Ducati dealerships were rated the best in the U.S. motorcycle industry at how well they deal with potential new customers. The Italian manufacturer earned the highest score out of 17 major brands in the 2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index, the firs time Ducati topped the annual Index since 2009.

The study was conducted by California-based Pied Piper Management Company which employed 1,885 anonymous “mystery shoppers” to visit different dealerships across the U.S. between July 2013 and April 2014. The “mystery shoppers” pretended to be regular customers and observed how dealerships fared in a number of customer-friendly categories such as offering test rides, asking customers for contact information, or for doing something as straightforward as asking a customer to buy a motorcycle.

Ducati and Harley-Davidson (which topped the 2013 PSI study) combined to earn the top scores in half of the different categories. Another ten brands scored the highest in other categories. The scores were added up to produce an overall index number.

Test rides remain an important category that is underutilized by dealerships. According to the study, dealerships mentioned either an immediate or future opportunity for test rides only 52% of the time. That’s an improvement from the 36% rate recorded in the 2011 study, but still rather low considering the results. According to Pied Piper Management, dealerships that offer immediate test rides at least half of the time sell 44% more motorcycles than dealerships that don’t.

Ducati, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson and BMW dealers were the best at doing this, mentioning test rides 60% of the time, and it’s no surprise they fared well overall. Meanwhile dealers selling Moto Guzzi, KTM, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda motorcycles mentioned test rides only 30% of the time.

2014 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index
Brand 2014 2013 2012* 2011* 2010* 2009*
Ducati 114 107 105 102 106 107
Harley-Davidson 111 111 108 104 106 105
Can-Am 107 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Victory 106 102 103 105 107 102
Triumph 105 103 103 102 104 97
Industry Average 104 100 103 101 103 101
Star 102 101 98 N/A N/A N/A
Indian 102 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Suzuki 101 99 99 100 102 100
BMW 100 98 105 101 104 102
MV Agusta 98 102 100 98 103 101
Kawasaki 98 96 99 96 100 96
Husqvarna 96 100 95 90 90 90
Moto Guzzi 95 89 94 87 89 90
Honda 93 88 98 96 97 95
Yamaha 92 91 102 101 104 99
Aprilia 91 79 99 95 96 94
KTM 87 73 92 93 95 92
*Note: a new weighting and scoring system was adopted for 2013 onwards

The study found salespersons greeted customers 84% of the time by asking “Can I help you?”, which isn’t that effective as most people would just reply with “No thanks, I’m just looking.”

Instead, Pied Piper Management says it’s better for salespeople to be more proactive. Dealerships that ask customers for contact information at least 75% of the time sold 20% more motorcycles than those that don’t. Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Can-Am, Victory and Triumph were the best brands at this practice, and they all rated above the industry average.

Something as simple as just asking customers if they want to buy a motorcycle can be effective. Dealerships where salespeople ask customers for a sale at least 67% of the time sold 34% more motorcycles than dealerships that do not.

The industry-wide average score was 104, higher than the industry average from the last few years (though it’s important to note the scoring and weighting system was modified in last year’s study.) Surprisingly, only five brands scored better than the industry average this year, including Can-Am which was included in the PSI for the first time and fared impressively with the third-highest overall score.

Indian Motorcycles are another new addition to this year’s study, earning an overall score of 102, or slightly below the industry average and four points behind the other Polaris Industries-owned brand, Victory.

KTM dealers showed the best improvement, increasing their overall score by 14 points. Unfortunately, KTM remains at the bottom of the index with a score 17 points below average. It may come as no surprise then to hear Husqvarna, which was acquired by KTM’s Stefan Pierer last year, was one of two brands to score lower than they did last year. MV Agusta had the only other decrease, also dropping four points.

[Source: Pied Piper Management]