How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
How do I get a job in the moto industry? This question gets brought up on a recurring basis.
Lets be honest you aren’t going to be a professional racer and chances of you being a mechanic aren’t that good either. Butt there are several other jobs in moto that you could possible slip into and make a career out of. I’m going to get in touch with some of these industry insiders for short features. What are the ins and outs of these moto industry jobs and how did they get there?
There are only five major motorcycle brands but think about all the different aftermarket parts available for your bike and body, hundreds and hundreds of products. A huge network of sales representatives have to sell all those products. This is a job that doesn’t require you to move to California or to travel to all the races yet still keeps you involved in moto. Western Power Sports has grown by leaps and bounds in the last several years becoming a motorsports distributer powerhouse. Fox really needs no introduction they are arguably the most recognizable gear company in the sport with a long moto history. I got in touch with Austin at WPS and Konnrad at Fox to find out if I should apply to be a sales rep myself.
As a rep for WPS/Fox give a short summary of the different products you represent.
Austin: We represent thousands of different products for Motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, Offroad Bikes and even watercraft. Tires, brakes, chemicals, batteries, apparel etc. Pretty much if you own a motorcycle, we have the parts to keep it running and the gear to keep you safe while riding it.
Konnrad: As you know Fox is the most recognized moto gear in the world, our products range from head to toe I.E. Helmets, Goggles, Boots, Protection and Apparel. Fox continues to innovate and elevate year after year!
Compared with a “normal” 9-5 job what are the advantages to working in the moto industry?
Austin: I get to go to motorcycle shops and hang out with motorcycle enthusiasts on a daily basis.
Konnrad: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call them advantages. However, we do get to attend select SX & MX races along with yearly sales meetings and other events per the Company. Other than those fun times it is still a grind just like any other job. I mean work is work!
The allure of working in moto is getting to be an “industry insider”, attend SX/MX races and meet some of the pro’s, is that what it’s really like?
Austin: Not as much on the SX side but now that WPS and Fly sponsor the outdoors we have pretty easy access to go and meet riders if we want to. I realize how busy they are during a race day, so I don’t really try to bother them. On occasion certain vendors have sales contests where we get to take a dealer and do a meet and greet. Those are pretty cool.
Konnrad: I’m sure it is to a certain point depending on your title within a company. As I stated before we do get to attend those events and meet some of the Factory guy’s at certain times. As an outside rep I wouldn’t say that you’re really an insider, we do get to see and hear about some of the new things going on with the industry but most of our time is spent just like yours and everyone else’s.
Do you consider your position more sales or customer service?
Austin: It’s about 50/50. Some days I feel like I’m just putting out fires and not placing any new product and other days it’s just smooth sailing. I feel both are equally important.
Konnrad: I would consider the position as both. I mean as a Representative our job is to get out to accounts and sell them product. We do also provide customer service to accounts as well, if something pops up we are notified from the account about whatever the issue may be and we try to correct this for not only the account but the customer also.
What is your best selling product?
Austin: We are Michelin’s number 1 distributor in the US and it is also my number one selling product. I’m a moto guy at heart so the new Starcross 5 has been a lot of fun for me to sell.
Konnrad: That one is a tough one for me, as you know I have been with the company long before I was an actual employee. I’m a strong believer in all of our products. One of my best selling products in the northwest would be Black Dirtpaw gloves. As most know these things have been around for a while! A solid product that you can’t go wrong with!
How knowledgeable do you need to be about all the product lines?
Austin: We have house brands (Fly Racing, Sedona, Gmax etc) that we’re expected to be pretty knowledgeable on. We have our annually sales meeting every year and we get to meet the key contacts for some of the rest of the brands we carry. If there’s a certain product I’m focusing on, they are pretty easy to get in touch with to brush up on features and benefits.
Konnrad: You need to be pretty knowledgeable, It’s key to have a good understanding about the products that you are selling so that you can drive the sale home. It also benefits you when trying to get a sale from another company. If you can provide the customer with the best knowledge possible then you have a great chance at making that sale.
Do you have to ride or race to excel as a rep or can any fan or joe blow be successful in this type of job?
