Harley Davidson's Reputation - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Harley Davidson's Reputation

Hey everyone,
I'm doing a project for my MBA ethics course about social responsibility and I've chosen Harley-Davidson, Inc. as my test case. I'm interested in public opinion about Harley as a corporation and I know everyone here is good about expressing honest opinions

I'd like to hear about any experiences you've had with Harley employees, dealerships, finance department, etc. Was the experience positive or negative, and what is your overall opinion of Harley-Davidson as a company?

Thanks in advance for the help!!
Kim
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 07:41 PM
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Harley Davidson to me is the amazing loyalty and obsession of their customers regardless of product quality and performance.
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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:00 PM
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I've been to a few dealers over the years. Most fo the people I've dealt with have been some of the nicest and most down to earth people I've ever met in a dealer.




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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:00 PM
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I don't know as much about the company as some others may, but I would have to say that Harley has done some unethical and socially irresponsible things over the last few decades...

The manner in which they manipulated the supply/demand relationship in an attempt to control pricing might be considered a bit unethical by some.

Although the company has recently made some pretty large strides with regards to product quality, their long-term hestiance to adopt technology resulted in a number of machines over the years that were more $ and less reliable than much of the competition. Socially irresponsible? Perhaps.

Don't get me wrong. I own one, and I like it for a number of reasons. It has it's purpose. I'm not bashing the bikes.

I do find it interesting how devout Harley owners tend to be when defending HD though. This thread is gonna be good...
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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:02 PM
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My 1200 Sportster was a great bike. It never had reliability problems. Unfortunately I sold it because I wanted to start racing. However, my wife is interested in getting another. So, it's safe to assume I will pick up another H-D in time. If possible I want a VR 1000.

The sales staff of the dealers I visited were always hospitable and more than happy to help me with products or services. I have no complaints about H-D except that they don't look real seriously at pushing the technical envelope of their products. But, their core market doesn't seek extreme technological improvements either.

The Havard MBA study series did a lesson on H-D. I might still have it somewhere in the house. You might be able to find it at a library or online.

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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:34 PM
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Here is a quote from the March issue of Motorcycle Consumer news "When asked if thier Twin-Cam had suffered a cam bearing failure, 89.6% of our 750-plus owners said "No," and 10.4% said "Yes." When you consider that the NHTSA considers a 1% failure rate as sufficient to warrant a safety recall, you have to wonder how Harley has gotten away without being forced to recall these bikes for such an obvious defect."

Yes, wonder indeed.

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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by v2neal
Here is a quote from the March issue of Motorcycle Consumer news "When asked if thier Twin-Cam had suffered a cam bearing failure, 89.6% of our 750-plus owners said "No," and 10.4% said "Yes." When you consider that the NHTSA considers a 1% failure rate as sufficient to warrant a safety recall, you have to wonder how Harley has gotten away without being forced to recall these bikes for such an obvious defect."

Yes, wonder indeed.

Look how long GM got away with not fixing the C/K trucks with the exploding tanks from 73-87.
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:49 PM
pfft.
 
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The company has made incredible changes over the past few years that most people don't even see. Their changes have been seamless and their leadership is beyond comparison.
Kim, I used to work with very senior HD execs as part of my job at the business school here at A&M. I have spent quite a bit of time with their CEO as well. PM me if you have any questions or want some contacts.
They are a great case study. Good luck.

But if you're just looking for opinion, I'm kind of biased. I think they are a wonderful company and they go above and beyond to serve the needs of their customers. They understand that their customers have a passion for their brand and they serve their customers as people, not just as HD bike owners.
I think they could do more to promote rider safety, however, and that is my only real beef with them.
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 08:50 PM
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Tony's right about the dealers! There are a few sportbike dealers that could benefit from taking a page or two from the HD guys. Wild Fire HD (Villa Park) has been a real blessing to deal with!
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Great stuff guys! Keep it coming!
Thank you!
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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:11 PM
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Onyl HD dealer I've had issues with is Kegals in Rockford and it mainly was teh parts guy anyways.

Went there to see if they had a magnetic tank bag (all black) and the guy looekd right past me and asked teh guy BEHIND me what he needed. I was wearing my pruple/yellow/black Teknic leather coat.

I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested.
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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:12 PM
 
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In my opinion, they've come a long way in meeting customer demands through gradual product evolutions without losing their unique image and character of their product. Most of the dealers I've seen seem very top notch in the quality of the showroom appearance.

I rented a bike in Daytona once and the price was resonable and the service was good.

As for ethics... although they charge a large amount for their motorcycles, they control supply to keep the product exclusive, and sell the bike for a large profit, yet less than it's worth, only ot have most customers spend as much as 30% the value of the bike in aftermarket parts and acessories.

The company has also allowed the custom bike market to thrive by providing an adequate supply of drivetrains. They recognized that this market would only increase the the value of their product, not become competition. Their marketing does not attempt ot directly attack or belittle their Japanesse counterparts. they let the product speak for itself.

