Jul. 21, 2008 – KTM dealer throws out a (help)line
July 21, 2008
Filed under Features
Denny Laidig had a problem.
Laidig is the top technician and owner at Holeshot KTM, a KTM-only dealership in Akron, Ohio. He has been wrenching for more than 30 years and is an Orange-certified KTM Master Tech.
His mechanical skills had such a reputation, customers and fellow mechanics from near and far would call and want to discuss their service problems with him. While Laidig wanted to be helpful, the time he was spending on the phone was cutting into the time he was in the shop billing labor hours.
“We’d have guys that come in with a bike from someplace else, wanting to pick my brain,” Laidig said. “That costs me $75-$100 depending on how long they talk. What’s in it for me to help out during business hours?”
Luckily, Laidig has found a way to help these customers, make some additional money and build goodwill without losing shop time.
Holeshot KTM has set up a service helpline through Ingenio.com, formerly Keen.com. The site offers public access to advice from professionals in a number of industries.
“We are the specialist in our field,” said Candace Laidig, Denny Laidig’s wife and Holeshot KTM co-owner.
People with KTM motorcycle or ATV service issues who would like to get Denny Laidig’s advice can visit the site and arrange a call for any evening during the week. He has made himself available to take such calls from 7-11 p.m.
Calling costs $2 per minute. For that fee, Denny Laidig can talk as long as people want. Since Holeshot KTM gets $1.20 for each minute he is on the phone (a 60 percent cut), the company comes out about the same as its $70 an hour shop rate, without using up shop hours.
The dealership signed up for the service in early June and has only started to publicize it. The company added a link to its Web site during the first week in July and plans to add the Web address to all its fliers and direct mail pieces.
“Ingenio is like a next step to superior service, that is how we are thinking about this,” Candace Laidig said.
The couple started the Web account at the urging of Candace Laidig’s sister, a relationship therapist who has been a long-time site user.
“For years she has said to me ‘Why don’t you try Ingenio?’ ” Candace Laidig said. “ ‘People will pay for your time. Do you really think any professional gives their knowledge away? People have been making appointments to see “specialists” for generations. What is so different about your industry?’ ”
An early source
Many years ago, Denny Laidig actually paid attention during service schools he attended, while his classmates focused more on having a good time outside the classroom. This was before the schools tested attendees to see if they took any knowledge away from the time they spent learning.
When the other attendees returned home and were confronted with the very problems they had just covered during training and couldn’t remember what to do, they gave Denny Laidig a call.
He helped them out and it was a practice he carried over to customers and non-customers alike.
“We wanted to answer everyone’s questions every time, all the time,” Candace Laidig said. “Then we would leave here at 9 p.m. or later and both say, ‘You know, we didn’t get anything done today!’ These questions didn’t translate into sales or money.”
Holeshot KTM’s Web specialist was able to quickly set up the mini site on Ingenio.com once the Laidigs decided they wanted to give it a try. The Holeshot KTM Ingenio portal outlines Denny Laidig’s qualifications, states the rate per minute and asks callers to be prepared with questions when they call. Consumers can make an appointment anytime on the site to talk with Denny Laidig in the evening.
About the account
To ask questions through Ingenio, people can visit the Web site and set up an account, which includes giving out credit card information so consumers are charged when they make the call. To connect with Denny Laidig, they call a toll-free number and enter an extension number specific to Holeshot KTM. Ingenio takes care of the financial side of things, sending the Laidigs a check every month for the amount they earned. Though they haven’t seen a check yet, the Laidigs are hopeful Ingenio will be another profit center for the dealership.
“This is like growing a new branch of our retail business,” Candace Laidig said. “We just didn’t know what to do. Do we stop taking care of the riders, who put their trust in us to fix their KTM bikes, and talk our days away? Do we try to figure out a solution? We thought this was fair to us as a dealer and to the riders.”
The Laidigs aim to build even more customer goodwill with the service. With the Ingenio helpline and its regular service center, Holeshot is always aiming to get riders back out on the road or trail instead of in the garage. The couple is hoping people will respond to the specialist aspect of the advice Denny Laidig is offering and are willing to invest in the information he has to share.
“Time will tell if this is the next great idea,” Candace Laidig said. “We were the first KTM dealer with a full-blown Web site. Denny was the first KTM-certified master tech in North America. What can we do next? What new path can we travel to be the best KTM dealer we can be? We are one of the oldest KTM dealerships. For us, old doesn’t translate into stagnation. We are constantly changing and adapting to this industry. Personalized custom service is something our riders deserve.”