Last year Harley-Davidson Motor Company launched a program entitled “Walk a Mile.” This was an initiative from the Motor Company to improve the relationship between the dealers and the Motor Co. H-D is focused on always improving their business and they were finally beginning to realize they needed to understand the retail side of their business a little better. The program is pretty simple, a dealer applies to participate and H-D sends and executive from the Motor Company to work for the dealer for 3 days. This is a hands on experience for that executive to learn how the retail side of the business works, and how decisions and programs from the Motor Co can affect the other side of the business. It is a great opportunity for both the dealer and the executive to learn from each other and earn a greater understanding of the business as a whole. The reality is, without both sides of the company H-D wouldn’t exist.
I waited a little while, but finally decided it would be a good time to have someone from HD corporate to visit our dealerships in Alaska. I love to learn and I am eager to see what this experience will bring. We have an executive coming from Milwaukee next week to work in my Anchorage store for a few days. His name is Fred and his job title is “Manager, Organizational Development.” He has been with the Motor Co. for one and a half years. He describes his job like this “I work with the P&A, GM and Dealer Services groups helping to define/align their strategies to support the dealer network and our customers.” I spoke with him on the phone and shared the history of our business including the fun story of how Barry got into the motorcycle business. He was pretty easy to talk to and offered to met up with me while I was in Milwaukee for the 110th. Unfortunately we were unable to meet up in Milwaukee with all the parties we just didn’t cross paths.
This program is really pretty cool when you think about it. I am pretty sure no other motorcycle manufacturer is as invested in their dealer network like H-D is. For the last several years H-D has come leaps and bounds forward in their relations with their dealers. The openness and willingness to learn starts from the top, and having executives who are actively learning from the dealer network on how they can improve the company as a whole is truly remarkable. I can’t say that I have agreed with all the choices the Motor Co. has made, but I can say over the past couple of years I have felt a shift in the attitudes of the Motor Company staff. They definitely focus more on how they can assist the dealers and improve their business. The reality is, without the dealer network bikes wouldn’t get sold and relationships wouldn’t be built with the riders.
I am still not sure what all Fred will do while he is here, but it will probably be a little bit of everything. I will have him working the counters as well as with the staff on inventory, merchandising, service, sales etc. If you are around next week Thursday through Saturday be sure to stop by and meet Fred. I am sure a few of my regulars will be able to give him a hard time. Hopefully I will have a lot of great insights to share after his visit! Until then, get out and enjoy what we have left of sunny days!