As more and more motorcycle dealers are being acquired by large companies with a strong focus on the revenue and market share, the competition in the motorcycle market is becoming fiercer by the minute. Dealers now have to perform better and carefully watch their bottom line more than ever before. Huge parts of this fiercer approach to business are customer service and repeat business.
While word of mouth marketing is still considered the most powerful form of marketing, dealers now have consider the fact that it has changed over the recent years. Word of mouth no longer includes face-to-face conversations and handshakes, but also text messages and other personalized communication exchanged between the dealership and its customers. It is no longer enough just to focus on “old school” communication and hope that customers will innately spread “good words” about your business.
Instead, motorcycle dealers are now expected to have face-to-face conversations and shake hands with their customer, and also continue the conversation via e-mail, text messages and social media interactions. More importantly, motorcycle dealers can no longer expect customers to spread the “good word” about their business because today’s customers suffer from social media fatigue. They simply have too many options and in the end may not end up sharing all of their positive experiences. As a result, dealers have to do a lot of word of mouth marketing themselves, if they really wish to increase repeat business and beat their competition.
Some of the best ways for dealers to spread good words about their establishments are posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. All three of these social media platforms are great for sharing personal and unique stories, such customer bike purchases and other happenings at the dealerships. Such posts are even more powerful when the mentioned individuals are tagged.
With the next year just around the corner, this is the perfect time to try a new approach to word of mouth marketing and customer retention. Happy 2015!
According to ResponseTap, 64% of consumers experience some level of frustration when companies only offer online customer support. This is hugely important given the fact that those who shop online also tend to voice their frustrations on social media and review websites, which can negatively affect a business’ reputation.
Given the current consumer credit strains and decline in sales, motorcycle dealers cannot afford to sacrifice any customers because of poor customer support. According to an an article published in DealerNews September 2014 issue, only two in 10 customers are approved for a vehicle loan. This means that there is no longer a sea of customers waiting to buy motorcycles like 10 years ago. Those days are gone.
To provide excellent or exceptional customer support, motorcycle dealers must be available online, in person, via telephone, on social media, and any other communication platform preferred by the consumers. Also, customer support should be available after regular business hours.
Photo Taken By Andrei Medvedev / Shutterstock.com
According to Harley-Davidson, motorcycle dealers spend between $300 and $400 in advertising per walk-in customer. While this is a sizable investment, most dealers continue to struggle with customer relationship, sales leads and sales staff performance management.
For example, a lot of motorcycle dealers still use paper records of customer traffic and sales, which is a serious impediment to robust customer relationship management, sales and overall operations. What is even more concerning that a lot of dealers do not even know the true value of their customers. To take this even further, a lot of dealers do not know who their most valuable customers are.
Motorcycle dealers who have realized how important it is to know who their most valuable customers are have also realized that the amount of money that customers spend is no longer the most important attribute that defines the value of their customers. Instead, such dealers focus on customers’ influence in their social circles, engagement with the brand, and advocacy on behalf of the brand.
Dealers now have the ability to see who responds to their marketing messages, which allows them to segment and more accurately value their customers. At the heart of this are trust and customer data, which can be gathered via:
- Relationship building
- Content personalization
- Smart engagement
- Predictive analytics
The bottom line is that people do not buy from companies, they buy from people. For people to trust a brand/company, they must feel valued and understood. For brands/companies to value and understand people, they must take the time to carefully collect and study data about their customers. Companies must know the true value of their customers, and furthermore determine which customers are the most valuable. This allows companies to appropriately tailor their marketing efforts to meet each customer’s needs and maximize the bottom line.
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago.
In addition to meeting many cool and innovative e-commerce companies, I also attended several very informational and eye-opening lectures by various industry leaders. One of the lectures was Connected Commerce: The New Opportunity for Retailers in an Evolving Retail Environment, presented by eBay, Inc.’s President and CEO, John Donahoe.
Mr. Donahoe underscored 5 important points for e-commerce businesses who want to make online shoppers happy and keep them coming back for more:
- Online consumers just want to shop. They do not care about the background infrastructure of the website as long as it works and it is easy to find the products/services they are looking for. Shopping should be seamless.
- Businesses must give online shoppers choices.
- Attentive online service and help is a non-negotiable.