Austin: You don’t have to race but I can’t think of a single rep at WPS that doesn’t ride or used to ride at some point and maybe can’t anymore. I think you could still do the job but it makes it so much easier when you can go in and give first hand feedback on a product you have tried personally.
Konnrad: Of course you don’t need to ride or race, anyone can be successful as a sales representative in the motorcycle industry. However it is key to have the knowledge and be familiar with the motorcycle industry.
How much travel is involved with your job? Most reps cover a territory so how big is your territory?
Austin: I drive about 700-900 miles a week. I cover Indianapolis and the southern half of Indiana. WPS is really good about making the territories small enough so reps can be home every night with their families.
Konnrad: It depends on the territory you are covering. With me it is a lot of travel, my territory is very large, I believe one of the largest! I currently cover two and a half states in the northwest. I drive over 55,000 miles a year. That doesn’t include airfare to company meetings or events.
What vehicle do you drive and why?
Austin: Currently I have a Ford Fusion. It’s a good balance of storage and MPG. I also have an old Suzuki Vstrom I picked up cheap that I try to ride as much as I can. Dealers love it when you show up on a bike, plus, you’re basically on a rolling sample. I try to deck it out with all the different products we carry so they can check them out when I’m there.
Konnrad: Currently I am driving a Sprinter van. Being a representative, we do have a duty to install new displays in our accounts, these things aren’t small. Having a sprinter makes it very easy to haul this stuff around. I also like to bring my bike with me as I never know when I’ll be in an area where I can stop and bust out some moto’s after work.
How do you pass the time on the road?
Austin: PulpMX of course! Haha. I’m on the phone quite a bit with dealers in between visits during the day. I actually talk to other reps quite a bit during the day too. We just talk about what might be working for us that day or maybe just venting about a visit that didn’t go well.
Konnrad: Lots of music and podcasts. I am also in a very unique text group with some great guys, there must be 15+ in this group all from many walks of life and different places. There is never a dull moment! Yes, do not disturb setting is on as there are some days when you will have 500 texts come through before noon. Kids don’t text and drive.
What’s your go to meal while traveling?
Austin: Subway as much as I can because they’re everywhere and seem to be the healthiest of all the fast food.
Konnrad: Well as any sales professional will tell you, that’s a tough one! There are so many choices it makes it difficult to settle on just one. I tend to skip lunch a lot of times as I am trying to watch my weight. However, There is this one spot that I can never pass up. Jaunitas, a Mexican joint in Bremerton, WA. that hands down has the best burritos you will ever eat!
Are all manufacture reps jobs similar do you think you could get hired in a different industry like pharmaceutical or vacuum cleaner sales?
Austin: I think I could. There are certain traits a salesperson possesses and I think those could be easily transferred to a different product. Know your product, know why it’s better than your competitor’s product and know why they need it.
Konnrad: I’m sure they all have their little differences, however they are all sales jobs and if you can learn and sell the product I don’t see why you couldn’t. Should I sell vacuums?
How did you get your job and what would your advice be to someone who wanted to work for WPS?
Austin: A lot of WPS reps come from other distributors or were parts managers at a dealership. I worked at a small shop in high school but I wasn’t even in the industry prior to WPS. I had a small video production company and was shooting a lot of pro hill climb races. I was fortunate enough to meet Pete Treadwell, who was hitting the west coast races and also worked for WPS handling key accounts in the main Boise office. A good friend of mine, Anthony Utley, was already the rep for northern Indiana. He called me, told me there was an opening and said I should send in a resume and try for the job. With the help from Pete, he got my resume to the right desk. I drove up to Cleveland and interviewed with the region manager, Jared Chonko, and he offered me the job a few weeks later. I can’t thank those three guys enough for giving me a shot in this industry. My advice would be make yourself stand out. If you work for a dealer and your rep brings in his boss, make sure he remembers you.
Konnrad: I actually got a call from the regional manager. He heard that I was going to be moving into the territory that he was trying to find someone in and it all kinda fell into place. My advice would be, do what you want to do! Don’t stop chasing your dreams!
What separated you from the other guy who applied for the same position?
Austin: I tried to focus on the fact that I was already self-employed and self-disciplined. My region manager doesn’t call me and make sure I’m on my way to work. You’re on your own for the most part and you control how much money you make. I also knew I had a lot of experience with photoshop and could use that to my advantage helping dealer merchandise their stores.
