With much of the country about to face the sharp blade of winter, motorcycle dealerships across America will have time to fine-tune their marketing strategies for next year’s riding season. Sooner or later, it will be wet and cold with snow and ice, and the number of customers walking into showrooms will dwindle down to a trickle. Consequently, there will be time to reminisce about last summer’s rides and tackle those long-overdue plans for the future. Looking ahead is great, but don’t lose sight of today because there’s still time to place warm bodies on those cold seats in the showroom. Start with the low-hanging fruit.
Special Events, On- and Off-site
Pencil in all of the local celebrations, festivals and parades on a calendar already showing legal holidays. Then add any anniversaries and existing events that are pertinent to the dealership.
Next, cherry pick events from the online calendars of local trade organizations, convention and visitors bureaus, charities, philanthropic groups and motorcycle clubs, and pencil those in. Events such as Oktoberfest or “Days of Swine and Roses” will certainly be more suitable than something like “Kids Day in the Park.” All of these dates will form the backbone of a special events marketing calendar.
Contact the executive director or events coordinator at the local chamber of commerce (and join if not already a member), and pick his/her brain about ways for a motorcycle dealership to gain recognition by participating in special events. In all probability, the chamber is already partnering with local government on events such as 4th of July parades, so two birds are being killed with one stone. Representatives at tourism organizations may provide comparable suggestions.
Perhaps there’s a spring walkathon to be sponsored or a bicycle rally that needs a rest stop along the designated route — yes, some people ride both bicycles and motorcycles.
Continue the cooperative marketing efforts by collaborating with groups running annual toy or blood drives. If the first effort goes well, being an ongoing sponsor will create a long-term relationship in the community. Furthermore, partnering with other dealerships at special events could actually increase business a la the advantages of the “auto row” concept.
To avoid potential conflicts, be sure pencil in all personal holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and vacations for the person(s) who will be managing the above events.
Finally, triage the potential promotional value of each event in conjunction with the ability to manage it. Do you have the time and/or resources to participate, plan or promote? Will the event be overshadowed by something like the Super Bowl or Mothers Day? Cross off all of the double bookings or events that seem too ambitious, leaving only a manageable group. The remaining balance is next year’s special events calendar for the motorcycle dealership.
Warming Up Those Empty Motorcycle Seats
Returning to the specter of looking at an empty showroom through the cold winter, consider ways to encourage immediate foot traffic.
Devise winter service packages and offer complementary pickup and delivery for those not having access to trucks, or at least split the transportation costs. Of course, such deals will need to be shared with the public via social media, email blast and/or advertising, but some dealers may prefer using the telephone. Calling good customers is still a viable marketing tool.
Another method of driving visits to your showroom is to organize a winter swap meet on a Saturday afternoon. Many riders have a collection of barely used parts lying around their garage. Why not give them the opportunity to wheel and deal with other customers in your showroom? A small investment in time and refreshments will instill a sense of community with your dealership as the focal point.
Conduct do-it-yourself winter workshops such as:
- Changing the crankcase oil
- Winterizing a motorcycle
- Trouble-shooting a bike that won’t start
Naturally, you want to emphasize that if all else fails, “customers can always drop off their cycle for dealership servicing if they can’t handle the task or simply don’t want to bother.”
The Bottom Line
Be sure to track the attendance and sales dollars at each event. This data will help plan next year’s special events calendar. Expect some duds; no promotional planner hits it out of the park every time.
If all goes well, the above promotional activities will be successful, and the dealership will need an efficient payment processing system to handle the sales spike if it doesn’t already have one in place.
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