Harley dealerships are starting to drop like flies. Santa Cruz. Wilwert in Debuque. And in Cranbrook, the authorized dealer there refused to finance a multi-million dollar hole-in-the-ground boutique to sell dog leashes, suspenders, doo-rags and t-shirts, thus the mother company declined to renew their franchise. That was a smart move on the part of the now-former franchise owners, given present economic times.
I’d say the more pressing problem is a lack of short term funding available for these dealerships to maintain access to cash flow. With sales down 60 to 70 per cent, cash flow is a dominating factor in a dealer’s viability. No cash flow, no business. Oh, and did you finance one of those fancy new boutiques to sell trinkets? You know, the ones the mother company forced you to build beside a major access point on a freeway or lose your franchise? Kiss that idea good-bye.
Second, I suspect that over the past ten to twelve years Harley’s aging market share took a lot of cash out of their homes to purchase those expensive toys and branded clothes because they wanted to look like a bunch of bad-ass boys. Well, it’s crunch time, folks, and with the housing market in the dumpster courtesy of the BushCo fools and their deregulation, you can kiss your motorcycle on the fender and wave goodbye when it’s repo’d.
I’m hoping the management at H-D still has a faint memory of their takeover of the troubled AMF brand in the early ’80s and has some idea of how to survive the current economic downturn. I’m not holding my breath, given that a new authorized dealership in Cranbrook has appeared in an appropriately shiny and new edifice, and is fully stocked with suspenders, doo-rags and dog leashes.
Good luck with that.