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Customers for life

Joined
Jan 22, 2011
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5,354
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At the back of the pack and out of the dust
"The Coach" was a close friend of car dealer Carl Sewell (yes that car dealer) and all of us that he mentored were encouraged to read Sewell's "Customer For Life: How to Turn that One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer." This article about a guy who drive 200 miles to buy a used bike and then was turned away by the dealer's attitude really struck home.


 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,228
Location
Far East DFW
Geez, what a jerk. I'd probably let him walk out of my dealership too. His ideas of how an older gentleman ride a bike and care for the bike sure do smack of a self inflated ego. Maybe he should spend more time riding his bikes and less time polishing them and he'd understand what motorcycling is about.
 
Joined
May 6, 2003
Messages
1,661
Location
Ada, OK
I worked at a Kawasaki ATV/UTV dealership with that mentality. They would give way to much for the trade in to sell a new unit. Now the old unit was way overpriced for it age, hours and condition. The least they could do it make it more "presentable". But no, because anytime spent on it was added directly to its price. Eventually after being on the books for months and sometime years they would sell it at a loss or take it to an auction, again for a loss. They would not sell it for what it was actually worth, but take it to an auction and take a huge loss on it. The logic just made no sense to me what so ever.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2008
Messages
1,368
Location
Frisco, TX
We have no way of knowing, but I’d imagine the story was somewhat embellished for the sake of the article. When you’re not naming a specific dealership or salesperson there is nobody to dispute the story, so you can take some liberties to make it more interesting. I guess the author could have taken a few more liberties, though, because I still didn’t find it very interesting.

Whatever quibbles I may have with the specifics of his interaction we’re pretty much overlooked when I read it. The general notion that dealerships/salespeople seem disinterested in their products (particularly the used ones) sure seems to echo my experience.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
Admin
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Messages
45,764
Location
Huntsville
Before I sell a bike, I will detail it like crazy. Sure, I make sure the bike is mechanically sound and and everything works as it should, but that means zip if the bike looks like crap when a potential buyer shows up to look at it. I don't think I have ever had to lower a price to sell one of my bikes. Looks matter!! In fact, the one bike that had issues I was unable to resolve still got top dollar without ANY haggling, even after I explained the issues it was having, because it looked so good.

Our local Dodge/Chrysler dealer gets this. There is a a guy here in town that I use to detail our vehicles. For $100 he makes them look brand new inside and out in about an hour. The dealership has been using him for a few years now. When they bring in a used vehicle, they fix whatever mechanical issues it might have and then take it to this guy for detailing. The used trucks sitting on their lots all look fantastic.

Bikes are not hard to clean. The suggestion to use some high school kids is spot on. Hire a few and make it there job to keep every single bike in the dealership looking perfect, new and used.

As for the general attitude of dealers, I think the period from 2000-2008 really went to their heads. Credit was CHEAP and bikes were flying off the floors. They could afford to lose customers and some of them got sloppy with their attitudes. On the flip side, customers got a bit on the haughty side sometimes, acting like the dealership should be licking their boots just because they had money. Let's face it, there are people on BOTH sides of the transaction and if there isn't a base level of respect for each other, things aren't likely to go well. A dealer that cares for nothing other than getting a bike sold isn't likely to do well. A customer that expects the dealer to eat any cost and give away tons of "freebies" is generally going to be disappointed.

I am self employed. I deal with customers daily. Most are very reasonable. My goal is to take care of them and give them what they want, where feasible. However, there are times where I have to tell them no, and they generally don't like hearing that. The phrase, "money is no object," comes up frequently. So I have to spend the time to educate them on the reasons why I am saying no and to get them to understand that it is because I am looking out for their best interests as well as my own when I say no. It has nothing to do with the money. Because I have spent the time working on the relationships, treating them with respect, and earning their trust, they will usually accept my advice and we move on. Most of these people have been customers for nearly 30 years. We have had a few customers that took the, "The customer always gets what they want!" attitude. We don't work with them any more. Sometimes that has cost us money, but again, it is not always about the money.

As I type this, Dad is in the other room on the phone having one of these "No" conversations right now... It is a relatively new customer, so it remains to be seen how it will turn out.

