The Power Of A Positive Attitude
Sometimes it can be hard to remember why we work in
the motorcycle industry… techs trying to beat flat rate,
sales trying meet impossible goals, dealer principals
just trying to keep the lights on. I know how hard it is to
make an easy living in the powersports field. Sometimes
you have to ask yourself what made you want to work in it
in the first place?
I have been very fortunate to be in this industry for 28 years.
I will retire someday never really knowing much else… other
than asking “Paper or Plastic” during a summer job at the
local grocery store and experiencing what hard labor was
like when I was loading tile up a two-story ladder. These
memories have really made me appreciate working in the
motorcycle industry. They also help me maintain a positive
attitude… a bad day in the motorcycle business still beats
teetering at the top of a spindly ladder in the hot summer
sun with a hod full of roofing tiles!
I have visited hundreds of motorcycle shops across the
country and I have seen what the power of a positive
attitude… and the consequences of what happens when
someone doesn’t have it. Customers walk into a motorcycle
shop and have a terrible experience all the time. Maybe
the salesperson was rude or condescending, or the parts
person made them feel like an idiot. How often does
a customer walk into the shop and no one even noticed
them? Any of these things will impact how we view that
particular business, but can drive customers across town
to another shop, send them online… or even drive them
out of the market completely. It happens more than we like
It’s important to remember your attitude affects not only
you and those around you, but also your sales and your
service reputation. Keeping a positive attitude is critically
important. Take a second and think about the type of
business we’re in… remember what made you interested
in the motorcycle industry in the first place. There aren’t
a lot of industries where fun is the rule rather than the
exception. People don’t go to the bank or the grocery store
for entertainment. They go because they have a specific
need. It’s not exciting to pull a gallon of milk from the
refrigerator section of your local grocery. And it is certainly
not entertaining to hit the gas station on the way home in
your gas guzzling SUV just so you can get to work the next
You know what IS exciting and entertaining? Riding
motorcycles, UTVs, ATVs and even scooters, dare I admit
it. It’s fun to put a bunch of cold weather gear on and
go snowmobiling, or to hit the open water on your own
personal watercraft — as comedian Daniel Tosh said, “have
you even seen an unhappy person riding a Jet Ski?”
In order to bring that type of fun to people there have to be
people who are willing to show up, make the sale, perform
the maintenance, or even just supply parts WITH A SMILE.
Those are the lucky people… the real purveyors of fun.
However, eventually, even those lucky souls who spend
their days selling fun can end up in a rut. It happens for all
sorts of reasons, some related to the job and some related
to off-work issues like family problems. I can’t solve your
personal issues, but I can give you some tips on how to
keep work interesting and ways to remind yourself why
you do the work you do. Also reminding our dealership
management that you set the tone for the shop.
Let me give you an example. Just last week I was visiting
dealerships in Northern California and Nevada when a shop
owner offered this great tidbit. “We just had a customer
trade in two Sea Doos and we had two other used Sea
Doos in inventory so we took the employees to the local
lake to “test” them to make sure they were good. We had a
BBQ with 8 employees and their families.” They truly took
advantage and remembered why they work in this great
industry! Not only that, but the dealership had a great team
building day that will make them closer friends and create
a tighter knit group of employees.
The most important thing to remember is that your
attitude affects everyone and everything around you. Want
someone to have passion for the sport? Then show them
the passion you have for it. Staying positive and sharing
that positivity can help you stand out — not only with your
coworkers and managers — but also with customers. Your
attitude can affect whether a customer returns or goes
someplace else for their fun fix. Always remember in the
back of your mind that famous line from Judge Smails in
Caddyshack: “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too!”
1) Be A Continuous Learner
Doing the same type of work can get boring if you don’t expand
your horizons. Think you have reached the peak of excellence?
Think again. The motorcycle industry is always changing. There
are always new gadgets, farkles, types of bikes, and ways of
doing things that could keep you learning until you die. And
guess what? If you ever do learn absolutely everything then
you’d be in the perfect place to write a book about your
knowledge and share it with others.
2) Teach Others
Speaking of sharing with others, a great way to keep things
interesting is to teach or mentor other people. Think of ways
to help others learn what you know. Take on a project to get
new riders riding. If you have the property for it, create a pump
track for kids to ride a strider or STACYC… parents are dying to
find things to do with their kids. Talk to the local high school
and start teaching kids about working at a dealership, maybe
we can keep the mechanic jobs off life support by introducing
it to new kids. Again this is a small investment in time and it can
easily be done a couple of times a month for a couple of hours.
get some interns for school credit. You get to teach others, you
get free labor, and maybe even get a new rider/ customer that
wasn’t exposed to this industry before.
3) Positivity Is Contagious
Just like the flu, being positive can affect those around you.
Don’t surround yourself with negative people. If you do have
a negative coworker, consider talking to them about whether
there’s anything you can help them with. Maybe they don’t
understand how to do a particular task that you can do well
(see #2). Or, maybe they don’t have the passion it takes to be
in the motorcycle industry and it’s time for them to move on.
Don’t be that negative person. If you find yourself needing a
break and getting frustrated, take the break. Walk away and
then come back. With a fresh perspective you may realize it is
easy to be more positive.
4) Get A Shop Pet
Did you know that studies show being around pets lowers
blood pressure and makes people happier? There is plenty
of dealerships out there that have a shop mascot. I don’t
know about you, but when I see a dog in a shop it creates
conversation and immediately breaks down walls. I can’t help
but think about man’s best friend with man’s favorite toy. You
can decide which is which. If you’re an employee talk to the
owner and get his thoughts, and if an owner and don’t have a
dog, talk to your employees.
5) Set Realistic Goals & Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Keeping a positive attitude is easier when things go your
way…which they will do more often if you set reasonable and
realistic goals for yourself. Don’t expect to start in parts and
move to general manager in a year. If you set reasonable
goals, if you happen to not meet them, don’t beat yourself up.
Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. As you’ve heard, it’s not
the number of mistakes you make, it’s what you learn from
them and whether you keep trying that counts. more on that
in the next issue.