When a motorcycle dealership changes ownership...

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Dr. Greg, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home.. Supporter

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    (NOTE: Didn't really know where to put this post; mods please move as desired.)

    When a motorcycle dealership changes ownership, is it normal for EVERYONE to be replaced...top to bottom?

    This has happened twice in my region: BMW and H-D dealers. Owning a GSA, it's the BMW dealer I now visit, but I used to own a Buell Ulysses, so then it was the H-D.

    Kinda frustrating when there are both sales & service folks with whom you have a bit of a "relationship" and then WHOOPS, overnight they're gone...

    I realize this is the prerogative of the new owner and their connections, but...is it typical in your experience?

    Thanks.

    --Doc
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  2. baldman1

    baldman1 Long timer

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    Work on yer own bike and you'll never have this problem.
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  3. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    No, it isn't normal. Ownership changes should be virtually seamless. The shop where I worked and the one I buy from now did so. You would have barely noticed any change.
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  4. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    Highly probable if they got scooped up by a conglomerate.
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  5. anotherguy

    anotherguy Long timer

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    If they're not replaced sometimes chased away. I left my last position when the pay cut made it financially impossible to continue. Not an ownership change but a partnership power swap. Close enough. There are 2 long term employees left there now.
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  6. TurkeyRun

    TurkeyRun Long timer Supporter

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    Seen it happen both ways.

    Harley dealers, one in Durham NC - everyone gone. New folks then gone and replaced in about 6 months. Sh*t show.

    Other one in Burlington NC. All the staff stayed. Smooth as silk.

    So (shrug)
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  7. lamotovita

    lamotovita DAMN SNOWBIRD! Supporter

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    I'd say it's atypical but it depends on how run down the dealership was or if there was a corrupt management in place.
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  8. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

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    With a supposed shortage of decent mechanics, replacing them would be difficult.

    Unless, of course, they are doing a motorcycle related version of The Producers.
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  9. Josephvman

    Josephvman I'm the Decider Supporter

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    It's usually a top-down process with an ownership change. Typically the new owner will install their own GM and comptroller, maybe sales and service managers, but at least in the short term will keep the majority of the parts/service and sales staff. At that point it should be clear to the remaining staff that they're basically in a probationary period to earn their jobs, and you just start figuring out who's going to be able to work in the new structure and who isn't. In the case of a small dealer being bought by a group with multiple dealerships it might be more dramatic.

    It's surprising to see a complete turnover, particularly in parts/service, as there's a pretty big investment in training and certifying technicians. All I can think is that Dr. Greg's dealer must have been a pretty major shit-show if they cut everyone, but unfortunately there are a lot more bad motorcycle dealers than good ones. I've called two Ducati dealers today to get some really basic information on a new bike (do you have one in stock, how much is your freight/setup) and after listening to 5 minutes of bumblefucking I didn't get an answer from either and six hours later neither one of them has called me back like they said they would.
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  10. Tall Man

    Tall Man Privileged.

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    The second sentence explains why the first sentence occurs, in part or in whole.

    ---------------

    Approx. two years ago, the family that owned the local multi-line dealership for decades (and from whom I purchased three new bikes) sold it to a buyer who converted the operation to sell just "performance side by sides". Yay...not.

    Two legacy employees survived the transition: the Parts Manager, who has the personality of an industrial carpet remnant, and, thankfully, the only mechanic that I trusted with the Ural's keys.

    Maybe the next time I'm there, I'll bend Dave's ear for some intel on how the changeover was managed.
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  11. bwringer

    bwringer Gimpy, Yet Alacritous

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    It's not normal to just walk in and fire everyone, but it is common for the existing staff to "pursue other opportunities" fairly quickly if the new management is incompatible with their preferences. Once the exodus starts, it tends to pick up speed.

    Who's right and who's wrong varies widely, and is hard to tell. Maybe it's good management whipping a dying shop back into shape and cleaning house, maybe it's crappy corporate manglement installing a selection of talentless toadies and ass-kissers.
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  12. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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    New broom, a lot of places people leave under new ownership. I worked in a bike shop...10 years later I went back under new ownership, one mechanic had also come back, and the girl who cleaned the floors after school now ran the parts department. A couple of years ago the son took over and everyone left !
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  13. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home.. Supporter

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    Well, I pretty much do all my own work (e.g. normal maintenance, tires, accessories). Nevertheless sometimes you do need to stop by a dealer (warranty work, even on a BMW).


    This is the case with both dealers I discussed. Now run by big out-of-state interests. The H-D dealer (at least) was family-owned, dunno about BMW.


    Thanks for all replies; most interesting. My (very) subjective opinion is that the quality of both dealerships has since dropped a bit.

    --Doc
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  14. Dirty bike

    Dirty bike EricV

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    New ownership means new policy and structure. If the new owners come in and tell all the techs they need to bill 24 hours of work for ever 8 hour day...(seen it happen), people leave. The parts guy gets told he/she has to do tire work when no one is at the counter, etc. Right now it's an employee market with lots of places looking for people. Some people won't like the changes and will move on. New people come in knowing what expectations are and have no knowledge of how things were before, so less bitching about changes.

    It all depends on what the changes are. Sometimes they are better for the employees. If the BMW dealer is being pushed harder to boutique sales with less emphasis on bike work and sales, that changes the dynamic too. I.E. You want sexy sales girls, not knowledgable bike guys.
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  15. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    In many cases since 2008 or so, yes.
    Sometimes it's a desire to implement a new business strategy. Sometimes it's an effort to shake a bunch of people out of the organization who were loyal to the old owner and will incessantly whine about "we didn't do it this way when Jimmy owned the place." Or "this is the way I've always done it." You also get rid of a lot of legacy employees who are going to be in the workforce maybe another 5 or 10 years and then retire.
    It makes good business sense in a lot of places and for a lot of owners.
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  16. jay547

    jay547 Long timer

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    A long time riding buddy has worked at a local dealership for 39 years. A couple years ago, the ownership changed. They are letting him go eight months before he is eligible for full retirement/SS.
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  17. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Doesn't always happen but really it depends on the new owner. A dick who just wants to make money will ruin a bike dealership pretty quickly.
    Note, I'm not saying they shouldn't aim to make money but generally if the owner isn't there most days it's not a good sign, margins are tight and having to not employ a shop manager or an extra sales person can be make or break.
    Cutting costs by getting rid of the more experienced staff is pretty common in those circumstances.
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  18. anotherguy

    anotherguy Long timer

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    Sorry to hear that. Loyalty means squat anymore. Every man for himself is the order of the day. It's why so many businesses have a revolving door policy now. Fuck 'em dry is how I feel after my last experience. Wondering if it would be a good idea to go back into the biz on my own.....again. Don't think the timing is good. Although circumstances may demand it. Fuck!
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  19. baekdongmul

    baekdongmul Been here awhile

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    Happened to a dealership near me last year. After 35 years of owning cheap used bikes I bought my first $$$$$ techno marvel (it has fuel injection!) new bike. Six months later there was a recall on the bike but the dealer I bought it from couldn't do it because they'd been sold and dropped the manufacturer. I asked about a good mechanic I knew there and they said basically nobody was left from the previous owners staff. I can maintain a 250 single but I don't have the facilities to wrench on a 550lb rube goldberg machine, so I kind of wish I'd gone with another bike I'd liked at the biggest local dealer I'm not really keen on.
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  20. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home.. Supporter

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    Bingo! One thing about the former H-D dealership owner, he WAS there almost all the time; often out front greeting and mingling/talking with customers, etc. Always impressed me. Looked more like an Anthropology Professor than a "biker."

    --Doc
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