American Motorcycle Dealer AMD 230 September 2018 - Page 29

“We will never abandon our heritage, we supply parts for Harley-Davidsons back to the Knuckleheads, but when we see a change, naturally we embrace it. “The new generation of riders are into Retro. The Triumphs, Scramblers, the R nineTs and the like, so we are engaging with the younger customer as our core customers age. We are trying to engage at an earlier age too, so that as they transition to bigger bikes in later years, we will be able to continue supporting them through their life journey as riders. “I think that as an industry we are not yet quite where we need to be in that regard. A lot of people are buying lightweights such as the Ninja 300 and the 390 Superduke, and as a parts and accessory industry we have the opportunity to redefine our offer just as riders are redefining their riding needs and preferences just as the Boomer did 40 years ago. “The market needs to move with riders and that is difficult at present as a lot of the models being ridden are transitional platforms. Not platforms for deep spending or customization, but there are still ways of reaching them. We’ve done this through gear sales - a large proportion of our sales are jackets, boots and gloves - and service items of course. Price point is an issue, it always will be when you are addressing a younger audience, but we have to be looking at where the next stages of their riding journey takes them.” I asked Zach what trends he is seeing in terms of home wrenching - if we are now looking at a largely forever staples market with new consumers, or will there be customizing, and will new generations develop a ‘mojo’ for independent stores? “It’s not out of the question. It’s a great question, and this is something that we are looking at very closely. ‘regular, intense and comprehensive’ Everybody needs to be. “We are seeing a surprisingly large proportion of our customers being comfortable doing a surprisingly large proportion of complicated work themselves. It isn’t just all bolt-ons and oil changes. “The more complex videos we have on our website and social media feeds, such as changing an engine out or doing a stage 3, get as many views as an oil change, helmet review or putting new grips on the bars. This is very interesting and, potentially, very significant for the industry. “We think that although a lot of the business is still centered on the Boomer demographic, and they are still the majority of our customers, there is no doubt that this is changing. “Statistically what we are seeing now is almost a one- on-one relationship with what we call ‘next Gen’ riders – the Millennials and X-ers – and they are interested in learning how to do things on their own and have the bragging rights of doing it themselves, rather than completely depending on the dealer for service and installation. They are watching our videos and talking with our call center, and they are learning how to do it. “So, the opportunity is for us to give them the tools that they need so they are confident enough to be able to do it on their own, or if they get stuck part way through, then rather than hauling the bike down to their local dealer on a trailer, they can call us and we can help them finish it. “Another thing we are seeing is the opening of more J&P Cycles' event tour - the Tour Truck program consists of two 53 foot semis at 12 events a year and more shop co-ops, especially in metropolitan areas, downtown. I think we can help them a great deal too. Downtown urban riders are just not going to ride out of town to go to a dealership. “Whatever we can do to help the consumer feel they can do for themselves has got to be good for the future of the market. It is really our main goal to do that, and we are trying to serve the customer in a new way - to teach them how to work on their own bike, and hopefully they’ll buy the parts from us, of course. “The community garages are essentially the same - they are also all about helping people to learn how to work on their own bikes, not being afraid to be on a lift alongside another person and ask questions or call us to get help. “It’s easy to think that maybe it’s not so good for the conventional brick and mortar stores, or businesses such as our sister company Tucker, but in terms of the long term health of the parts market and the dealer network, especially those who are specialist in performance work and custom work, it is a good thing. You can’t operate a successful business in an unpopular market – as we all contribute to re- growing the popularity of riding, its popularity grows, so will we all. “The more work being done on bikes and the more comfortable people are to buy a bike and be a part of a peer group scene, just as the Boomers were at the start, just as the H.O.G groups and clubs are, the market will grow. More parts and accessories will be sold and, eventually, the more bikes there will be on the road. The growth must start with the riders. Then it is up to the businesses, at all levels of the market, to follow them and serve their needs and tastes. Just as it always has been. “Another shift we are seeing is the move to mobile – well over 50 percent of our website traffic is from mobile devices now. A large portion of our sales are therefore off mobile too. A big initiative here at J&P J&P store at Daytona Beach is to make sure we can make the mobile experience a good one, with Techs who can chat and see what the rider is doing, see the bike he or she is working on and what they are doing. We are making a big investment in the nature of the mobile experience we offer. “Increasingly people now carry a smart phone in the way they used to carry a wallet. We are in the process of updating our site to make it easier for customers to browse and shop for products on their smartphone.” Zach is simultaneously positive about the future, about the market, and about the role that J&P can have in the market of the future. “Down the years we have helped hundreds of thousands of riders connect with vendors, and we have especially been able to bring the small manufacturers closer to customers than they ever ‘it isn’t just bolt-ons and oil changes’ would otherwise have got - J&P’s longevity means we have been among the first businesses to genuinely help to grow brands, and doing so that remains an opportunity for us to benefit from being associated with something unique. It gives us differentiation - it helps our brand stand out in turn. “In the future it is that differentiation that all businesses need. Competitive advantages are there to provide the opportunity to do different and unique things, and if you do them well, then the consumers of the future, those who are emerging now, will value your role in their riding lifestyle. That is how the shops and all the small businesses did it in the past and that hasn’t changed - it’s not just business, it’s personal and it’s up to all of us to be the partner that delivers a unique and distinctive experience. “Our philosophy hasn't changed. Being able to offer riders the widest variety of brands and products for the bikes in their garage, and inspire them with ideas to customize and personalize is what J&P Cycles started out doing, and everything we are seeing points to that being an ever-bigger part of the market moving forward. “Dealers are in suburbia not in urban areas. There are very few downtown dealers or even custom shops, so as populations continue to shift, continue to urbanize, whether they are home-wrenching or using a community garage space, J&P can help them towards achieving a goal that the non-local shops can’t. “We are everywhere, the shops are not.” AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE DEALER - SEPTEMBER 2018 29