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May 24, 2010 – Rolling out the green carpet

May 24, 2010
Filed under Features

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. has established a new demo program that aims to help people move forward with their purchasing decisions.


Kawasaki is bringing a demo fleet of its vehicles to seven locations across the country this spring and summer. With the help of dealers, consumers can demo the products and have a chance to talk with Kawasaki personnel.

The events will be held Saturdays and Sundays for consumers and then allow dealership staff an opportunity to demo the vehicles on Mondays.

“We’ll continue to do demo rides at the big rallies like Daytona and Americade, but this is really narrowing the focus on the people who are further along in their purchase decision process,” said Jan Plessner, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.’s public relations manager. “It’s less formal and more interactive. This is really weeding out the people who are on the fence.”

Dealers will have a chance to offer their customers demo rides without having to deal with the insurance hassles that can accompany such test rides, which is why the first event of Kawasaki’s Ticket to Ride demo program held recently in California was such a success, says Sherry Drzewicki, manager of corporate events for Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.

Logistics

Dealers can schedule consumers a test ride appointment online for either Saturday or Sunday of the event. The appointments guarantee the riders can test their favorite models, like the Ninja or Versys.

In each location, there will be 12-30 dealerships sending their consumers to the events.

In one weekend, Kawasaki will be able to accommodate about 250 riders, says Drzewicki. Currently, eight riders can test ride vehicles at one time, but Plessner notes they can expand that to 12 if the demand is there.

“There are a couple locations where we have 30 dealers on board, so we’ll send out extra staff,” she said.

To eliminate any possible sales pressure on the consumer, dealers will not be present at the test rides on Saturday and Sunday, Plessner says. She says Kawasaki would like the consumers to go back to the dealerships to purchase rather than doing that at the event.

“Early on we decided it would change the whole vibe if we had the dealers there with the customer,” she said. “This isn’t where we’re closing the sale. That’s not what we want.

“We want the customer to be referred to us through a local dealer, and we want them to go back to the dealer to purchase. This is a warm, relaxed setting where people can try the bikes and do it on their own time. If they decide they’re not ready to purchase, then that’s fine. This isn’t the hard sell.”

To make consumers feel more comfortable, Kawasaki will serve snacks and drinks. “We’re rolling out the red carpet for them,” added Plessner. “There’s nothing that replaces the feeling of being on the product.”

This program is likely to be beneficial even for dealers who already offer demo rides, says Drzewicki.

“Dealers who have their own demo fleet may still want to opt into this because they might not have some of the models in their own fleet,” she said. Kawasaki will bring a number of vehicles to each location, including the Ninja 250R and ZX, Concours, KLR as well as the Vulcan 900, 1700 and 2000.

“It varies by region,” Plessner said. “It’s adjusting the menu to what people are ordering. Right now we’re talking about street bikes. Down the road we’ll talk about other lines.”

Dealers who wish to participate can sign up online. Drzewicki says they’ll receive promotional materials.

Preliminary results

At the end of April, Kawasaki hosted its kickoff demo event in its U.S. headquarters hometown Irvine, Calif., and had a great turnout, says Drzewicki. “We had 85 percent of the demo rides filled of the 256,” she said. “There are opportunities for walk-ups. Registration was closed Friday, but we said go ahead and send anyone over, and we’ll try to accommodate them. We were able to do that.”

Next stop is New Braunfels, Texas, which is about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio. “So far we have 32 percent of the rides filled,” Drzewicki said in early May.

For all the locations set so far, Plessner says 100 dealers have already signed on.

The Kawasaki sales force helped pick the starter locations as a kickoff. The OEM plans to expand the event to more places.

“This is something we plan on continuing to do,” Plessner added. “It’s very much needed.” psb

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