My job is to wade through all the marketing and sales noise and help the average guy or gal buy the vehicle that will best suit his or her needs.
This is why I really like attending trade shows, talking to readers and viewers, going on group rides or just riding with people who don’t ride off-road for a living. Riding with you helps keep me grounded and helps me understand what your wants and needs really are.
So to do my job well, I have to take myself out of my own situation and put myself into yours. I have to ask and answer the right questions… the ones you’re asking. I have to remember the average buyer hasn’t ever peeked behind the industry’s curtain to know what’s coming in the future or what technology is on the horizon.
So, when I write or shoot a test ride segment on a new vehicle I try to look at it through the eyes of a consumer.
I ask: What features on that vehicle will be appealing, or what will a potential buyer want to know about it most? What aspects of this vehicle will either please or frustrate someone who might own it for many years? What is this vehicle intended to do? If a buyer were to believe the sales and marketing hype, would they be pleased or disappointed with their purchase? If a person were to spend their money on this vehicle, would they feel like they got their money’s worth?
I also try to keep in mind that not everyone wants, needs or can afford the biggest and baddest ATV or SxS in the brochure. As a consumer, it’s not smart to be spending money on vehicle that’s either way more or way less than you need it to be.
Sure, ego plays a large role here and the word “need” has lost most of its meaning these days. But if you’re looking for an ATV to go in and out of the hunt camp, trail ride on weekends and get some work done around the yard here and there, I really shouldn’t be suggesting you buy a Sportsman 1000.
A great example of this comes from the SxS industry right now. Much of the media attention is focused on 110-plus-horsepower vehicles with 18-inches of travel and $5000 shock packages. These are impressive pieces but the reality is they are the wrong choice for the majority of buyers because they are simply too big and too powerful.
If the average trail riding SxS driver were to ask me what they should be looking at, I would have to put my ego aside and start by recommending a 50 or 60-inch model. Both are less powerful than their top of the line counterparts, so my recommendation might not be as much fun… but that rider would be getting a vehicle much better suited to his needs.
At the end of the day, my job is to be an anti-salesman. It’s not about up-selling, it’s not about having the most features or the biggest engine. It’s about enjoying the ride, turning the key each morning with a smile on your face knowing yours is the perfect vehicle for you. If that’s the case, I did my job well.