Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More on dealer inside info

Many people view powersports dealerships as equal to McDonald's franchises. They're not. Far from it. The arrangement between a motorcycle manufacturer and its dealers is really very different. A franchiser such as McDonalds or Burger King dictates virtually everything its franchisees do. Operating hours, days closed, promotion participation, recipes, vendors, appearances of the product, and on and on. All are strictly controlled and the franchiser makes regular visits to check up its franchisers, not to mention regularly exacts an agreed-upon percentage of their gross income.

Motorcycle dealers on the other hand have worlds more leeway. It's a different thing altogether. They can reconstruct the motorcycle in a different way than original before selling it, they can sell whatever else they choose to alongside the manufacturer's product, choose their own operating days and hours, exercise complete control over their marketing strategy, appearance of their stores, all of that. And the host company does not exact any percentage, and performs only the most cursory of checkups, if any at all.

Becoming a powersports dealer is basically two things: buying the right to put the manufacturer's logo on your building, and acquiring the benefit of unique access to the host manufacturer's product, parts, and information. That's it. But it is enough, and it is significant. Powersports manufacturers do not make available these benefits to non-dealers. They also are considerably more protective of their dealers' territories, unlike fast food franchisers who frequently allow two stores on the same block!

The point is that unlike a franchise, a powersports dealership is an independent operation, and one whose principal is wholly and uniquely responsible for everything about its function. Not that manufacturers don't want to know when the dealers it has put a certain amount of trust in and have invested in are sullying its name in one way or another. They do, you can be sure. They just don't have a lot of leverage to apply (depending on the exact details of the dealer agreement, but most are similar) when the dealer isn't representing them the way they would like.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

yet more on powersports mechanics

I've written a few things about powersports mechanics before. Links to a few of these articles are found below. One thing folks don't often realize is just how methodical a career mechanic can be. This is a picture of a mechanic's workbench at a motorcycle shop, taken around 1995. Note the things in this picture. The cylinder head is on a specially-made head holder, up off the bench. Spot the noteboard? How about the laptop? And the parts bins above the workbench? And don't miss the holders for punches and chisels. Yeah, a good mechanic is tidy.

The Superstar Myth
Where is the Service in the Service Dept?
The Face of the Store
Need More Mayo!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Vintage Revival

It is incredible how strong the vintage/retro/old school thing is today. Not even the Chinese manufacturers of aftermarket motorcycle parts would pour into this as much as they are without a really healthy market. Seats and tanks and wheels and exhausts and you name it...abound. And then there is the quality stuff out of Japan and Europe. Tasty bits, these. And Yamaha with their Bolt, and Harley going strong, and Norton. Sigh. Reborn manufacturer Norton has got so many orders for its long-awaited models the company has announced it will take til Spring to fill them. Unbelievable!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

More on Mechanics

I try to get a certain amount of time on user forums, just to keep up with prevailing thought. Also, I spend a lot of time on vendors' sites, to stay current on what is out there and who is selling, and saying, what. It's great that the vintage thing has really come into its own. It's good to see.

Something is becoming evident though. I don't like saying "I told you so..." but I will. I told you so. It occurs to me these days that folks in the powersports community are finally coming around to the realization that historically-held beliefs, really urban myths if you will, are in some cases patently incorrect. And I am pleased (if a little tired of waiting) to see cold reason finally prevailing in a few areas.

For so long it hurts to think about how long, we inside the industry have been warning consumers about aftermarket oil filters, for example. And gaskets. And premium gasoline. And seemingly a thousand other things that are erroneously taken as "gospel". It has taken a couple of wonderfully diligent independent studies to convince about the oil filters, countless negative forum member experiences to codify re non-OEM engine gaskets, and the unbiased voice of reason -- not to mention the manufacturers themselves -- to sway concerning high-test petrol in the average Asian machine, but it is finally happening. And that's a good thing.

It is poignant however because we working people, the folks that service your machines, have been saying it all along. Technicians are not given much credibility. I have written on this subject elsewhere, but the to-me bitter irony of the front line indvidual not having empowerment, credibility, or input, in the powersports industry, is a lastingly perplexing thing and a burden that I have borne for most of my adult life. If you a good mechanic, value him or her. Get to know him. Be open-minded about his credibility, at least until you know for sure. Technicians are the under-appreciated members of the powersports community. It's time they got their due.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

vintage chassis

I have a new article on my website, just a short consideration of how the chassis in vintage steel-tube framed motorcycles are not meant to withstand much added loading.