The Smoke Out Rally is “the” Chopper Show

The DIY Chopper Show

The 14th Anniversary Smoke Out comes together at “The Rock” in North Carolina. The Smoke Out is about choppers, about builders, from professional builders to those bloody-knuckled guys (and ladies) burning the midnight oil in an unheated shed to build a chopper they can call their own.

Chops of all makes are featured, American, British, Metric, everything. The event is about riders, cross-town to cross-country in a rainstorm.

Mark your calendars now…

June 21 and 22, 2013

  • Friday – 12 noon to 11 pm
  • Saturday – 10 am to 11 pm

The event is two days to look at fine chops, listen to good music, relax, catch up with old friends or make new friends, eat good food, take a couple nice puts in a pretty countryside, drink some beer, shop the venders wares… and on and on…

Make the jump to the Smoke Out website for more information.

Race support: Still a viable business strategy?

Publish Date: Feb 20, 2013
Source: Dealernews
By Bruce Steever

WIN ON SUNDAY, sell on Monday. It’s the long-held adage of the performance sector.

"How to make $1 Million in racing? Start with $2 Million,"  - Mitch Hansen, HMC Racing
“How to make $1 Million in racing? Start with $2 Million,” – Mitch Hansen, HMC Racing

But in the post-2008 powersports market, OEMs and dealers alike are forced to make critical evaluations on how to spend their constricted budgets. It seems that many business owners in our industry are choosing to sacrifice racing support and involvement.

Does this make good business sense, or are these cost-conscious dealers throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday...
Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday…

To learn whether racing still makes for a compelling business model,Dealernews talked with several dealerships that have created a name for themselves thanks to their involvement in racing at various levels. Each dealership offers a different perspective on how to make the most of resources spent in the sporting side of the industry. These perspectives include everything from hands-off marketing, to various levels of direct support, to dealer principals who themselves still race.

Representing the classic model of how racing can build a business, John Beldock of Erico Motorsports in Denver (a Top 100 Hall of Fame Dealer) is very clear on the risks involved if you expect racing to become a turnkey revenue stream. That being said, he is also quite clear that each business owner needs to carefully consider whether the love of the sport can overcome the potential drain on resources.

“We have been involved in racing over the years at many different levels,” Beldock says. “As far as racing as a promotional activity for dealerships, I have found it to be a revenue drain rather than a stream. There are a few racers that can trade their high visibility and skill for discounted services, but the faster the racer, the faster the drain.”

Beldock is the first to claim how his business was built “hustling crashed bikes to racers” to help them create new track-ready race bikes. But he also feels that the racers themselves are part of the problem. He says that “trackside advertising does serve to build the name and brand, but much of the clientele it targets is the racer crowd.

“Many in this group perform their own mechanical work, negating the need for a dealership’s service department,” he continues. “There are independents that perform work for racers, but they operate at a muted cost level and can offer a more affordable opportunity for those racers. Most race programs are on a pretty tight budget and need to look for heavily discounted services.”

But as mentioned, Beldock understands that for many enthusiasts working in the industry, the potential red on the balance sheet is just part of the cost of being involved in the sport. Racing is very rarely a zero-sum game, and if living the dream is the primary concern, then potential losses of supporting a racing effort can be considered sunk costs.

“With all this said, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that racing is cool and offers one of the most incredible outlets in our industry,” Beldock explains. “Racing is also responsible for much of the development in the equipment that we all take such great advantage of. If not for racing, our sport would be bland at best. My suggestion is to race your heart out but don’t expect it to pay for itself!”

However, we also talked with Michael Stanfield, owner of Freedom Cycles(Grandview, Mo.). Freedom Cycles (a Top 100 Dealer) not only supports racers, but much of the staff is involved in various forms of two-wheeled competition.

“We are very proud of our staff,” Stanfield says. “Not only are we a place that sponsors riders, but we ride ourselves and can share our product experiences with our customers. In addition, we have recently begun Freedom Rally Racing, which focuses on supporting international and domestic riders at the Dakar Rally.”

Freedom Cycles uses a variety of techniques to market itself and support the local racing community. These include sponsored track days, demo days (featuring ex-Dakar race bikes, no less) and parts and service discounts. Supported racers are expected to represent the dealership in local and regional events as well as run Freedom Cycles Racing graphics on their machines.

