Motorcyclists Take Issue With Dealership Experiences

Motorcycle riders are famously loyal to their brands, whether their flavor is a Yamaha GSX or Harley hard tail. J.D. Power's "2007 Motorcycle Competitive Information Study" says they are also pretty satisfied with their rides. If anything is hurting the ownership experience, it's the dealership experience--particularly at multi-line dealers.

Power's study, in its 10th year, measures owner satisfaction with new motorcycles in categories of the product itself, quality, cost of ownership, sales and service.

The study, which includes responses from 8,796 owners who purchased new on-road motorcycles between September 2006 and May 2007, finds that improvements made in product satisfaction and the dealership service experience have helped drive the increase in overall ownership satisfaction across the industry.

Tim Fox, who oversaw the study at the firm, says that overall satisfaction has steadily increased, while satisfaction with the sales experience has remained relatively flat since 2003. "One bright spot regarding the sales experience is that satisfaction among those who purchase a motorcycle from a single-line dealer has increased slightly over the last five years, while satisfaction among those who purchased from a multi-line dealer has slightly declined."



Twenty percent of owners took their bike in for repairs, and when the work was not performed correctly the first time, 22% said that the dealer created a new problem. This also marks a considerable increase from the 2006 study (16%).

Says Fox: "Quality of the work being performed significantly drives satisfaction with service, so it becomes critical to ensure not only efficient service, but also accurate and high-quality repairs the first time around."

Fifty-six percent of new motorcycle owners report that they acquired information about the model they purchased from displays on showroom floors. In addition, 38% found information on a manufacturer Web site and 32% indicate that a past experience with a particular manufacturer aided them in their purchase decision.

Still, owners are loyal both to brand and dealer. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they "definitely will" recommend their brand, and 56% will recommend the dealer from which they purchased their motorcycle.

Fox says those numbers are far higher than for either boat or auto categories. Forty-seven percent of boat and 35% of auto owners say they are loyal to their brands. "The motorcycle industry is much more of a niche market, where consumers have a particularly strong allegiance to a brand compared with automotive and marine industries." "It's much more difficult for multi-line dealers to offer a good experience because they have many models across brands, and even at service level they have that many more models they have to service."

"Companies are making more of an effort to entice dealers to staying or becoming a single-line dealer," says Fox. "Obviously, brands like Harley-Davidson are definitely good at keeping single-line dealers, but also partly because they sell that many more bikes, making it a lot easier for a single-line dealer to be supported by that."

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