Well, the weather's been a bit crap since I've been back from the 4 Points ride so not much riding has been done lately - just a quite ride this arvo, out in the wind and rain.
Recently there has been a lot of articles/letters to the Editor in the bike mags I get regarding service or lack of it in some bike shops. They tend to follow the same story - guy goes into buy a bike and is treated pretty shabbily. The sales people seem uninterested and expect the custeomer to buy the bike rather than the salesman have to put in some effort to sell them.
This has pretty much been my experience this year when I was out looking for a new bike. Firstly, I was considering a Honda Blackbird as the Honda "Red Carpet" dealers supposedly had a good deal on them. I went into one dealer who had a 2nd hand one there which I was able to test ride (enjoyed that) but new ones were not available at that time. The dealer said that trading my Bandit would be no problems and that he would get a hold of me when he new the bikes were coming in - I'm still waiting.
After this I did some web browsing to see if I could find one anywhere. I found a few advertised on websites so I filled in an online form for one dealer and fired it off - haven't heard anything from them.
Then one fine Saturday I decided to head off to the above shop and also checkout a few others if necessary. Firstly I went to the local Palmerston North Honda dealer to see if they had one and seeing as no one could be bothered even saying gidday (the usual response at this shop - think you need to ride a Harley) I didn't ask them about Blackbird availibility.
Off I went to Masterton to the shop where I'd seen a Blackbird on their website. They were flat out on a Saturday morning (good - people were being served) and did not have a Blackbird in the showroom so I carried on down to Wellington. At the Honda dealer in the Hutt there was no Blackbirds and the salesman was busy talking to a mate. I could have waited and maybe talked to someone but I as I hadn't even got a "Can I help you" or "Be with you in a minute", I couldn't be bothered.
Off I went again and headed into Wellington to check out Wellington Motorcycles (Suzuki, Triumph, Hardley Dangerous) just for a nosy. Spent a bit of time looking at the bikes and it wasn't long before a salesman came up to me and started chatting. He listened to what I was saying, wasn't pushy and naturally suggested a Hayabusa. I went off home with his card, impressed with this shop and annoyed by the others.
Enter the new model Bandit
A few weeks after this I found details on the new model Bandit (K6) and thought that maybe I should consider upgrading to one (a lot cheaper than a Blackbird). Also, Mark was looking to replace his written off 750 and he liked my K2 Bandit and was keen on the new one. Great, we'll be able to get a good deal if we buy them together! Off we went to the local Suzuki shop we're I've bought my last 2 new Suzukis and spent thousands over the years.
Recently this business has changed hands and I did not know the salesman. He initially was very keen to do a deal on 2 bikes, offering a reasonable discount. Then I mentioned that I had a bike to trade - whoops who said a dirty word! Not interested at all in trading (even when I mentioned my previous 2 bikes came out of his shop) but he would be happy to sell it on behalf (and take probably 20%) or advertise it on Trade Me etc. He lost me straight away - out walked to potential bike sales. (Two weeks later I spotted a second hand Bandit in there - can't have been a trade?) The way this place has gone down hill is a shame as I still deal with the parts and service guys who do know about customer service...
As it was still early we decided to pop down to Wellington and see the guy I'd talked to a few weeks back. When we got there they were absolutely flat out - people everywhere going for test rides, buying bikes and bits etc. We saw a guy who wanted a bike but didn't know what one (money in pocket for a toy but no idea) being listened to by a salesman and pointed at a few models, telling riding stories etc before the guy left (thanking the salesman as he went). A good salesman in action.
We ended up talking to this salesman and he was very good, showed us luggage catalogs etc and didn't bat an eye when I mentioned I had a trade. As the new Bandits hadn't even landed yet we left with more cards and left our phone numbers etc. The rest is history: the bikes turned up, a very good deal was done and 2 guys are very happy with their bikes and the service they got - shame we had to go out of town to do it. We'd even go back there for services but it's a bit awkward due to the distance and work comittments etc.
Another lost sale
The story doesn't end with Mark and I - recently another mate went looking at bikes. He hasn't had one for a little while but was keen to look at a new GSX1400 (it would have been his 2nd one) for the summer.
Off he went to the local and started looking at the 1400 in the shop. After 5 mins or so of looking it over and the salesmen still hadn't put down their coffees and pulled themselves off their couch to talk to him, he walked out of the shop, down to the local Ford dealer and bought a V8...
How many sales can these guys afford to miss?