This past weekend I decided to take a new employee out and teach him some basic seamanship. Specifically, I was going to show him how to load, unload and drive a personal watercraft. These skills are important at our dealership as we are located a block from the harbor and have a great deal of watercraft business. For class we attached our truck to a double trailer loaded with two WaveRunners that had been traded in. Our service department did a cursory inspection on the skis when they were traded so I knew they had been recently running. Of course when we tried to start them one had a dead battery, obviously this unit had not been attached to a battery tender. No matter, a quick jump and we were ready to launch.
I don’t know about you, but I have became very used to, and probably spoiled by, the Yamaha RiDE System on WaveRunners and was disappointed to see that neither one of these models had that. One ski did have the old-style reverse handle. After backing down the ramp we realized we only had one dock line! Now I was becoming a little annoyed but I decided to float off the two skis and hold onto the second one while the new guy parked the truck. Once we got the skis started I found the reverse handle no longer activated reverse. Over the course of the season the cable had frozen up as no corrosion protection had been applied.
This created more annoyance as I had that ski facing the ramp and had to take some quick evasive action to turn around before running aground. By now I was starting to rethink if I wanted to spend my day off dealing with all these problems. So after a little fun on the water we loaded the units back on the trailer and went back to the shop for the final lesson on how to flush and wash the skis. Of course the shop's salt water flush attachment was cracked and we had to purchase a new one to flush the engines. And lastly, we had to purchase a new can of corrosion protection because the can in the shop was almost empty.
Over a well-deserved lunch at a local seafood restaurant (trying to keep the theme nautical…) we discussed how important those missing items were to making a day on the water a success. This caused me to think: Do we do enough in the dealership to ensure our customers know what products they need to maximize their powersports experience? I believe if you want customers to enjoy their rides, and ultimately tell their friends to run down to your shop to buy a unit too, our job is to ensure they have all the knowledge and equipment needed to enjoy themselves. As an example, a customer may not be upset with us that we didn’t remind them to purchase some rain gear, they will be more likely to keep riding their new bike if they are not getting soaked every time it rains. And the more they enjoy their rides the more benefits our dealerships will recognize.
Simple items like battery tenders, rotor locks or watercraft flush kits all seem obvious to us but often customers never think of them. An equally important item that we need to address with our customers is proper use of the unit they purchase. If it’s a watercraft, make sure we discuss how to load and unload at the ramp. On a dirt bike we may want to demonstrate how to clean their air filter and tighten spokes. How about showing a Victory rider how to get on and off their new bike without scratching the saddle bags? By providing our customers the knowledge they need to maximize their enjoyment, we can help ensure they enjoy this sport we all love.
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.