[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]a know, the best thing about being in the motorcycle industry, at least for me, is absolutely my love and passion for motorcycles, and being able to make a living doing something I love. Ever since I was an ugly kid, I was nuts about motorcycles.
When I first got interested in bikes, I only dug dirt bikes. I loved riding dirt bikes, climbing hills and doing wheelies. As I got older I figured out that it was kinda hard to take a pretty girl out on a date on my dirt bike. Although, there were a few “romps” in the woods with a few of the (lucky?) neighborhood girls. So I eventually moved up the ladder to riding street bikes, which led to customizing those bikes, and all that eventually led me to open Strokers Dallas!
So, if my love of motorcycles is my favorite thing about my motorcycle shop – Strokers Dallas – what is my least favorite? ADMINISTRATIVE BS! I HATE all things administrative and all the paperwork involved. I do a ton of it. Maybe the reason I don’t like the admin part of the business is because I would rather be doing something silly, ya know, like customizing motorcycles, creating new parts or anything related to a motor and two wheels.
Sure, my wife and a couple of other girls do most of the heavy admin lifting, but some of it falls to me. Over the years I have convinced my simple self that I need to be the guy who writes all the bike sales checks.
Why, I can’t come up with a good answer, except that’s the way I’ve always done it. I am very aware that the paperwork is so dang important, but I would rather eat a June Bug sandwich than do stinkin’ paperwork!
But, I believe that the most infuriating and frustrating part of owning my motorcycle shop is dealing with employees. I have some of the best employees in the business. Many have worked with me for many years. I would absolutely hate to lose some of my key employees. But I have gone through hundreds to get just a few key people. Employees are an extremely important part of our business, because they represent the company in everything they do, both good and bad. It seems that the young people these days don’t have the same work ethic that my generation had growing up. In my day we took pride in our work and we didn’t change jobs very often. These days it seems that the young people hop from job to job. I try to hire people that are passionate about the motorcycle industry, because people seem to do a better job and are more focused if their employment is something that they are actually interested in.
During the interview process, it’s near impossible to determine if a potential employee is gonna be a good one or just another sh**head drawing a paycheck. Every person is different and every employee is different, too. I’ve had to fire more than a few people for stealing from me. Listen, a thief doesn’t consider himself a thief. They justify it in their stupid head, usually something like this: “I’m not stealing this S&S carburetor, this chump owes me this and more than this because he pays Joe Blow more money than he pays me!” I had one employee who worked in my parts department in charge of shipping. Well, he was stealing from me by shipping my parts to his house and then selling MY PARTS on the Internet. My wife finally caught the fact that we were shipping a lot of stuff to a local residence and when we checked that address, it just happened to be the address of my shipping clerk. We caught him, but not before he had stolen thousands of dollars from us. Last I heard he was still in the big house down in Huntsville.
On the brighter side of employees, I have some that have become good friends and some that I consider my kids. I have had two couples who work for me that fell in love and are now happily married. I love it when the good ones move on to bigger and better things in their career. I can’t blame a person trying to better themselves for their family. Good things should and do happen to good people!
I try hard to get along with everybody in the industry, even the ones who consider themselves to be my competitors. I figure we are all in this thing together and nobody is any better or any worse than anybody else. I don’t measure myself or my company against anybody else or any other company. I also don’t care about how much or how little money we make as long as we make enough money to pay our bills and live a comfortable lifestyle.
If it keeps my wife happy, then I’m happy. Hey, I figure I have the best dang job in the world: I get to mess around with custom motorcycles all day, every day, eight days a week! I reckon the only cat that has it better than me is Hugh Hefner and I’m not even sure he has it better than Rick Fairless!
Ya’ll come see me!
Rick Fairless owns Strokers Dallas Motorcycle Shop and RF Custom Parts among other business interests, including his Strokers Ice House Bar & Grill.