Six steps to performing powerful in-dealership presentations

DavidKoshollekBlogHistory Lesson

For the last 16 years I've been focused primarily on enhancing Harley-Davidson dealership sales and customer relationships. In that time I've experienced firsthand the power of in-dealership presentations, seminars and workshops that attract and retain customers. But, did you know, this isn't a new idea. Back in the early `80s many Harley-Davidson dealerships performed maintenance seminars to attract new and current customers to their dealership — often during the slower winter months. Harley-Davidson Motor Company even created a dealership slideshow that service managers used to guide their motorcycle maintenance presentation. Many riders took advantage of this educational opportunity, which often resulted in their renewed confidence in the dealership's service capabilities, along with follow-on purchases.


Today, Harley-Davidson dealerships sell their motorcycles, accessories, riding gear and services through the process of experiences, via one-on-one customer interactions and through demo rides, presentations, seminars and workshops. Following is a process you can use to successfully implement presentations in your dealership.

Presentation Benefits


  • Using the information learned in a dealership presentation, customers make informed decisions that result in greater satisfaction.
  • Access to your dealership experts is extremely valued by your customers.
  • Customers enjoy the opportunity to meet other enthusiasts who share their passion.
  • Customers new to the brand or your dealership want to understand your culture, your products and the jargon used.

Dealership Benefits

  • Increases customer traffic to see and experience what you offer. As a brick and mortar location your first objective is to get customers into the store.
  • Establishes your dealership as the expert source on the products you offer.
  • Differentiates your dealership from others.
  • Develops customer loyalty because you're willing to share the "inside scoop".
  • Captures business that might go to competitors.
  • Builds value and excitement in your products and in your team.

The 6-Ps for Presentation Success

  1. Plan
    • Create a committee and make democratic decisions
  2. Prepare
    • Consider WIIFM from a customer perspective
    • Determine what the dealership wants to accomplish
  3. Promote
    • Personal invitations
    • Mass advertise
  4. Pre-Stage
    • Parts, motorcycles, riding gear, tools and equipment
  5. Practice
    • 3-times minimum, 5-times is better
  6. Pick-up
    • Additional sales

1) Plan


The first step in planning a presentation is to assemble a planning committee. The committee should be made up of employees who have the following expertise and/or character traits.

  • Rider-friendly: Team members involved in planning or working the event should be patient and open to all customer questions. They should understand the mindset and concerns of customers from the newest of riders to the most seasoned enthusiasts. They should be courteous, congenial and helpful to all genders, ages and ethnicities.
  • Expertise: At least one person on the committee should be an expert in the topic to be presented.
  • Committee size: Should be kept to a number that gets the best results.
    • Small enough to make decisions with reasonable discussion and debate while representing the interests of all participants. Three to five is a good size.

Next, select and assign staff to roles best suited to the dealership, the individual and the presentation.

  • Leader: The person best suited to coordinate the efforts of the committee, maintain organization, communicate effectively to all involved and follow dealership procedures for procuring presentation needs and marketing tools.
  • Presenter: Should be a subject matter expert and a good communicator such that he or she can clearly explain without overwhelming the audience with too many details. The ideal presenter doesn’t become impatient or offended if attendees ask uncomfortable questions. Presenter should be comfortable speaking to a group.
  • Assistant Presenter: Most presenters need an assistant who can move motorcycles, pass around display objects and help overcome presentation difficulties. The assistant is the back-up presenter should the presenter be absent.
  • Support staff: They include the staff needed to check-in attendees, prepare motorcycles or accessories for display and assist customers in needs they may have during or after the presentation.
  • Sales Staff: While the presentation should be presented as an educational event, it’s expected that interest in products or services will be elevated and there should be adequate sales staff in the motorcycle, parts and accessories and riding gear departments to assist customers with purchases after the event.
  • Volunteers: To minimize impact on staffing for support duties consider utilizing the volunteer efforts of regular customers.
  • All Employees: It only takes one employee with a negative attitude to spoil the taste of a dealership event. Prior to the event hold a storewide meeting to explain the dealership's goals and benefits and the expected behavior of all employees.
    • Courteous
    • Congenial
    • Talking positively about the event
    • To provide personalized invitations and sign up customers

2) Prepare

The decision on what type of presentation to hold is very much affected by the individuals working in the dealership. The best plan is to utilize the talents and expertise of the dealership employees while considering what a large group of your customers wants to know. For example, if you currently don't have a suspension performance expert on your team, then perform a presentation on another subject or product line. Use the following questions to guide the committee’s decision.

