Kudos to the ones that survive!
Now lets go order more stuff off the internet and save a few bucks.
For me it is 90 mile drive one way after a two hour boat trip to the nearest BMW dealer. Actually there is one slightly closer but I don't enjoy shopping there. My current dealer is about 140 miles away. Anyway if I am in need of a part and the bike is not going in for service the internet it is. I do almost always buy my stuff at the dealer where I currently get the bike serviced. To get parts for me and I would guess others the net is the viable method. I really don't need the BMW "experience" when buying parts, if they have it and can ship it soon I'm pretty happy. My present dealer does that well. I think that if a dealer wants to be successful in this day and age and particularly in this ecconomy they need to make friends with the internet. If I had a BMW dealer five miles away I would probably shop there and support them but I don't have that option like many I think. I wonder what percentage of BMW owners live within say 30 miles of a dealer? Bet that figure is low.
In regard to the closing of dealers yes the economy sucks but IIRC some of the big new BMW only dealers were folding well before the downturn. Be interesting to see what the viability of the new crop is. I would think the dealers that already have a presence in the motorcycle biz might have a leg up. Time will tell.
"We're driving fast from a dream of the past to a brave new world" - Steve Miller Band
The old Butler and Smith Dealerships can offer better service, too. Since their service bays are full up with Kawis and Hondas, their lone old BMW master tech can concentrate on working with the Beemers at far lower rates than the stand-alones, because the big stand-alones have big costs to cover.
It is one tough row to hoe if you ask me.
"The Road is life"
I buy all sorts of stuff over the Internet. I live 53 miles from town. I live 125 miles from the nearest Walmart. I live 210 miles from the nearest mall and 250 miles from the nearest Home Depot.
But I buy my BMW stuff from my BMW dealerships - 450 or 1100 miles away - by telephone.
Last edited by GSfornow; 02-28-2010 at 02:04 PM.
"We're driving fast from a dream of the past to a brave new world" - Steve Miller Band
Wow! I have a completely different experience than expressed in this thread. My closest BMW dealer is 7 miles away. This dealer started out with Honda and BMW, but over the years has added other marques. I've purchased 5 BMWs and 3 other bikes from this dealer over the past 17 years.
There is another BMW dealer 18 miles distant. This dealer started out as solely BMW. It didn't take long for the dealer to realize that there was an insufficient sales volume with just BMW. In the last 6 years other marques have been added and the store moved to a larger and better location (easier access & greater freeway visibility).
While not a BMW dealer, Re-Psycle BMW is 28 miles away. Re-Psycle always has the airhead (and most other BMW) parts in stock. Good used stuff goes for half or less the cost of new parts. They have folks with extensive BMW experience and I've benefitted several times from advice and "how to" demonstrations (i.e., setting the proper shim thickness for airhead wheel bearings).
Only HD has a more convenient dealer network, and there isn't as convenient a source for good used HD parts.
My local BMW dealership is 30 miles away, they sell Yamaha, Suzuki, Argo, and the BMW Sales area is semi-isolated with Ducati.
It has always been 30 miles away, next dealer is 180 miles away, I knew that when I bought my 3 BMW bikes.
So if you are not happy with their network of dealers, why are you buying the brand?
Along with exclusitivity, comes a smaller amount of dealers.
You want convenience? buy Honda or HD, they are everywhere.
Ferrari, Lambourghini, not so much.
I have been nothing but satisfied with my bikes, sales, service, and BMW experience.
09 Hyosung Aquila GV250-08 BMW K1200GT Silver
80/81 Honda CM/CB 400/450 "Frankensteined Bobber"
79 Honda CX500 Custom Black -78 Honda GL 1000
77 Honda CB 125 Sport-77 Suzuki TC 185 "10 speed"
Where any individual chooses to shop is their personal decision. But it is the height of hypocricy when the same individual gripes about how few dealers there are and how far away they are and then hypes the great deals they can find from some far-away big warehouse that sells everything from chinese tires to Belarussian chrome.
In the San Diego area we have two dealers. Both are Beemer only. One is very experiential: we get email newsletters regularly, coupons sometimes, arranged rides several times a year, open house events with demo rides and free bbq / drinks about twice a year, etc. They draw huge crowds on the weekends for these open houses which gives one a chance to gawk at other guys' bikes. The owner will just walk up and start talking to you like he's known you forever. Sales and parts guys are very knowledgeable and will call in a mechanic, if necessary, to help answer questions. There is no pressure put on the customers to do anything - whether on an open house day or regular day. I have no idea how they are doing profit-wise but their used inventory seems to move quickly and when the S1000RR release was imminent they had about 20 pre-ordered.
