BY SCOTT HOCHMUTH
Visitors to cities in Europe quickly notice the popularity of motorcycles and scooters, which line and occupy nearly every street. Narrow roads, limited parking and the expense of owning a car contribute to the reasons why many Europeans purchase motorized two-wheeled vehicles. Additionally, these modes of transportation typically provide the most efficient way to trek around a crowded metropolis. Here, in many of the cities throughout the U.S., automobiles remain the vehicle of choice. The majority of owners of these vehicles are recreational riders. Scooters and motorcycles are frequently reserved for a sunny weekend day, an occasional excursion, or specific event like “bike night.” This article and the next few blogs will expose some innovative and successful ideas launched by businesses across the Southeast to promote scooters and motorcycles as daily transportation.
First in the series of introductions is Memphis, TN’s Jay Martin, who started the company Juice Plus+ back in 1970. Juice Plus+ has been enormously successful and Martin used company proceeds to establish a Technical Training Center. In the evenings, this center offers a mentoring program for career preparation to 250-300 members of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis per year within the 16 to 21 age group. The program has been triumphant with 100 percent of the participants, who completed the training, entering college, joining the military, or finding gainful employment.
One thing tainted the success of this program – the bus system in Memphis could not reliably get job holders to work on time every day and, as a result, committed and qualified employees were fired. In an effort to combat the public transportation failure, Martin connected with Andy Nix to create a non-profit solution – My City Rides. With Martin donating $3 million to start My City Rides and Nix to operate the company, the goal of providing students with reliable transportation in the form of a scooter was achieved in April of this year.
My City Rides allows employees to obtain a scooter, driving instruction, insurance, maintenance, licensing, helmet, jacket, gloves and a lock for a flat $3/day payroll deduction from a participating employer. The price is comparable to city bus transport, but provides a much more dependable commute in this market. Moreover, the worker can own the scooter and accessories after three years of deductions, and the employer gains a punctual employee. The employer-sponsored payroll deduction hopes to increase employee retention. Employees must pay for gasoline out-of-pocket, but at 89 MPG on the SYM scooter, the expense is negligible.
My City Rides opened with an inventory of 100 scooters and expects to have half of the supply on the road by the end of June. This innovative approach to helping solve Memphis’ transportation deficiency could spur the popularity of reliable and affordable two-wheeled commuter transportation, and lead to increased scooter and motorcycle sales in addition to the success of My City Rides. A growth in the industry seems likely once the convenience and economical benefits of scooters and motorcycles becomes more mainstream.
In closing, remember that, in Memphis, unreliable mass transportation is mostly due to an inconsistent city bus system. However, in most major U.S. cities and college campuses, punctuality can be affected by traffic and parking issues. What transportation problems exist in your community…and could those be solved by motorized, two-wheeled transportation? Until next time, continue thinking outside of the box.
Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing seven different powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.