Panel says: Dealers Suck at Selling To Women (Try to Act Surprised)

A panel of motorcycle industry experts announced that motorcycle dealers are consistently failing at engaging female riders and women interested in learning about motorcycling. Thank God we have experts we can rely on to tell us all of the things that we already knew.

In all fairness, this was a pretty stellar panel as far as the online motorcycle community goes. It was composed of Genevieve Schmitt, founder of Women Riders Now; Sarah Schilke, Marketing Director at BMW Motorrad; Kim Knupp, National Events Manager at Yamaha; The Moto Lady; et al.

In a time when old school brick-and-mortar dealership foot traffic is waning, the panel asserts that the lack of engagement is sending a growing number of women motorcyclists to the internet, to sites like this one, for information. Moreover, the failure of dealerships to engage with female motorcyclists is leading to more women taking to online retailers and online platforms to buy gear and accessories.

Pic by Mondo Lulu.

The panel warned that this will have growing financial implications for dealerships as women move from being an outreach or niche market, into a more significant share of a dealer’s potential customer base. With as many as 1.2 million women riders in the United States, and more female passengers, women are estimated to make up one in four riders. A growing group left sometimes feeling alienated.

The panel gave the industry an average C-grade, when it came to engaging women riders. While they did zero in on dealers offering sub-par service to female motorcyclists, they did agree that many dealers simply cannot afford to carry as strong of a breadth of women’s gear as they do men’s. Employee turnover rate at dealerships was also mentioned as a cause of the problem.

Despite the brief moment of understanding, the blasting continued. The panel pointed out dealers were tending to suggest motorcycles for women without even hearing a woman’s riding preferences or experience.

The panel encouraged women to actually share their experiences. They pointed out that OEMs deliver consequences for dealers with consistently negative reviews, but without women reaching out to speak their minds, improvement will be slow.

Pic by Mondo Lulu.

The panel had additional tips included:

All in all, the idea that dealers might not be hitting the nail on the head when it comes to adapting their business to a growing female demographic is nothing new. Last year we asked our readers what they thought about dealerships offering “bikini bike washes.” Some of our woman rider friends responded, and they were decidedly against it.

But it’s not just the dealers, is it? Remember, the industry itself scored an average C-grade. A few years ago, after flipping through a motorcycle magazine, I ran an article titled Sleazy Motorcycle Ads. In today’s world of sensationalist headlines, it would have been titled 3 of This Month’s Sleaziest Motorcycle Ads (and 1 Clean One), but 2013 was a more innocent time. In that article I lamented at the depiction of our two wheel riding sisters in motorcycle advertising. Yes, these were beautiful women. Yes, they were good to look at. But these are our sisters.

I repeat.

These. Are. Our. Sisters.

Isn’t it about time we start treating them as such?