The Professionals - Garry Mackay

Garry Mackay is head salesman at DK motorcycles, the largest dealer in the country. He could sell your grandma if needed...

You work at the busiest second-hand bike dealership in the country. Just how busy is busy?
Well we hold around 2,000 bikes in the showroom at any one time and retail 5,000 bikes a year, which is around 120-150 bikes a week. A record week pushes that figure closer to 170.

AND What makes your job easier?
Good weather without a doubt. People coming in with money in their pocket always eases the process along, too.

You must get some strange part-ex requests, but what’s been the weirdest?
We take loads of cars and vans in part-ex, sometimes the odd classic British bike or a trike. But the weirdest was definitely a suit of armour, we couldn’t work out what period it was from and couldn’t put a value on it, so we had to turn it down. But it was a proper job, big steel codpiece and everything! I was tempted.

And What’s the hardest bike to shift off your showroom floor at the moment?
The hardest bikes to sell are the ones that drew little interest from when they were new. The GSX-Fs, RF600s, the bikes that were produced in huge numbers but never caught on with magazines and therefore customers. Triumph TT600s spring to mind, somebody somewhere will always love them but they are not the first bike you think of when you’re looking for a new toy. They’re always tough to sell.

DK are renowned for having some rare box-fresh bikes knocking around. What’s the best bike you have seen for sale?
We have had some absolute stunners in, my favourite changes pretty much every week. We have just unboxed a brand new Katana 1100, it has never turned a wheel. We actually bought two over in America, shipped them over and then sold one to a guy in America and had to ship it straight back! Kevin, the boss, is passionate about old bikes and spends a lot of time searching for the best bikes around the world. There’s still a lot of exotica to be found, and he just happens to be very good a sniffing it out.

Is it true one of your imported bikes had a bunch of black widow spiders living in it when you opened the crate?
Oh yeah, weird stuff like that has happened a few times. The black widow spiders were creepy but not actually the most scary. We’ve opened crates and had a swarm of Japanese hornets fly out, that was bad and everyone had to run for their lives. I don’t know if you’ve seen one of them but they’re about three inches long and are the work of Satan. Totally evil creatures.

Any run-ins with the criminal fraternity?
Not really, we’ve had the odd guy taking a bike on a test ride and not come back, but we can control that now. We get some dodgy looking characters coming in but they come in to buy bikes. It would be wrong to pre-judge somebody just because they look different, there are dodgy people everywhere but you soon learn to sniff them out.

What’s been your biggest single cash sale?
I’ve sold fifty grands’ worth of bikes in a day to a dealer, but the single biggest deal on one bike would probably be around £23,000 to a guy for a Yamaha YZF-R7. We sell a lot of custom Harleys that are worth a fortune, and Honda RC45s come and go here quite regularly.

Obviously you sell a lot of used bikes and can’t keep everyone happy, so what’s your secret to dealing with an unhappy customer?
With the amount of bikes we sell, every now and then one will slip through the net with the odd issue. We try and do everything we can if they want to work it out. A lot of the people that come back in don’t want to hear anything, they just want to rant and moan. You get used to it and try to help everybody, we don’t exist to rip people off, and if we did we would have disappeared years ago. The problem is when a customer has a grumble they tend to be very vocal, write to magazines or moan on a biker website. We can’t help everybody, but we do our best.

I want to buy a bike and mothball it as a retirement fund. What should I buy?
I’d go for an early Blade or R1 or the first of the ZX-10Rs. Any of the iconic bikes that caught people’s attention straight away. I think in the future people will be asking about SP-1s, early 916s are already reaching collector status in price range. A Japanese litre bike will always be appreciated, so look for the best one you can afford in the best condition.

Tell us something we don’t know about DK’s history...
Kevin has done an awful lot for the British bike buyer without them knowing it. Honest. He and a few other key dealers have worked hard to keep prices on new bikes down. If it wasn’t for that lot we would be paying over ten grand for a litre sports bike today. When we first started selling FireBlades in ‘92 they were £9,500, but Kevin was selling them for £7,500. He has had a big influence on pricing in the UK, and that’s something that we’re all quietly proud of.

If you could only ride one bike for the rest of your life what would it be?
Honda RC45 or an Aprilia Tuono. Both are gorgeous to look at and to ride, very special indeed.

And could you find me any bike on the planet if I had the cash right here, right now?
Yes. If you give me the time and the money, I can find you any bike you want from anywhere in the world, and can bring it to your doorstep. Fancy an FP-1 for the summer?