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Time to ride

By Jackson Smith

JacksonSmithMany of our readers work at OEM dealerships and get to enjoy the many in-store benefits from these OEM’s that help make our jobs easier. The benefits can include anything from online tech training to Monday morning race reports that give us the inside story of the factory race teams to share with our customers during the week. During the busy day-to-day activities of running a dealership it is easy to forget that the OEM benefits are available and can be extremely valuable in producing a positive experience for our customers.

However, this past week our dealership was able to enjoy an unusual perk of being an OEM dealer. It seems one OEM decided it would be a good idea to travel across the U.S. and Canada hauling tractor trailers filled with their latest models and let dealership employees ride these new models even before they hit the showroom floors. These guys even took the ride day concept to a whole new level: they brought their competitors’ products with them as well! Wow, what a concept … let employees at the dealerships not only get the new model specs but actually “kick the tires” and see how these units perform in real world conditions. Having other brands allowed each rider to do head-to-head comparisons with other OEM models. This may sound weird that a manufacturer would have you ride another brands product but if you think about it isn’t that a basic part of the ownership experience? Whether it sports bikes at the local watering hole on Saturday night or dirt bikes at the track on Sunday many of our customers love to compare models and talk about the differences and of course brag that theirs is the best.

So why does this OEM do it? I don’t know for sure. I can only imagine what the cost of transportation is. Not to mention finding employees to put in the long hours and dedication required to make these rides possible. Maybe they just want to show off their new features and benefits, but we can see all that on video. Maybe they want dealership personnel to feel closer to their brand, but they could just send us all a free t-shirt. While I’m not sure their motivation to spend crazy amounts of money and exhaust some of their top staff, I can tell you about some of the benefits our dealership gained from this event.

First, our GM was able to work some magic and got an invite for our entire staff. This in itself was no small feat as usually many dealerships share the day and there are limited number of seats available. Being able to bring our entire company had many benefits above the intended purpose of launching a new year’s lineup. This event allowed new employees to feel more comfortable with co-workers and senior management staff. Also, it helped break down barriers between departments. It was a great team building event as everyone I spoke to said they had a great time and felt the day was beneficial. And maybe the most important benefit was the chance for us to see how many of our customers spend their weekends: in groups riding and talking about powersports products. In our weekly trainings we often discuss the importance of building relationships with our customers and talking to them about their weekend rides. This event gave us a chance to spend a day in our customer’s shoes and actually live what they like to discuss when they come into our dealership. I know these kind of events are often hard to accomplish but the benefits for a dealership will last throughout the year. Thanks Polaris!

Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.

Contact:  Jackson.S@destination-powersports.com

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