride, price matches online deals on products he's allowed to and discounts the rest as much as possible. He orders stuff for me without me being in the store and generally makes me WANT to buy stuff from him.

    So before I bought like, nothing at Cycle gear.

    Now I try to buy from him as much as possible. Service + Price!!
  9. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    Yep, you shouldn't have to beg anyone
    to take your money. I remember buying a new bike, in fact a buddy of mine and I tried to buy two new bikes from a dealer. The only discount they offered was what the manufacturer was already giving. My friend walked. He wasn't asking for the moon, he just asked them what they'd be willing to do to make the sell and had no specifics. I bought mine but had to wait 30 minutes to get someone to take the check I had in my hand because all of the sales people were showing a customer around his $20k bike. My $6 bike wasn't worth the time. When I showed up to pick it up, it wasn't ready and had to wait another hour. When it was, they showed me where the starter was and walked away. Needless to say it was easy for me to buy a bike from a salesman I knew from another dealer 300 miles away. Of course the local place got the last laugh when I got hammered on a service. I guess il have to truck it 300 miles the next time. Sad part is my brand loyalty is starting to fade over these headaches to the point I may go a whole new direction the next time I purchase. Hopefully I'll be in another State then.
  10. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    What happened to the O.P.?

    Advice overload?:lol3
  11. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    I read everyone's comments.

    Very disappointed that so many comments are not helpful.
    So much hate, so much prejudice.
    Some obviously believe there is no chance for a shop to be a place we would like to visit regularly and spend money at.

    This thread is about what we would like to see.
    NOT bitching about bad experiences.

    I guess it is a personality trait that some were born with.
    I am pretty sure every rider has had bad experiences in shops here, there, and everywhere.
    Some see the world through hate, some of us see the world through possibilities.

    My most recent disappointment at a dealer was in the parts department.
    I knew they wouldn't have the part I needed so I looked online and found I could order it for $32 + $8 shipping (Priority mail).
    Retail msrp was $48.
    I stopped at the dealer to see what their price would be...

    They wanted $68 (no shipping cost if i could wait 2 weeks)
    I mentioned the retail price and was told that they have to charge more to stay in business in Alaska.

    Do you need to ask where I spent my money?
    Yep, no wonder they need to charge more, they get so little business.

    I don't hate the dealer, that is their business plan.
    They need new management, and a new business plan to operate in the online world we live in.
  12. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    Seems to be a regular thing on the Interweb Forums. The anonymity factor breeds a lot of toxic vitriol that folks otherwise would repress, or bring forward at an appropriate time and venue.

    Easy to ignore if you try.

    I wish you the best of luck with your enterprise. A recurring theme on the actual well intended advice posts seems to be honesty, fair play and plain old decent service.

    Sounds easy enough? :eek1


    Bob :D
  13. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

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    Here's an idea: if someone calls asking to see if you have a part and you say yes, don't tell the caller you don't have it when he shows up, specially when they don't live in Anchorage and drove into town. I've had that happen twice and got a condensing response the last time I showed up. I now just order online and it shipped to my home from a dealer 1000 miles away.
  14. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

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    Most of the posters in this thread know most of the others that have posted, personally. I don't see hate and vitriol anywhere in here.

    I see some fairly frank comments from a lot of potentially outstanding customers that represent a cross section of the Alaska market. If their honesty isn't valued in this context, what is? If you had just dumped a couple mil in a piece of dirt hoping to get more of everything in return would you prefer to have an undiluted view of how your shop might have polarized a significant number of locals in years past and where the easy places to improve might be?

    Or would you prefer pap?

    Those voices that have expressed an issue based on past experience are the exact same voices that would really like a shop they could really like. The key to success lies in open and honest discussion and this thread is just that... and anything but an anonymous beating.
  15. Brendon@TMS

    Brendon@TMS The Motorcycle Shop

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    And that's exactly why Andrew and I are here, to LISTEN!!

    Sometimes it sucks to hear what happened, it only adds fuel to the fire of fixing things!

    Thanks again to those contributing, your comments are falling on multiple pairs of ears and we hear every word!
  16. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Ummm, if you are wishing me well, I should clarify that I have no enterprise of my own in mind. :eek1

    I can't imagine wanting to deal with the daily stress of running a small business.
    I am quite happy to work for someone else and go home and forget about work. :D

    I am glad that others really enjoy running their own business and dealing with customers, employees, and suppliers.
    My deepest appreciation to all who really try to achieve customer satisfaction:clap

    I started this thread when I had a few hours to sit and type while outside and thought about what I would like to see in a shop, actually ALL shops (dealer, service, accessories, and others) to be a place where we actually want to go.
  17. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    Well, there are several ways to make a point.

    Some feel that hitting someone with the truth is the way to get them to improve.
    They never make good managers.

    Others dilute any criticism so much that nothing is seen as needing to be improved.
    They never make good managers.

    Some tell you what they think you want to hear, so nothing improves.
    They never make good managers.

    Others won't tell you anything directly but they will complain loudly to everyone what a lying scumbag you are.
    And if they ever find out they were mistaken, they sure won't tell anyone about that!
    They never make good managers.

    Some bring up wrongs done to them many years ago and "know" that you will never change so why bother.
    They never make good managers.

