The news hasn’t been pleasant — the MIC reported first-quarter motorcycle sales were down 13.3 percent; Harley-Davidson said its U.S. retail sales dropped 12.7 percent; in the Midwest and West, it’s still snowing. So what have you been doing while all of this has been going on? Have you been sitting on your hands whining about the weather, or have you done everything possible to get your customers amped up for when the warm weather finally arrives?
A few weeks ago, I talked to Ross Bennett of Ducati Milwaukee in Pewaukee, Wis. Though there was still five inches of snow in the area on March 25, according to the National Weather Service, Bennett reported a positive first quarter. In fact, a Facebook photo shows his lot packed just five days later.
How did the dealership do that? Ducati Milwaukee got its customers excited about riding. The store reached out to its email subscribers and more than 1,500 Facebook fans, encouraging them to think about riding. The parking lot was cleaned in early March to make way for the first customer to arrive on a bike March 7. Bennett also offered free delivery to customers who wanted to pick their bike up from storage in March. And the store picked up a new brand, MV Augusta, in February.
Bennett refused to sit on his hands and wait for warm weather. Instead, he pushed his customers to think spring, and it worked. As March winded down and April began, weekends at the store were busy, with the staff barely able to keep up with the traffic. And the second quarter started on the same foot as the first.
No, the weather is still not warm enough for riding in much of the country, but that doesn’t mean we should sit back and wait for better days to come. Get your customers in the door, explain to them how badly they’re going to want a bike and new PG&A the second it gets warm. Show them how they can be ready to go on Day 1 of spring or summer weather, rather than spending that first warm day inside a dealership picking out their new ride.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever received was GOYA — Get Off Your (Behind). Now’s the time to do that if you want to succeed this year.
Liz Hochstedler is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s twice-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis and dealership conference, Profit Xcelerator.