Their market strategy to me appears in stark contrast to the a company such as GE or Microsoft that attempt to often stiffle competiton and create unfair market advantages. ....

.... there I wrote half your paper.... haha
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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by v2neal
Here is a quote from the March issue of Motorcycle Consumer news "When asked if thier Twin-Cam had suffered a cam bearing failure, 89.6% of our 750-plus owners said "No," and 10.4% said "Yes." When you consider that the NHTSA considers a 1% failure rate as sufficient to warrant a safety recall, you have to wonder how Harley has gotten away without being forced to recall these bikes for such an obvious defect."

Yes, wonder indeed.
Actually, there HAS been a recall/service bulletin issued regarding the cam bearing (like two years ago).

Since I have my own personal factory-trained HD tech, I may be a little biased... but even before I hooked up with John, I've had many years of favorable experiences with the local dealerships... from sales to service. During the early 90's when demand was running wildly ahead of supply, my local dealership was able to get me the bike I wanted (and even gave me color choice) delivered within 90 days (I ordered my '93 Heritage Softail in late January and rode it home in late March.

Observation: Harley's marketing department has been wildly successful in packaging and selling a "lifestyle"... how many other brand logos do you find being tattooed on people's bodies?

(My) John brought up an interesting point... Dealerships are businesses essentially independent of the Harley Davidson Motor Company... your dealership experience is not related to the factory. The factory furnishes a product and has minimal input into how the dealership conducts business. By means of comparison, complaining to the factory is like going into Jewel and complaining about you were treated by Quaker Oats.

Edit: Did I make this any clearer?

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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 09:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by KBOlsen

The factory furnishes a product and have minimal input into how the dealership conducts business. By means of comparison, complaining to the factory is like going into Jewel and complaining about Quaker Oats.
That comparison is actually slightly backwards.... but close enough.... you make a good point.
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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:05 PM
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Kim, I can't find where a recall has been issued. It seems there has been a service bulliten issued and Harley will repair any problems. In MCCN's survey, they note that 27% of those that have had the cam bearings repaird were NOT satisfied with the level of service, and 31% note that the factory did NOT cover all of the expenses. There is a class action lawsuit against Harley to this effect.
*shrug* What do I really care, I'll never own one of these inferior machines.
Oh, it was also noted that of the owners in this survey, 37% have a Honda in the garage too.

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post #16 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:47 PM
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Interesting talk about lawsuits against H-D. One of the questions in my social responsibility audit has to do with how many lawsuits are pending regarding ethical issues...

Thanks, Bill for the reference to the Harvard MBA series. I'll see if I can find that study.

This is the reason I ask the question to people that own and ride motorcycles. I'm the only person in my class that has a motorcycle, and when I told them what company I was choosing, one of my classmates had the audacity to say, "H-D MUST be unethical, because they sell motorcycles that kill people!" That kind of ignorance makes me look outside of the classroom for real life examples!

Cherry, thanks for the offer, but I think I'll write my own paper

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post #17 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 10:48 PM
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Oops, posted under the hubby's sig...
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post #18 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nolan1300
when I told them what company I was choosing, one of my classmates had the audacity to say, "H-D MUST be unethical, because they sell motorcycles that kill people!" That kind of ignorance makes me look outside of the classroom for real life examples!
When that guy finishes his degree, he can come work at my company... he'll fit right in. Too bad you picked HD, you could have done a study on the history of my company over the last 6 years and their relationship with the FDA and the Code of Federal Regulations. . I'm scared to think that people actually had our products injected into their body back then. It's better now... but I'm glad I'm getting fired or laid off soon.
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post #19 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-15-2004, 11:31 PM
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Talking lifestyle not the bike itself


I think that the remarkable part about harley is that they keyed in on the bikes relating to a lifestyle not just riding a motorcycle.
Unlike many other companies today they have found that the people who own harley's seem to enjoy what it represents as much as riding it. A sense of freedom, bad boy image, adventure,
maybe it solved a midlife crisis or two. The other part that is amazing is how they have provided all the accesories to enjoy that lifestyle. My concern for the future of harley is with the drop in the stock market many impulse buyers that helped spur some of the demand in the late nineties are gone.( purely based on my informal observations of how many bikes suddenly went for sale with little or no miles) With the japs getting better at providing similar and technically better products what is their futrue that is the question in my mind.
(I dont currently own a harley but would love a heritage softail classic some day.)
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post #20 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KBOlsen
(My) John brought up an interesting point... Dealerships are businesses essentially independent of the Harley Davidson Motor Company... your dealership experience is not related to the factory.
Mmm....that's not entirely true. Although the dealerships are independent businesses, one of the changes HD recently made is that they are controlling now what is and isn't a HD dealership. Notice how many of them nowadays have nice new buildings and pretty product displays-- that is for the most part *urged* by corporate. They also control the fact that an HD dealership is ONLY and HD dealership-- they don't sell other brands of bikes. You don't see this with Yamaha, Suzuki, etc.

