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For several years I've been urging dealers to update and upgrade their websites. Many have. I suggested it was a powerful way to communicate with their customers, fellow dealers and their OEMs. It's also a great way to enhance customer loyalty. However, I find it disheartening that there are still some smaller dealers who have not joined the 21st Century by creating a website of their own. Wake up!
Communication before the Internet was expensive, hard to measure and only about half of it worked anyway worse, no one knew which half that was! In any event, those early methods of reaching out are fast becoming obsolete. For example, a local TV station covered an interesting event: A small retail operation (not motorcycle) placed a help wanted ad in the classified section of the newspaper. It was the typical three-line ad that ran for three days.
The retailer reported that he received a total of four applications, all from unqualified job seekers. So he stopped the newspaper ads and began to advertise on his own website. Because he wasn't limited to three lines, the Internet ad was creative and enticing. His job description was well worded with the benefits and opportunities clearly spelled out. The retailer reported that he received 400 applications many from well-qualified individuals!
Turnover of personnel is a universal problem in the powersports industry. Employee turnover in dealerships has been reported to be as high as 30% per year. (Yes, I know there are dealers who have almost zero turnover and others who have a turnover rate exceeding 30%). That means there's a need to keep a list of potential candidates to fill open positions in your dealership.
Just as the telegraph, telex and even the fax machine have seen a dramatic decline in use, so too have the newspaper classified ad sections. The newspapers' revenue stream, which has been fed in large part by individual classified ads, is really beginning to feel the pinch. They are looking for ways to stem the flow, but it's going to take a great deal of creativity to find one. Their time has come and perhaps is now fading away. The newspaper industry knows their readers' age is fast approaching 60, and young people apparently don't scour the classified ads looking for employment.
What's the reality? The Internet has just about all the power. Nothing else comes close. More people are using the Internet to find information than the newspaper, the telephone, Yellow Pages or any other source of information.
Our industry is heavily involved in the Internet, too. Last week eBay Motors, that web-based auction site some of us love and others hate, had a total of 6,784 new and used motorcycles listed for sale by both dealers and individuals. Add in other sites selling used motorcycles and number jumps to 10,000+. The MIC reports that seven of ten motorcycle sales take place outside the franchised dealer's place of business. I think that percentage will continue...