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Ducati Owners Club Of Canada

The current position of the DOCC

Post articles of general interest to docc members.
40 posts • Page 1 of 31, 2, 3

The current position of the DOCC

Postby PaulMurphy » Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:06 am

Since the early 1990’s, the DOCC has been the premier club for riders of the marque, including those who chose to ride other European & American made motorcycles. At that period of time, the DOCC had a paid up membership in the region of 1,400 people. At the start of that decade, we were introduced to the 851 series of motorcycles followed by the ground breaking 916 series which paved the way for the current crop of superbikes that we now see from Ducati. Buyers were plentiful for the new series of Pantah based motors while we got to see many of the 851 & 916 based machines regularly turn out at our track events. At the same time those older members who rode the classic singles, bevels and square case vee twins were out regularly giving their machines a good thrashing in the natural environment which they were designed to be in.

Participants at our rallies in Mosport & Grattan travelled from as far away as Washington DC, New York & Northern Ontario along with the regulars form southern Ontario . Now, just like back then, there were a handful of highly motivated enthusiastic members who undertook to organise and relentlessly promote the events of the club. The rewards were sold out events year after year, with many riders camping in the paddock for the weekend enjoying the camaraderie of fellow riders, their families and
friends.

The competition in sport bikes from the Japanese market and other track rallies were few and far between. It looked like the European market was holding a monopoly in the production of sport bikes that could handle well at speed, even if they were a little more expensive to purchase than an Oriental machine of similar performance.

Having supported the DOCC from the early ‘90s up to nearly the turn of the millennium, attending both club rallies and road events on a regular basis, I enjoyed each event for what they were – like minded enthusiasts getting together to participate in the sport they loved, together. The “circus” would arrive into Mosport and all the gang were there again for good riding and a party in the evening. The DOCC news letter arrived in my mailbox regularly and I kept in touch with what was going on in the club. Friendships were made with many great people, most of whom I still see and keep in touch with to this day.

Having returned to Canada in 2011 after a thirteen year absence, I returned to the DOCC Mosport rally as a spectator that year and then re-joined the club. Wanting to contribute something to the running of the club, I offered my services as a Scrutiniser but unfortunately that position was already filled.

However, now in 2015, what I see in the DOCC along with track events run by other organisers over the past few years is a very different picture. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, our club membership is down in numbers dramatically, enthusiasm is lacking and revenues are down to a point where, if something is not done very soon, there will not be a DOCC to produce track rallies for those of us who want to turn a wheel in anger in a safe, controlled environment.

The issue of reduced entries at our events has forced the club to accept admission of Japanese machines, who until recently, would not have been admissible at our events. This move has become a necessity for the club if it is to hit a break-even point in expenses while promoting and running our events at Mosport, Calabogie & Grand Bend.

To a large degree, we are perceived to be a “Ducati only” club. The greater amount of the track day community are unaware that any European, American or Japanese motorcycle is currently welcome to participate at our events. It’s unfortunate that the public see us that way, with a small number of disgruntled people attempting to draw us into a mudslinging match on public forums. In addition, recently there have been negotiations with the club to become an official DOC club, gaining support from the factory, the dealers etc. in promotion of events, factory back up etc.

At a time when motorcycle sales in North America are at an all-time low, Ducati, along with all the other manufacturers are seeing reduced units being sold from the show room floors. Add to this the fact that Ducati’s are amongst the most expensive marques to purchase along with the fact that the majority of buyers make the decision to purchase a Ducati because of their beauty and high level specification. Most of these new owners would never even dream riding their machines TO a DOCC event, let alone ride IN a DOCC event. This trend emerged some years ago, hence the reduction in members at DOCC track events.

As some members already know, I am strongly in favour of the club moving forward as a European marque club, rather than a “Ducati only” club. In recent months, I suspect that a move away from "Ducati only" is not a bad move, if our club is to survive, produce track events, social gatherings and grow into the future. In my opinion, the decline in track entries is nothing to do with the cost associated with events, but the stigma attached with Ducati and the fact that the motorcycle public at large think DOCC events are for well-heeled Ducati people only.

I'm wondering what the big advantage is of being affiliated to the DOC, staying Ducati only and conforming to official DOC rules at a time when Ducati owners are reluctant to take their treasured ornaments to an environment where their bikes might in fact turn a wheel in anger. Rest assured, that Ducati s.p.a. are aware of this too, but their biggest interest is selling units. It’s likely that they have little concern if the general public ride their machines or put them in the living room as an ornament to admire the beauty.

