Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever -
Thursday Edition

Where Are We Headed?

Why H-D Dealers Struggle

By the Stealth with photos from Sam Burns

Share this story:

I have been thinking about this for a good while now. I THOUGHT I was done with the Harley-Davidson dealer business, but every time I try to get out, I get pulled back in but probably not for long. I plan on contributing a lot more for BIKERNET in the near future.

With that being said, it seems nowadays it has all changed. I guess everything does. First, I would like to say I have been this side of the industry for about 25 years. I have been riding since 1976. Yeah, I have seen some things! What I see nowadays is a decline.

People with great knowledge used to work in dealerships not nowadays. Been to one lately? If you have, you know what I am speaking of! Young kids at the parts counters, not knowing anything. I had a guy tell me it took him 4 trips to get the correct spark plugs and it took him 2 trip to get the correct air filter? Come on?

A lot of this has to do with the pay scale, and a lot has to do with no interest in motorcycles from the people who get these jobs!

I have always said you cannot take a guy or a girl who has no interest in bikes or the lifestyle and train them. IT DOES NOT WORK!

I started getting interested in bikes (Harleys) when I was in the 10th grade. I would read anything I could find that was about Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I learned the history and tradition behind the Motor Company.

I was lucky enough to meet a guy along the way Mike J., he taught me a lot. He would talk and I would listen, and I would take it all in. WE are still the best of friends to this day.

There were others along the way. I always listened. I never tried to impress these guys with what I did not know! A lot of years down the road I met my good friend Bandit. I have learned a great deal from him not only about bike and this business but some life lessons as well.

Back to what we were talking about. I see these kids come into this business with no knowledge, no base knowledge and they struggle big time. They stick around maybe 3-6 months and move on.

They have no love for the business, no love for bikes, no passion and they leave with nothing. The cycle repeats itself over and over.

I have seen this business in the ‘90s. It was wide open. People standing in line to buy bikes, but not today. Next time you are at a dealership check out how many new bikes you see.

To be successful in this business you must have a passion for motorcycles. I do not see this nowadays. These kids see it as only a job. Most don't ride, most cannot afford to, and some have no desire to!

I truly hope all this changes. This is a GREAT industry to be a part of!

Oh, by the way, if anyone cares to know what I am doing right I got a call asking if I would be interested in helping with a BIG inventory problem? BIG is an understatement!

So, for now that’s what I am doing. Oh, and I am also trying to get their parts counter straight??? Like I said, I am going to be more involved with BIKERNET in the near future.

Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.
Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.

Share this story:

Back to Of Cultural Interest, Special Reports

Reader Comments

Stealth - This looks like the results of "Financial Sustainability vs Unit Reliability"....
-Low Pay
-No Pension
-No Insurance

I watched one of the best H-D Techs I've ever seen, quit Harley Davidson, and go work for the Railroad because he was unable to sustain a family of four, with what Harley had to offer in pay and benefits.

You would have done the same thing. Yet, reading the Rapid City Journal, I see "Record Attendance" in the news..... This even smells like someone is full of shit. You want your new employees to gain interest, and not seek other employment avenues? Fix those 3 issues, train them well, and send them to Sturgis South Dakota at least once, so they can see the bigger picture, see what writes those paychecks they cash.

Remove 2/3s of the seats on Harleys board of directors if that's what it takes,(I don't see them doing much anyway) and those that remain - let them work the next 2 years for the same pay as a new parts tech, at the counter, all while they multitask 2 other full time positions, and accomplishing very little at the end of the day. Let them see what it's like to go home every day with less than sustainable compensation, and try to feel good about going to work the next day....with that same enthusiasm Harley Davidson expects!

Bottom Line - You can put good people up against a bad system, and the bad system will win every time - Doug

Win If You Can.....
Lose If You Must.....
But Always Cheat.....

---Burma Shave

Buchanan, MI
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Editor Response I know there are anxious kids out there who want to learn. Need to open the doors to them.

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.