Certifications are everywhere. Consumers take them as validation that a product or seller is guaranteed to deliver quality. Companies use them to differentiate themselves from the competition. Institutes of education use them to solicit new students as well as show proof of knowledge gained. Certifications can defend a business from a negative issue – or promote a positive position. Some certifications are forced upon a business by regulatory agencies – and others are willingly pursued. As a powersports dealer, what certifications are hanging on your walls or posted by the front door? And have you considered certifying your mechanics?
The automotive industry has long embraced mechanic and service bay certifications. In fact, an entire industry has grown up around the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certifications. Educational institutes have developed courses, consultants have made recommendations and thousands of mechanics and service bay managers have expanded their learning. Currently, the powersports industry does not have such an organization.
But that does not mean you can’t take the opportunity to set your dealership apart from the competition by certifying your mechanics. Consider these factors when pursuing this business strategy.
Building customer relationships
We should all strive to build a base of long-term customer relationships, where your customers view your dealership as a resource for both their next motorcycle and their ongoing servicing needs.
- Customers purchasing a first-time bike – These customers likely do not have the inclination or ability to repair a bike. Having a certified mechanic on site gives them the confidence that any repairs can be made at your dealership.
- Hobbyists and collectors – These customers may like to tinker but they won’t have the required tools or knowledge as a certified mechanic. Having a certified mechanic on staff positions your dealership as a resource for them to lean on when they find themselves out of their depth.
- Riders who use motorcycles as their primary means of transportation – These customers need to know they can rely on their bikes, and any repairs will be made quickly and cost-effectively.
Customize your skills
Does your dealership sell only certain makes, or do you offer a variety of new and used bikes from a number of manufacturers? Make sure your mechanic skills match your inventory. If you offer a more specialized inventory, make sure your mechanics are experts in those styles. Many OEMs will offer specialized training geared to new or certified pre-owned (CPO) inventory. Do you purchase bikes at auction? Then you need to have mechanics on staff who can bring those bikes up to sale and CPO status.
In addition, does your mechanic have body shop skills? Do you want to invest in this type of repair or modification service, or would you prefer to work with a body shop partner that has certified welders?
Certify your mechanic
Whether you already have mechanics on staff – or are looking to hire – understand the training options that are available. While there is no sanctioning body that certifies mechanics, there are several educational entities that offer certified training. The Motorcycle Mechanics Institute housed within the Universal Technical Institute offers several hands-on courses and partners with all of the major bike OEMs. General mechanical skills, brand-specific electives and CPO training are all available. YTI Technical Institute also offers several courses and brand specific training. Online courses are also available but lack the necessary hands-on instructor component.
Some community and vocational/technical schools offer an introductory course on automotive and motorcycle engine repair. If you have this type of school in your area, visit the campus, speak to the instructor, and get a sense of the skills required for graduation.
Finally, make sure you are aware of any local and state requirements for mechanics. Some states – such as Michigan and Hawaii – require a state exam. This article offers a good overview of the motorcycle mechanic education options.
As a powersports dealer, now is the time to set yourself apart from the competition, support your customers for their entire ownership cycle, and invest in the skills of your employees.
Glenice Wilder is the vice president of Powersports for EFG Companies. A 33-year industry veteran, Glenice is responsible for growing and developing EFG’s action and powersports market channel. She combines her passion for motorcycles and her dedication to serving EFG’s customers to develop solutions that consistently exceed their expectations. Glenice acts as a strategic partner to assess her clients’ areas for improvement and how EFG can fill that role. She provides insight in how to increase productivity by pairing the right products within the right markets for the greatest return on investment.