Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Excuses, excuses

Phillip Youles, chairman of the National Motorcycle Dealers Association: I’m sick of COVID. Excuses, excuses, it seems like most of the people we put our trust in are using the current situation as an excuse to not do their job properly…

I’ve been banned from a pub today for locking my pushbike up in the wrong place. I strategically positioned it on the front where I would be able to see it from inside. The landlord came out, asking me to put it in a different place. Apparently, if someone sat on the bench outside, I’d have to go near them when unlocking it. He seemed to overlook the fact that it was raining and I’d be well away from them anyway.

The ‘Covid empowered’ Landlord, got my back up with his tone. I told him politely where to go … and he told me politely I wasn’t welcome back.

Two hundred yards up the road is another pub. They were really friendly and seemed to want my trade. This is my point that yes, we need to be careful and wear a mask, wash our hands etc, etc. but we need to start treating each other like human beings again! Don’t fall into the Covid trap, it’s not an excuse to be rude to people. In fact, it’s totally the opposite and we need to be welcoming. That takes more of an effort with a mask on than in normal times.

I have had to rethink our policies around many aspects of the business and we are enjoying a boom as a consequence. Keeping our front of house staff engaged and creating a positive buzz about the place is vital. Our businesses are offering an alternative to public transport or a channel for that holiday money that was going to be spent in Europe.

Keeping the customer happy and engaged is more important now than ever. How about a sign saying “PLEASE WEAR A MASK” instead of “MASKS MUST BE WORN”? And if someone does forget, then offer them one, politely? You know sometimes, when you’re excited, you can forget that you need one.

Both of my stores are in the newly defined high-risk areas and people are likely to be apprehensive about visiting us and we will re-enforce the trading at a distance solution which if I’m honest, had slipped a bit.

Autumn survey
The Autumn 2020 NMDA Dealer Attitude Survey (DAS) is now live. Please take five minutes (and it really does only take five minutes!) to complete the DAS. I find it interesting how often dealers openly speak out about the apathy within our industry and the lack of will to change the course of events, in particular the dealer/manufacturer relationship. Well, this is your opportunity to effect change.
It’s your survey and it’s your chance to have a truly anonymous voice. Trust me, manufacturers DO take note of the results. Those manufacturers that do well, are often those that take note of the blind spot in their dealer relationships. Often with a little tweak here and a little tweak there, it can make all the difference.
The industry still doesn’t have a clear direction on the imposition of Euro 5. I feel the ramifications will be pivotal to the success of new sales in 2021. Unfortunately a lot of this is out of our control, but how different brands handle this will determine the success (or not) of their network next year.

Ride Safe
At the NMDA we continue to remind the government about the importance of promoting the Covid Ride Safe message, which certainly seems to be benefitting small bike sales. Let’s face it, who would want to use public transport with Covid around? So surely, we should make the most of this opportunity as it is in the public’s best interest to keep them safe.

The supply of small bikes seems to be an issue, with all the major brands struggling. This seems really poor to me. There are executives with well-paid jobs that either haven’t planned properly or haven’t reacted quickly enough to the upturn. They will carry on receiving their salary whilst their dealers are struggling. We can’t sell empty spaces. I believe some Chinese brands are still able to supply so don’t be surprised if they mop up market share. When you think about it, it’s like having the ball in the penalty area then tripping up over your bootlace and chipping the ball straight into the goalkeepers’ hands…

Above all get that survey filled in, keep safe and make the most of the last few months of 2020.


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