Better Than Date Night

The Ohio delership has a great idea

Published in the May 2014 Issue White Out & Wide Open—The Blog
Viewed 710 time(s)

We found this story in the March, 2014 NOHVCC (www.nohvcc.org) Newsletter and we think it’s a great idea.
Dealer’s “Wrench Night” Gives Riders Tips On Service, Clubs and Places To Ride

By Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

For years, in the dead of winter, Jim Miller and his riding buddies would have a “wrench day.” They’d meet at someone’s garage or pole barn, set up a portable heater and get their dirt bikes ready for spring. Two years ago, Miller took over as general manager of Championship Powersports, a small motorcycle dealership in Wauseon, OH. In an attempt to fire up customers in the off-season, he created “wrench night.” “It’s been a huge success, customers love it,” said Miller. “We invite 100 to 125 customers. We bring in 25 or 30 large pizzas, water and soft drinks. We have our service techs put on a series of mini technical seminars. They’re 20 to 25 minutes apiece. We’ll do four or five over a span of 3 to 4 hours. We start at 6 p.m. and break up around 10.

Last year, I still had people at the parts counter buying stuff at 11:30.
“What we cover ranges from very basic stuff like air filter maintenance and tire changes, to greasing your suspension linkage bearings, repacking a muffler, things that riders need to know how to do. In many cases, they go home and do it themselves. In other cases, it teaches
them enough to know that this is a job for the experts, and they’ll bring their bikes in and have us do it.”

This year’s wrench night was held in early February and, despite being the day after a major blizzard, attracted 79 riders. In addition to helping customers learn how to service their motorcycles, Miller helped them find new places to ride and clubs they could join to ride with others. Miller is also the editor and publisher of Great Lakes TrailRider Magazine, the official publication of the Cycle Conservation Club of Michigan (CCC). He invited Lew Shuler, the club’s executive director, to give a short talk. Those attending learned that Michigan has over 3,300 miles of offroad trails and ORV routes, including the Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail—750 miles of continuous trail. Shuler told them about CCC’s big annual event: the Michael R. Burlingham Memorial Six Days of Michigan. Six full days of off-road riding. CCC is a non-profit organization committed to the conservation of Michigan’s wild lands while promoting the sport of offroad motorcycling.

Matt Bucher also gave a short talk. He’s the founder of the Toledo Trail Riders, a local motorcycle and ATV club that helps the Ohio DNR maintain the APV (All-Purpose Vehicle) riding area in the Maumee State Forest, located just 15 miles from Championship Powersports. “Both guys did a great job. Matt in particular felt it was a terrific opportunity to take the message to the masses,” said Miller.

Every time someone buys a motorcycle, Miller provides information on where to ride. “The Maumee State Forest is still one of the best kept secretes in the area. I get a lot of people come in, kick tires and make the comment, ‘if there was just some place to ride.’ I keep literature on hand here for the CCC, and for everybody that buys a trail bike or enduro bike, I’ll be sure to enclose one of those brochures with their paperwork.”

Miller believes it’s important for OHV dealers to engage with clubs and provide maps and rider safety information. He keeps a counter display provided by Honda filled with literature, and encourages dealers to partner with clubs. “A lot of times these organizations don’t have a place to meet. Dealerships can open their doors to clubs and say ‘hey use our service bays, we’ll set up some stools out there and get an easel or dry erase board for you’. It’s simple stuff that costs nothing and pays huge dividends.”

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