In recent years, I can't help but notice that a large proportion of “new” Ducati riders are not Ducati enthusiasts like those owners in the '90's but well- heeled posers who only ride a Ducati because of the beauty of a Ducati. While we must acknowledge the fact that we do indeed have a large number of truly enthusiasts Ducati owners and riders’s in the club, by comparison, BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi & Aprilia owners appear more willing to take their bikes out for a thrashing to explore and improve their riding skills......myself included. To me this fact holds the key to the survival and growth of our club, so why can we not capitalize on this fact and grow our own club around this?

If our club were to re-form as something like the “European Sport Bike Riders” (ESBR) this club would then rightly be perceived as a club that would accommodate and cater for other brands such as Aprilia, BMW, Bimota, KTM, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi, Triumph and of course Ducati. All of these marques currently have highly competitive sports models in their catalogue and most are likely to continue that trend into the future. If a new club were to focus on building relations with the manufacturers, distributors & retailers of these marques, then through a collective effort, events could be produced to encompass all the European marques. It might also be worthwhile promoting a push to gather up some of the less experienced riders to encourage them to join our community and club. These riders may just as well enjoy tuition and a track session just as much as those more skilled riders enjoy coming along year after year. While promoting and producing events to encompass all the above, including canvassing support from the manufacturers, distributors & retailers, then it’s highly probable that the ESBR would flourish within the coming years while at the same time rebuilding interest in the sport and sales at the show room. This new format would not mean that American brands and the big 4 Japanese marques would not be made welcome at our events. I suspect all would/should be welcomed along.

An addition to growing the membership through taking in all the above brands is the likelihood that there will then be a greater pool of enthusiasts, some of whom will inevitably take an active part in managing and driving the club as it moves forward. This would surely be a welcome development in comparison with recent years in the DOCC.

After last year’s guest appearance by Nick Ienatsch, we really should look seriously into having a special guest as an annual attraction to our track rallies. Nick thoroughly enjoyed our event and hospitality last year and got to ride a fine array of machines, so thanks are due to Stewart, Bar & Steve, among others. Unfortunately, Nick didn't get to do what he came to do, but I take full responsibility for that. Having said that, Nick did phone me again a few weeks ago to catch up on other things and to inquire if the Aprilia had been repaired yet. As I write, arrangements are being made to have it repaired and I fully expect to have it fixed, tested and present at DOCC Mosport this coming May.

During our conversation, he did express an interest in attending Mosport with us again this coming year. To me, this is again a win-win situation for all, but I cannot see how we as a club should be expected to sponsor Nick to the level that he was last year. I do think that our club could benefit by Nick's attendance if he could be persuaded to encourage other high profile riders to come along too. If memory serves me correctly, Nick raved about Mosport as a track, stating that it is in fact the second fastest track in North America. He was also thrilled with the hospitality he received from us all. These are endorsements that tend to be overlooked most of the time, but we should be mindful of what our strong points are, using them to the full for the benefit of our club.

Having been in Nick's company right through the weekend until his departure from Pearson Airport on the Monday morning, I know firsthand how much he enjoyed himself. After leaving Mosport, he & I spent time in the company of both Bar & Steve which Nick enjoyed immensely, so I honestly think that it would not be too difficult to attract him back this year with his colleagues. Again, I have to stress that in my opinion, this would be a major boost for the club.

As another suggestion for improvements within our club, while not wishing to offend anyone in the process, I think that our second annual track event to Calabogie should be dropped in favour of finding another more interesting circuit that might attract more of the membership to come out & ride. Perhaps Mont Tremblant or even Grattan Raceway should be considered as viable alternatives. In terms of travelling to these far off tracks, perhaps we should be looking into a package deal to have our bikes & equipment transported en mass by truck to and from the circuits prior to race day, leaving it easier for riders to drive by car. To ride on such a legendary circuit as Mont Tremblant would be a much needed boost for the members enthusiasm so I’d be willing to open up a discussion on how can we move forward with the above concept and make it happen. As for Grattan, I am aware that there are bridges to be crossed in terms of finance, health insurance, border crossing etc. but again, for those who would like to investigate further, I’m willing to listen to reason.

To close on this subject, I look forward to hearing from the executive on this suggestion and look forward to the debate on how the whole proposal should play out.

Sincerely,
Paul Murphy
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby huit » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:34 pm

Thought provoking!
Well stated Paul.
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 9:36 am

Awesome post Mr Murphy, well done!

