Recently, I played “secret shopper” at a dealership, something I’ve done dozens of times in the last 24 years of riding. I told the sales guy I wasn’t a rider, but was interested in learning more. Game on …
He did a pretty good job, but when he said the below three lines (which I’ve heard before), I wondered if he had a clue what was going on in my mind when those words came out of his mouth.
Women riders are SEXY!
He said: I have a personal interest in getting more women to ride motorcycles for two reasons: 1) If you are out there riding, you’ll inspire more women to ride and then they’ll buy more bikes from me 2) Women riders are SEXY!
She hears: Is he looking at me like I’m a piece of meat? And why should I care if he gets more sales from me riding. Ick, I need a shower.
Takeaway: Don’t try to play on the “women riders are sexy” theme, definitely not with a new customer walking in the store for the first time. Just feels dirty.
Don’t annoy your friends
He said: You can start on this smaller bike, but your friends may get annoyed when they have to stop sooner for gas, or if they need to carry stuff for you, especially for overnight trips. And you may not be able to keep up with them. You should think about starting with this bigger bike.
She hears: Overnight trips?! I’ve never ridden my own bike and can’t even imagine riding on the highway yet. Is a small bike not safe? I don’t want to slow down my friends, but I don’t want to start on a big bike. Maybe motorcycling isn’t for me.
Takeaway: Yes, you’ve seen a woman buy a smaller bike and then upgrade, but she probably needs to experience this for herself. If you take her too far into the future, you may scare her away from your dealership, and the sport.
Engine size matters
He said (when I asked): The difference between the 500cc and 1,200cc engine is that the 1,200cc has a 45-degree V-twin engine with two cylinders and a single 40mm carb. It pumps out 68 ft-lbs of torque, and it’s also rubber mounted.
She hears: V-twin, cylinders, carb? Why do I care about torque or rubber mounts? Do I need to understand these techy terms to ride a motorcycle?
Takeaway: Keep it simple. Talk about benefits. Bigger engine = stronger, helps going up hills or passing vehicles. Rubber mounts = comfortable ride. Some women may want to hear the techy details, but many just want to know it will get them where they’re going … and safely.
If this seems like common sense, is it common practice at your shop? If not, you could be losing sales. Consider hiring your own secret shopper and have her give you, and all your staff, candid feedback.
Caveat: This article is not about women who are part of your “core” customer base already drinking your Kool-Aid, or women who are “motorheads” and love techy stuff. These are women coming into your dealership for the first time, new to your brand and the sport.
A rider for 24 years, Leslie spent 15 years with Harley-Davidson (3 retail, 12 corporate) and created its marketing to women role in 2007. She spearheaded Women Riders Month and a Garage Party Campaign that drove 25,000 women to dealers. After 2 years at Trek Bicycles, Leslie now helps companies sell more to women.