James “Hollywood” Macecari
Over the past few years, Insane Throttle Biker News has been reporting on the downward trend Harley-Davidson has been having regarding sales. Let‘s not forget to mention the downward trend in customer loyalty and lack of interest from the 21-35 demographic in its product. Harley-Davidson has been bleeding out the last few years and Insane Throttle wanted to go out in the field to try and figure out why.
Sure, one of the issues most commonly raised about Harley-Davidson is it’s pricing. This is actually a no brainier since sales of new Harley-Davidson has taken a nose dive in recent years. It’s always easier and cheaper to buy a used Harley-Davidson with a few thousand miles off some RUB then it is to purchase new and have to mortgage a house. Just take a look at Harley-Davidson and its new “Live-wire” motorcycle. Priced at $30,000. Yes, 30k for something that only goes about 150 miles and you have to sit and wait eight hours before you can ride again. The price alone tells all of us the kind of customer Harley-Davidson is after. Give you a hint. Its not the blue-collar biker who kept Harley-Davidson in business all these years.
So obviously the price is a factor. Another problem we’ve been hearing is customer service at the dealership level. We’ve heard stories after stories on how different a dealership will treat you if they don’t perceive you as having money. This is something I wanted to put to a test. I usually go to an independent motorcycle repair shop for all the work on my 2001 Fatboy. This time though I wanted to test the theory, everyone talks about. I chose to take the Fatboy to Kegels Harley-Davidson in Rockford, Illinois. This dealership bills itself as
The World’s Oldest Family Owned Harley-Davidson® Dealership, for over 100 Years Serving Rockford, Freeport, Belvidere, and Northern Illinois communities!
The work I required was an upgraded Screaming Eagle Cam Tensioner Kit and oil pump. Not to mention a new petcock and basic fluid changes. So, instead of going to my local independent shop. I was going to challenge this theory that is thrown around all the time. Does the dealerships treat people different if they perceive you have no money? Let‘s be honest now. The tattoos on my face, old ass jeans and t-shirt one could assume I had no money. Perfect set up to test a theory such as this. Little did they know I could walk into the dealer and buy a brand-new bagger right off the showroom floor without need of their financing.
The service managers name was Paul. When the bike was brought in Paul was decent. Walked me over to the bike. Explained everything that was wrong with it. I actually gave them props in a video for doing that. Even used it as a training tool for someone who didn’t know what questions you should ask about a job like this. The video of that encounter is right below.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says they will call you back within a certain amount of time and doesn’t. Another one is when someone tells you it will take a certain amount of time to finish a job. Next thing you know days and days are added onto the wait time. I’m the type of guy who takes someone at their word. Especially when it comes to working on a bike.
Why a B? If you’re looking to buy a motorcycle, there is extremely limited stock to select from. One of my suggestions would be to dedicate more floor space to motorcycles and less on clothing. When I walk into a dealership the first thing, I want to see is motorcycles. The floor plan of Kegels, when you first walk in, is nothing but clothing. The motorcycles are actually tucked back to the right-hand side. You have to walk through the clothing line and then another section to where the motorcycles are. When you ultimately get to the motorcycles sales floor the selection is limited. The reason the overall grade was a “B” and not a “C” is because the service department outperformed my expectations.
I would recommend anyone in the area requiring service to hit Kegels.No dealership is perfect by no means. But Kegels has knowledgeable technicians. The employees are also sociable. When I walked into the dealership the first time, I was immediately greeted by the gal at the clothing counter. The initial greeting you get when entering a business is something that will determine you exactly the type of service you will receive. This doesn’t merely go for motorcycle dealerships. It goes for any business you walk into.
I’ve owned many tattoo studios. One of the very first things I put in my employees heads was greeting customers right away. Its something I preached over and over again. Why? Because I want that customer to feel at home. When the customer feels at home they almost always become repeat customers.
Harley-Davidson is having a ton of trouble. This is something no one can argue against. The times the company is facing is unlike no other time in its history. The younger generation 18-25 a key demographic in years past are no longer into motorcycles. This is something I know first hand looking at the demographics of not only Insane Throttle, but also Motorcycle Madhouse. Our key demographic is 35-55. Something 20 years ago would’ve came in second to the 18-25 demographic. But this isn’t the case anymore. Maybe this is why Harley-Davidson is focusing more on electric motorcycle branding I don’t know. One thing is for sure dealerships in the equation don’t really look like the problem. It’s the company and its policies and target customer. When you spend so much time getting away from your core consumer your business is ultimately going to suffer. Will Harley-Davidson listen? Only time will tell.