Customers can be a fickle bunch. But, they can also be very loyal. Trying to walk that tight rope to keep them happy can be a real challenge. It helps when you have reasonable customers.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
5,354
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At the back of the pack and out of the dust
Some hyperbole is expected both from a dealer selling a product and a journalist selling a magazine article, but what strikes home about this article is the apathy that many of us know from dealing with motorcycle dealers. From personal experience the good end of the scale was Lone Star where I never entered the door with being asked if they could help and I bought a use RT with 50k + miles that had been prepped to look almost new. The bad news is that most don't provide this level of service.
 

mitchntx

Follower of Rev. Doug
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
3,200
Location
Granbury
I hate dealers ... I will put up with Craigslist crazies before subjecting myself to dealership shenanigans.

When I sell a bike, I'll clean it, but not detail it.
When I go look at a bike owned by an individual and has been detailed to the nines, I have ask myself "what is the owner trying to hide?".
I prefer to see a 'cared for' bike where the oil is clean and to the top,
good air pressures,
a clean, adjusted chain,
bolt heads not rounded off,
factory fasteners and everything works.
I also like to see an engine case that has a bit of grime on it to prove that there are no oil leaks.
I want to see an honest bike that looks like it's been ridden instead of put away in a time capsule.
 

woodsguy

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Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
6,890
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Huntsville
I hate dealers ... I will put up with Craigslist crazies before subjecting myself to dealership shenanigans.

When I sell a bike, I'll clean it, but not detail it.
When I go look at a bike owned by an individual and has been detailed to the nines, I have ask myself "what is the owner trying to hide?".
I prefer to see a 'cared for' bike where the oil is clean and to the top,
good air pressures,
a clean, adjusted chain,
bolt heads not rounded off,
factory fasteners and everything works.
I also like to see an engine case that has a bit of grime on it to prove that there are no oil leaks.
I want to see an honest bike that looks like it's been ridden instead of put away in a time capsule.
good points
 
Joined
May 8, 2008
Messages
1,031
Location
S. Arlington
We have no way of knowing, but I’d imagine the story was somewhat embellished for the sake of the article. When you’re not naming a specific dealership or salesperson there is nobody to dispute the story, so you can take some liberties to make it more interesting. I guess the author could have taken a few more liberties, though, because I still didn’t find it very interesting.

Whatever quibbles I may have with the specifics of his interaction we’re pretty much overlooked when I read it. The general notion that dealerships/salespeople seem disinterested in their products (particularly the used ones) sure seems to echo my experience.

On the flip side, you risk being sued if you name a dealership or salesman. Sure, it can be defended, but that isn't free, and of course the magazine would rather not do it.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2006
Messages
567
Location
College Station
A slight deviation for my dealer issues. I walked into a local dealership with $10K in my pocket. I wanted to test ride a used CBR1000 that they had. I offered to give them the cash price and sign papers so that if I dropped it or didn’t come back (even though I rode up on my bike), they were not out anything. The owner told me that there was no possible way I was going to ride the bike without buying it. I haven’t stepped foot in that dealership since September 2002.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
75
Location
Brenham
My local UTV/ATV dealer does some motorcycle stuff. I went in and looked at a used 2003 Honda Shadow that was in a dusty corner of the showroom. It was surrounded by bikes, and there was no way I could get next to it much less sit on it.

I asked the salesman about it, he read off the details they had on it then asked if I had a trade. Never offered to move bikes so I could sit on it, start it up, etc. I asked if I could take it for a test ride, and he said no, cause it would need a new battery and the carbs to be cleaned and adjusted from sitting so long. I asked to at least sit on it, and he said he would have to ask the manager since they would have to move some bikes around, but it would take a day to get everything moved.

I asked about the pricing, and he said it would be firm because it would need prep for sale.

That was towards the tail end of 2017 if memory serves me right, and it was still sitting there the last time I was in there a week or so ago.

I only go there if there is something I need right away and can't wait for shipping. Other than that, I'll never buy a bike from them.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2018
Messages
128
Location
Boerne, TX
Sometimes the reason Motorcycle dealers do not wash bikes is because they can’t......EPA! The government believes we are sending lots of POL contamination into the sewer. The last shop I worked for was a also a H/D dealer so we were required to wash bikes in for service. The owner had to install water separator to ensure no POL got into the system. It was costly to install and maintain.
 

