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Get to know the customer first, then select the bike

By Tom Robinson

Sometimes it’s the economic conditions that bring potential customers into a dealership. Other times it’s a text message or email blast that hits the mark. Sometimes, however, it’s not enough just to make a sale.

Thomas Campbell of SF Moto in San Francisco said the dealership makes a commitment to spending time with a customer prior to placing him or her on a bike. SF Moto attempts to place new riders on motorcycles best suited to their experiences and needs.

“We spend an awful lot of time trying to match the right bike with the right rider,” said Campbell, who has been sales manager for three years.

New riders, looking to save money on their commuting expenses through motorcycle use, are not necessarily prepared to handle the same vehicles as experienced riders.

“We try to quell the desire for a high-performance bike for a first-time rider and try to find something more appropriate to them,” Campbell said.

The specifics of that goal can change depending on whether the newcomer is looking for a motorcycle for a work commute, weekend rides or some combination of uses.

“We try to get an idea how they’re going to use it,” Campbell said. “Ultimately, it’s their decision, but we talk about the ramifications of high-performance compared to something that’s more forgiving.”

Campbell said new motorcycle riders consistently coming through the doors continues a trend that has been seen throughout the past three years and has helped sales numbers at SF Moto in 2011.

“Sales have been solid across the board,” said Campbell, whose dealership has had representation multiple years at Profit Xcelerator, Powersports Business’ dealer education conference and trade show. “It was not a banner year, but it was a good year.”

SF Moto’s commitment to new customers can be seen on the front page of its website at SFMoto.com. A rotating set of videos includes those that cover issues such as safe riding and proper helmet fitting. Throughout 2011, SF Moto enhanced its website.

“We’ve started honing our Internet presence, putting more effort into it,” Campbell said. “Shots of bikes are being done more professionally.

“We’re involving ourselves in social media more.”

Customers can use the website to sign up for a weekly newsletter that includes new inventory notifications for the dealership, which handles sales of bikes and scooters.

While the Internet focus is on unit sales, Campbell said information on service and accessories that are on sale is also part of the newsletter.

The newsletter was just another necessary ingredient toward posting solid results in 2011.

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