I was discussing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software with a fellow student in a grad school class. The discussion revolved around the professors question, “how might an ERP system help Harley-Davidson improve its position in the market?” My first thought was an ERP system could help Harley reduce its perpetual two-year backlog on the delivery of certain models.
After some more thinking, I decided this would actually hurt Harley’s position in the market because while an increase in the number of bikes on the road might seem like the way to improve market share, it neglects to take the psyche of the buyer into account. Part of what makes a Harley-Davidson motorcycle such an object of desire is the fact that the streets are not lined with Harleys. Harleys are special; so special, that you have to wait two years just to get one.
There is another special thing about the waiting period; money cannot change it. The working-class guy that saved 38 years to get a Harley Blackline with the black Screamin’ Eagle pipes, the ThunderStar custom wheels, the Sundowner deep bucket seat with the sissy bar, and the HD Orange and Vivid Black tank has to wait two years for it just like the first year lawyer that is buying one with his first annual performance bonus check. If the lawyer shelled out an extra $20,000, all he would get is two bikes with the same two-year waiting period. All men wade through the waters of time at the same rate.
A production increase would most assuredly result in a brief bump in sales, but all too quickly, what was special and hard to come by would soon be commonplace. Prices would drop and then sales would decrease because the new commonplace Harley was more expensive than the equally commonplace import, so the average motorcyclist would go back to buying the cheapest solution.
My classmate just didn’t get it. She wrote, “I guess to each his own, but I do believe that some of the people that would have bought HD’s would go to another company just to get a motorcycle, because sometimes waiting for something can make you lose interest. Look at how many companies are selling motorcycles now. Of course, they do not have the ALLURE of a HD, but if you’ve dreamed of reading a bike through the desert, or some other dream location, and you can’t get it for 2 years, then I think your attitude and circumstances will dictate that you buy something else and get on with your LIFE.”
I feel sad for her and other members of society that have assuaged impatience with compromise. Desire is what drives the man that has saved 38 years for his dream Harley to wait another two years for delivery. I explained desire to my impatient classmate. I told her about a man named Jacob that loved a woman named Rachel. He had to work seven years for her father before she could be his bride. As the story goes, “Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20, New International Version). The point of the story is simple; desire can make the clock run faster.