BY SCOTT HOCHMUTH
Walking into Brother Moto, in the heart of downtown Atlanta, is unlike entering any other motorcycle dealership in the Southeast. Crossing the threshold incites a rush to the senses beginning with the smell of gourmet coffee, the welcoming sound of background music, and the flashing sights of a 70’s motorcycle movie projected on the wall as a backdrop for Brother Moto branded apparel for sale. At first glance, from all appearances, the dealership is a moto-themed coffee shop and apparel store with free Wi-Fi and the usual mix of patrons sipping coffee and working on laptops. However, one step through the side door and a stroll down the hall to the back room brings clients to the shop. Brother Moto’s mechanic shop is equipped with all the tools needed to tune up a motorcycle, repair damage, or complete a full custom build.
For a modest monthly fee of $29 or a $300 yearly membership, clients are provided with a space to work on personal bikes with some basic assistance when needed. For a $175 monthly fee, long-term project clients can perform a major service or custom build with more perks and storage. The bikes in the shop at Brother Moto tend to be European models that are a few decades old, but American brands and newer motorcycles are not absent. Many members live in the downtown area in apartments or condos that do not offer owners a place to work on motorcycles, and nearly all motorcycle dealerships are located in the suburbs.
Probably the most strikingly notable aspect about Brother Moto is the clientele. The dealership is full of “20-something” members – the elusive age group that the Powersports industry desperately wants to reach. A passion for motorcycles is alive and well here - mostly in the form of a 20-year-old used bike that needs to be consistently tweaked to keep road worthiness. The members at Brother Moto love to work on motorcycles, talk about motorcycles, drink good coffee while listening to music and researching the next mechanical issue, and most of all – love to ride motorcycles!
Membership DIY – or Community Motorcycle Garages are popping up all over the US. The website http://communitymotorcyclegarages.com/ lists 22 such shops. Most are located in urban areas with a high concentration of condos and apartments where motorcycles offer an appealing way to get around city traffic and find parking in congested areas.
After witnessing firsthand how the “20-something” riders are treated in some shops when seeking parts and advice for older machines that are in need of work, it is easy to see how these DIY shops are flourishing. These are the riders that represent the next generation of motorcycling. If a 20 or 30-year-old bike is all that is affordable to ignite a passion for motorcycles, does it not make sense for the local dealer to also provide support for these riders? These are the customers that may be buying new bikes in a few years. Investing in being helpful and treating this group with respect now will pay off in the long run.
Could dealerships do a better job of helping these young and enthusiastic riders get a used bike on the road and keep things running until owners can afford something better? Do dealerships have some tools and space that could be made available for some DIY hours each week? Would dealerships like to make help available for these customers to tackle some difficult repair projects? Not only does the dealership make money for the bay rental and parts sales - but dealerships could also be cultivating the next generation of riders. Just one more way to think outside the box to grow the Powersports Industry.
Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing seven different powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.