Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting to know your dealer

Or even more importantly, your dealer getting to know you.
It’s not uncommon in online forums to see bikers referring to their dealers in terms such as “I went to the STEALER and they tried to RIP ME OFF…” accompanied by a full demonstration of Tourette’s in written form. That’s pretty discouraging because, while there are certainly bad dealerships out there, I believe the vast majority are good folks, just trying to make a living like the rest of us. 
That’s why I’ve always tried to make myself known to my dealer. I’ll drop in every so often just to look at and talk about the new models, or to buy some small item at the parts counter. If I bring my bike in for service I make a point of understanding what they are doing and talking to the tech if possible. I know most of their names, and they know mine. And it pays off in so many ways.
As a case in point, I recently made a rookie mistake and broke a brake light switch. A moment’s inattention, a little ‘snap’, and an “oh crap” moment ensued. So I dropped by the dealer to order a replacement.
(This is where it gets ugly.) The part listed for my Dyna is $34 (outrageous enough), but as soon as they tried to place the order, H-D’s ordering system said that part was superseded with this new $96 part (much more outrageous). $96 for a small momentary switch in a plastic housing with about 20” of wire attached. That’s it. For any other application it would be $4.99 at Radio Shack. (Now if you want to refer to the folks who set retail price points for H-D OEM parts as “stealers”, that’s perfectly acceptable and justified.)
The parts manager (who agreed with me on the last point) then dragged out all his suppliers’ catalogues and spent at least 1/2 hour searching until he found a suitable after-market replacement switch for $22, confirmed availability, and placed the order. The service manager then spent another 15 minutes or so explaining what to watch for during installation so I wouldn’t be back again in a few days looking for another one. That’s great service. 
Some dealers would have presented me with a take it or leave it scenario, but because I have a personal relationship with my dealer they were prepared to go extra mile to keep me as a valued customer. And that’s why I keep going back.

6 comments:

  1. It's great when you get service like that! When Ian bought his Guzzi it was purchased from a dealer 40 miles away. The local one, three miles down the road, didn't seem to have any enthusiasm for the marque.
    Moral of this is that 15 years later,although not a Moto Guzzi dealer anymore, they are always pleased to see us and always have time to talk and take interest in our travels and well being. Hats off for Italia Moto in Lincoln, UK.

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  2. Bikerted - Good customer service need not be costly (to the dealership) and it pays off in spades. I just don't understand why more of them don't understand that.

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  3. Happy to hear of a good Dealer experience. My Harley experience is top dollar products with minimal customer satisfaction. It is somewhat surprising to me to find several Dealers from back east selling parts on e-bay for a discounted rate fron HD's list pricing. Wonder how long before they are no longer a HD Dealer?

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  4. AZHD - I've noticed the eBay presence too. Usually not much of a deal once shipping gets added in unless you can evade the sales taxes by getting items shipped out of state/province.
    And if the moco isn't happy you can be sure they won't be there long. Unless they're allowing it as sort of an on-line sales trial.

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  5. Whether it is a dealership or a local shop it is always better to cultivate such a relationship. Fortunately, I have a shop I have been doing business with for a while and they treat me right.

    It is a little tougher with the local dealership. All three of the dealers close to me are owned by the same people so they tend to behave like the monopoly they are. I find a few individuals at the dealer that I like working with but they don't seem to last because the bottom line is more important than customer service.

    I will also say that H-D dealers tend to be better on average, from a customer service perspective, than other dealers I have dealt with. I will never own another Triumph or a BMW until there is a local dealer that can treat me like a human being.

    Hang in there

    -Buddha

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  6. Fully agree, in y experience most dealers know that only a win win situation will lead to sustainable business.

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