The challenge in determining a specific return on investment (ROI) dollar amount is always a challenge. According to Stanfield, “we have not tried to determine actual dollar returns. It is very difficult to calculate. Our approach is that either you are in the racing business or you are not. Our feel for return is based on going to the racetrack and seeing how many bikes have our decals on them compared to our competition. If we stand out as having a high percentage of the exposure, we feel like we have been doing some of the right things.

“Our racers are also very loyal to our dealership,” Stanfield adds. “Just four of the many riders we support have purchased six new units and spent approximately $25,000 in parts and accessories in 2012. It goes without saying, not all our riders invest that much in their racing, but we pride ourselves on helping each and every racer we can that is willing to represent Freedom Cycles on the track.”

MAXIMIZE IMPACT
Clearly, the miles may vary when it comes to more direct involvement with your local racers. If you aren’t able to commit resources to supporting racers through the traditional channels, you need to change how you approach the sport. You can either maximize your impact to increase the results your racing participation can deliver, or you need to minimize the cost involved while still guaranteeing some level of return.

Two California Ducati dealers managed to show both approaches. And interestingly, thanks in part to Ducati’s strong national marketing, both dealers found these results working with the same racing event: the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb.

Pike’s Peak was certainly an interesting venue for Ducati to step into, and much of the brand’s success “on the hill” can be placed on the shoulders of Carlin Dunne, a racer and Ducati Santa Barbara’s general manager. Ducati’s Pike’s Peak protagonist became part of Ducati Santa Barbara in 2005.

“Back then, it was hard to tell if we were racing to own the shop or owning a shop to go racing,” Dunne says. “We’d been circuit racing, doing AMA, but we really didn’t see that much return on our racing efforts. In ’07 or ’08, when Ducati decided to try the Pike’s Peak, Paul Livingstone contacted us. They’d heard about us through the grapevine. Going there as support the first year, I completely fell in love with it.”

Fast forward to 2011 and 2012: Dunne’s racing experience, combined with a competitive bike, catapulted Ducati Santa Barbara to the national spotlight.

“In 2011, we took our Multistrada base model demo bike. Without frills, we got it race-prepped and it worked really well during practice. We ended up winning and setting a new course record, beating Ducati’s own backed effort,” Dunne says. “It was very much a David-versus-Goliath thing.

“In 2012, Ducati asked me to be part of factory effort. We set the course record again. I was able to bring our input and setup experience on the development side to make sure we had a competitive bike. I think a lot of that came from our little effort in Santa Barbara,” Dunne adds.

Ducati Santa Barbara became the home of the record-setting race team, as well as the inspiration for a new OEM trim level of the motorcycle they raced: the Multistrada 1200 S Pike’s Peak. Dunne has no doubts that his efforts racing up a mountain in Colorado has paid dividends to his business in California. “It has given us a return in more ways that we can imagine,” he says.

“We’ve had people tell us directly: ‘I’m buying this bike from you because of what you’ve done.’ On the whole, it established even more our trust with our customer base. They know that we go so much further [than just selling bikes and parts]. Our accessory sales have benefitted, as I think people are less likely to price-shop us.
“It was just what we wanted to do. We’ve struggled, had some bad races and crashes, but we’ve had some great successes,” Dunne continues. “It’s made us part of the bigger riding community, one that we’ve actually helped grow in the area.”

Dunne says it is this sense of reaching the performance-oriented riding community that has been the source of Ducati Santa Barbara’s positive ROI. “I know for a fact that we’ve sold quite a few Pike’s Peak MTSs because of our involvement with the race,” he says. “Ducati is a lifestyle brand, so if we are the guys out there doing it and getting involved in the lifestyle, it makes you want to buy the bike from us even more. The marketplace is so incredibly competitive, so it is really special to have someone drive an extra couple hundred miles to buy from you, all because they have that extra trust in your shop.”

Dunne has also seen a very real improvement in morale, as both the relationships between his staff and with Ducati North America have been strengthened. Racing is never just about the bottom line.

“[Pike’s Peak] is a bucket-list race, and it’s built a lot of camaraderie in our shop,” Dunne says. “It’s created a better bond with a common goal, and it’s the same with our OEM. These are the same guys we were getting greasy with, ultimately being victorious together. Now, when I talk to Ducati corporate, I’m not just dealing with a guy in a suit; I’m dealing with my friends.”

