Read­ford’s Mo­tor­cy­cles

Dubbo Photo News - - Contents. - AS TOLD TO YVETTE AUBUS­SON-FO­LEY; PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY CON­NOR CO­MAN-SAR­GENT.

Dave and Mar­garet Read­ford, pro­pri­etors of Read­ford’s Mo­tor­cy­cles in Dubbo, are the re­cent win­ners of the 2015 NSW MTA Mo­tor­cy­cle Deal­er­ship of the Year award. Con­tend­ing for top spot against metropoli­tan busi­nesses whose num­bers are im­pos­si­ble to beat, the cou­ple proved their worth with qual­i­ties money just can’t buy.

What has win­ning this award meant for your busi­ness?

Mar­garet: We’ve won some re­gional awards over the years, but that’s the first statewide award so we’re quite ex­cited. A lot of awards are done on fig­ures; the num­ber of ve­hi­cles you move and what­ever. We can’t pos­si­bly com­pete with the city in that sort of an award.

What are the se­crets to your suc­cess?

Mar­garet: Prob­a­bly what brings a lot of peo­ple in is that Dave’s been around the in­dus­try for so long so his knowl­edge is huge, but he also en­joys see­ing old bikes re­stored. He will go out his way to try to find old parts for peo­ple. If they’re not savvy with com­put­ers, he’ll do that side of it for them as well. There’s sat­is­fac­tion for Dave to be able to give cus­tomers sat­is­fac­tion when he’s able to find hard to get parts.

It’s al­ways about rein­vent­ing your­self too. We’ve done all sorts of things, like mow­ers and chain­saws. We’ve looked at them but de­cided that there were too many peo­ple in Dubbo do­ing them, par­tic­u­larly with the Chi­nese prod­ucts.

Dave: A lot of it is to do with cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and cus­tomer re­peat busi­ness. I’m 62 now and I’ve sold bikes to guys that were six and eight years old when they started com­ing in as cus­tomers, and now their grand­kids are rid­ing the same bikes.

Mar­garet: We still have the first bike Dave’s par­ents ever sold, back in 1967. ‘Round about their 20th year of busi­ness, they got it back and at 25 years, Dave’s father made sure it was re­stored to put on the floor.

What would you say makes yours an award win­ning busi­ness?

Dave: It’s the fact that we’ve been es­tab­lished for a long time. On July 1, it will be our 49th birth­day, so on July 2 we’ll be in our 50th year.

One of the things that re­ally im­pressed the judges ap­par­ently was the fact that in a time where there’s a lot staff move­ments be­tween deal­ers, and staff re­ten­tion is a dif­fi­cult is­sue be­tween most mo­tor­cy­cle shops, we’ve been fairly lucky in keep­ing our staff mo­bil­ity down to next to zero. All the me­chan­ics we have here have been trained by our busi­ness.

What are the pros and cons of train­ing in-house?

Mar­garet: An ap­pren­tice if fine, and a me­chanic is fine, but me­chan­ics make re­ally good spare parts, they know a lot about bikes and sell­ing bikes. That’s the thing about mo­tor­bikes; if the pas­sion’s not there then you may as well not be here.

Be­fore, when we were look­ing for a mo­tor­cy­cle me­chanic, we used to just put an ad in the pa­per. You’d have 50 ap­pli­ca­tions and ev­ery­one would say, “that sounds good” but they weren’t in it for the right rea­sons.

Any­one we’ve put on is gen­er­ally pas­sion­ate about bikes which his why they’re here. We have changed our strat­egy for em­ploy­ment of peo­ple.

The way we found Lin­coln Brien (who won Ulyssess Club Na­tional Ap­pren­tice of the Year) was by putting up a sign in­side the busi­ness, so it had to be some­one who was al­ready walk­ing in here and was here for the mo­tor­bikes.

Dave: At the same we put Lin­coln on, we put Brian Richard­son on as well. Brian’s a se­nior ap­pren­tice, over 50 and he was ac­tu­ally il­lit­er­ate. The lady from TAFE (who signed us up) knew Brian and asked about what he was do­ing. I told her he was just do­ing part time as­sem­bling be­cause of his con­straints; he knows what he’s do­ing but he can’t work on other peo­ple’s bikes.

She said they could put him through a lit­er­acy train­ing course and do an ap­pren­tice­ship for him too. We brought Brian into the con­ver­sa­tion and signed him up for an ap­pren­tice­ship at the same time we signed Lin­coln.

