“I’m ready to close both finance departments to cut costs and go through brokers which long term won’t be as good for the customer.”
He says insurance companies, such as Swann Insurance, have now left dealerships and are doing all their business online, so dealers don’t get a commission.
“We used to get 10% commission from people renewing their insurance. Now we get nothing,” he says.
Brett says manufacturers are also offering “crazy finance” deals down to around 1.1% that are eating into dealership earnings.
Wages and staff
Brett says it is difficult to pay his 44 staff each week when profits have decreased to about a third in the past year.
“I’ve got the best mechanics you can get in Brisbane. I’ve had them for a long time and I pay them very very well.
“But you have to charge the right bills to cover the wages.”
Meanwhile, he says the bigger conglomerates are charging top dollar for servicing and repairs but are letting apprentices do the work.
“They’re not paying good money for good mechanics,” he claims.
Brett was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March and says he would like to get out of the business for health reasons.
However, he may have nothing much left to hand over to his 25-year-old son, James, who raced in the British Superbikes for a season.
James is now back in Brisbane studying at university for a marketing and business degree while also managing the shop’s accessories department.
“He’s put it all online now as it’s all about pricing. Everyone is cutting each other’s throats.”
Talk to your dealer
Stuart suggests customers with a grievance take it up with their dealer.
“I really wonder if riders who are dissatisfied with the level of service or prices bother to lay down their thoughts with the dealer principal?” he asks.
“Yes, poor service is widespread, unfortunately. It’s because the owners can’t afford to pay salaries for people with sales experience in the motorcycle industry, with a few exceptions like Harley outlets.”