Motorcycle safety starts with education and grows with communication, cognizance, and accountability. Hundreds of dealers all over the country have rider training and licensure courses for those looking to engage in the sport. This is wonderful! Growing the sport through the shared passion and excitement for riding is what every single manufacturer in the segment needs for sustainable growth. That being said, the courtship cannot end when the candidate passes the course. We have all seen recent course graduates disappear for a few months, to a few years, with their newly printed motorcycle endorsed license, all the while forgetting to practice what they learned while earning their endorsement.
After a period of time, they come in, the salesperson follows the process, engages and educates, assists in the product selection, offers the test ride upon confirming the motorcycle endorsed license, waivers are signed and down the road the prospect and your sales person go. What happens next? Truth is, 99 times out of 100, nothing out of the ordinary. The new to sport prospect likes the ride, most likely they are shaking a little with a combination of excitement and fear, and they are ready to make their dreams come true. What about that 1 test ride that doesn’t end well? Could we have done more qualification to prevent it? Could we have had an “orientation” area where the newly licensed rider was thoroughly familiarized with the motorcycle selected and practiced on a closed course?
We need to ask ourselves as advocates of and experts in the sport, “Have we educated our customers and employees on the safety essentials? Do they have all the right safety equipment? Are we making the safety equipment selection process both informational and easy? Are we reminding the customer throughout the sales process that while owning a motorcycle is exciting, it comes with increased responsibility to practice, pay attention, never outride their abilities and, when able, never be afraid to avoid riding situations above their comfort level?” The casualties associated with a catastrophic motorcycle demonstration ride accident does not stop at the incident report. The sport may lose a rider. Your dealership suffers from possibly having an employee out on workers compensation. Your commercial insurance premiums rise. The scathed new rider loses their interest, broadcasts their horrifying experience to all of their friends and family, and the sport, your dealership and the manufacturer lose the opportunity to welcome new riders into the fold or seasoned riders back into the brand. Below is a short list of benefits to focusing on a safer riding population:
Higher volume of sales on helmets, jackets, boots and safety gear, which is one of the largest profit margins in the dealership
Appropriate motorcycle selection based on rider ability leads to the rider naturally growing from entry level, to cruiser to touring model. In this case, the dealership sells 3 or more motorcycles, sees the rider more often for service, parts and accessories, and builds a healthy, long-term relationship with the rider
The customer becomes a walking billboard for your dealership. As the customer’s confidence increases, they ride more miles. They meet more riders and speak highly of your dealership, your team and the lifestyle
The motorcycle market has been contracting at an alarming level since 2008. The attraction to moving metal whenever we have the opportunity to is something that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as new riders walk through the doors with the same sparkle in their eye we all had the first time we laid eyes on our new motorcycle. Grow the sport, grow your brand, grow your customer base, grow the relationship. Let’s not make short term decisions which could have irreparable, long term consequences. After all, less than 25% of the new motorcycles sold are to first time buyers.
The lives, relationships, and lifetime value of your customer base far outweighs the one-time sale to a new rider who doesn’t return to the sport due to fear, lack of interest, or even worse.
I love motorcycling! It is a passion I shared with my late step-father that guided me down a career path into the powersports and Harley-Davidson industry. I can say with absolute certainty that my time in dealerships, conversing with riders of all kind, logging thousands of miles with people that almost instantaneously shifted from acquaintances to friends, and sharing stories with proponents of riding more miles have been some of the best experiences of my life. Let’s not rob those new to the sport of the opportunity to experience what we love about it by ignoring the importance of safety and proficiency when throwing their leg over their new pride and joy!
Be safe, bust bugs, and ride on!