2WheelNut

Forum Supporter
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Messages
548
Location
Arlington
My local UTV/ATV dealer does some motorcycle stuff. I went in and looked at a used 2003 Honda Shadow that was in a dusty corner of the showroom. It was surrounded by bikes, and there was no way I could get next to it much less sit on it.

I asked the salesman about it, he read off the details they had on it then asked if I had a trade. Never offered to move bikes so I could sit on it, start it up, etc. I asked if I could take it for a test ride, and he said no, cause it would need a new battery and the carbs to be cleaned and adjusted from sitting so long. I asked to at least sit on it, and he said he would have to ask the manager since they would have to move some bikes around, but it would take a day to get everything moved.

I asked about the pricing, and he said it would be firm because it would need prep for sale.

That was towards the tail end of 2017 if memory serves me right, and it was still sitting there the last time I was in there a week or so ago.

I only go there if there is something I need right away and can't wait for shipping. Other than that, I'll never buy a bike from them.
I've been to a few shops like this as well. Their business model is so bad I almost think they must be a front for the mob or something as there is no way they are staying in business as a motorcycle dealership. It's pretty obvious they don't sell much and they can't be making a profit and yet they exist year after year. I don't get it.
 

mitchntx

Follower of Rev. Doug
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
3,200
Location
Granbury
I've been to a few shops like this as well. Their business model is so bad I almost think they must be a front for the mob or something as there is no way they are staying in business as a motorcycle dealership. It's pretty obvious they don't sell much and they can't be making a profit and yet they exist year after year. I don't get it.
Interesting ... there is a gun shop in Granbury who is much the same way, yet been open for as long as I can remember. His shop is messy and unorganized. Keeps no regular business hours and has the disposition of cornered raccoon. I thought the same as you about how he has stayed open all these years.

Then I found out his wife has family money and the Barnett shale was very good to them.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,197
Location
Arlington
Isn't it great to live in a country where free enterprise still rules? A seller is welcome to establish his business using any model he chooses. That includes overpricing or underpricing his merchandise which may be jewels or junk, and his sales tactics can be as solicitous or as arrogant as he chooses them to be.

Conversely, a buyer is welcome to walk into that business any way he chooses. He can come in neatly groomed or smelling like a hog. He can be polite to the salesman or deprecatingly rude. He can talk sensible business to the owner, or he can flash a wad of bills totaling about half what the seller is asking, grinning arrogantly while saying "Take it or leave it; I walked in and I can walk out."

The bottom line is an owner can run a business any way he chooses as long as he can turn a profit while doing it. A buyer can behave any way he wants, or even refuse to do business with that owner, as long as he can ultimately get the product he wants at the price he wants to pay.

Seller or buyer, we're free to choose our attitudes, our behaviors, and our modes of buying or selling. Ain't America great?
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
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5,354
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At the back of the pack and out of the dust
Sometimes there is a lot difference between how some businesses in rural areas are run compared to their "city" counterparts. Hours are set for the convenience of the owner. Many the restaurants in Fayette county close when they run out of prepared food, not when they run out of customers. Most of the owners have more than one business that compete for their time, or like Mitch's example, have money from somewhere else and the business is just a hobby. With the powersport's world shifting toward ATVs some dealers don't see motorcycles as their central product any longer. The Yamaha dealer in Columbus sells far more trailers than they do motorcycles, so many more they changed their name, dropping the Yamaha. Also there is the "moral community" aspect, where if they don't know you from church or high school or the Lions Club they really don't want to have contact with you. There are companies in Fayette county that won't give me the time of day, but will deliver on Sunday if my wife calls.

Still, the issue is the same, dealers facing weak sales need to make the sales experience pleasant and easy - period. It's only good business and there is no excuse for anything else.

m
 

mitchntx

Follower of Rev. Doug
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
3,200
Location
Granbury
Isn't it great to live in a country where free enterprise still rules? A seller is welcome to establish his business using any model he chooses. That includes overpricing or underpricing his merchandise which may be jewels or junk, and his sales tactics can be as solicitous or as arrogant as he chooses them to be.