  • What type of customer do we want to attract?
    • Female or male only? Both genders? Particular ethnic group?
    • New owners, customers new to the store?
    • Model specific riders?
    • VIP customers?
  • What type of presentation do customers want?
    • Ask WIIFM? (What’s in it for me) - from your customer’s perspective. Don’t present on a topic that your team is passionate about if the committee doesn’t agree that a large group of your customers will value the subject, too.
  • Why are the dealership benefits?
    • Yes, the presentation is educational and a benefit to customers. But, the dealership is a business and must be able to justify the expense of holding a presentation. Justification comes from increased sales during the event or relationship building that leads to capturing more of your customer’s business in the future.
  • What’s the best time for the majority of the customers?
  • Consider customer’s work schedules, holidays, rider events and seasonality.
  • What’s the best time for the dealership?
    • Consider customer traffic, service department workflow, employee vacations, etc. It is generally agreed that holding a presentation after regular store hours is easier on staff and more conducive to keeping the audience focused on the presentation.
  • What size audience?
    • Shoot for an audience of 20 to 50, regardless of your capacity for seating. Presenting to larger groups may intimidate some customers from asking questions or participating in the experiences offered. Additionally, viewing becomes difficult or impossible with extremely large groups. Consider performing a second presentation if sign-ups indicate exceptional interest.
  • How to reduce audience absentees and tardiness?
    • Require customers to sign-up for the presentation and provide a telephone number so the dealership can make a reminder call two days prior.
  • What length of presentation is ideal?
    • Design presentations to be no greater than one-hour total, which includes 10-minutes for Q&A. 45-minutes total is better. Determine how much can be presented in the first practice session.
  • Should refreshments be provided?
    • Consider providing soft drinks to keep it simple. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as this is an educational event and serving alcohol increases store liability.
  • Should prizes/gifts/discounts be provided?
    • This is up to the committee to decide, but if this is your first in-dealership presentation it's not a bad idea to offer incentives, door prizes, etc. The goal is to make the first presentation so popular that it's easier to attract customers to future events.
  • What basic items do we need?
    • Chairs, tables, food serving appliances and a video camera if the presentation is to be recorded.
  • Have we utilized all of the manufacturer tools and support that are available?
  • Consulted Factory Reps?
  • Reviewed existing training programs?
  • Checked online for support documents or programs?
  • How do we measure success?
    • Follow-up email surveys.
    • Track store sales for the day of the presentation and 3-days following, which typically sees add-on sales from the what I call the "event effect".
    • Track sales of specific products and services that were profiled in the presentation.
  • Is everything that we plan to do politically correct and safe for the customer to perform if we direct them to do so?

3) Promote

Like any event, the In-Dealership Presentation must be promoted to attract the quantity and quality of customers desired.

  • Promote customer benefits and state presentation logistics.
  • Who: Profile of your expert presenters: Training, experience, accomplishments.
  • What: Information customers will learn and experiences they can partake in, such as demo rides, new products/gear that can be operated/worn. Refreshments, gifts, discounts, etc. Create 3-5 bullet points that are the most beneficial and exciting.
  • When: Presentation start and finish date and time.
  • Where: Address and room/location in the store.
  • Why: Because you (dealership) care for your customers and you want them to make informed decisions.
  • How: Dealership website/newsletter, Facebook page, email blasts, postcards, and in-store flyers. Create a pocket-sized "promo card" for staff with the customer benefits bullets, time and place for the presentation and how to sign-up attendees so they can deliver professional, personalized invitations.
  • RSVP: Create a customer sign-up sheet. Request a phone number for the pre-presentation reminder call to be done 48-hours prior.
  • Additional ideas:
  • Send an email to your dealership list, encouraging recipients to “forward on.”
  • Hand out flyers with all purchases.
  • Publicize event at least six weeks in advance.
  • State clearly what the presentation is and at 3-5 customer benefits.
  • Encourage word-of-mouth. Many referrals come from friends and family.