MINIMIZE COST
What if you have identified a great racing event but don’t want to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it requires to compete? The better approach becomes one of making the most of the tools you have available to maximize your marketing impact.

Michael Guerin, president of Ducati Triumph Newport Beach, does exactly that. Having already proven that good planning can create immediate success, Guerin believes that racing is something that can serve your dealership as a fantastic sales tool, but it isn’t something that will directly keep your lights on.

“You have to remember that racing is a marketing tool — period,” Guerin says. “You will not directly generate revenue by racing.”

Instead, Guerin believes that motorsport involvement is something that should complement the established branding of your dealership. Instead of getting tied up in the costs and complexities of directly supporting a racing effort,Ducati Newport uses local performance and racing events as just one arm of its various marketing and social media efforts.

“Getting involved is easy,” Guerin says, “with track days, for example. You can do it without it costing a lot. We are in an industry where you can’t throw money and people at things [and expect results]. Other dealers do it, but not many.”

For Ducati Newport Beach, racing involvement is a marketing game. Events are carefully selected to complement both the Ducati brand and the skills of the dealership’s staff. Parts, budget and human resources are only used if the event is a good match.

“A lot of it is having the right staff that is knowledgeable about performance and the industry as the whole,” Guerin notes. “So we might donate tech time and travel costs, but you always have got to have a plan. We got involved with Pike’s Peak to generate awareness for the dealership and the brand. Did we sell more Multistradas because of it? Probably, but I never tracked it. At the end of the day, our racing involvement is just part of the overall marketing budget, and we don’t spend much, maybe $1,000 a month.”

FOUR TIPS
When it comes to racing support, your return on investment depends on how you approach your involvement. No company may understand this better than Yoshimura Research and Development. You see, Yoshimura wants to get every dealer involved in the sport.

We talked with Yoshimura’s vice president, Don Sakakura, sales manager John Haskell and Systematyx’s Dave Waugh (producer of Yoshimura’s E-Training platform) on the potential ROI that concludes the argument for race involvement perfectly.

If you are able to tap into the racing world, even tangentially, you open up your dealership to that community — just like Ducati Santa Barbara and Ducati Triumph Newport Beach. If you can ensure your staff is properly educated on performance products, you can make the most of your staff’s riding involvement — just like Freedom Cycles. And never forget that racing is what has helped build our industry — just like Erico Motorsports used it to build their business.

According to Yoshimura, dealership involvement is more about reaching and connecting with the audience than making sure your stickers are on the fastest bikes. Here’s what the trio told us:

  • TIP No. 1: “You shouldn’t plan on starting too big, with a huge new Toy Hauler and a crew at your local racetrack. Follow the racers. If racing is getting too expensive in this economy, the number of full-time racers will decrease. But you know where they go? To your local trackdays.”
  • TIP No. 2: “Racing is more than just sponsored riders. To dealers, racing should mean supporting all sorts of performance-minded riders. Find out what racing means in your community. Racing should support a niche, scratch an itch. Riders want to be sold something. And remember that while a dealership will never lose a customer due to racing involvement, you might lose them for a lack of involvement.”
  • TIP No. 3: “You need to know your PG&A investment is safe, that you are going to turn it quickly and see a return. Making a performance display on the sale floor, like putting a system on a new bike, is going to help sell the bike — which, of course, is going to sell the exhaust system. If you widen your view, you can see that looking at racing through a straw is doomed to failure because racing is more than teams and riders, its communities and demographics.”
  • TIP No. 4: “And finally, don’t be afraid to get involved. You don’t need to go straight to the winner of the race to pitch your sponsorship. The hard-charger of the field that struggles to make the podium is potentially the best ambassador you could sponsor, as his enthusiasm for racing can be tapped to represent your business as well. If you sponsor a racer, they should represent your dealership well. Your investment in that racer should be seeing a return even if the racebike never turns a wheel.”

Racing is in many ways the lifeblood of the industry. Without folks willing to push the machine just a little bit faster, there would be little development of motorcycle technology and zero reason to see who was fastest off the line. Make no mistake that racing involvement can be an expensive proposition, but depending on how you approach the sport, it can also be the tool your dealership needs to wins the sales race.

