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Panel says Dealers Suck at Selling To Women - Try to Act Surprised

Panel says: Dealers Suck at Selling To Women (Try to Act Surprised)

A panel of motorcycle industry experts announced that motorcycle dealers are consistently failing at engaging female riders and women interested in learning about motorcycling. Thank God we have experts we can rely on to tell us all of the things that we already knew.

In all fairness, this was a pretty stellar panel as far as the online motorcycle community goes. It was composed of Genevieve Schmitt, founder of Women Riders Now; Sarah Schilke, Marketing Director at BMW Motorrad; Kim Knupp, National Events Manager at Yamaha; The Moto Lady; et al.

In a time when old school brick-and-mortar dealership foot traffic is waning, the panel asserts that the lack of engagement is sending a growing number of women motorcyclists to the internet, to sites like this one, for information. Moreover, the failure of dealerships to engage with female motorcyclists is leading to more women taking to online retailers and online platforms to buy gear and accessories.

Panel says Dealers Suck at Selling To Women - Try to Act Surprised

Pic by Mondo Lulu.

The panel warned that this will have growing financial implications for dealerships as women move from being an outreach or niche market, into a more significant share of a dealer’s potential customer base. With as many as 1.2 million women riders in the United States, and more female passengers, women are estimated to make up one in four riders. A growing group left sometimes feeling alienated.

The panel gave the industry an average C-grade, when it came to engaging women riders. While they did zero in on dealers offering sub-par service to female motorcyclists, they did agree that many dealers simply cannot afford to carry as strong of a breadth of women’s gear as they do men’s. Employee turnover rate at dealerships was also mentioned as a cause of the problem.

Despite the brief moment of understanding, the blasting continued. The panel pointed out dealers were tending to suggest motorcycles for women without even hearing a woman’s riding preferences or experience.

The panel encouraged women to actually share their experiences. They pointed out that OEMs deliver consequences for dealers with consistently negative reviews, but without women reaching out to speak their minds, improvement will be slow.

Panel says: Dealers Suck at Selling To Women (Try to Act Surprised)

Pic by Mondo Lulu.

The panel had additional tips included:

  • Offering test rides, both for riders as well as a passenger
  • Tracking female customers in CRM, and keep them separate from any male significant others
  • Developing and promoting a system for women to order what they want and return items at no charge (as they would from an online vendor), in the event a dealership does not have the resources to carry a broad range of women’s gear
  • Host events catered towards women, and consider inviting gear reps to offer some one-on-one times for fittings.
All in all, the idea that dealers might not be hitting the nail on the head when it comes to adapting their business to a growing female demographic is nothing new. Last year we asked our readers what they thought about dealerships offering “bikini bike washes.” Some of our woman rider friends responded, and they were decidedly against it.

But it’s not just the dealers, is it? Remember, the industry itself scored an average C-grade. A few years ago, after flipping through a motorcycle magazine, I ran an article titled Sleazy Motorcycle Ads. In today’s world of sensationalist headlines, it would have been titled 3 of This Month’s Sleaziest Motorcycle Ads (and 1 Clean One), but 2013 was a more innocent time. In that article I lamented at the depiction of our two wheel riding sisters in motorcycle advertising. Yes, these were beautiful women. Yes, they were good to look at. But these are our sisters.

I repeat.

These. Are. Our. Sisters.

Isn’t it about time we start treating them as such?

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. AMEN! I am tired of going into local dealerships and there being absolutely nothing regarding choice in bikes or gear. Its not only the dealerships failing women riders it is motorcycle and gear manufacturers which are failing even more with less choice when it comes to bikes with regards to seat height etc and the pat answer of look at a cruiser, not everyone wants to ride a cruiser. There are 4 local dealerships here and none of them offer any variety. They say shop local, but then offer little to no choice. I’d love to shop local, but when I ask if they can even order in something they say no, so where does that leave me? Nowhere! They are forcing women to settle and that is NOT good enough. Why should we have to settle? Men certainly don’t settle, they have a plethora of choice. For me then the only option is online where I have a little more selection, but not by much. I went through hell trying to find a Canadian distributor for Daytona boots and that was just a wing and a prayer that I found two and none of them in my province and my local dealerships were not even willing to try and bring them in for me. The same stock answer I get is “There aren’t enough women riders” they use this argument to justify not bringing in more gear choices or higher end gear. Its frustrating! Makes me scratch my head and wonder about the sense as to why you would leave a growing demographic of new riders out of your potential customer base? This leaves women with no alternative but to seek other venues to purchase gear and if the dealers don’t want to cultivate that then they don’t deserve my hard earned cash particularly when they don’t value my concerns and wishes as a consumer and makes me wonder why my dollars are less valued than a male riders?

    Don’t even get me going about the ads, it seems we still not have come very far when it comes to objectification of women.

    Interesting that dealers, manufacturers and the industry are given a C, I’d give them a D- to an F, because when you get a room full of women riders in a room talking about bikes and gear pretty much all of them have negative comments about gear choice offerings, dealerships, bike manufacturers and service as a whole. It seems this article hit a proverbial nerve with me, sorry about the lengthy reply, but I bet more women riders feel this way.

    • Totally agree with you, although, the panel gave the industry a D, and you have to recognize that where these women are, they have access to a lot more than we do here in Canada, and their thumbs are right on the pulse of the industry… Long story short, their experience might be different.

  2. In a business where men specific merchandise dominates in sales, it’s understandable for the men’s product to have a significant footprint. Women get that. This doesn’t mean they expect the staff to do less, or even know less about the women’s offerings. Brick-and-mortar dealerships have one competitive advantage over online retailers. They offer personal connections. They can only thrive with superior service, so to hear that they are choosing to let down any of their customers because they are not willing to go above and beyond is a sign that they don’t know what best for them. That’s a major missed opportunity to drive sales in a volatile retail landscape. I hope they catch on soon.

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