Top 5 Tips On the Art of Negotiating at a Motorcycle Dealership

Retail Confidential: How to get the best deal at the dealer.

The "art of negotiation" is exactly that: an art. Not everyone feels comfortable with the process of buying a motorcycle, and this works to the shop's favor. Here are a few things to help you level the playing field.

1. Research the bike you're interested in. It seems silly to suggest this, but you'd be amazed how many people walk through the door with little to no information about a specific bike or group of bikes. Know where it is in the product cycle—brand new or about to be replaced?—and see what nearby dealers are asking for it. Also know if the dealer you're standing in has a reputation for cut-rate prices or if it values long-term service over short-term sales.

2. Know your credit score. It determines what your interest rate will be and it gives you a good idea of what to expect payment-wise. It's possible to have as much as three to five points' difference in interest rates from various lenders. Check the manufacturer's website for promotions, rebates, and special interest rates. Not all dealers pass along rebates, and not everyone qualifies for the promotional interest rates.

3. Do not talk monthly payments! Only discuss the bottom-line price of the bike, including sales tax and any other fees. If you reveal a comfortable monthly payment early in the conversation, it can alter how a deal goes down. Once you reveal a monthly payment you're willing to pay, all attention may be on getting a bike within your comfort range and not necessarily at the best overall price.

4. When the time comes to talk about price (and we know it's coming) be sure you have a figure in mind. I know this is difficult for most customers, but believe it or not, we listen to you, and the worst thing we can say is no. Be reasonable. Be confident. After all, you've done your homework.

5. Let your salesperson work for you. Ask about rebates and compare the promotional interest rates offered through in-house financing to outside credit unions or your bank. Manufacturers will often list promotions and rebates on their websites; be sure to look. Also, aim for the best overall deal but realize that the dealership will be making a percentage on financing, and that might influence the final price on the bike. Speaking of which, don't be too eager to agree to a price and close the deal. An easy negotiation tactic is to simply ask, "Is that the best you can do?" Some customers are quick to make an offer only to find the dealer accepting it without hesitation. Why? Because it might be a better deal for us compared to what you could have gotten otherwise. Patience, too, is an art.

Jeff Maddox is the sales manager for a multi-line dealership in the Midwest. Questions for him? Email us at with "Retail Confidential" in the subject line.