Konnrad: I don’t think there was another guy that applied, if there was I was unaware.
Do you work from home in your underwear or clock in at an office? What’s the dress code?
Austin: We don’t clock in or out. Our job is commission only so the more you sell the more you make. I get my boys on the bus around 7:20am, and then it’s off to the dealer that is furthest away. I work my way back home from there. WPS supplies us with some nice polo shirts and I mix in some of our Fly casual button up shirts as well. A few of my dealers don’t like it when I wear shorts, so it’s mostly just nice jeans.
Konnrad: I never work from home in my underwear, however I don’t clock in. I mean I do have some office days, but most of the time I’m on the road visiting accounts. Dress code is pretty simple, look professional! I always see a lot of guy’s in relaxed sales jobs that wear Hats/Shorts/tee’s all the time. I think it says a lot about the sale when you take the time to play the part. I do have some casual days where I will wear a tee shirt but most of the time its always a button up and clean pair of pants.
Is there a Christmas party and is it open bar?
Austin: The main office has one I think, and I’m going to guess no on the open bar. All of us outside reps are too spread out to have one.
Did you go to college if so what is your degree in? If you didn’t go to college to you feel a degree wood of been of any benefit in your current job?
Austin: I went to college for a little while but life got in the way and I wasn’t able to finish my degree. I think a degree in business may benefit my current job, and I hope I have the opportunity to complete it someday. However, I feel that I have been able to do my job well even without a college degree. Learning software has always come easy to me and that’s a big part of our job. There are several inventory management programs out there that dealers use. If the dealer trust you and you can figure out how to run sales reports, it’s a huge time saver and easy order starter.
Konnrad: I didn’t attend any college. My younger years were spent chasing the dream like every other privateer out there. I think that a degree would always help, however I don’t think it is that necessary.
Who is your mentor or someone you look up to professionally?
Austin: Bob Lowry has been very influential in my success with the Fly Racing brand. He has been in the industry a long time and has a lot of experience that he is always willing to share with me.
Konnrad: Well my mentor would have to be my current boss, we go way back to the times I was trying to make the shows. He was always there to support me on and off the track. He has carried that with him to our current situation, I mean he is my boss now and the way he carries his professionalism is definitely something everyone can appreciate including myself.
Would you ever want to transition within the company to a job that has you attending all the SX and MX races?
Austin: No way. I don’t see how Max does it, especially with a family. I love the local race scene. Both my boys race and I have an awesome wife that puts up with all of us. I’m really happy with what I have going on right now.
Konnrad: It sounds like a blast! However as most of them traveling will tell you that it gets pretty old fast. Not because of the same routine, more so because of all the times you are away from family and friends. Everyone likes to spend time at home!
What’s the best part and worst part about life as a rep?
Austin: The best part is getting to sell something that I’m passionate about. Also, going to races, riding with dealers and getting to call that work. There are so many awesome people at WPS. We’re all enthusiasts and love what we do. It’s really a great atmosphere. The worst part is the long hours and managing inventory. It’s one thing to sell a dealer something, but you also have to make sure it sells through to the end user. Dealers need product to turn. For example, if the 2016 gear doesn’t sell, you’re probably not going to get an order when you bring in the 2017 gear. It’s also really cut throat on basic consumables. There are always 3 or 4 other reps gunning for the shelf space you have. Finally, the pressure to grow business is always there. It’s a lot like a race. You’re racing yourself to get a bigger number than what you did last year and you’re also racing the other WPS reps in your region. You don’t want to be in last that’s for sure.
Konnrad: One of the best things about being a representative is being able to attend events locally and being there to support the customers that support your brand. Telling stories and enjoying the same passion with great people! Worst part is having everyone ask you constantly for freebies or sponsorships. The amount of driving I do gets pretty old, but I do get to see some pretty cool country.
Thanks to both for your time and for giving us a peak behind the curtain and a look into what their jobs entail on a week-to-week basis. If you have a request for interviews on a specific career field in the moto industry email it to firstname.lastname@example.org Moser or PulpMX and he will make sure to forward it along.
Thanks for reading Moser.