American Motorcycle Dealer AMD 229 August 2018 - Page 5

son! No, really, I Love ‘More Roads’ (monstrously huge quantities of hurrah!). Now, in fact, none of this is rocket science really. Let’s be honest here, and most of it is way late, and with ‘LiveWire’ there is a sense of cart-in-front-of horse, riskiest gambit first, with those plays that are more likely to succeed coming afterwards. Indeed, most of it is based on gospels that many have been preaching for many years - much of it is playbook, and other people’s long ignored and unappreciated playbooks at that; ones that Harley has had offered to them on a plate long before now. all this to be done while embracing several key criteria, these are the However, interesting and, for me, best and most ambitious parts of the plans. First, to go in these (logical) new directions while not alienating their existing core customer base - always an overstated concern in my view - one that woefully undersells the innate creativity and thirst for innovation that is such a quintessentially American quality. In my humble opinion, it is the conservatism of the past two decades that has been the betrayal. Second, acknowledging and facing up to the fact that its dealer network needs to be “finessed” at the very least, needs to be helped to manage its sales and marketing journey in a more contemporary and cohesive manner, needs to convincingly embrace the morphing nature of buying and, above all, needs to be downtown as well as in the suburbs and counties. Final and largest hurrah of all is the acknowledgement of all this. Third, to do all this in a sustainable and profitable way, one that would allow Harley to continue to reward its investors at a rate that will keep it within the top quartile of the S&P 500 in shareholder value terms, fair enough, but above all keep it free of the dead weight of debt – if weight is the enemy of performance, then the weight of debt is the enemy of balance sheet performance. Husbanding resources is the appropriate mantra! Many analysts have been calling for greater clarity and detail of the plans (as have dealers and everyone else) and while, at this stage, they remain just exactly that, plans, in strategic terms it is the clarity that is the money in the bank. The announcements confirm that much of the speculation about where Harley could and should be taking the ‘Bar ‘n Shield’ in new model and market segment terms, has, after all, been pretty much where management’s head has also been at (if only they could have been a tad more liberal with the hints). Above all though, rather than a Stasi style corporatism, the 21st century orthodoxy is to take your market with you. The bean counters will always tell you that goodwill can’t be amortized, so has no hard business value, but they are emphatically wrong. With clarity comes momentum. The plans revealed about the dealer network strategy certainly do put the churn of the past here years or more into context though. If the selling-up of singleton store owners of many decades standing hasn’t been something that Milwaukee has been actively fostering, it certainly tells us that they haven’t been averse to it, that they definitely see more opportunity than downside in it. ‘with clarity comes momentum’ There have been plenty of siren voices, some quite recently well connected who have been bemoaning that Harley has clearly been courting a more auto industry like network, one where it doesn’t quite descend to “chocolate by the checkout,” but nonetheless one in which the emphasis is even more firmly on units rather than legacy. It throws their interpretation of keeping traditional core market buyers ‘on side’ into stark relief. Clearly Harley’s interpretation of doing so isn’t the same as those with the classic and touchingly irrational emotional attachment to the brand that drives otherwise sane people to have a multi-billion Dollar corporation’s logo tattooed for life about their person. Harley the line between legacy and baggage, between loyalty and longevity, For is obviously less well defined than it is for those of us who live our lives under the daily, grinding pressure of enduring multiple quarters of declining demand. The story of the past four or five years has been very different to that of 2008 and 2009. Then the collapse in demand was fast and universal. More recently it has been a long, slow process of atrophy, and in reaching for solutions I guess Harley can’t really be blamed for factoring in the strictly time limited value of Boomers. Harley has been “Dad’s bike” and “Grandpa’s brand” for an awfully long time now, and that certainly isn’t a heritage paved with opportunity – sadly “core” market, in that respect, is simply not going to be sufficiently sustaining in the future. But there has always been change and always will be – the time to worry is if a corporation stands still – as Harley has done in strategic terms for far too long now. If that change means having the kind of shops that ‘new gen’ consumers will want to visit, can visit and will buy from, then so be it – bring it on! Of course, it is all