4) Pre-stage

The planning committee will have determined the type of presentation to be presented. The subject matter expert will determine what needs to be pre-staged for the seminar. The following are typical pre-stage must do items.

  • Presentation area: Verify adequate room for motorcycles, displays, table, customer seating, etc. Temporarily move store displays as needed.
  • Check-in area: Provide name tags for attendees and staff.
  • Seating: Verify that all attendees have unobstructed viewing from the seating area.
  • The “Stage”
  • Motorcycles should be assembled or partially disassembled as needed for the purpose intended. Position for viewing or in a location for easy roll up to the “stage”. Never waste time on stage performing an operation that's not educational.
  • Position motorcycle lift or stand on “stage” if needed and secure motorcycle to avoid accidents.
  • Use a camera connected to a TV or computer projector to show tight shots of specific operations, such as demonstrating the functions of a GPS system.
  • Collect all accessories, parts and/or written materials and place on table near “stage” for easy access.
  • Locate flipchart or whiteboard on “stage” and verify condition of your writing utensils. Pre-print flipcharts to save time.
  • Pre-print handouts. Prior to printing have at least 3 team members review for clarity, completeness and correctness.
  • Collect and comfortably position tools and equipment needed for the demonstration.
  • Provide safety equipment for staff and attendees who participate in a demonstration or experience.

5) Practice 

The number one best advice for flawless presentation is to practice it at least 3-times and preferably 5. Failure to this will often cause nervousness in front of the audience, mistakes, inconsistent delivery and lack of professional decorum. I've presented 1000's of times and when I have a new subject to deliver I always practice it 5-times.

6) Pick-up — Additional sales 

On many occasions I've witnessed in-dealership presentations performed by one or two team members with no support for the customers during and after the event. This happens most often with after-hours events where employees from other departments go home when it's not their duty to deliver the presentation.

At the least, for a parts or service presentation, all parts and service team members should remain to serve customers and cash in on the sales generated by the interest created.

In addition, all attendees should be personally contacted 24-hours after the event to thank them for their attendance, ask what impacted them the most and if they had any questions remaining. This can create additional selling opportunities.

Closing words — My very best wishes and a request

As the year comes to an end I reflect on what I'm most thankful for. My wonderful wife of 15 years, Theresa. My fulfilling career in the motorcycle industry that has enabled me to meet the very best people in the world, while providing me with a solid income. And my gratitude for you, my faithful readers and past students who have made me extremely proud that I could, in some way, enrich your life by working smarter, not harder and reaping the rewards of a job well done.

At this point I ask one favor — Post a Comment! I need to know my ramblings are being read and appreciated.

Thank you and best wishes for a joyous and profitable New Year!

Dave "Dako" Koshollek has worked in the motorcycle industry since 1971 as a motorcycle mechanic and service manager, as a technical trainer and national director for MMI's Harley-Davidson training programs and as vice president for Dynojet Research's motorcycle division. In 1998 Koshollek formed the DAKO Management company that provides sales, management and product training both in print and in person. He has written over 200-articles for Harley-Davidson's dealer publication, ShopTalk, has developed and taught numerous Harley-Davidson University courses in dealerships and at dealer conventions around the world and has authored a column titled "Dako's Fuel for Thought" for over 10-years that delivers proven parts and service operations best practices. Dako lives by the principle, "Ride Well - Be Profitable," which applies to all things in life.



One comment

  1. Wow David,

    this is a great tool for any dealer to print out and keep in a binder for reference. Perfect time of year too as we can start planning now for after the holidays. Thank you for sharing your experience and providing this step by step instructional on in store presentations. We can use more of this on the metric side of the house and I will be sharing this piece with my customers. Have a great holiday season!

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