by Liz Jansen
First posted in August, 2012, this bears reviewing now as many of you are preparing your bikes for riding season.
Finding a mechanic is one of the most critical riding decisions you’ll make. Riding a motorcycle makes you vulnerable to weather, road conditions, other drivers, your own abilities and the condition of your motorcycle. Two small contact patches of rubber are all that connect you to the road so if something goes amiss, there’s not a lot of opportunity to recover.
Building a solid relationship with someone you can trust can give you good service, safety and enjoyment for years.
Although the potential implications of a poorly maintained vehicle are greater for motorcycles, these same principles apply to any vehicle.
- Seek out a mechanic before you actually need one. Start with something simple to get to know him/her, e.g. an oil change.
- Select a convenient and secure location. .At some point you will almost certainly need to leave your bike so make sure the hours of operation, location and customer service practices (i.e. shuttle) work for you.
- Assess the service level. Get credible information and make sure you understand the shop’s Customer Satisfaction Policy. Take advice from forums cautiously. You don’t know who you’re talking to and some people can sound very good and be very inaccurate.
- Consider the big picture. Base your decision on the complete service package rather than price alone. Less expensive rates don’t mean better service. Think long term rather than a case by case basis. It develops loyalty and appreciation both ways.
- Visit. Look for proof of certification and licenses. The shop and maintenance bays should be neat and organized and carry up-to-date equipment that can accurately diagnose your bike.
- Ask for references from previous customers; ask customers that are already in the shop. Be objective and get at least three independent opinions.
- Inquire. Ask what types of parts they use when repairing your bike. What brand are they? Are they used or refurbished?
- Talk to the service representative. Look for staff that are helpful, courteous and explain the procedure in a manner that you understand.
- Inspect the bike before paying the bill. Take a test drive to see that all is working well.
- Offer constructive feedback. Good shops value customer satisfaction and want to hear it. Let them know what excelled about their service and where they can improve.
One of the best ways to get good service, other than to be courteous, is to be knowledgeable. Even if you’re not interested in tearing your engine apart, learning the basics is. Reading your owner’s manual is a good start. An educated consumer is a more satisfied consumer.