Are You Educating Your Staff?

Are You Educating Your Staff?

I wrote about this topic back in July. Educate Your Staff – Invest in Knowledge 

At that time I suggested that you organize a training program during the winter downtime. Well, did you? Are you already experiencing the fruits of your labor?

Hopefully, you did. But if you’re like a large portion of the industry you got caught up in the day-to-day and never implemented a program. Well, it’s not too late. There is still a little time to invest in your staff before the season gets into full swing.

And if you don’t have enough reasons this post on SMBCEO.com Why Invest in Training Your Staff gives you more reasons to get moving and do something.

So there you have it. Do something today to start a training program and schedule. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

Make a list and check it off.

Make a list and check it off.

This article originally appeared at Powersports Business Online, February 21, 2018.

We all have lists in our life. We make to-do lists, lists for groceries, home improvement lists and bucket lists. We make lists of all kinds. But what about lists within your dealership?

Each department and job role should have a checklist of some sort, something to keep everyone on track when things get busy and something to prompt action when it’s slow.  Remember, you can’t expect what you don’t inspect so make sure your list includes checking on all of the lists that the staff keeps. A random inspection will make sure everyone is accountable to their list.

A checklist is a useful tool for employees at every level. From the newbie to the most seasoned veteran. New employees should use these lists to understand the process of their job while the seasoned pro can use it to make sure they’re still on track and not missing something. Essential items are sometimes forgotten, even with years of experience. Here are a couple of ideas for each department that you can start with and build on:

Service department

When the customer brings in a vehicle are you asking all of the essential questions? When was the last time you changed the oil? What about the coolant or brake fluid? Often these fluids are missed and could cause failure further down the line. Include items like these on your checklist. It’s essential to have a dialogue with the customer to ensure that you return their machine in optimum condition. The list should also include any damage or blemishes on the vehicle. You don’t want to be held responsible for something that didn’t happen in your shop. While we’re on the subject of damage, are you taking digital images of the vehicle when it’s dropped off for service? Thorough documentation of the condition of the vehicle is time well spent when it comes to damage liability.

What about a technician’s checklist to complete once the job is finished? Are warranty parts tagged and saved appropriately? Are the nuts and bolts given a final once-over? What about the fluids? Everything topped off?

And speaking of warranty claims, is everything filed correctly? You might want to create a list just to ensure the OEM does not reject these claims. As they say, dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “t’s.”

Parts and accessories

Checklists in this department can vary widely but include items that improve the customer experience. When looking up parts, discuss the job at hand with the customer and ensure they have everything they need. Gaskets, bearings, seals, loctite, new nuts, and bolts, etc, Don’t leave anything out. There is nothing worse than starting a job and not being able to finish it because a gasket or seal is missing. Suggestive selling reminders are great for checklists. Don’t forget about housekeeping checklists that prompt you to keep the display and merchandise in top condition. Are you gathering the customer’s information for your marketing database? These are items that could to be included in a checklist.

Sales and F&I

Here is where checklists are critical as we are often talking about legal documents that can’t be missing information. Pre-delivery and delivery checklists. Documentation checklists and so much more. Save yourself time, money and embarrassment and eliminate costly errors with a proper checklist system.

Marketing

Marketing is about delivering a consistent message to your customers. You can use a checklist to ensure items aren’t missed. You should build your social media plan with a checklist and monitor it with one as well. What about traditional media and co-op? Is your marketing adhering to those co-op rules? A checklist that outlines these critical items would be beneficial. Are you conducting events or shows on or off-site? Creating a checklist of events and shows will help to eliminate mistakes and last minute headaches associated with missing items.

So there you have it. An introduction to checklists and why they are essential. It might seem like overkill at times, but a well-designed checklist will keep you and your staff on track and eliminate wasteful and costly mistakes.

What other types of checklists have you found useful?

Eight ways to win the local business.

Eight ways to win the local business.

This article originally appeared at PowersportsBusiness.com on January 18, 2018.

Are you a big fish in a small pond? A small fish in a big pond? Or worse yet, a small fish in a small pond?

I’m here to tell you that you need to be the big fish in the small pond. Why you might ask. Well, the big fish in the small pond is winning the local game. Winning the local game is critically essential to the success of your business and with a couple of items in place, and some focused time you can take the checkered flag in the local market.

Ok, that’s all well and good but how can I win the local market?

