Kawasaki is the Good Times company and with that in mind, we went to Texas to experience some of those good times. We dropped in on AJ Meisel, general manager at Plano Kawasaki-Suzuki, during the recent Demo Days tour stop for Team Green. We also sped over to the Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Xfinity race and to see the company’s Experience Tour in action on the manufacturer midway out in front of the gates.
Jon Vaughn, district manager for Kawasaki’s northern Texas region, says that Kawasaki Demo Days have been a huge hit for his area because it’s a turn-key operation. “I’ve had dealers tell me they love that we bring the bikes and staff it up so they can focus on the riders, connecting with them and figuring out what they want. They can’t spend as much time selling if they are out trying to run the demos. It really is turnkey for the dealers, and we have a wide selection so customers can ride all the bikes and figure out what they want.”
“Getting the latest bikes on the tour is something I know we’ve worked hard on,” says Kawasaki’s public relations supervisor, Joh Rall. “The minute we get something in, we make sure that the demo tours get it.”
Vaughn says that Plano Kawasaki is “killing it” with sport bike sales in 2023. “They are my number one dealer in sport bikes. This is a sportbike area, but side-by-side sales have also picked up nicely. My district is having a fantastic motorcycle year, even with the heat. I mean, this has been extreme heat. A.J. literally sells every Ninja 400, every 650 and 636 (ZX-6R) she gets her hands on.”
Side-by-sides create some challenges for dealers like AJ, according to Vaughn, because they take up a bigger footprint on the floor. He says they plan to start piloting a new program to replenish inventory every couple of months to help alleviate some of the storage problems and the costs associated with flooring.
Rall adds that one of the big draws to the demo tour is that there’s a bike for everyone to try out. “We just did a press launch for the 2024 ZX-6R, and we have one of those here. We have the ZX-4RR, too. The Eliminator is also in the lineup so people can ride everything from cruisers to adventure bikes.”
He adds that the Eliminator is surprisingly fun to ride, even for experienced riders. “I spent a lot of time helping the team break them in for the press intro – The Eliminator is really a nice bike. We had it up for our district manager’s meeting recently, too. It was surprising because many DMs were racers and wanted to ride the sportbikes. But I heard guys saying they had more fun on the Elimnator and wanted to ride it again. It hast so much low-end torque. It’s a great urban bike.”
Vaughn says that his dealers love the Demo Tour when it comes to their store. The promotions bring new and old customers in to check out the products, plus Kawasaki offers a $500 incentive toward a vehicle purchase (it’s less for the Z125 Pro). “We funded it 100 percent,” he says, “so the dealer loves it.”
And dealers don’t have to staff up for the demo days. Kawasaki works with Feld Entertainment to handle all of the demo programs. All the dealer has to do is provide the location, light refreshments, and hot dogs.
Plano Kawasaki’s A.J. Meisel says they’ve always been big on events. She says they get people to come in during the week in the middle of the day for some of their events, such as the Demo Tour. “We have so many customers that are walking around right now. And I give them a name badge; they’re just great ambassadors for us. And we don’t have to pay them. They will come in during the week sometimes or call off work to do it. We also host Bikes and Coffee every first Saturday of the month, which pulls in a good crowd. We love to do events.”
Meisel says they have a diverse mix of products, including a large scooter display, because she loves scooters and hosts many events for the scooter crowd. But the dealership still does well with sportbikes. “We do track days, and I do touring on a ZX-15, at least three big trips a year. So we still do a lot of sport.”
As we were visiting on a Friday, Meisel said it would be even busier on Saturday. But we were headed to Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race and to check out Kawasaki’s 4-Wheel Off-Road Experience Tour that was making a stop in the Dallas area. As the late Yoji “George” Hamawaki coined the term in the brand’s early days as it entered the U.S. market: Kawasaki Let’s the Good Times Roll.
Demo Kawasaki motorcycles:
- Ninja 400
- Ninja 650
- Ninja 1000SX
- Ninja ZX-4RR ABS KRT EDITION
- Ninja ZX-6R ABS KRT EDITION
- Versys 650
- Versys 1000 SE LT+
- Vulcan S
- Z900RS or Z900RS CAFE
- KLR650 S