I came across this short article in a recent edition of the Triumph Spirit Magazine (online publication) talking about the new dealership “facelift” that Triumph corporate has been pushing down. While it looks great, I think it’s a misallocation of effort and mostly at the cost of the dealerships.
This idea isn’t new, many local Harley Davidson dealerships have relocated or outright closed as a result of the corporate image that Harley Davidson enforces on its dealers. With Harley, dealers are forced to keep a significant number of models in stock, along with locations within a certain distance of the freeway, and other random image standards I don’t know about.
Polaris has also adopted similar standards for the new Indian line. I spoke with a local Victory dealership manager a while back, asking him if they were going to adopt the Indian brand. He informed me that Polaris requires that show rooms be segregated so that Indian has a “contained” area for their bikes and merchandise. He went on to say that he doesn’t have the floor space to meet Polaris’ standards and would have to spend a significant amount of money to expand the building if he wanted to pick up Indian.
It’s not surprising to see Triumph make this move, considering that Greg Heichelbech, formerly from Harley Davidson, took over as Triumph America CEO back in 2013 (before resigning in 2014). Of course, it’s my assumption that his influence set these wheels in motion, but none the less it’d be tough to convince me that this move isn’t related to copying Harley’s corporate model.
It’s pretty obvious, I’m in the tank for Triumph, so I understand I’m bias. Moreover, don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge Harley for the empire they have built; their policies have secured their success as they sell more than a brand, they sell a lifestyle. Triumph on the other hand, intentionally or otherwise, completely differentiated itself from its North American rival a long time ago as Triumph offers a motorcycle in virtually every class. This topic has been covered at length before, more eloquently, by someone else, so I won’t bore you with the details.
Instead of focusing on dealership image, I suggest that it would make more sense for Triumph to showcase what they offer over the competition, the marriage of elegance and performance. Harley Davidson’s “fit and finish” is probably the envy of every Asian V-twin on the market. At the same time, you may find better performance in the new H2 or R1, but you won’t find the refinement of over a hundred years of motorcycles and the heritage to go with it. I’ll put the Speedmaster and Thunderbird up against any cruiser on the drag strip any day; the same with Triumph Triples against the Asian straight fours. But in the end, this argument isn’t about who’s better, it’s about what Triumph is doing wrong.
Victory’s “Ride one and you’ll buy one” motto is golden, and it’s working. If Triumph is going to borrow from an American manufacturer’s strategy, they picked the wrong one. I suggest that Triumph stop sticking their dealers with the bill of revamping their dealerships and pony of the coin to bring back the Triumph demo truck. The Victory demo truck comes to my local dealership at least twice a year (as you’ve seen), and there’s no shortage of used Harleys parked on that lot as a result.
It’s time that Triumph stop strong-arming their dealers with the price of a new “image” and start handing prospective buyers the keys, and ultimately the title of a new bike.
I think you have to remember most bikes purchased never get ridden. In short they are purchased by motorcyclists. It’s all about marketing and image. How else do you explain Harley’s success.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Good call John. They only reinforces my point. Following that model is dumb.
First, thanks for the link and kind words. Second? I couldn’t agree with you more. Triumph’s other brand boo-boo in my opinion is making their officially licensed t-shirts exclusive to Lucky Brand jeans. Triumph has a small market footprint and their best brand outreach tool for younger customers is… another small market footprint retailer.
I bought my first “real” motorcycle from Renaissance Motorcycles in Tucson. It was/is a small shop that specialized in Italian bikes. Ducati, Aprilia, Vespa, Piaggio, Moto Guzzi… And they won me over because they never hesitated to throw me the keys to a bike. They knew THAT was how to sell their product. Great customer service and ride the bikes. Done. That’s how BMW of Las Vegas sold me my R1200R, and if I didn’t still have that payment it’s how Legendary Motorsports in Fargo almost sold me a Bonneville. Now it looks like Legendary is Indian exclusive…
Triumph makes a great bike, and I’m hopeful the 2016 Bonneville will finally bring some much-needed updates for that long-in-the-tooth model. But corporately? They could stand to exercise the same kind of overwatch that Harley does, but they need an entirely different approach. They need a “blue ocean” strategy. I don’t think they have that in focus.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Agreed Eric, Joe’s Cycle Shop in Dayton is also a fantastic, family owned, dealership. They have a small no-nonsense operation, similar to your experience. I know that all this corporate BS is only going to put a strain on the best Triumph Dealership in Ohio.
On another note, I found your post about Triumph a while back (before my blog) and it’s stuck with me for some time. I didn’t realize until just now that your blog was hosted on WordPress. I’m looking forward to reading more!
I remember helping Joe’s Cycle [along with a few other RATs] with the demo rides a few years ago when Triumph rolled in with the demo fleet. I believe the last year that Triumph operated the fleet, they skipped over Joe’s for what normally would be his scheduled slot in the rotation in favor of one of the new mega-dealerships that opened in the region. Joey vowed to run the demo rides himself from that point on without the fleet, but it didn’t matter because the factory grounded that program shortly after. I think it was a huge mistake and still don’t understand the reasoning behind it. It was a very popular event, and super cool experience.
LikeLiked by 1 person
obviously there’s no way that small dealers like Joe could front the bill, but Triumph really needs a demo truck.
Pingback: The Triumph Bonneville Reborn | Moto Adventurer