THey way they are handling their dealerships has been rapidly changing in the past 5 years or so and will continue to develop in the near future. This has a lot to do with their marketing, just as you said-- it's superb.
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post #21 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 06:12 AM
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Harley Davidson has done the most amazing job in marketing, they have it done it so well, that they have ruined the motorcycling experience in North America. Take a look at any of their recent TV ads (ok dealer ads) you never see the motorcycle actually rolling down the roads or back roads, you see some middle age white guy, who hasn't shaved since Friday morning, wearing a "do" rag, with his stripper/girlfriend/wife buying more HD crap. I have couples in my shop, wearing so much HD crap, I'm embrassed for them. Any non-rider, who finds out that I ride, immediately asks what model HD I ride. When they find out I ride a "crotch rocket" they immediately say "you must have a death wish", my response is "usually not anymore than the HD rider without a helmet" I have this love/hate thing with HD. I love them, because of the business sucess, hate them for what they have done to motorcycling.


Hmmmm did that provide any usefull information

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post #22 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 06:15 AM
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Too many Kim's on here
Anyway, bear in mind that it seems any moron of an attorney can file a class action lawsuit. Honda has one filed on behalf of some Goldwing owners
The real magic of Harley is the thing that Whit and others have eluded to. They can sell bikes that have some issues, provide less than stellar service, and the owners are still more than satisfied with the product. Not too many companies get away with that. I'm sure it's something Harley owners put up with and figure it's part of the "lifestyle."
Get ahold of the March 2004 issue of Motorcycle Consumer News, it really is an interesting read on the Twin Cam survey.


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post #23 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 06:18 AM
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Re: lifestyle not the bike itself

Quote:
Originally posted by WITMAN

I think that the remarkable part about harley is that they keyed in on the bikes relating to a lifestyle not just riding a motorcycle.
whit

The lifestyle is ABOUT RIDING Not wearing a T-shirt or "do" rag with HD plastered all over it. The lifestyle comes from within yourself, not because you wearing a freaking brand logo

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post #24 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by YZFRob
Look how long GM got away with not fixing the C/K trucks with the exploding tanks from 73-87.

Are you refering to the truck (was it NBC News ) had to use a 1/4 stick to make it "blow up" because they had crashed a number of them, and they refused to explode, and it was ruining their little expose on exploding trucks, talk about ethics

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post #25 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 06:53 AM
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LOL Rick, I thought the same thing. Wasn't that on 20/20 or something?

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post #26 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 07:44 AM
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Now that I think about it... has anyone heard Sloroll lately?

He can probably give you tons of info.

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post #27 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 07:51 AM
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Re: Harley Davidson's Reputation

Quote:
Originally posted by KimF4i
Hey everyone,
I'm doing a project for my MBA ethics course about social responsibility and I've chosen Harley-Davidson, Inc. as my test case. I'm interested in public opinion about Harley as a corporation and I know everyone here is good about expressing honest opinions

I'd like to hear about any experiences you've had with Harley employees, dealerships, finance department, etc. Was the experience positive or negative, and what is your overall opinion of Harley-Davidson as a company?

Thanks in advance for the help!!
Kim
Kim,

I wrote a rough dissertation on the History of Harley's image. Your welcome to stop by and take a look if you want. The thing is over 100 pages long. I wrote it my senior year in College while I was taking some masters level classes.....don't ask.

Let me know

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post #28 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 07:51 AM
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I personally dislike the "Personna" the Harley riders give off. I would have a hard time buying one JUST for the reason of the mentallity these hardcore Harley people give off. Am i shallow? probably but this opinion was formed from riders i encountered. "Pfft... Jap bike, rice burner, buy a real American bike, and so on....."
Nope, would not want to be assosciated with the stereotypical wanna be hardcore but rather enjoy the practice of riding and the mentallity of "Whats up fellow 2 wheeler!"


Good question John, Kim i am certain Sloroll had an opinion or 2 for ya since he as well owns an R1 and Harley.


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post #29 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 10:12 AM
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harley dealers are the best guys i have ever dealt with. All the sportbike guys are clowns and jerks. The harley guys are much better to deal with, too bad I will never own one... but just for the record
post #30 of 50 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 10:30 AM
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Just out of curiousity.....can I ask what customer service has to do with social responsibility??????

If that's your focus you might wanna think about getting information on things like manufacturing processess and outsourcing contracts, worker conditions, pollution points, Charity contributions, internal policies on whistleblowing, etc. This would be far more into the context of an ethics class IMO. You could also look at top management and their individual endeavers with numerous charities and charity runs.

I'm not sure if your instructor already guided you in this or your only asking for a small portion of your project but those are things that came to mind when I saw your post.

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