I wasn't always a Harley rider, in fact back in the 80's I would find any excuse I could to take a cheap shot at Harley-Davidson while I rode my Honda around town. As I got older the curiosity started to make me wonder why people loved their Harley's so much. To me at first this just didn't seem to make sense, how could a bike that cost so much more than mine be so much more popular. I don't wonder anymore!
Today at 10:30 on a Sunday morning I walked into Barnes Harley-Davidson in Victoria BC and talked with Steve who I also bought my previous motorcycle off of. By 2:30 they had me ring a bell inside the store then they announced that I had just bought my 4th Harley-Davidson motorcycle. They fire up a couple of the showroom bikes and blew the horns in celebration, the sales staff start to applaud and so do the customers. They make you feel like this is a big deal to everybody not just you. More than 10 different people congratulated me!
Like I said, this is my 4th Harley-Davidson, twice from the Victoria Barnes Harley-Davidson, twice from Mountain View Harley-Davidson in Chilliwack. Eileen has also bought two from the Chilliwack store for a total of 6 Harley purchase experiences we have been through. It has been a similar experience with each purchase. They walk you around the store introduce you to somebody from each department, take you through the service department and show you their facility for working on the bike. Finally at the end of the day they handed me a gift certificate...that my wife quickly adopts.
The experience doesn't stop when you ride out the door though, in fact it never stops. We have rode through every state west of the Mississippi and as well as the Carolina's, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. I have walked into more than a 100 different Harley-Davidson stores and dealerships and always found someone who wants to talk motorcycles with me, even when they know there is no chance of a motorcycle sale. There is coffee available, comfortable place to sit and hangout for a bit, meet some local riders, grab a souvenir and head on down the highway.
Now lets compare this to the last two experiences in a Honda\Yamaha dealership. In a small town in BC we bought our 4th motorcycle in 2 years from a local Yamaha\Honda dealer. Progressively after every sale we were taken more and more for granted. On the last purchase we made, Eileen went to pick up her V-Star 1100, to her disbelief when she got there the bike wasn't even detailed. The conversation was short with the sales person, no extra's not even a great walk around. Then the most stunning part of the entire day happened, he told Eileen he wasn't sure she had enough gas to get home in the tank...we lived less than a mile away and he knew that.
This same store has 4 stools in it, I was sitting and relaxing after stopping in to see what we could put on Eileen's bike, but wasn't buying that day. After about 2 minutes, I was asked if I had anything else "because people don't just hang out at stores".
Harley-Davidson gets it, we ride our motorcycles for the lifestyle. We spend a lot of money on our lifestyle, and we want to be places we feel welcome at. We want to be appreciated, made to feel important. The amazing thing to me is with the amount of money Harley-Davidson makes off promoting a lifestyle, why don't other dealerships buy into the same idea? I have stopped in for a coffee and a hot dog at the Lewiston Idaho store on a Saturday, and left having spent over $300 dollars on parts for my motorcycle.
That's why I continue to buy Harley-Davidson motorcycles, they haven't sold me a motorcycle they have sold me a lifestyle, and an experience.