 

Product Updates from 2013 Dealer Expo

Biker Pros attended the 2013 Dealer Expo while working the 2013 Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show. The Advanstar extravaganza included combining Dealer Expo and the International Motorcycle Show, creating America’s largest bike show, ever.

Listed below are a few products that new, innovative and interesting.

Voztec debuts top-hinged helmet, enhances rider safety

Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis
Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis

Unlike conventional helmets, the Voztec Snakehead helmet has no retaining strap; instead the helmet is hinged at the top and swings open like a clam shell. You open the hinge, lift the rear section of the helmet, and insert your face into the front part of the helmet, then close and lock the rear portion. This can be done without having to take your glasses off.

According to Mark Bryant, president, the innovative design affords several advantages over the conventional helmet, including head retention, comfort, vision, turbulence, wind pressure and, most importantly, safety.

In the event of an accident, the front portion of the helmet can be removed, leaving the rear portion in place without disturbing the head — unlike conventional helmets where the strap needs to be cut or released and the helmet removed from the top of the head. This feature alone may reduce the number of injuries encountered when the conventional helmet is removed, according to the company.

Alpina spoked wheels are strong, light and gorgeous

Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis
Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis

It doesn’t matter that Alpina wheels are used by supermoto and rally champions to win races, what matters is how cool they look in the two tone layout: half carbon fiber and half fluorescent orange (or green).

Countless additional custom combinations are easy to create thanks to various paint and alloy finishing options on hubs, rims and spokes and nipples.

Each rim uses a composite of alloy and carbon fiber to create a wheel that is claimed to be significantly lighter than competing spoked wheels without sacrificing strength or durability. Each wheel is airtight and ready for tubeless tires thanks to Alpina’s proprietary spoke and nipple design. According to Alpina, since the nipples are adjusted from the outside of the rim, the spokes hold tension much longer than traditional wheels, again improving durability and reducing maintenance.

Pulstar Pulse Plugs

Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis
Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis

The two new Iridium Pulstar Pulse Plugs, be1it and he1it, are designed to provide quicker throttle response with the V-Twin cruiser owner in mind. They increase efficieny to help boost power while cutting fuel usage.The be1it size (shown) fits a number of applications including the Honda Gold Wing and VTX 1800s, BMW 800CC / 1200CC, 1200CC and 1340CC ’75 – ’00 Harley-Davidson, Yamaha V-Star and many more touring and cruising bikes.

The he1it size is ideal for American Iron Horse, BMW, Honda, Harley-Davidson (twin cam) and more than 640 motorcycle applications. These plugs are part of Enerpulse’s Powersport line of Pulstar Pulse Plugs and work well with many powersport applications including ATVs and snowmobiles.

Paughco Sprocket Shaft Bearing Tool

Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis
Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis

This tool, designed for 1955 and later Big Twins, allows you to pull the crankshaft through the Timkin bearing with precise accuracy. Manufactured from heat-treated tempered steel, the Sprocket Shaft Bearing Tool retails at $127.95.

All merchandise is fully guaranteed against defects in material or workmanship for 90 days.

Website:
www.paughco.com

Email:
jasonr@paughco.com

SuperTrapp JayBrake Radial Slotted Forward Controls

Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis
Featured Products from Dealer Expo in Indianapolis

The JayBrake Radial Slotted Forward Controls are geared toward the American V-Twin market and are styled with a modern look incorporating smooth lines, a curved brake and a shift arm. The slotted levers in the mechanism are compatible with JayBrake’s slotted lever hand controls. Due to the adjustable brake and shift levers, the controls provide a comfortable riding position to your riders. When compared to stock, the 2000 and up controls extend foot reach 2 3/8 inches more forward and a half inch lower.

The pre-2000 controls also extend foot reach an inch forward and an inch higher when compared to stock. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $630.

Website:
www.supertrapp.com

Email:
sales@supertrapp.com

S&S Cycle continues to drive profitability with new initiatives

S&S Cycle is selling a new line of high-performance lubricants produced by Spectro Oils.
S&S Cycle is selling a new line of high-performance lubricants produced by Spectro Oils.
When thinking of the V-twin market, it’s not a far stretch to get S&S Cycle in the picture. For 55 years, the company has manufactured high performance engine parts, but S&S isn’t staying complacent. In fact, at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, the company showcased three new initiatives aimed at growing its business and helping its dealers.

