Playing it safe: Reopened showrooms kitted out with sanitisers for biking's 'new normal'
Bike shops throughout England are opening for business once again as dealerships move forward in line with the Government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions.
New measures introduced on June 1 have allowed businesses to implement a similar strategy to that which has become the norm in supermarkets, but given the 'hands-on' nature of buying a motorcycle MCN was keen to see how this would work in practice.
We paid a visit to two very different firms to ask what the guidelines meant to them and how they’re adapting to a life after lockdown.
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"Things have changed quite a bit," says Mike Blomfield, Dealer Principal at the UK’s largest Harley dealership, Newmarket Harley-Davidson.
"Two-metre distancing throughout the dealership, a hand sanitising station, tape on the floor and signs everywhere. We’ve erected plastic screens to protect our staff and have provided PPE to everyone."
One of the biggest changes for the Suffolk showroom is that they’re now operating on an appointment-only basis.
"We have a one-way system through our automatic doors and are only allowing in those customers who have a prior arrangement," adds Mike. "That way we can keep a limit on the number of people on the showroom floor at any one time."
But even just a few customers on site can still pose a challenge: "We’ve had to close the entire merchandising department because someone disregarded our advice by browsing without gloves, resulting in a 72-hour quarantine for all our clothing."
By contrast, EV specialist the English Electric Motor Co, Zero’s No.1 UK dealer in 2019, have traditionally worked to an appointment-based system, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been changes, as EEMC’s CEO Alec Sharp explains.
"A big part of the sales process with electric bikes is the test ride," says Alec. "And our business model relies very much on the personal approach we offer. We’re providing one-hour slots and only allowing one customer on the premises at a time, so it’s relatively easy for us to adhere to guidelines. Every bike is disinfected before and after each ride, plus we provide masks, gloves and hand sanitiser as required."
What has become clear for both businesses is the importance of having a comprehensive and easily accessible online presence.
"We actually had our best week ever during May when we sold 25 units," adds Alec. "And that included five Zeros."
"All our bikes are now available online and presented with a virtual tour," says Mike. "It’s worked very successfully and we’ve had fantastic feedback from everyone who’s bought remotely."
What will be interesting to see is whether this online shopping model continues after the regulations are relaxed completely.
Sales boost: Manufacturers bring tempting offers
All the major motorcycle manufacturers have announced that their entire dealer network is now open for business in England, with dealers in Wales and Scotland hoping to open soon. To encourage people to get out there, many have come up with a tempting array of offers.
Some of the best offers come from Honda as part of their 'Back to Work' scheme, which includes up to £1000 off some great commuters, as well as Africa Twins, CBs and NCs the PCX125 has £200 off as part of the back to work offer, which Honda point out is enough for a CBT and basic kit.
It also means you can take one home for £50 a month – less than one third of the cost of a monthly pass on the tube! Isolate yourself from tubes and buses and have a fun commute.