Mar­garet: Brian got through his TAFE (course). On Satur­days he was do­ing a lit­er­acy and com­puter course. If he was in Bathurst, he’d go in early and stay late to make sure he got all the

in­for­ma­tion. He was of­fered all the in­for­ma­tion on au­dio in­stead of hav­ing to read it but his at­ti­tude was, “no, I have to learn to read it”.

Dave: He was named most out­stand­ing ap­pren­tice for Bathurst TAFE for that year. When I’ve done the busi­ness ren­o­va­tions here, Brian’s helped us. He’s been here ev­ery Sun­day, work­ing along­side us. He was a cus­tomer of ours for a long time be­fore he ac­tu­ally joined us.

Mar­garet: We vowed we’d never have two ap­pren­tices at once.

Dave: The prob­lem is they both go to TAFE at the same time. So you have two peo­ple out at the same time – it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult that week.

What’s one of the big­gest changes you’ve seen in your in­dus­try?

Dave: A mo­tor­cy­cle still has two han­dle­bars, two wheels and a seat and you still need a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense. The tech­nol­ogy that goes into the en­gines is in­creas­ing all the time as far as ser­vic­ing is con­cerned; the per­for­mance of the en­gines, sus­pen­sion, all those pe­riph­er­als that make up the mo­tor­cy­cle as a whole, they’re all chang­ing and be­com­ing more com­put­erised.

Are cus­tomers buy­ing a life­style when they buy a mo­tor­bike?

Dave: The thing about mo­tor­bikes is there’s no one rea­son they buy them. Farm­ers buy them for work ve­hi­cles. The ma­jor­ity of our cus­tomers are farm­ers. That’s core busi­ness.

Mar­garet: Then you have the dirt bike guy who’s just pas­sion­ate about get­ting out there and hav­ing a bit of fun in the trails. Then you have your road bikes… there’s such a vari­ance. From your lit­tle scooter to the guy who trav­els and doesn’t have a car, to the fel­low who likes a week­end away, just to be away from ev­ery­thing. It’s quite var­ied why they buy them.

How did you en­ter the busi­ness, Mar­garet?

Mar­garet: When I mar­ried Dave, his par­ents had the busi­ness al­ready. I worked for an ac­coun­tant who hap­pened to be my father. Then Dave and I got to­gether, so his mother was able to help me out with some of the book­work and that’s how I started work­ing in the busi­ness. I al­ways vowed and de­clared I would never know a per­son by the bike they owned, that I’d al­ways re­mem­ber them as a per­son. Wrong. It’s been, “re­mem­ber the guy with the such and such (bike)” – it’s what you re­mem­ber be­cause ev­ery­one will re­mem­ber that same thing. If you de­scribe their eyes as blue and their hair is back, the boys wouldn’t no­tice.

The first year we went to the Yamaha fac­tory and to Ja­pan was in 1976. We were mar­ried in the May and went to the fac­tory in Oc­to­ber.

What are the pros and cons work­ing with one prom­i­nent brand?

Mar­garet: There’s no dealer in Bathurst or Or­ange now, or Tam­worth for Yamaha. We’ve just spent the past 12 months ren­o­vat­ing be­cause Yamaha wanted a pro­fes­sional look­ing premises.

Dave: We’ve been sell­ing Yamaha from 1967. Through those years you have dif­fer­ent man­agers at Yamaha and each of the man­agers has dif­fer­ent ways of do­ing things. You adapt to each way.

Marg­eret: We’re get­ting too old to adapt. Dave: No, no I’m not (laughs). Mar­garet: They’re try­ing to make it like car yards but it’s to­tally dif­fer­ent. In car yards you sell a car and a few things. In mo­tor­bikes you’re al­ways sell­ing bits and pieces for bikes; there’s hel­mets, gloves, jack­ets, boots, gog­gles. You don’t have any of that stuff with a car. You might have a T-shirt but you don’t need it.

Dave: When you buy a car you reg­is­ter it and you drive out in it. When you sell a mo­tor­cy­cle prob­a­bly 70 per cent of the ones we have, you load them up on a ute and they go out un­reg­is­tered.

Mar­garet: If they do buy a reg­is­tered bike, we’re the ones who sell the tyres, not the tyre place. We’re the one’s who do all those things.

Do you have plans to re­tire in the com­ing years?

We plan on re­tire­ment, that’s some­thing we will do but both of us are too ac­tive to com­pletely walk away from num­bers and parts.

Dave and Mar­garet Read­ford with the tro­phy and sig­nage they can now proudly dis­play in their busi­ness af­ter earn­ing the 2015 NSW MTA Mo­tor­cy­cle Deal­er­ship of the Year award

The first bike sold from Read­fords is on dis­play in the show­room. It was re­turned 20 years ago and re­stored.

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