Harley-Davidson dealerships ranked first in Pied Piper PSI’s 2022 Internet Lead Effectiveness (ILE) Motorcycle/UTV Industry Study, which measured responsiveness to Internet leads from dealer websites – behaviors directly related to retail sales success. Dealers selling Indian motorcycles were ranked second, followed by Polaris side-by-side dealers.
“Fast response to web customers is critical to selling, placing an order, or laying the groundwork for future sales,” said Fran O’Hagan, CEO of Pied Piper. “Dealers who respond quickly, personally and completely to website customer inquiries sell an average of 50% more vehicles to their web customers, compared to dealers who don’t respond.”
Dealerships of four of the top-rated brands – Harley-Davidson, Indian, Polaris and Can-Am – not only performed well in 2022, but also significantly improved their web-response behaviors over time. Over the past five years, dealers of these four brands have on average more than doubled the frequency with which they respond to web customer questions via email or text, from 27% of the time in 2018 to 59% of the time. in 2022.
The industry’s average ILE performance rose three points to 43, the industry’s highest average score to date. This year, for the first time, dealerships of two brands – Harley-Davidson and Indian – performed better, on average, than typical car dealerships, which typically began focusing on web customers years before the powersports dealerships.
On the other hand, the study also shows that many powersports brands still don’t pay enough attention to poor dealer web response or do anything effective to address it. The performance of 11 brands declined over the past year.
“The poor performance of declining dealers can be partly attributed to complacency that comes from recent low inventory,” O’Hagan said. “However, slack – on responding to and building relationships with customers, especially local customers – could lead to multiple lost sales for years to come, particularly once inventory levels will improve.”
Pied Piper submitted customer inquiries through the individual websites of 8,859 dealerships, asking a specific question about an in-stock vehicle and providing a customer name, email address and local phone number. Pied Piper then assessed dealer response via email, phone and text over the next 24 hours. A dealership’s ILE rating aggregates 20 different metrics to create a total score, ranging from 0 to 100.
To be clear, each brand’s Industry Study ILE score is an average, including the top-performing dealers as well as the bottom-performing ones. In a traditional bell-shaped performance curve, 22% of all dealers in the industry scored above 70 (providing a quick and thorough personal response), while 42% of dealers scored below 30 (not responding not personally to customers of their website). By comparison, for the top-rated Harley-Davidson brand, 45% of their dealers scored above 70, while only 19% scored below 30.
Other notable trends in industry-wide behavior over the past year include:
• Dealerships were more likely to email a response to a customer’s request on a website – 48% of the time, compared to 39% of the time by phone and 17% by text. But texting is on the rise: two years ago, dealerships texted back just 3% of the time.
• Customer spam filters are a dealership’s enemy. Emails landed in a customer’s spam folder more than 25% of the time for Zero, CFMoto, Moto Guzzi, Royal Enfield, BMW, Aprilia, Honda, Husqvarna and Yanmar dealerships. Dealerships representing the brands most successful in avoiding spam filters: Polaris, Can-Am, Indian and Harley-Davidson – all less than 10% of the time.
• Of all the dealers contacted, one in 10 did not respond in any way to customer inquiries on the study website. In an age when powersports buyers are using the internet extensively to initiate the first contact with a dealership, a non-response equals a lost sale.
The response to customer inquiries on the web varied by brand and dealership:
• How often did the brand’s dealerships respond via email or text to a website customer’s question within 30 minutes?
O More than 25% of the time on average: Harley-Davidson, Indian, KTM, Polaris
O Less than 15% of the time on average: Tracker, Bobcat, Kubota, Zero, Kymco, John Deere, Cub Cadet, CFMoto
• How often have the brand’s dealerships used an SMS to respond to a customer request on a website?
O More than 30% of the time on average: Harley-Davidson, Indian
O Less than 1% of the time on average: Tracker, Yanmar, Bobcat, Cub Cadet, Kubota
• How often did the brand’s dealerships answer a customer’s request on a website by phone?
O More than 35% of the time on average: Harley-Davidson, Indian, Suzuki, Triumph, Polaris, Royal Enfield, KTM, Can-Am, BMW
O Less than 10% of the time on average: Kioti, Cub Cadet, Yanmar, Club Car
• Although not part of the ILE rating, Pied Piper also measured the responsiveness of the dealer’s website to a site’s chat function (if offered). How many times has a “human” answered a customer question within 30 seconds?
O More than 55% of the time on average: Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Bobcat, Suzuki