  1. With more first impressions of your business now on mobile devices, the first thing you need to do is make sure your website is mobile friendly. Does it load quickly and is it responsive to mobile devices? If it isn’t, fix it now. If you don’t have a digital presence, I suggest you get one. There are plenty of great digital partners in the powersports business that can get you going. Remember, you have to invest in your business if you expect it to grow.
  2. Now that your website is set-up for mobile what about the rest of your digital footprint. When your shop is searched on Google is there a complete listing? Is the address correct? The phone number? The hours? What about the reviews? If you’ve never looked at this before you probably have some work to do, but it’s pretty simple to do, and Google is there to help. Visit www.google.com/business and get started. You’ll claim and verify your business and be well on your way to optimize how your business shows up online. Set-up a calendar reminder and check this listing often, correcting and editing as necessary. And don’t forget to include your social media accounts.
  3. Now, look at the rest of your advertising and promotions. Are you spending money on customers in your market? Ones that will come into your shop. Are you paying for random banner ads or are you targeting potential customers by using targeted Facebook ads?
  4. What about other promotions? Are you supporting the local racetrack or riding clubs? Don’t look at these as expenses and instead look at them as investments in future purchases. Racers and riders are using their machines and wearing out parts. They should be getting those parts from you. Perhaps you could offer gift cards for entries and help promote their events in your store, a win-win for both you and the promoter.
  5. Are you working with the local municipalities and businesses? Side by sides, ATVs, and power equipment are in use by virtually every public works, police and fire and parks departments around the country. As the local dealer, you should be fighting for this business. Do a good job, and perhaps the work and sales will extend past just the municipalities. Many of those workers are potential business as well.
  6. Host local events. Is your store big enough or in the right location that you could host local events? Events that give back to your local community. Could you use your conference room after hours for meetings of riding clubs or other organizations? Events like these bring new, potential customers into your dealership.
  7. Work with other local businesses and the chamber of commerce. Are you a member of the chamber of commerce in your town? What about other local business groups? There is opportunity in numbers and sharing what your business does could potentially lead to sales within the group or their customer base.
  8. Are you working with your local schools and universities? You could target university students with new scooters and entry level bikes. You could help out with high schools and their shop programs to teach motorcycle maintenance. Think outside the box.

So, let’s wrap this up. Winning local business is a relatively simple way to improve the bottom line. But it helps out in other ways too. The conversation in the industry over the last several months is how do we get new riders into motorcycling. There are several initiatives we’ve all read about in Powersports Business, and the OEM’s are shifting focus on more straightforward entry-level machines to stimulate that new rider, but I believe your shop and focus is the #1 way to increase new riders. By building the excitement at home and in your backyard, your local business improves as does motorcycling along with it.

What other things are you doing to win the local game? I’d be curious to know. Thank you for reading.

 

Saving the Powersports Industry – One New Rider at a Time

Saving the Powersports Industry – One New Rider at a Time

There has been a great deal of conversation in the powersports industry lately. Bike sales are down, the average age of motorcyclists is getting older, and people are turning to other forms of recreation with their disposable dollars. It is affecting everyone in the business. From OEM and manufacturers to distributors and right down to the front line, the powersports dealer. All are struggling.  There was even an article in the LA Times speaking about the dire straights of the industry.

No easy ride: Motorcycle industry is in deep trouble and needs help fast, panel agrees

What happened? Aren’t motorcycles cool any longer?

Many factors caused the decline in attracting new riders from the aging of the current demographics to the switch in the taste of younger generations. Financial issues also play a significant part as the credit crunch eliminated a large number of new buyers. But regardless of the reason, the good news is everyone agrees, and it is fixable. Motorcycles are still cool. We, as the motorcycle industry, need to pitch in and do our part.

OEM’s have changed the mix of bikes they are bringing to market. Each is bringing entry level bikes back into the marketing mix. Harley-Davidson has even publically stated an initiative to bring 2 million new motorcyclists into the sport by 2020. All of the OEM’s are building machines that are less complicated and less intimidating to new and returning riders. Racing organizations are taking time to nurture and bring in new, and beginner riders and dealers are making a concerted effort to make the new bike purchase less intimidating to new buyers.

But is all this enough, what can I do to help?

Well, glad you asked. AMA Hall of Fame member Scot Harden has put forth an initiative he calls Plus 1. It is a challenge for all current motorcyclist to bring in one new participant. Seems simple, right?  He’s outlined ten things you can do.

