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Motorcycles: Aftersales

Aftersales has always been a key area for squeezing out more profits for dealers, but what about extending that area of the business into motorcycles?

The motorcycle servicing market is catching up with cars in many ways.

Previously enthusiasts would modify and fix their own bikes but customers are now turning to garages because of the increasing complexity of technology involved with two-wheelers.

Today’s bikes are water-cooled, fuel-injected, with ABS and brake-by-wire systems – not a lot different to a car. In terms of investment required for equipment, Geoff Selvidge, motorcycles division manager at Yamaha UK, says it “depends on how far you want to go”.

He says: “The UK is still keen on sports bikes, so some garages will invest in a dyno to see how much power people are making from modified bikes on open days.

“Generally, garages will have to invest in two workbenches, two to three mechanics and approximately £1,500 in specialist tools."

Typical total investment ranges between £350,000 and £500,000 in order to integrate motorcycles into the business fully, but those figures can vary depending on the manufacturer.

Simon Read, franchising manager for Honda UK’s motorcycles division, believes aftersales is still a bit of an untapped resource.

He says: “It’s very important for every dealer, especially those with large overheads.

“Most dealers are computerised and can make sure the workshop is fully utilised. It’s an area where car dealers can take most advantage of the business.”

Another area in which motorcycles are catching up with cars is manufacturer standards.

Frank Finch, head of the Motorcycle Retailers Association at the Retail Motor Industry Federation, says: “Motorcycle manufacturers do have corporate identity standards. Brands like Harley-Davidson, Ducati and Triumph are also quite regimented, with car-type requirements.”

Finch says the standards cut right across the dealership from the showroom to the workshop.

Franchised dealers will already have vast experience of adhering to manufacturer guidelines which will be a smooth learning process if a business decided to take the plunge.

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has already piloted an Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme for motorcycle technicians which officially launched in February last year.

Stuart Brookes, head of press relations, says 200 technicians have successfully completed the motorcycle ATA. Dealers can expect to pay around £250 per applicant on the scheme.

Dealers looking into the possibility of adding motorcycle servicing to their business will be pleased to know that BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Piaggio, Suzuki and Yamaha all endorse the ATA for motorcycle technicians.

But after all the investment is there any money to be made? Paul Wilson, service manager at Chiswick Honda brand centre, believes so.

His service operation in west London, features servicing for motorcycles and cars, as well as boats and ATVs. In fact, anything with a Honda engine.

While Wilson couldn’t quote exact figures he did say Chiswick Honda is making a profit out of its service operations. Wilson says: “The great thing about having servicing for both is that it spreads the cost.

  • Read this story in full in the June 27 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.
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