S&S is expanding with a new line of lubricants, a selection of new service parts and custom engine manufacturing.
Lubricant partnership

Showcased at the V-Twin Expo was S&S Cycle’s new line of lubricants, produced by Spectro Oils. For seven or eight years, S&S worked with Mobil 1 on a line of S&S oils, but the company recently decided to switch manufacturers. The reason for the change was twofold: as a smaller company, Spectro has been easier to work with, and Spectro was willing to produce petroleum oils for S&S.

“Petroleum oil, Mobil 1 didn’t really want to go there. That was their thing, but we wanted to offer a wide variety of products to people to meet their needs,” said Bruce Tessmer, marketing projects coordinator for S&S Cycle.

S&S’s Lubricant line offers both petroleum and synthetic engine oil and transmission oil, along with a primary oil. S&S believed that offering both petroleum and synthetic was important for its customers.
“People ask us, ‘Well, isn’t synthetic better? Why do you have a petroleum oil?’ The fact is we believe synthetic is the way to go. We believe that’s the finest thing you can put in your engine, but a lot of people don’t,” Tessmer explained. “We know there are people that aren’t going to use it for some reason or another; either they don’t believe in synthetic, or they don’t want to spend the money.”
Another benefit to working with Spectro is the company’s batch blend system, which combines all the components evenly, rather than in-line blending, which can lead to inconsistency.

“Spectro, they batch blend their stuff, so they can tweak it until it’s perfect, and they always make things on the high end of the spec, so every time you buy a bottle of S&S oil, it’s going to be the same,” Tessmer said.

Twitter’s 6-Second Videos Could Be Huge – The Vine Phenomena

Vine: a mobile service from Twitter that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Like Tweets, the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspires creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound. Biker Pros Commentary: We are using vine to showcase custom bikes at the Ultimate Builder.

WIRED MAGAZINE – BY RYAN TATE – January 2013

Click the image to see the video
Click here to see the video

From Twitter: Vine Video Service

Journalists spent Thursday playing with, writing about, and reviewing Twitter’s clever and simple new system for video posts, Vine. But academics are keenly interested in Vine too, saying the extreme constraints it imposes on video could produce an explosion in video sharing.

There’s big potential in Vine, say the two experts in online socialization we spoke to, but it’s unclear how, and how often, people will use the six-second video service.

“My guess, given the enthusiasm for Twitter so far, is that people are going to do really cool things,” says Scott Klemmer, who co-directs the Human-Computer Interaction Group at Stanford University. “One of the things we know about creativity is that constraints are essential for getting people to do creative stuff. If you come up with the right constraints, that’s a benefit, not a drawback. And nobody knows that better than Twitter, where their 140-character constraint really created a whole new medium in a lot of ways.”

“Will six-second videos be that? Who knows? But I think it’s a pretty darn interesting constraint.”

Twitter didn’t explain the reasoning behind its six-second video limit in an official announcement of Vine on Wednesday, but it’s easy to see what Twitter is trying to do if you consider the context in which Twitter itself launched seven years ago. Back then, many people wrote on the web via blogs, where posts could be of any length. But they seemed to post more frequently and freely when confined to small bursts, for example in the short status updates that caught fire on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. When Twitter launched in 2006, its strict insistence on short posts unleashed a torrent of fresh writing.

There was a practical reason for Twitter’s limit; the messaging network, particularly in its earliest incarnations, leaned heavily on cell-phone texting, which imposes hard limits on message length. But Twitter’s creators kept the limit in place long after most of its users had migrated to using the service via the web. “We’re fond of constraints that inspire creativity,” co-creator Jack Dorsey told PBS.org in 2007.

The subsequent success of Twitter’s microcontent model – attracting hundreds of millions of users, including an enviable collection of well known names across many creative fields — would seem to bode well for Vine. But it’s hard to predict what form its success might take. When Twitter launched, conventions for replies, retweets and hashtags had not been created, to say nothing of the more obscure subcultures and conventions that have emerged along the way. The medium emerged organically, and it would seem Twitter is trying to allow the same thing to happen with Vine.

“Twitter was built on the premise that constraints produce unexpected outcomes as people get creative,” says Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and longtime academic studying social media. “Part of what makes [Vine] interesting is who knows what will come out of it ?”

One thing, at least, is clear: People will not communicate in video on Twitter the same way they communicate in text.

