If you are a rider and you don’t have the expertise to wrench on your own bike, then you have to rely on a motorcycle technician. When you first get a bike, move somewhere new, or wake up one day to find that your favourite mechanic is no longer around, a panicky feeling may set into your stomach as the question swirls in your head: “Who is going to look after my baby?”
In motorcycling, your relationship with your mechanic needs to be a good one, but your relationship with the shop’s service advisor needs to be sacrosanct. Forging a solid relationship with a great motorcycle shop for maintenance and repair is going to make your riding season a lot more enjoyable.
Mechanics are not cheap, nor are they all made equal. Not only that, but in truly busy and professional shops, the likelihood of speaking directly to a technician is slim to none. And if the technician is the one answering the phone when you call, that is not generally a good sign (unless the shop is small and owner operated).
Your relationship with your mechanic needs to be good, but your relationship with the shop’s service advisor needs to be sacrosanct.
Decent mechanics are made to look like they are geniuses when they have a savvy service advisor working with them. Why? Because a great service advisor asks great questions and then ensures that the right technician is put on the right job.
But how do you interview a mechanic that will give you the kind and quality of service you are looking for without paying an arm and a leg?
Start by asking other riders
You can stop at any ride night and you’ll get a wide array of opinions on local shops and who is good at what they do. You can also reach out on your favourite social media groups and forums.
Once you’re armed with a few names, research them online, and look at their business’s social media pages.
Consider the following when shopping for a motorcycle mechanic:
- Is the shop a member of the Rider Friendly Business Association?
- Have others referred or positively reviewed them?
- Are there any comments out there that are scathing? You might want to consider messaging or otherwise contacting the individual who wrote the negative comment to see how things turned out. The same goes with good experiences. See if can you find someone willing to talk to you about what they actually experienced.
Take them for a test drive
Once you’ve done your research, pick the one you’ve heard the best things about, and then book your baby in for an oil change, a bulb or brake pad change, or a repair that you know is minor or straightforward.
When you are speaking to the person on the desk, the service advisor, they are going to be your first best clue as to how the shop works and what kind of relationship you are going to have moving forward.
You can help ensure the relationship gets its best start by being prepared with the information they’ll need about your motorcycle, including the VIN, year, make, model, mileage and any information pertinent to the reason you are bringing the bike in. Show them you respect their time by being prepared. You can also save yourself countless dollars with preparation, because the more information you provide, the less diagnosis time is required.
If the service advisor asks smart questions and seems engaged with you and appears to genuinely want to help you resolve your issue, that’s key. For example, let’s say you booked your motorcycle in for brake pad replacement. A good service advisor should ask you when the brake pads were last changed, whether you hear any grinding noises, or why you think the problem you are experiencing may be related to the brake pads.
If the service advisor simply asks for standard information, like the year, make and model and doesn’t ask why you think or feel you need the work done, I’d re-think your choice of repair shop immediately. You need to work with a service advisor who is going to convey the right information to the technician. You need this person to be invested in your ride being safe and enjoyable. If instead, you get the sense they are just a warm body doing the job, then this might not be the best shop for you.
Feel confident in your choice
Don’t just settle for the shop in your neighbourhood because it’s convenient. Make sure you feel good about the quality and service you are getting.
As a lady rider, I want to ensure my motorcycle stays in top repair. I dread the thought of being broken down on the side of the road somewhere. And although it is likely to happen someday, a great relationship with a good motorcycle technician and an outstanding service advisor reduces the odds significantly.