The value of a demo ride

Last fall I was invited to a PWC demo. I’ll admit I was a little nervous about keeping up with well-known PWC media on the lake, as I have much less experience aboard the craft compared to most. But within minutes of me boarding the machine and receiving an instructional, I was flying around the lake with the guys.

I was on an entry-level machine, and I thought I couldn’t get much better. But the next day I hopped on the flagship model, and I quickly realized the difference. The flagship, with its bigger engine, was actually curing my almost insatiable desire for speed. When I got back on the value-priced craft, I was surprised how easily I buried the throttle only to get nowhere near the speeds I wanted to go.

And then it dawned on me. What if instead of a media rider at an OEM demo event, I was a customer on a dealership’s test ride? Sure, I enjoyed the value-priced model, but the flagship really hit the spot. Can demo rides not only convert a sale, but also draw a customer to a higher-priced and more desirable vehicle in the long run?

Sure, if I were a customer, I probably wouldn’t be willing to go from a model under $10,000 to a flagship over $15,000. However, there might be a sweet spot in between, especially if you could show me how little my monthly payments would increase if I spent slightly more on a PWC closer to what I want.

No one wants a customer out on the lake a month after buying a new boat, lusting after a friend’s engine that goes just a touch faster, or his neighbor’s boat that has a few more creature comforts. No one wants customers to get unhappy or bored that quickly.

We want happy customers, and we want to make a profit. Offering demo rides on various models to serious buyers might just be the trick.

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