March 8, 2010: Right from the time of sale

Donnell’s Motorcycles boasts a higher CSI score 15 months after a new unit is purchased in comparison to just one month after the sale. It’s a difficult idea to come to grips with since it seems only natural that less could occur 30 days after a sale rather than more than a year after the consumer purchase.

But the dealership’s focus on consumer education could go a long way toward explaining the link between improved CSI scores and a turning of the calendar.

“A customer being happy in service starts clear back at the sale of the motorcycle,” said Bart Shiflett, vice president of the multiline metric dealership.

At the time of purchase, Shiflett said the dealership tries “real hard to educate the customer not only about the unit, about what he should expect when they come in for service.” That process includes not only meeting the store’s service writer but also potentially getting a printout of what the first service will include and what it will cost.

Shiflett says the store fights a growing consumer perspective — derived from the auto industry – that some regular maintenance work, like oil changes and tune-ups, should be free with the purchase of the new unit. “People tend to believe that will happen here,” he said. “Well it’s no secret that we need a service department to help with the profitability of the business.”

That’s why the topic of future service work is part of the predelivery of the bike.

“Everybody is in a hurry to hop on their new bike and go and play,” he said, “but we try to slow them down and explain a lot of stuff about the bike.”

The education process surrounding the service department continues throughout the life cycle of the bike, Shiflett says.

“This isn’t the old-school dirt bike shop anymore where the mechanic says, ‘Hey, it’s broke. I’m going to fix it. It’s going to cost you this much money.’ End of story. That doesn’t work anymore.”

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