Let me suggest in part response to your list of well-considered topics we start with a look at the club bylaws which are in complete agreement with the open door policy evidenced below.
Possibly the fact our bylaws are posted on this site but at the Home menu under About means most of us just never go there for an evenings entertainment. Yes, I know they are a tad dry but hey, they are the history of our group and are we not created by our history...


2. PURPOSE

To unite persons interested in the ownership, restoration and operation of Ducati and other European and vintage motorcycles and to promote interest in Ducati and other European and vintage motorcycles in all respects.

The corporation shall be carried on without the purpose of gain for its members, and any profits or other accretions to the corporation shall be used in promoting its objects.

Paul we look deeply into the track issue each season and all the variables you describe have to be considered but at the end we are compelled to commit to the events we,re most likely to succeed at without compromising our historical priority for quality tracks.
These are what I think are all excellent and important topics but how best to address your questions, how about piece by piece and one by one, please help us sort through your ideas with maybe a priority list or any other way you like. We,re in this together!

F McDermott
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:37 pm

Oh, Paul,

It needs to be clear my position on an events open-door policy welcoming pretty much all appropriate brands and marques to ride with us is in full agreement with your stated wishes. To be clear, I posted the extraction from club Bylaws to show evidence nothing prevents us from openly doing so within the event safety rules applicable to all equally. We have the charter mandate to do it.

That would be the easy part, the harder part is getting the message out.

Please keep the discussion going here and anywhere not at all a simple process.

Thanks!

F
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby 1953 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:39 pm

Re Paul M. comments, well written and agree with was said. However I feel the Ducati club should remain in name, and add to it that all other european and japanese bikes are welcome to our club and events. With the cost of new Ducatis such as the penigale people are reluctant to putting them on the track. However we have to make efforts to up the attendance at our track days so that the club becomes profitable . Not sure that by renaming the club is the way to go as we will loose the identity, and may discourage some of the Ducati members. Possible more advertising at the dealership level of all brands to encourage people to join and attend our events is a way to go and Facebook and other types of social media.

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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:58 pm

OK I have to have another go at making a sensible response to PM's lengthy post.

I have to commend you on the scope of suggestions and to assure you many of them are already part of our renewed track rally strategy. We initiated the rider coaching for new-to-track riders in 2014 to good reviews and have most things underway to extend our in-house coaching to regular riders wishing to benefit from on track guidance by top-level riders but we're starting in just our Blue group to test the waters and gain some better awareness of needs and interest.

My understanding at the moment is that DOC affiliation is a helpful promotional tool and will not oppose the open-door policies our club has adopted over these last two years particularly. The grandfathering of existing clubs seems to be not unknown to the DOC facilitators. In our experience at track events the hardware is incidental while the software (rider attitudes) is by far the higher priority in keeping the whole group going in the right direction in an orderly manner. Really not so important what you ride it's more about how you ride.
This is applicable and true for all riders in each ride group. Our focus has shifted from the marque to the riders. We continue to refine our pre-ride processes such that we are not enforcing but rather informing as we streamline and simplify these safety processes. By no means are we done with this but we do know this is the best direction to go. Riders must take responsibility for their equipment and gear not only for personal safety but for the success of the riding event overall. Obviously we're there to help but as you suggest Paul, an attitude shift from the good ol days is a survival skill.

Please find me and let's talk.

Best regards,

Francis McDermott
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby Paul Barlow » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:34 pm

If you read Paul's letter the crux of it is that in order to survive we need to cast a wider net. The furniture can be rearranged all we want but if you get no more guests it does no good. To be blunt we can "fine tune" our processes and methods all we want, we could trim maybe 30 seconds of the registration process, but all that is for nothing if we can't reach people and get them to the track in the first place.

The "exotic European" sport bike market, once owned by Ducati, has been splintered with the onslaught of first class bikes from the likes of BMW, Triumph and KTM. Where once if 10 people were looking for a euro sport bike 8 of them might buy a Ducati; but that is no longer the case. I suspect Ducati will now get a much smaller piece of that pie, and hence the DOCC's potential market shrinks along with it. Yes I know Ducati keeps posting record sales. but the majority of that boost is not in the sport bike segment. By and large those people are not our target market.

Now while the DOCC welcomes other brands to all our events and activities this does little to change the public perception that they are for Ducati owners. You only have to read some of the more popular motorcycle forums to realize this. Perception is reality and we are perceived as by and large being a closed shop of old farts with noses in the air.

Paul is proposing that by re-branding the club maybe we can cast a wider net and shake of those preconceptions. Hell he is only stating the obvious, you only have to wander the pits to see it. WE ALREADY ARE THE EUROPEAN SPORT BIKE CLUB!

