Home » Columns » May 4, 2009 – The difference between the motorcycle and auto business

May 4, 2009 – The difference between the motorcycle and auto business

I recently had a meeting with some bankers to discuss funding the expansion of one of our dealerships. They were quite amazed that our business was up, given that every automobile dealer they dealt with in the market was down.
When asked why I thought that was the case, I had a straightforward answer for them: One hundred percent of the population who have the means and desire own as least one car, while a small percentage of the population who have the means and desire to own a motorcycle do.
We have an opportunity that the automobile business has not enjoyed for a long time. Since everyone has a car, they have to come up with some sort of inducement to sell. For us, we have to seduce rather than induce. They have to offer price, we have to entice. Since for most of our potential customers price is not the primary reason they have not yet purchased a motorcycle, we as dealers can still generate a good level of profit with a successful retail seduction.
With funding not being available for potential customers with marginal credit ratings, we have to be focused on the “higher-tiered” customers, whose higher credit rating is a testimonial to the fact that they do not readily spend their money and always need a little push. Fortunately we have a sexy offering, for what is in reality a hedonistic indulgence, to entice people who have truly always wanted what we have.
Accomplishing the requisite seduction does impose one absolute on the dealer. You have to have an adequate number of directed salespeople to be able to devote the time required. The following seduction guideline will not work if your sales staff is limited to the point that all you can do is respond to the unqualified prospects and price shoppers who demand your attention. When harried you are not having fun, and you cannot be as seductive as you need to be.
So, I offer the following four words of wisdom to seduce or entice the qualified buyer:


It has to be fun, so stay loose, keep it light on the showroom. Have fun and sell the fun. As a dealer principal or general manager, always be aware of the pulse of the showroom. Never let it be uptight. At some point we will have to have earned the right to “push” or at least nudge, but we can only do that when the salesperson and the customer are loose.


You have to believe that every showroom visitor truly wants what you have to offer. Their reservations are real, the objections are not. You have to get them loose, sell the fun and make it easy to buy.


Learn from every contact. When you log the contact, take time to think and be honest with yourself. What could you have done differently and what do you need to do to entice this customer to buy? We are long past the time when some sort of automated sales tracking is an option. We use and I can recommend Traffic Log Pro or V-Sept and there may be other systems I am not familiar with. You do have a choice of what system you have, but not having an automated log that tracks performance, provides a learning experience for the salesperson and facilitates follow up is simply not an option.


The best run dealerships in the country are able to make sales to 20 percent of the traffic. What that proves is even the best-run stores with switched-on sales teams cannot sell
80 percent of the customers, no matter what they say or do. We have to maintain contact and keep inviting them back to the dealership. Keep them exposed to what we offer and allow the bikes and the fun and diversion they offer to provide the seduction.
As a dealer principal, you need to assure that a quality experience is provided to every showroom visitor and that the six basic messages are provided every time.
Motorcycles are fun. Ours is the brand.
We are the dealer. It is easy to buy.
The time is now.
We really want your trade.
All of this has to be reinforced every day.
No one said it was easy, but don’t you think that every car dealer in your town wished they had the opportunity?
Cheers, Ed. psb
Ed Lemco has been involved with the powersports industry for more than 30 years. Lemco, the former owner of Lemco Management Group, is the founder and executive director of the National Council of Motorcycle Dealer Associations. Lemco currently operates a call center for dealers in St Croix.

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