WOMEN CHALLENGING THE MOTORCYCLE SECTOR – BEATRICE “TRIS” NJERI – INSPIRING THE YOUNG GENERATION (BLOG 2)

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Who is Tris ?

I am a 23 year old who is totally immersed in the motorcycle industry. I am a training instructor, a racer, a sales executive and own a motorcycle dealership.  I am more a hands on person and to be honest I did not enjoy school much. So as soon as I graduated from highschool, I got myself into more handy stuff. I ride for many things; leisure, work and sports. 

There are so many options out there especially for a young girl like you, why motorcycling and not any other?

As I ask Tris this question, she giggles and answers me with another question. “Do you want the truth or some “noble” story for the public? I tell her I want the truth if she can handle it out there.  Here we go!

It all started with a young guy that I liked who had told me he was a biker.  I wanted to impress him and so I went all out to learn about bikes.  I watched YouTube and read blogs, anything I could find on bikes. I could not imagine not being able to hold a conversation about bikes with him. Unfortunately, I would later learn he was just a keyboard rider and decided I have to be the real biker myself. 

When did you start riding?

I first learned to ride from a friend before I took up professional training. This was back in 2016 and I was only 18 years old. I fell in love with riding and also started getting some jobs and making money out of it.  I did a couple of bike deliveries to customers who did not have time to collect their bikes from the garage or the seller. I later took up a job in a garage as a spanner girl and thereafter I worked in a riding safety gear shop as a sales lady.  I would say my entrepreneurial journey in the industry was natured during this period.   I am now the owner of Tris Motorcycles, a retail shop for motorcycles and Tris Motorcycle Academy, a riding training school. 

In 2020, I took up racing when the company I was working for then ventured into sports and I had my first race in October 2020.   I garnered the second position in my category. The pandemic affected the racing calendar.  We would have had 3 races that year but we are happy to be resuming this year.   I will be racing on 14th March, 2021 and grateful that I can represent the women on the track during this month.  

What does your family say about your riding? 

My family found out about my riding in the most uncomfortable way.  I was riding on the highway when my dad spotted me. You can guess why it was easy for him to spot me. It was a huge shock for them and made the acceptance process slow especially for my mom. It’s been a journey in the last five years but today they are the biggest supporters of my business and racing career. They still get scared if I don’t call them for more than a day and so I make sure I call often for their comfort. 

What would you say about the industry?

Being able to have my own dealership as a young entrepreneur is an indication that the industry is moving from the traditional way of acquiring dealers where the costs and terms were very prohibitive for young entrepreneurs. I hope this trend continues because it will create jobs and businesses opportunities for our generation. Most of the customers are also from the younger generation. 

What have been your challenges? 

There are a couple of things that I would list here as challenges but am looking at them as a path for growth. 

  1. Cost of investment is quite high and can be discouraging. It took me more than a year of savings and taking more than one job to raise the funds. The investment is not just money, it costs time, holidays, rides with friends and rest days.  I have to put my all in the business.
  2. The brand of motorcycle I sell is new in the market. Unlike the more established brands that have already penetrated the market, I have to invest more in training my employees in both sales, service and repairs.  It has been difficult finding the right employees who are passionate about bikes and willing to learn.
  3. Being in a market with many established brands is both a challenge and an opportunity. Penetrating a market that has so many options requires patience. I am however fortunate to have a strong brand, competitive prices and good reviews from our happy clients.  

How is it for you as a woman in the motorcycle business? 

There are clients who prefer a male salesperson. The perception is that women don’t know much about motorcycles.  It takes more to earn their confidence. Having more women in the industry will help break this stereotype.  The numbers have been growing and it is just a matter of time. 

#iChooseToChallenge

What change would you like to see in the industry?

  1. I would definitely want to see more of my generation take up the many opportunities in this industry.  In a few years, the motorcycle industry has grown so much and it is projected that it will continue growing.  I would like to encourage them to grab these opportunities.  There is a huge need for sales people, mechanics and dealers. 
  2. Professional training for the motorcycle industry is lacking. The market size now demands that we invest in a proper mechanical course for motorcycle repair and maintenance. We cannot continue to rely on “on job training” and the population of professionally trained motorcycle mechanics is quite small for the market.  
  3. If we are selling motorcycles, we must make road safety our priority. We at Tris Motorcycle care about our customers and always make sure that they have a motorcycle license which is the easiest way to know if one has been trained as a rider.  There are many motorcycle sellers who do not ask for the license to establish if their customers have the training and legal license to ride.  I would like to see motorcycle sellers take this seriously and enforce it.  I sell gear in my shop as one way of encouraging riders to wear the safety gear. You get the motorcycle and gear under one roof.  

Parting shot

I choose to challenge

Look out for next blog and the next woman.