Ducati News

May
09

For Ducati Dealers, Hard Work Pays Off

Posted by Vicki Smith on May 9th, 2013 at 12:46 pm

dealerrankings

Ducati Dealers Rank 2nd in the 2013 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® (PSI®) U.S. Motorcycle Industry Benchmarking Study Results

For those of you that know me, it’s no secret that for many years I was a Ducati dealer.  I believe that after running a restaurant (which has to be the hardest mainstream job ever) running a great motorcycle dealership is, well, really hard work.  And doing it well is some kind of complex recipe that involves where you are located, who you are selling against, who works for you, the economy and a handful of other factors that these (mostly) small business’s face daily.  Add to that the complexity’s of product lines, product availability, riding seasons, well, you get the picture.

For those of you who have been riding motorcycles for a long time, you might remember that “in the day” if you wanted to buy a Ducati getting a brochure was practically a score, demo rides were unheard of, (if you were lucky you could ride a buddy’s bike around the block) and purchase decisions were largely based on the magazine reviews. It was a very different time for motorcycle enthusiasts and dealers as well.  Consider this, in 1992 I ordered a 1993 750SS (a bike I still have).  It arrived with crate damage, a situation that was not unusual two decades ago in the motorcycle industry.  If I wanted to pick up the Ducati I had paid in full in advance in order to even buy it, I had to take delivery with a broken fairing, and glued right turn signal (or as I referred to it back then “pre-crashed”) and wait months for replacement parts which were endlessly “on the water”.  What I got for my dedication was a great motorcycle. And not long after that a partnership in the dealership. I believed in customer service and I thought there was a place for it in the motorcycle industry, even with all the day to day operational challenges.

So for me, this study (which isn’t news in that Ducati has been doing a great job for some time now) is personal.  Many years ago Ducati put in place a program that sent ”secret shoppers” into dealerships and sent the dealers back performance ratings. Dealer’s back then felt it was intrusive but just like in the car business where this tactic was widely used, it put a spotlight on the customer experience and not just making the sale.  Things like greeting customers immediately, making sure they were given the tools they needed to make a decision like demo rides and sales literature were focused on and slowly but surely the results followed. Ducati dealers raised the focus on customer experience and as somebody who visits a lot of motorcycle dealerships I can assure you, it’s been a new day for a while.  The Pied Piper study is based on a lot of what Ducati put in place back then so I guess it’s fair to say Ducati dealers have been studying for this test for years.   I was a dealer for most of the Euro brands back then (including Triumph) and Ducati was by far the first to mention customer service. Years and years before anybody else.

I personally see a pattern in this list – the brands that have been able to sell over and over to customers who have high loyalty are lower on the list. Almost every brand under the 100 industry average mark has some level of this.  Consider this – Honda, at almost the bottom of the list, a brand that sells a bunch of really good motorcycles, has had brutal customer satisfaction guidelines in place on the automotive side side for more than two decades, yet they are in almost last place, only Aprilia and KTM have lower overall rankings.  This might be an indication of how hard the brands over 100 are working than that Honda is routinely ignoring customer needs. (which I do not believe they are doing) The exception of course would be Harley Davidson, who is clearly working hard at all of this. And, in the other direction, possibly BMW who just announced a 31.6% first quater sales increase but from July 2012 to April 2013 dropped nine places from 2nd, by losing a whopping 7 performance points.

It’s a great time to be a motorcycle enthusiast.  We can walk into a dealership (or send an e-mail) and buy any number of cutting edge tools for our needs – SBK level performance, round the world tourers, Pike’s Peak winner’s, entry level Monster’s that are skillful enough to charm long time riders. Regardless how seriously you take study’s like this it’s clear based on how they are conducted and how many levels of service they measure, that the dealership experience has changed in the consumers favor.  Specialty machines supported by solid information, finance tools and service staff. As a long time enthusiast of the brand I can assure you, we have come a long way.

Like I said, it’s a great time to be a motorcycle enthusiast. It’s an even better time to be a Ducatista.

Vicki

Source: MotorSports News Wire