I realize I live in a metro area and this same model might not be workable in mid-Missouri or Montana. But, for me, so much about patronizing a dealership of any kind revolves around how much pressure I feel as I approach the lot. So, I don't think the "BMW Experience" has only one face as it could take on the face of just good old customer friendliness.
Let me ask a question. How much support do we take from our dealerships when we service our own bikes?
How much does a simple 3,000 mile oil change cost at a dealership?
I can get oil filters for $7.50, and oil for $5 a quart, and use pipe thread tape instead of a $1.25 crush washer. Since I am not at the dealership I am not tempted to buy anything else. So for less than $30 I have my oil changed.
"Exclusivity" was mentioned as part of the BMW experience. Maybe for some but not for me- it is much more of a negative than a positive.
I had been out of bikes for a few years after selling a Honda and bought a BMW only because I could not find what I wanted in a J-brand. Specifically I wanted a sport tourer that was not water cooled, not excessively heavy and shaft drive. I hate being blasted by hot air off a rad fan (didn't mind it when I lived in the NE), for fun light is always better, and chains are the very worst part of any motorcycle especially if used daily. Ditched chains in the early 80s and won't go back that direction unless I add a crotch rocket or dirt bike to the garage. RT is in my garage because it is the only one I found meeting the required spec. Took me a while to get used to the way it looks.
What I would rate as positive for the "BMW Experience" is that although the nearest dealership is sparsely manned, folks are friendly and competent (used to sell Triumph and Piaggio also, not sure if they still do). Their mechanics have good reputations with local owners, also- haven't run into complaints about botched jobs or bad diagnosis- but they don't work on mine-too far away. Mostly its "BMW Non-Experience" for me except for factory fluids and that because Spectro makes good bike oils, not the "warranty"thing.
Excellent web forums are a welcome part of ownership but have nothing to do with BMW corporate. The brand seems to attract folks who really ride, many who are techically inclined and can write, so fast and reliable advice/info is only a few keystrokes away. Specifically BMWMOA, BMW Sport Touring and BMW Luxury Touring all have useful info. Wish I read German better- takes me too long to do much cruising. If there's a good Brit site I haven't found it yet- most of the UK stuff I see looks like it was written after spending too much time at the pub and the level of their technical discussion is below pitiful much of the time.
Like some of the sensible aftermarket stuff - eg the GS-911 and some good metal and plastic bits. There ought to be user affordable code readers/service set tools for all modern bikes but there aren't. And the factory service disc loadable onto a pc is also a helpful reference though perhaps a bit obtuse to those without adequate mechanical experience compared to the manuals for J-brand bikes I've owned.
Don't appreciate BMW forcing out small local dealers which is exactly what they have been doing - it doesn't improve service and parts access or sales and does me only inconvenience or damage as an owner- maybe it does something for BMW but its not obvious what that might be when a stronger dealer doesn't fill the void. Surely the cost of keeping a low volume dealer on the books is minimal. The former nearest one folded after being told they had to make a capital investment that was way beyond their means though they had been surviving on small sales including some other low volume brands, and service.
Actually the answer is that the service is the profit center. Without that, the parts sales over the counter come next, and probably the bike sales help little...except to get them out on the street wearing out tires and oil, etc.
My other bike is a BMW.
Jack Hawley MOA and RA #224, KE9UW ("Chuck")
the last time I priced oil at the BMW dealership it was about $19 a liter, and a filter was over $20. That's a hundred bucks just for supplies. Add in labor and shop supplies, how much does the bill come to?
The same thing with tires and tune ups. Once you run off your shop's "bread and butter business" The shop has to survive on repair work and warranty work. Since you have got the motorcycle owners doing their own work, they will continue to do more involved mechanical work. Currently BMW wants over $3200 for a rebuilt transmission for an R1100. If you have it installed at a dealership, You are talking a days labor, a rear main engine seal, throw out bearing and a clutch plate. So in reality the bike probably isn't worth repairing. But, you can get a used transmission for under a grand and install it yourself. Most shops won't put in used parts.
Thats just the shop side of it, which also helps support the parts business.
I know the old adage, "If you can't afford toys then why do you want them"?
Really like the BMWON, they ask us to support their advertisers.
Jon, a true bottom feeder