“Video lets you show things,” says Klemmer. “For me at least, it would be much more pointing a camera out at the world than reading a monologue… It would be here’s the sunset tonight, or check out this crazy thing that I saw.”

Thus far, people seem to be using Vine mainly to show off their desks and offices. But then again, people initially used Twitter to report their every mundane move throughout the day: Eating lunch, going to the park, catching a movie. It was hard at the time to imagine what more could be done with 140 characters. It turned out, there was quite a lot more to say, and it will be interesting to see what more there is for people to shoot.

Why Facebook posts are Memorable?

Dr. Laura Mickes, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick

Dr. Laura Mickes, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick
Dr. Laura Mickes, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick
Source: GizMag
All articles by Antonio Pasolini

The success of social networks such as Facebook may provide clues to the type of information the human mind tends to favor. New research suggests human memory prefers spontaneous writing favored by users communicating online to grammatically polished text found in edited material. This the gist of the findings presented in a paper called Major Memory for Microblogs, which details the results of a research comparing memory retention of Facebook updates to book excerpts and faces.

One of the tests involved 32 people and assessed participants’ memory for Facebook posts in relation to their memory for sentences from books. The Facebook updates were stripped of images and removed from their original context. The result: participants remembered them one and a half times better than the edited sentences taken from books. That ratio increased to two and a half in a separate test for faces involving 16 people.

“These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory,” said Dr. Laura Mickes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick (U.K.), who authored the research along with Christine Harris and Nicholas Christenfeld, of UC San Diego (U.S.). She believes the results partially explain the popularity of social media platforms.

“The fact that posts were so memorable suggests that they resonate with the recipients,” says Mickes.

Even when graphic signs such as emoticons and unique characters were removed, Facebook posts kept the advantage over edited excerpts, the researchers say. The fact that the updates are self-contained while book sentences are chosen randomly and presented out of context could also explain why Facebook posts are more memorable.

The research team uses a concept called “mind ready” format, which means that “what easily comes to mind is easy to remember.” The concept explains why our memory prefers spontaneous, gossipy, or, as some may say, trivial, bits of information.

It all goes back to how we evolved. Harris highlights how memory and the social world have played a key role for human survival throughout history.

“We learn about rewards and threats from others,” she says.”

So it makes sense that our minds would be tuned to be particularly attentive to the activities and thoughts of people and to remember the information conveyed by them.” A similar pattern was observed with other online media such as Twitter and comments on online articles.

The researchers believe their findings could provide useful guidance for professionals who design educational tools and copywriters. They are currently exploring other forms of communication that are as memorable as microblogs and following up on the idea that they are mind-ready.

Major Memory for Microblogs was recently published in the journal Memory & Cognition.

Dealers who blog find connection with customers

harley Custom Weekend ProSHow

harley Custom Weekend ProSHowHouse of Harley-Davidson, Laidlaw H-D see results
Source: Powersports Business

Blogs are everywhere these days. People blog about technology; they blog about shopping; they blog about things most people don’t even care about; and of course, they blog about powersports.

Yet, very few dealerships host a blog, and dealers who do say their non-blogging counterparts may be missing out.

Matt Laidlaw of Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson in Baldwin Park, Calif., said his dealership staff has blogged for seven or eight years.

“It keeps our customers updated, it lets our customers know we’re knowledgeable about the stuff we sell and it creates for better SEO (search engine optimization),” he said.

House of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee has hosted a blog for nearly two years.

“From a business perspective, we think it’s important that we are utilizing all our opportunities to increase our SEO, so integrating the blog into all our social media efforts helps us,” marketing manager Sarah Maio said.

Getting content for the blog can be a simple as looking into what’s being talked about at the dealership. Laidlaw’s blogs have included anything from information about new bikes to event details to services specials.

“I blog about whatever I want, basically new stuff. I blog about what’s new in the Harley industry, what’s new about products and stuff like that, and any events we’re having at the dealership,” Laidlaw explained.

House of Harley has shared Halloween costume tips, tales of an employee’s bike trip, advice on great riding roads and more.

“We think that being in Milwaukee, really in the backyard of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, that we can offer a unique glimpse into what riders here are doing,” Maio said.

While Laidlaw and a colleague take turns blogging at his dealership, House of Harley-Davidson has hired a third party vendor to draft the blog content, which dealership staff then tweaks.