- The return/exchange process must be super easy and free.
- Consumer personalization is still in its early stages. No online retailer has truly mastered it or cracked the nut of true personalization, which means that everyone has lots of room for improvement.
Finally, Mr. Donahoe stated that the commerce revolution has not, contrary to popular belief, ushered in the end of offline retail. In fact, offline retail is not dead at all. It is actually still a strong source of revenue for many retailers when properly integrated with online shopping options.
Almost every motorcycle dealership has a Google Places page, even if the ones that do not want to have one. Google automatically created Google Places for almost all businesses in its database. If you have not checked if your business has one, you should immediately. Make sure to read all the reviews that may have been written on your Google Places page, especially if you have a low customer rating score.
The best aspect of Google Places is that it is a 100% FREE business listing that allows you to upload photos, write about your business, offer coupons, and respond to customer feedback. Google also uses your Google Places information and customer ratings in the search results when someone searches for you on Google.com.
The most important initial step is to claim your business Google Places listing. Below are the required steps to make this happen:
For additional information, feel free to call us at 1-800-523-7274 or visit Google’s Google Places Help Page.
I recently read a Forbes article about lack of employee development and appreciation at most companies. It reminded me of numerous interactions with motorcycle dealership employees who appeared to lack the skills and enthusiasm necessary to perform and provide exceptional services to their customers. The Forbes article reminded me that such employees are not necessarily bad employees, but more likely employees who did not receive adequate training and do not feel appreciated at work.
One of the most prominent examples of poorly trained employees that comes to mind is a sales person who has not been taught the major steps of the company’s sales funnel. Recently, I listened to a recorded sales call that came in to a Harley dealership. The caller was calling the dealership to inquire about a particular motorcycle she saw on their website. The sales person who took the call told her that the bike sold. The caller then mentioned that her husband is on the road and that they will have to look at some other bikes during the upcoming weekend. The sales person told her that it was a good idea and hung up the phone without collecting any information or asking to follow up with the caller. This is a prime example of an employee who does not understand the full scope and goals of his job. His employer did not teach him the importance of customer service, follow up, and sales.
Another very common example of poorly trained employees at motorcycle dealerships is a receptionist with an unprofessional telephone greeting who puts callers on hold for too long. Even worse, this receptionist puts caller on long hold for too long and then transfers the call to an incorrect department. This type of employees need to be taught the importance of customer service, attention to detail, and company’s overall goals.
Companies overlook employee training for the following reasons:
- Most managers focus on day-to-day tasks that prevent them from considering each employee’s long-term goals and potential.
- Companies’ training policies and procedures are often outdated and cumbersome, and are therefore only done once and abandoned.
- Employee training is time consuming.
In addition to enabling employees to better perform their tasks, proper training also increases employee appreciation and job satisfaction because:
- Employees care more about companies that show interest in their personal future.
- It builds loyalty and increases productivity.
- It prompts employees to take ownership of their tasks and company goals.
Here are some negative effects of bad or no employee training:
- Unhappy employees
- Low production
- Increased expenses
- Loss of customers
- Loss of revenue
In a nutshell, proper raining makes employees feel empowered and appreciated, and it also increases customer satisfaction and revenue. Employees are not robots. They want to work for companies who care about their individual skills and goals, and incorporate those skills into the overall company vision. Companies must make sure that their employees have the tools needed to perform their job and that they are given opportunities to learn and grow.
Given the current popularity of social networking, search and review websites, such as Facebook, Google and Yelp, it is extremely important for businesses, including motorcycle dealers, to manage their online reputation.
Gone are the days when a single customers could only tell a few people about a bad experience at your business. Today, a single customer has the ability to share his/her bad experience at your business with thousands of Internet users for FREE.
Below are some tips for building positive perceptions and exceeding your customers’ expectations, which will help you manage your dealership’s online reputation:
Feel free to contact me at 1-800-523-7274 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions or need help with any of the topics mentioned above.
More than ever before, American companies are investing time and money into building long-term customer relationships and using exceptional customer service to increase sales. Motorcycle dealers are not an exception to this trend.
Here are some very useful and practical tips for motorcycle dealers who are interested in keeping their customers exceptionally happy and selling more motorcycles: