St. Louis, MO
Posted - 02/02/2011 : 2:00 PM
T3RG: the future of the rider ed business
Now we turn our attention to another state Colorado and specifically, let's look at M$Fs 2004 "Outstanding Community Training Sponsor."
And pay very close attention, state administrators, site owners, and SMRO activists particularly because M$F is sending a message with this award: The future is now, the future is here, the future is in Denver, CO, and its name is T3RG. It is what M$F wants the entire state of CA to be.
T3RG is, according to its website, the "first in the nation to offer dealer based training sites! Find out why dealers chose T3RG to be their exclusive training partner. Better service... Better Experience...Best Dealers...Best Training...!!!" (http://www.t3rg.com/)
T3RG is owned and operated by Colleen Boyle who gets along great with Sherry Williams and has, according to those who know them both, an uncanny resemblance to Williams in looks and manner. That would be neither here nor there except it does go to M$F's pattern that those that get along great with Buche and Williams get along great.
Those outside Colorado will not know that Colleen's husband, Steve almost started a fist fight at the last Colorado Advisory Committee meeting, which turned out to be the very last ever meeting of that Committee, but more on that in another entry.
So what is T3RG? It's a privately owned and operated motorcycle training school in the Denver area. Currently, they are operating sites at three private dealerships: Fay Meyers Motorcycle World, Colorado Powersports, and Excel Motorsports West. All three of those dealerships had been, previously, strong supporters of ABATE's training program.
T3RG's first, and still used, site is and was the "Historic Denver Coliseum." I put quotes around the last as the website refers to it that way, and I'm not sure if that's the name of the darn place or just a marketing adjective. Oooh! Historic! Cool!
It's clear why M$F adores T3RG: they offer on-line registration, they offer not only the BRC but "Intermediate Riders," Range Practice, the ERC, Women only classes, what sounds like Seasoned Riders, Scooterschool, private lessons and third party testing (As a friend of mine who just stopped by quipped, "And dancing and macrame lessons, too!" ). And T3RG does it on compact ranges with an 8 to 1 ratio in a dealer's lot.
That they began using the compact range and 8 to 1 before M$F or CO approved it, and perhaps before the Texas field test was completed, is also an issue we'll discuss later.
Their website says they offer third party testing because they understand that many riders don't need to learn to ride, they just need to take the test. But a lot of rider training schools in CO offer third party testing, including ABATE sites. T3RG will even provide a little 250 cc to take it on while, inside, the dealer's getting a new Hayabusa 1300 ready. I do have to say that, gosh darn, it sure would be easy - I mean, nicer to take it at a dealer lot. Two birds. One stone.
Still, for some reason smog testing in CA comes to mind and I just can't figure out why (she bats her eyes and looks innocent). Out here, autos must be smog tested prior to registration every two years. Up until a few years ago, all kinds of mechanics and gas stations offered smog tests. If you passed, great, but if you failed, why then you could leave your car right there and they could fix it for you. How convenient. But somehow people began to suspect that there were unscrupulous businessmen that, gasp, failed cars to trick customers into making expensive repairs. CA finally passed a law separating the two kinds of business you go to a special shop to get your car smogged and then, if it needs repairs, somewhere else to it fixed and return again to the smog place for a (usually free) re test. Surprisingly or maybe not, the number of needed repairs have dropped.
But just because T3RG just happens to offer a full range of courses AND third party testing doesn't mean that they'd ever fail a student just to get them to take Seasoned Rider or Skills Practice, etc. Nor, I'm sure, would it cross the dealers mind to pressure the instructors to pass any customers. Na uh, no way, no sirree, Bob!
But then how would we know it doesn't happen? But I'm sure T3RG is completely ethical just like M$F and wouldn't *think* about bending any rules such as, say, for example, the Colorado rules rule about full size ranges and a 6 to 1 ratio and requiring written approval for any variances? I mean, gee whiz, if they follow that rule, then surely we can trust they won't use third party testing as a sort of loss leader!
And, here's the best thing about this outstanding community training sponsor something I'm sure Buche just loved: you don't even have to ride a motorcycle before you get your driver's license waiver at T3RG!
The FAQ asks if they have to have a motorcycle/scooter and this is the answer: "No, we provide the motorcycles or scooters, (your choice) and helmets needed for the Basic Rider Course." Now isn't that forward thinking of them? Because, of course, scooters are just like motorcycles in operation, balance, control and so forth. If it wasn't the same, then M$F would offer something like ScooterSchool and T3RG would offer it...oh, right...um, well...I just can't explain it, but then Sherry did say she was going up to Oregon to see go karts being used in an ERC at a H-D RE site.
Now this is very puzzling since M$F put Ross McClellan's cajones in a vise grip and Bobbie Carlson was fired because South Carolina had the students come back to take the second part of the BRC on the bike that they would be riding after the course. McClellan felt that they would be better prepared to ride on the road if they learned the basics on a small bike and learned that they could control their big bike while under the supervision of trained experts. But what did *he* know? Obviously, in MSF's opinion, not as much as Colleen. It's clearly the wave of the future to learn to ride a motorcycle without ever being on one.
T3RG's site also proclaims that they are now offering two day courses. In fact, they are the "Only school to offer a 2 day class format." "You get the workbook and assignments ahead of time; getting you on your way to the open road a full half day ahead of our competition. Our classes run from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM on both days."
Ten hours a day. Oh, that shouldn't be overwhelming! Not at all. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember seeing a RETSDOT field test on a two day, ten hour a day format, do you? Has the CO state coordinator approved that as a variance from the rules?
But that's not all: Their marketing includes this slam on the other sites in CO:
"NOT ALL SCHOOLS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Like the rest of the motorcycle safety training schools in Denver, we use the curriculum from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for our BRC (Basic Rider Course...) and the ERC (Experienced Rider Course...). We are also a contractor for State of Colorado's MOST (Motorcycle Operator Safety Training) program, allowing us to pass along the state's tuition subsidy of $50 dollars per student. This allows Colorado residents to pay a tuition of $199 for the BRC. Finally, we all use the same instructor pool, all certified by the MSF.
That's where the similarities end."
Then there's a hyperlink to "More" which brings you to a letter from Sherry's good friend and President of T3RG, Colleen Boyle, that tells the reader what the differences are. They are business oriented and "T3RG Motorcycle Schools promises professional classes with the best instructors on new model year machines, with optional catered lunches."
Shades of Morris Crane! Talk about those little extras! Brand new motorcycles. An optional catered lunch. Catered. That sounds much more upscale than a box lunch or, worse, brown bag lunch, doesn't it? Now *that's* a customer service oriented attitude! Why can't you CA sites be more like your sister, the premier of Premier sites? Nag nag nag.
If all this makes you long to work for an M$F star, they're poach - I mean, looking: "T3RG is constantly looking to augment our instructor pool with MSF qualified instructors who have shown a dedication to self improvement, an understanding of basic adult education concepts and an interest in superior customer service. If you have an interest in working with a company that is founded on the above principles, give us a call for an application and interview."
Notice they say nothing about superior skills in either riding or teaching in the appeal to instructors.
So let's look at that: They want candidates that are *already* M$F certified. It seems to me that they plan on other schools to break in new instructors, get them some real feet on the range experience and then plan to hire them away.
Though the riding gods only know why instructors would prefer to work for T3RG. After all, they pay much, much higher wages $350 a day than other programs do. How would that possibly attract instructors away from the ABATE sponsored classes?
If that inconveniences the other sites in CO, hey, it isn't personal, it's just business.
But what else is in this in that marketing blurb President's letter? "professional classes with the best instructors." So what are you trying to say, Colleen, the other CO sites aren't run professionally or have the best instructors? Denigrating the competition is just good business, Colleen. Too bad they haven't seen it as a competition before, but that just helps you trounce them, doesn't it?
Wonder how the CO ABATE feels about that? Not to mention, of course, the other for profit CO sites. So not only do you have shabby sites and bikes and no optional *catered* lunches, you have poor instructors, too. You're just the great unwashed losers in the rider ed biz, I guess.
Let's sum up the qualities M$F finds outstanding in a community training sponsor:
Offers all the possible M$F courses they can
Is in bed with a dealer
Offers training on a compact range with an 8 to 1 ratio
Crams training into two days
Doesn't require those who want to ride a motorcycle to ride one during the class
Demeans other training sites and instructors
Competes directly with other state sponsored schools for students
Competes with them for instructors
Uses a site administrator other CO schools wouldn't hire
Who has three seasons of experience as their main instructor oh, yeah, we haven't gotten to the last two things yet.
And, that, my friends is the message M$F is sending with this award. This is the expanded business model Rob Gladden was talking about.
That is exactly the model they laid out in the Franchise Report that MCN reported on months ago.
And those of you who asked Buche and Fernandez if the MCN franchise story was true? Well, just think: at the very time you were a askin' about it, they were a plannin' to give T3RG the award. Did they mention that?
For the rest of you out there:
The future is here. The future is now.
This is what M$F is trying to institute in CA with the Premier Sites.
This is what independent site owners in whatever state they are will have to do one day to keep their businesses.
This is what other CO site owners are planning to do.
Too bad if it affects the state program.
It's not personal, it's business.
And rider education is just another kind of business, after all.
T3RG has already been trying to move into other states, according to my sources.
Is the kind of community training sponsor you want in your state?
Is this what best serves the motorcycling community? Is this what best serves the new rider?
Is this what you want? If so, do nothing and it will sneak in within a year or so.
If not, the time to stop it or control it is now.
It's up to you.