Shortly before Halloween, House of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee posted a blog about motorcycle-themed costumes. The dealership uses the blog to keep in touch with its customers and draw traffic to its website.

House of Harley-Davidson reaches a worldwide customer base because the dealership is so close to the Motor Co.’s headquarters. The dealership appeals to that audience and its locals by sharing information about Milwaukee-based activities and events, as well as events that readers worldwide can participate in, including the House that Social Media Built (see sidebar). The dealership will also keep its customers updated on Harley’s 110th anniversary activities through the blog.

“It’s about the experience of being a rider and being a part of the House of Harley-Davidson, no matter what corner of the world you live in,” Maio said.

The dealership promotes each new blog through its Facebook and Twitter sites, and it also has a link to the blog placed prominently on its website. With this promotion, traffic to the blogs has been strong.

“The average time spent on the blog is around 2 minutes,” Maio reported. “Readers are not just bouncing on and off the page.”

Analytics also show that many of those readers are returning the House of Harley-Davidson site as well.

Laidlaw said traffic to his blog hasn’t reached the levels he’d like, but he says the effort is still worth it because of the credibility and SEO benefits it gives the store.

Because of the House of Harley-Davidson’s blog traffic and SEO, Maio said the biggest benefit to them is letting customers know of their presence.

Cancelled: October 2013 Dealer Expo

Dealer Expo

Dealer Expo
Dealer Expo Date Change
The October 2013 Dealer Expo, announced in September, will not be held, an Advanstar official confirmed.

So the industry’s major trade show lineup as it stands today is:

  • 2013 V-Twin Expo, Feb. 2-3, Cincinnati
  • 2013 Dealer Expo, Feb. 15-17, Indianapolis
  •  2013 American International Motorcycle Expo, Oct. 16-20, Orlando
  • 2014 Dealer Expo, Sept. 26-28, Indianapolis
  • 2014 American International Motorcycle Expo, October, Orlando

Advanstar’s announcement of the new fall date for Dealer Expo included the following factors in the decision to move to October:

  • OEM and distributor meeting timing has shifted the buying cycle to the fall
  • Dealers place the bulk of their orders in Q4
  • New products, both OEM and aftermarket, are launched closer to the end of the year
  • Indianapolis in October is beautiful, making the show a true “Ride In” destination

Select manufacturers will host their dealer meetings in Indy.

Garage Coffee Nashville Builds a Man Cave in Nashville & Sells Cups of Road Rage

The Coffee Company in Nashville
The Coffee Company in Nashville

Garage Coffee Nashville

Late last January, during a blizzard on a Sunday night in New York City, I met Rob Camardo at the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show while he was promoting his Garage Leathers’ saddlebags.

I was talking with him about becoming a sponsor of the Smoke Out Rally, the Choppafest of the East Coast, and while looking at his premium-grade, American-made saddlebags, a pound of his Road Rage Coffee rolled across the floor of his booth.

Continue reading “Garage Coffee Nashville Builds a Man Cave in Nashville & Sells Cups of Road Rage”

Corbin’s 4th Annual Rider Appreciation Day & 2013 Hollister Rally Kick Off on Same Weekend

99The re-born event, which has been on hold since 2009, is set to take place on July 5th & 6th. Mike Corbin, among many others, was instrumental in bringing this rally back. Corbin is planning their 4th Annual Rider Appreciation Day during the same time as the rally.

The American Biker image was born in Continue reading “Corbin’s 4th Annual Rider Appreciation Day & 2013 Hollister Rally Kick Off on Same Weekend”

Harley-Davidson Retail Numbers: Up 12-14 %

Harley-Davidson LogoSource: Powersports Business

A survey of 55 Harley-Davidson dealers by Baird analyst Craig Kennison shows U.S. retail up low double-digits through mid-November, according to a research note provided by Baird to Powersports Business.

“US demand is tracking up 12-14%, well above our 4% estimate,” Kennison reports. “Northeast dealers were underrepresented (Sandy), suggesting national results may finish closer to +10%. … We now expect US Harley dealers to sell roughly 26K bikes in Q4.”

Kennison also reports that 9 out of 10 dealers tell us inventory is ‘too low’ or ‘about right,’ a healthy dynamic that limits discounting activity. Still, we continue to see about half the dealers we contact sell below MSRP to ‘close the deal,’ — a hard habit to break.