Come on folks, this is the future of YOUR club that is at stake so hit reply and tell me I'm/we are full of it. It would beat the crickets I hear.

Paul Barlow
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:14 am

Hey Paul,

You're doing good work yourself!

We have been trying to cast a wider net for the last few years, how might a name change make the difference?

Most of the reason for our track subscription backslide was our perception as an old-school dictatorial has-been that treated riders like untrustworthy miscreants. The competition had everything to gain from this perception since a reputation happens fast but dispells very, very slowly.

The incremental approach to giving back responsibility to riders via better designed events processes is the only sensible way to go: design - test - implement. Then let our revised reputation very slowly recover.

This is STEP 1

Casting the wider net is undeniably important and has to be done concurrently with the above.

Promotion isn't cheap, it costs in both time and money. The fact that we're talking about it is a good thing.

A name change for us would merely equate to seeking a competitive advantage by trying to reinvent the wheel by calling it something else. We could spend the time and energy celebrating and communicating what we presently do have in a strategic manner and build on the efforts of our volunteers and not thinking to cast them aside as if now redundant, irrelevant or worse.

Hey Paul, are we texting loudly enough yet to start getting anyone else's attention?? ...Is this thing on?

All the best

Franco
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby PaulMurphy » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:39 pm

Hi all,
Since posting this topic around one week ago, over 130 people have read this post so far, but only 7 of which have bothered to make their opinions known. Four of those replies have come from our President, one from an Executive member and the remaining two from the general membership.

DO ANY OF THE DOCC MEMBERS CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF OUR CLUB? LESS THAN 1.5% HAVE TAKEN TIME TO SUBMIT A REPLY, A COMMENT, ANY CONCERN OR TAKEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOICE THEIR OPINION.

The neglect in response from the mambership has sent a clear message about what the membership feel about the DOCC. Its now quite clear that the members of the DOCC dont care less about the future of our club.

Such a shame that after "Serving the faithfull for 37 years" the club is firmly on the slippy road to oblivion.
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby huit » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:06 pm

In this age of modern communications
I think we need to take another look at communication with club members.
How about the using the phone?
Contact members and see what the response is like.
I did the poll, for me the results show how many active or willing members there are.
During my days on the executive the phone was the method of communicating. As an example in October I would begin calling members to ask for their bike at the show.
It worked we always had a great display. This was not my idea it was they way Richard did it before me.
So how about some phone calls to try and see the lay of the land?
Paul
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:47 pm

PH,

Yup, was thinking axactly the same, need phone numbers. I certainly don't have them but it might be possible to do with a little help. I like it.

Fran
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby PaulMurphy » Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:40 pm

Thanks for your input, Paul.
To get the ball rolling, here's all my contact details for whoever wants to communicate with me outside of this forum:
Cell: 905-467-9041
E-mail: aprilia77@outlook.com
I'm working in Northern Alberta at the moment & Alberta is two hours behind Ontario.
I'll be happy to speak to anyone on this forum, by e-mail or by phone, but I do not answer blocked numbers.
If anyone does wish to speak by phone, please don't call me after 10pm Ontario time.
Now that we have got this initiative going, who's going to add their details to the list, Fran?

Regards to all,
Paul M. #77
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby fmcd92 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:44 am

I like this plan!

fmcd@storm.ca

1-819-647-3920

If I can help let me know.

Cheers,

F McDermott EDIT: I just got word from Jennifer that we do not have record of phone numbers as those are not used in PooPal registration system so that plan just rode off in Turn two.
We can save this one if folks send us contact details or phone me if you like.
Last edited by fmcd92 on Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby paul w » Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:11 pm

I think one of the issues is the selection of track days out there that are available. Ours are by far one of the best run but I don't know that the general public know that. We need to spread the word but at the same time opening the door to people who's track day goals are not the same as ours could do more harm than good. Word of mouth to those we know or were past users is probably the best. Kind of a referral program of sorts.
To add to the above post about the phone, perhaps contacting the past users who are not coming out and finding out why would tell us a lot. I am sure everyone knows some of these people.
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Re: The current position of the DOCC

Postby Jennifer Waterland » Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:46 pm

I am not here to put the idea of phoning people down in any way, just want to point out. Now that most pay via paypal rather than the old membership form and mailing it to me, I don't have phone numbers for members, and there is no way to add this option as we cannot change paypal. The only way is for people to add the number to the notes section when paying.

I just want the membership to be informed of this.
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