Clarksville, Tn — Let me first apologize for not posting any updates in the last week. The flu bug/stomach bug has made the rounds through my household, so me and the “porcelain throne” have become “besties” this week.
One of the most common questions I get from the people I meet on this journey is, “do you stop and visit Harley dealerships when you travel?”
I try to visit any and ALL dealerships when I’m on the road, especially Harley Davidson, because I collect Poker Chips.
I visit other motorcycle dealerships as well. Since I’ve only owned a Harley, I’m curious about other motorcycles. Each store is different, and their protocols are different. Some places you’re greeted immediately, and in others, you can hear your voice “echo” throughout the building when you say “hello.”
I would say that 9 out of 10 HD dealerships I visit immediately make you feel welcome and there’s always someone near the front door to greet you. Sometimes there’s a young lady at the front of the store, or the sales desks are located near the entrance, but almost without fail, someone greets you as you walk into the store.
Then as I wander around the store, I’m always approached by a sales clerk, or a sales rep about “anything you need, let me know” type of introduction. Then gradually, someone will engage me on where I’m from and so forth. They don’t overwhelm you and I like that, but they DO pay you some attention and I like that too. I just like meeting new people.
I DO remember visiting a small dealership in Texas (don’t remember where unfortunately) and not a soul in the store said one word to me. I stayed five minutes, used the men’s room and proceeded on my way. It was an odd feeling since that’s not what I was accustomed to, but then again, it doesn’t mean they’re not a good store, they were just busy.
My most FAVORITE store to visit on the road, was in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
I had spent two days getting there and by mid-afternoon, I pulled into Pikes Peak Harley Davidson. My beautiful black steed was filthy and being the “germaphobe” and “clean freak” that I am, I approached the service department and asked if there was any way I could get my bike cleaned. He said, “absolutely, let me see if my clean up guy can get to it.”
He came back and said, “give me your key fob and about thirty minutes and he’ll take care of it.”
I’m blown away.
“How much” I asked?
“Just tip the clean-up guy.”
I’m blown away again.
So I tipped the guy and had a clean bike and was ready to ride the Rocky Mountains the next morning (of course I’m scheduled to dance at the service guy’s wedding whenever that is).
I was in Pensacola Florida one year and they washed my bike for me. I scheduled it, they wrote it up and for about $50, it was done.
I was happy.
Every dealership of every brand of motorcycle is different. Their training is different. How they engage their customers and so on. Bikers who are firmly entrenched and loyal to a brand are accustomed to the way they do business.
I’m spoiled by the way Harley does it. It’s my only reference point.
My point to all of this is, what do we expect when we visit a dealership? As bikers? As customers? Why is it so easy to get a test ride in some stores, yet a pain in the ass to get one at another?
My experience is with Harley Davidson because that’s what I ride, but each biker is different and each brand is different.
When I was beginning this journey I had no problem getting a test ride. I visited two Nashville dealerships and one in Paducah, Ky and each visit, NO PROBLEMO SENOR! So you get spoiled on that kind of treatment.
I also visited an Indian dealership in Pensacola and COULDN’T get a test ride and they were having a tent sale at the time. I think the fact that I had Tennessee tages might have swayed the sales reps opinion on whether or not I was an actual prospect, but I digress.
I visited my local Honda dealership recently because my dear friend and brother wanted me to test ride the new 2018 Goldwing. Well, first of all, they didn’t have any. They had a 2017, but I would have to wait an hour for it to be serviced to run.
Ok. Fair enough. I’m leaving. Had I been able to sign the waiver and hop on the bike, I would have possibly been talked into buying one, but it starts with a ride and that’s not always possible.
Now I’m sure there’s a reason that there are no bikes ready to “test ride” but I don’t know what that would be. If a customer comes looking and wants to test ride, shouldn’t there be one ready? Fair question I say.
Again, each dealership is different and I’m not saying one’s better than the other, but the protocol is just different. If I have to wait thirty minutes to an hour to get a bike to test ride, I’m losing interest and I don’t have that time to just sit around. Now maybe if they offered a thirty minute back massage while we wait that would be different, ya think?
There was no offer to “schedule” a test ride or anything, but that’s just the way it is. It doesn’t change how I look at the product, but we’re ALL “picky” about customer service and I just find that a bit “different” shall we say.
I believe that the product you’re selling needs to be tried out by the customer. There should be a model for them to ride if they so request. I can’t imagine not being able to buy a car without a test ride,
I’m a biker and I love motorcycles and when I get serious to trade, I let it be known and I expect the red carpet treatment.
Just today I visited a local Indian dealer and was able to engage with the salesman and secure a test ride. He was very professional, and made it happen. I REALLY enjoyed the bike and if and when I decide to trade models, I feel confident that I could do business there.
Our expectations are higher as bikers. We realize that owning a motorcycle is a luxury and NOT a necessity and most dealers understand that as well. I can’t think of one single BAD experience I’ve ever had while visiting from out of town.
Most of us visit dealerships for different reasons, whether it’s for the poker chips, t-shirts or possibly catching a sale on some things we’ve been wanting. I’ve heard great things about Honda dealers, and Indian dealers from other bikers, so my opinion is one of a biker who’s only been riding for three years and I’ve been a Harley guy since the beginning.
I will continue to collect my poker chips and visit other dealers. This journey is all about the people and places you visit along the way. I’m blessed and grateful for this journey and I LOVE the people I meet on this bike.
I too have visited Harley Davidson dealerships from Daytona Beach Florida to Sturgis South Dakota and dozen up on dozen in between, like you I can only think of one dealership that was not friendly and believe it or not it was in Texas. Each dealership would let me ride a bike in a heartbeat. Great culture, love the product, p.s. collect poker chips too, shirts way to high.
Love that you had such a great experience at my local dealership, PPHD, here in “The Springs”. I didn’t buy my bike from them, but have definitely given them some business with buying merchandise and using their Service Dept. We use PPHD as a good central location to meet up before heading out on a ride. Also, they had a VERY nicely organized 1st annual Ride with the Staff run this year.