Seller or buyer, we're free to choose our attitudes, our behaviors, and our modes of buying or selling. Ain't America great?
It certainly is and oh so many times the second experience, somewhere else, is the best one.

Doesn't change the first time through, though.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,197
Location
Arlington
It certainly is and oh so many times the second experience, somewhere else, is the best one.

Doesn't change the first time through, though.
No, it doesn't change the first time. That's cost a lot of dealers business over the years. Still, I've seen people on car lots - or in grocery stores - who were such total buttheads that the business owner was perfectly happy to let them walk away as a no-sale, or even help them out the door.

I've never bought a bike from a dealer. Lots of cars, though, and a boatload of expensive guitars, amplifiers, and peripheral music equipment. I do 90% of my music buying from a local store where I've known the owners for about 30 years. Although we get along great, the bottom line is that it's just business, and it's in our mutual interest to treat each other right. They give me great prices - undercutting Guitar Center or Musician's Friend - and I in turn not only offer them my repeat business, I also send a lot of business their way. Mutual respect is a win-win. If they were jerks, I would never have come back for a second look. If I treated them condescendingly, they would have let me walk a long time ago.

I truly believe the best business is done with seller and buyer are both civil, and sensitive to each other's needs & goals - the seller needs to make a profit, the buyer needs to protect his hard earned money. That helps create a win-win.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,228
Location
Far East DFW
It certainly is and oh so many times the second experience, somewhere else, is the best one.

Doesn't change the first time through, though.
Slight correction on this. Try "Doesn't change the last time through, though." Because it may or may not be the first time, but often it's the last time. I've had times I've walked in and it was the last time I did business with them. I've also had times where it wasn't my first time in but it rapidly became my last time in.

Case in point, Plano Kawasaki Suzuki about 19 years ago. I had my Honda CBR600F4 but they were around the corner so I'd go to them to buy whatever I could including my oil change stuff. There was an old guy behind the counter who knew which filter they had in stock would fit my bike and took care of me every time. I was in there quite often. One day I went in and there was a teenager behind the counter who told me "Does this look like a Honda shop? How the **** should I know what fits a Honda?" Sure, maybe he didn't know, but the attitude he took and inability to try to even find out from someone else made it my last time. I haven't set foot in there since. One bad experience can ruin it and you can't change the last time.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,197
Location
Arlington
That'll sure ruin a dealer's chances of getting your business, Jason. I had the opposite experience a few years ago when I rode down to San Marcos on my VStrom. I pulled into the hotel after dark, and realized I was hearing weird, scary drive train noises. The next morning I located a Suzi shop in the YP, went looking for it, and accidentally pulled into a Honda dealer without realizing it. The service manager was super nice, though. He trotted out to the bike and, in about a minute, spotted what I hadn't been able to find in the dark the night before. A bolt had slipped out of the chain guard, which was now dragging on the chain like a card in bicycle spokes. He disappeared inside, came back with a handful of nuts, bolts, & a socket wrench. In another 3 minutes, the problem was fixed - no charge. Needless to say, I gave those guys a five-star glowing review on Yelp. And If I ever go looking to buy a Honda at that end of I-35, that's where I'll go first.
 

2WheelNut

Forum Supporter
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Messages
548
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Arlington
Interesting ... there is a gun shop in Granbury who is much the same way, yet been open for as long as I can remember. His shop is messy and unorganized. Keeps no regular business hours and has the disposition of cornered raccoon. I thought the same as you about how he has stayed open all these years.

Then I found out his wife has family money and the Barnett shale was very good to them.
Yep.....you never know. However, I'd be willing to bet that if you looked at the taxes, they show a loss on the gun store business that helps the overall tax liability situation on their oil and gas revenue. If so, it's not really a mob front....but it's still a business that loses money that creates a tax shelter and is somewhat the same kind of thing.

But I agree....you never really know what is going on behind the scenes on some businesses. Some people are just bad at business and there's no questionable activity happening at all. At the end of the day, all you can do as a consumer is support businesses that do it right.
 
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