Demo rides have long been counted on to drive both brand and sports enthusiasts for a gathering to test new product in the hopes of driving sales leads. But when one shop learned only 24 hours in advance that its fleet of new motorcycles wouldn’t be showing up, they had to pivot.
“If this was ever going to happen, it was going to happen in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic,” said Heather Lockwood, marketing manager of MOMS Manchester in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Thursday morning before the Friday event its brand rep for Indian called them to deliver the unfortunate news that a demo truck wouldn’t make it on time due to a mechanical failure.
“We very easily could have gone into panic mode – we had already spent money on sending out a mailer,” said Lockwood. “But we went right into how we were going to solve the problem, because we were concerned about the perception of it being postponed due to COVID-19.”
Emails, calls and text messages were all used as communication to reach potential attendees – notifying them of the postponement. In addition to the news, Lockwood said the dealership was able to utilize the contact with its customer base for a greater gain.
“We saw it more as an opportunity to inform our customers that we also offer demo rides every single day, not just when the brand trucks are here,” she said. “Like anything else, we had to look at it a different way, and it was still an opportunity for us… We only had one or two that showed up and didn’t see the fact that it [the event] was postponed. We’re so good at putting what we sell in front of people, but sometimes we need to provide information.”
Instead of the normally planned weekend event of Friday and Saturday, it was rescheduled for the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Admittedly, Lockwood said that weekday events always prove challenging and as a result attendance was diminished.
However, like many dealerships throughout the nation during the pandemic, sales have been strong across the four dealerships that are under the MOMS umbrella. Adaptations throughout the pandemic onset have included switching locations to appointment-only showings for a period of time, and increased distancing and cleaning efforts as customers have shifter their buying habits.
“We’re very pleased with our sales. We’ve had a lot of cash come through our dealership as a result of COVID,” Lockwood said, while noting that MOMS has also faced similar inventory shortages felt throughout the industry, saying, “We’ve had inventory troubles throughout the summer because machines were selling so fast.”
As time has taught, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic itself dealerships across the nation that are most successful are the ones that are adapting when presented a curveball.
“We’re really proud that our team can think on their toes. We really empower our team to think on the fly,” said Lockwood. “It’s important to find other dealers in your market to help share insights and best practices.”