    And... so on.

    The point is that there are many ways to try to get people to change what they are doing wrong, but, most. don't. work.

    Getting people to change by seeing clearly where improvement is needed, why it is needed, and how to make improvements is what a good manger does.

    And, we are ALL managers.
    (Parents should understand this!)

    How we present our complaints, our dissatisfaction, and our desires, usually determines the probability of the outcome.
    That is what a good manager recognizes and uses when interacting with others.

    I commend Andrew and Brendon for their desire to take the "frank suggestions" some have made in a positive way and inviting all to come in and sit down and talk.
    (I will have to meet you guys the next time I stop in your shop)

    Since I don't know anyone, I don't know the personality of others who have posted.
    If I knew them I might realize, that is just how they think and speak and they are actually very nice guys who speak, uh, frankly.
    (hmmm, no women posters yet?)

    Different cultures can be that way, and we might be offended at how rude they are when the reality is that in their culture being brutally honest is normal and nothing to be concerned about:

    "You shouldn't wear that dress, it makes your butt look even fatter..." :eek1
    If we said that to a woman here... :pep

    You are absolutely correct that those of us who complain about current and/or past problems would love to have a shop we actually want to support.
  18. J&K

    J&K Been here awhile

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    Very rarely do I ever post my bad experiences with a dealer. Generally I make it a point to be the person to point out the good and amazing experiences I've had at businesses. My bad experiences I reserve for in person conversations.

    I think this thread has been a wealth of excellent info regardless if it comes across as harsh or with kiddie gloves. But the info is only worth something if it's taken seriously.

    Alaska is a huge destination for a lot of people. I've been blessed the last 18 months to spend a lot of time traveling in the lower states. The first thing everyone says after they notice the alaska plates is how lucky I am to live here and how they are gonna make it up here someday on their bike. I'm always quick to answer any question they have about things to see and do while in Alaska. I always give out a business card so while in the state if they need anything they have someone to call on day or night.

    The most disturbing question that a dealership owner in California that was working on my wife's severly broken bike asked me was.
    What's the deal in Alaska about travelers getting much needed prompt service?

    Mind you this question came from a man who just dropped everything to go get my wife's bike with his trailer and pull his best mechanic off a job to check out my wife's bike. The unreal part about all that was I had never stepped foot into that dealership before. He didn't charge us a dime to look at the bike, haul the bike, and gave me a discount on 3 t-shirts.

    I was stumped and rather embarrassed when he asked me that question. So I asked what the situation was? His response was which one? It seems that most of my customers traveling in Alaska wait a day or two for oil changes, tire swaps, brake swaps, and so on. Honestly I was amazed at what he told me. I had no good answer for him other than to give him my card and let his customers know they could call on me and I would help out wherever I could.

    I've experienced a lot of things he was describing to me on a local level and I try to be understanding. But it seems a lot of time Alaskans get caught up with well we aren't in (insert state) we have to do things differently. I honestly find that answer disturbing. I think the advice given in this thread is awesome. Funny thing is I've been fortunate enough to visit places that a few of you are describing and I will go back again. I wish their was a place like that here. I would be there all the time.

    In the last 18 months I've bought 3 new bikes and 3 used bikes. 2 new bmw, 1 new ktm, 2 used BMW, 1 used ural. The bad apart about all that is one of the new bike purchases was a positive experience that I would tell my friends about. That's not very good averages for someone who bought 6 bikes in less than 18 months. I hope to see change but I'm gun shy at best. I hope the people who own businesses and visit this thread are truely listening. Time will tell.

    Barb and her staff should give lessons on customer service. I've never been treated more like a part of the family anywhere.
  19. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

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    That just happened to me this week!
    Well, sort of anyway.
    Not at a motorcycle shop though.
    I went to Napa for spark plugs and plug wires, they checked the computer and asked if I wanted the OE wires or one of the "premium" wires.
    Then when they went to get the parts... nada. zip. zilch.
    (they had the plugs but none of the plug wires)
    They checked their other stores inventory and had to say "I am sorry".

    Rather than drive all around town I went home and called around.
    O'Reilly's had them so I asked if they would actually check the shelf to make sure, which they did, and they pulled them for me.
    All was well and my car is running great.

    I once worked at a place where we had millions of dollars of parts on the shelves and unfortunately, the computer inventory didn't always reflect the reality.:cry
    (and yes, it did happen on occasion that we had a part the computer said we were out of)

    Your point is very valid and another important area for the manager of a shop to address.
    How to make sure it never happens, and training all employees to treat every customer the way a customer should be treated.

    Hmmm, notice how most everything comes back to management? :wink:
  20. mach1mustang351

    mach1mustang351 Long timer Supporter

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    <IFRAME height=315 src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NWSrwEYJBrg" frameBorder=0 width=420 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>

    Everything does come back to management. Being a many year veteran of the management game the absolute hardest thing to do is to develop people to be accountable. I believe you cannot MAKE people accountable they have to CHOOSE to be accountable. You can coach them and explain to then why things are don't the way they are but ultimately it is their choice.

    They have to CHOOSE to offer the good service (All The Good Customer Service All The Time):lol3 Coaching great service and building a team that chooses to be accountable to this standard That is where the manager earns their pay... or doesn't...