With times getting tougher for many these days, it's natural to want to shave a few bucks here and there in your second-tier requirements like recreational riding. I keep hearing about great deals online from others who spend hours clicking pages in the hopes of saving a few bucks here and there, and it made me wonder how many people don't realize just how important it is to keep your money local with a reputable dealership or bike shop.
To find a business that you can work with is invaluable in the ever-increasing complexity of our motorcycle world—and now more than ever, our economy needs you to keep your money closer to home.
I will be the first to admit that there are some great deals out there on many items, but there is also a possibility that you could find yourself in a world of hate if you have any issues with your faceless, storefront-less, online sale. I can see how it's easy to just navigate and click to get your order, but how much are you really saving using this method? More importantly, what are you taking out of the local community that you live in? Think about the cool factor of hanging out in a place where you can see all the new bikes and accessories, never mind the factory trained technicians that rely on your bucks to keep their lives rolling. It's places like these that keep our hobby (which just happens to be an industry) going forward, and helping local riders get what they need.
Yup, I know what you're saying. I'm sure you're muttering to yourself about the poor service you've gotten at one time or another, but that's just like any business out there. There are good days and there are bad days everywhere. There are also people you should steer clear from and others that you should hang out with so you can soak up more info to help you make better choices. I've been to a few dealerships that will never see a penny of my cash, but that's only because I can't get with their program or their people. There are also a few in the area that I would spend a bit more with just so I know I'm getting the right thing for the right job. Technically, I'm an accessories dealer at work, and I still deal with local folks to get what I need.
Your neighborhood bike shop is usually the first place you can sit on the new models, test drive your next bike before buying, or even just get all the info needed to make an educated decision on whatever it is you are contemplating. Relationships are not made overnight, and it might take some time to find the key people you need to get what you want done, but don't give up on it, because the payoff is invaluable. You might even give a bit more at first for some of the items you need, but know that you are keeping your area economy going by doing that, and you are investing in a relationship with the shop.
In the end, remember the most important rule when dealing on something you want in a local store: Retail is merely a suggested price. There is always some wiggle room in there, and how well you do indicates how good of a customer you are in their eyes. There is no reason why you can't save at least your tax money on a deal, but sometimes it can be even more.
You can't forget the trickle-down factor that happens in this situation as well. Dealerships sponsor local racers, events, and charities as well as have many people on the payroll. We use dealerships as a place to meet, as ground zero for many parties or group gatherings, and as a place to burn an hour or two every few Saturdays or other days off. These businesses spend their money in the local area helping many keep up the good fight, and by taking a large majority of your sales to a faceless online venue, you delete this from the day to day in your area.
The local sportbike scene in and around Knoxville boasts some of the better folks I've met in the business lately. These guys and gals cover all aspects of the market, too, and although it takes a bit more effort than clicking on a website, I do think it's worth the time. My recommendation for sales is Kevin at Good Times if he is selling what you need, while Pete at Destination and Zack at Ultimate Toys have the parts game completely covered. There are other good ones out there, too, like Chris Hill at Performance Psycle or Remy of Cycle One. These folks are all in it because it's what they love to do, and I'm sure that if you show them just a little time and respect you will help foster a relationship that will pay off big-time in the future.
Ben Steinberg hails from Canada and is an experienced racer, with many years racing everything from two-strokes to superbikes and even F-1 sidecars. Currently, Ben is employed as the general manager of the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, just over the state line in North Carolina.