1. Share your passion with others. Expose non-motorcycle friends to the sport by inviting them to your house to catch the Sunday game on TV. Entertain in your garage. Use your motorcycle(s) as props to promote discussion about motorcycles. Let them touch, feel, even sit on your bike. I would argue that every motorcyclist started a love affair with motorcycling after first sitting on someone else’s bike.

2. Attend an event. Invite your non-motorcyclist friends to a motorcycle show, race or rally. Take time to explain what is going on, introduce them to your motorcycling friends, and share the experience with them like you would anyone else.

3. Take a friend for a ride. It doesn’t have to be all day. Take them to lunch or for coffee. Let them experience the fun and enjoyment of riding.

4. Teach someone how to ride. I know this raises all sorts of issues, but many enthusiasts—like myself—have enough property and small-displacement bikes to teach people how to ride off-road. Get them over their initial fears. Show them it isn’t as complicated as it looks. Encourage them to take a rider-training course.

5. Invite your non-motorcycle friends for dinner and a movie. I suggest a motorcycle movie, such as “The World’s Fastest Indian,” the “Long Way Around,” “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “On Any Sunday” or “Take it to the Limit.” Anything to inspire them to want to give motorcycling a try.

6. Share the experience. Tell your co-workers about your latest motorcycle trip or adventure. Sure, they probably already know you’re a motorcyclist. But have you ever shared exactly what that means and how it enriches your life? This would work well in any other groups or associations you are already involved in.

7. Invite non-motorcycle friends to go camping with you and experience the outdoors. Find a place where you can all enjoy the surroundings and make sure you have your motorcycle available, as well. My first motorcycle riding experience took place on just such a trip.

8. Visit your local motorcycle dealer and invite your non-motorcycling buddy to tag along. Show off the great product offerings. Make the point that motorcycles exist in all shapes and sizes.

9. Target social media. Share pictures of yourself enjoying the sport. Share posts you come across that are inspiring and show just how much fun motorcycling is.

10. Reach out to millennials. For all you baby boomers out there, make an effort to reach out to your children’s friends and acquaintances. Show an interest in what they are doing. Ask them if they’ve ever thought of going riding. If you can, provide an opportunity for them to experience the sense of freedom, adventure and excitement that motorcycling offers.

So what do you think? Who is your Plus 1?

Read Scot’s entire article in the January 2018 issue of American Motorcyclist by following the link below.
Advocating For Motorcycling’s Future – Saving Our Passion, One New Rider At A Time

Social Media is Not a Checklist

Social Media is Not a Checklist

By now everyone is aware of the need for social media. Regardless of your type, B2B, B2C, manufacturer, or retailer, you must have a social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn have all become a necessary part of the marketing mix. But what does it mean?
Social media is not a checklist. It’s not just post and pray. You cannot set up the accounts and post once in awhile and expect any results. Social media is no different than the rest of your business plan, and its integration is necessary. It is an integral part of your marketing and advertising plan, one that requires a budget, analytics, and a dedicated person to take care of the intricacies involved. Remember social media is post, connect and converse, all the time.
Gone are the days when anyone in your business with a Facebook account could be responsible for your social media strategy. And that is the essential part of this article. Social media is not a checklist. You can’t just open a bunch of accounts and call your social media strategy done. You need to put in place a plan for content, posting schedule, how to handle comments and who will interact online.
With the season slowing down, now is an excellent opportunity to put down on paper a plan to use these valuable marketing tools. Make sure your social media ties in with your monthly sales and marketing goals for a cohesive presentation to the end user. A disjointed and inconsistent message will cost you business.
It could be as simple or complicated as you make it, but working on a plan now will pay off in the busy season. At the very least the program should include each month’s marketing and sales goals and then the associated social media posts related to these goals. Are you having your annual open house? Then make sure you have an event set up on your Facebook page. Having the plan in place will allow you to build the appropriate content with high-quality images and a call to action. Include all of these needs in your plan to ensure you aren’t running around when the time to post comes.
The other important thing to remember is social media is “social.” It’s not just posting about your sales and business; it’s providing value to your customer and listening as well. Make sure the person in charge of your social stream has the knowledge to answer questions quickly and accurately. If they don’t, then please ensure that he/she knows who or where to get the correct answer. Build value in your customer’s eyes, and you will see an increase in business as a result.
So what are you waiting for? Need help? Use the power of immediate action and get going.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the content I provided this year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing my knowledge and ideas each month, and I’m pleased to announce that I will be back for another year in 2018. With that in mind, if there are any topics you would like me to cover or provide insight to, please reach out to me via email at scott@scottlukaitis.com.
Happy Holidays!