Service Providers

Get people to ride and the rest takes care of itself

Gary Gustafson Blog 8-13

It’s your job to get people to ride more. When people ride more they buy new vehicles, fill service bays, and add accessories to improve their experience. They make shared memories with friends and family. When people ride more everyone benefits from hotels in small towns to assembly line workers at OEMs. Mudders, Ditch bangers and Bikers tend to be politically attuned and likely to participate in clubs and lobbying efforts to protect our rights and privileges. Everything comes back to getting people out riding. It’s new business development for everyone.

Knowing “Why” people should ride is well and good, but there are substantial obstacles for customers to overcome. Who to ride with, what to ride, when to ride, where, and how. In this era of Political Correctness there can even be a social stigma inhibiting people from joining one of our tribes. As we in the industry solve these problems new opportunities will unfold.

One big question to help a buyer answer is “Where can I ride?” Motorcyclists have almost too many options, meanwhile off-road trail systems are hard to decipher amidst the crazy-quilt of public land regulations. GPS products designed for motorcycles, UTVs and sleds are powerful tools to solve this issue. Polaris’ RiderX, and Harley-Davidsons Rushmore technology have revolutionized the riding experience. There’s also an option available that is designed for ROV enthusiasts regardless of which brand they prefer. Magellan has launched a product called the Magellan eXplorist TRX7. With the TRX7 someone can envision their next ride from a computer before venturing out, while checking comments and ratings from other riders. Then they can use the water-and-dust proof GPS to safely explore the ridges, mud holes and forest areas that they identified. TRX7 customers can also make their trip summaries go viral via built-in social media sharing which easily enables things like on-line contests for dealers and OEMs. A GPS unit can open up a new world to people who otherwise might not have a clue about where to go. Dealers should consider suggesting this accessory before they send an ATV or UTV buyer out the door.

Transitions in people’s lives such as when they become empty-nesters or when they hit the teenage years are a time when they are looking for a peer group change. Be open to introducing or re-introducing people going through a life change to our motorized sports. Options are growing to help customers identify who they can ride with. All of the major brands have owner’s groups and riding clubs that offer a lot of assistance like BMW’s Motorcycle Owners of America .There are dating sites for bikers. National festivals like Mud Nationals, Daytona Bike Week and lifestyle-themed get-togethers for Christians and other groups offer a way to connect with others. The snowmobile and ATV markets rely on local clubs to keep trails open, train new riders and host group get-togethers. Every dealer should have relationships with them. Fortunately, some OEMs do an excellent job of supporting the clubs’ grassroots efforts too. One excellent resource to discover a local club is on the web at

When helping the customer decide on what to ride, I think the simplest rule is – put together a package that is sustainable for the buyer. A deal that fits their budget, physical abilities and lifestyle. A used snowmobile might be the best place to start for some, a three-wheeled roadster for others. One trend to consider is the growing role of female buyers in the powersports marketplace. While every person is unique, MIC data says that women overall tend to love scooters as much as they love big twins. The scooter market has never been more than a footnote in most regions but if this demographic shift continues scooters might become more important. Couples like to ride too – they might thank you later for pressuring them oh-so-slightly to put a second bike or ATV on their credit application so they can take part equally! Always remember — no one sells 1,000 motorcycles, they sell one motorcycle 1,000 times.

Learning how to ride properly can be a blast – and is often mandatory. For motorcycle enthusiasts there are a number of options. The MSF has trained more than 7 million riders. Visit to learn more. For learning more advanced skills, some motorcycle riding classes are available via Track Days at area race tracks. ATV and Snowmobile licensees below a given age must take state-required DNR courses that are hosted by local riding clubs. Such training sessions are usually held multiple times per year. In any event, learning how to ride should not be an obstacle for a customer.

In the broader picture, “What” and “How” to ride includes the accessories that make the experience easy and fun. We want to allow for spontaneous experiences if at all possible. To get people out of the house or office on a whim it is vital to help them keep their vehicle prepped and ready to ride. Nothing kills that possibility like a dead battery. Therefore, seasonal/recreational customers should use a battery maintenance charger on every vehicle. The ability to “trailer” a bike or ATV can make or break the experience for many. The selection and safe use of a trailer can be confusing to say the least. In my opinion there is still a lot of untapped potential for companies and dealers that make trailers easy to select, buy and use. Also – offer your customers advice and tools so they can park their vehicle where it will stay clean and secure. Who wants to sit their office-casual slacks or expensive jeans down on a wet, filthy seat? Help them be ready to ride the moment the urge hits. As each season ends reach out to them with winterizing offers to get them to swing a door at their local dealership and be excited about turning the key again when the next season begins. Having comfortable, functional clothing is another huge success factor. Citizens of developed nations want to look good. People everywhere will quit doing something that makes them uncomfortably dirty, cold or sweaty. Above all we want them to be safe. Check out what the MIC is doing with their Gear Up Every Ride program at

Whether we are engaged in manufacturing, marketing, sales or service we’ve got to focus on getting people out riding. Put yourself in the seat for Joe and Jill Q Customer and envision the challenges they will face. Then craft solutions that work and make the solutions easy to pitch.

Powersports New Business Development consultant Gary Gustafson is president of G-Force Consulting Inc. G-Force develops entry strategies for manufacturers looking to grow their sales in the powersports and Outdoor Power Equipment markets. Visit them on the web at



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  1. One point that is being missed is that kids start on the cheaper import units. Yes they are cheap but dealers need to keep them riding. We all started on what we could afford.
    Kids are different today, if the unit is not working they are happy to ride the couch with X-Box, Playstation or their cell phone. Take that young generation out of your future sales projection and look at that picture 5-10 years down the road.
    Help those young riders stay in the sport.

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