about balance in that respect, and time is Harley’s friend in that what may be a fast change in the character of the dealer network as far as Harley is concerned, will actually, probably, be slow as far as the world in which they are needing to compete will be concerned. Many may well take exception to some of Harley’s “Many Roads”, especially where dealer policy is concerned. For many it may be too radical in the context of a concept of “legacy” that is increasingly becoming more of a liability. Remember, everything that at one stage is radical eventually becomes orthodoxy and finally, outdated. Robin Bradley Co-owner/Editor-in-Chief robin@dealer-world.com son! No, really, I Love ‘More Roads’ (monstrously huge quantities of hurrah!). Now, in fact, none of this is rocket science really. Let’s be honest here, and most of it is way late, and with ‘LiveWire’ there is a sense of cart-in-front-of horse, riskiest gambit first, with those plays that are more likely to succeed coming afterwards. Indeed, most of it is based on gospels that many have been preaching for many years - much of it is playbook, and other people’s long ignored and unappreciated playbooks at that; ones that Harley has had offered to them on a plate long before now. owever, all this to be done while embracing several key criteria, these are the interesting and, for me, best and most ambitious parts of the plans. First, to go in these (logical) new directions while not alienating their existing core customer base - always an overstated concern in my view - one that woefully undersells the innate creativity and thirst for innovation that is such a quintessentially American quality. In my humble opinion, it is the conservatism of the past two decades that has been the betrayal. Second, acknowledging and facing up to the fact that its dealer network needs to be “finessed” at the very least, needs to be helped to manage its sales and marketing journey in a more contemporary and cohesive manner, needs to convincingly embrace the morphing nature of buying and, above all, needs to be downtown as well as in the suburbs and counties. Final and largest hurrah of all is the acknowledgement of all this. Third, to do all this in a sustainable and profitable way, one that would allow Harley to continue to reward its investors at a rate that will keep it within the top quartile of the S&P 500 in shareholder value terms, fair enough, but above all keep it free of the dead weight of debt – if weight is the enemy of performance, then the weight of debt is the enemy of balance sheet performance. Husbanding resources is the appropriate mantra! Many analysts have been calling for greater clarity and detail of the plans (as have dealers and everyone else) and while, at this stage, they remain just exactly that, plans, in strategic terms it is the clarity that is the money in the bank. The announcements confirm that much of the speculation about where Harley could and should be taking the ‘Bar ‘n Shield’ in new model and market segment terms, has, after all, been pretty much where management’s head has also been at (if only they could have been a tad more liberal with the hints). Above all though, rather than a Stasi style corporatism, the 21st century orthodoxy is to take your market with you. The bean counters will always tell you that goodwill can’t be amortized, so has no hard business value, but they are emphatically wrong. With clarity comes momentum. he plans revealed about the dealer network strategy certainly do put the churn of the past here years or more into context though. If the selling-up of singleton store owners of many decades standing hasn’t been something that Milwaukee has been actively fostering, it certainly tells us that they haven’t been averse to it, that they definitely see more opportunity than downside in it. H There have been plenty of siren voices, some quite recently well connected who have been bemoaning that Harley has clearly been courting a more auto industry like network, one where it doesn’t quite descend to “chocolate by the checkout,” but nonetheless one in which the emphasis is even more firmly on units rather than legacy. It throws their interpretation of keeping traditional core market buyers ‘on side’ into stark relief. Clearly Harley’s interpretation of doing so isn’t the same as those with the classic and touchingly irrational emotional attachment to the brand that drives otherwise sane people to have a multi-billion Dollar corporation’s logo tattooed for life about their person. or Harley the line between legacy and baggage, between loyalty and longevity, is obviously less well defined than it is for those of us who live our lives under the daily, grinding pressure of enduring multiple quarters of d )Qѽ䁽ѡЁȁȁٔ啅ٕ́́䁑ɕЁѼѡЁ(丁Qѡ͔݅́Ёչٕͅ5ɔɕѱ䁥Ё)ͱ܁ɽ́ɽ䰁ɕ)ȁͽѥ́$Օ́!ɱ䁍eЁɕ䁉)ѽɥѡɥѱѥѕمՔ ̸)!ɱ䁡́qétqɅéɅt)ȁݙձ䁱ѥܰѡЁх䁥ͻeЁ)ɥхٕݥѠչ䃊Lͅ䃊qɗtɭа)ѡЁɕа́ͥ䁹ЁѼՙѱ)хѡɔ) Ёѡɔ́݅́݅́ݥL)ѡѥѼݽ䁥́Ʌѥх́ѥL)!ɱ䁡́Ʌѕѕɵ́ȁȁѽܸ)%ѡЁ́٥ѡ́͡ѡЃa)dյ́ݥ݅ЁѼ٥ͥа٥ͥЁݥ䁙ɽѡͼЃLɥ)Ё)=͔Ё́ЁѡЁɕаѥ́!ɱéɥѡ)ݡЁ䁉ЁѡɅѕȁѡȁݽɬ́ȁ́!ɱ)́ɹݥՅ䰁ɽ䰁ͱ܁́ȁ́ѡݽɱݡѡ䁅ɔ)Ѽєݥɹ)5䁵ݕхፕѥѼͽ!ɱẽq5Iϊtݡɔ)ȁ䁥́ɹȁ䁥Ё䁉ѽɅѡѕЁ)qtѡЁ́ɕͥ䁉ɔ丁IȰٕѡ)ѡЁЁх́ɅٕՅ䁉́ѡ䁅䰁ёѕ)+aݥѠɥ))շd)P)I Ʌ) ݹȽѽȵ )ɽȵݽɱ