Of late there has been a spurt in the number of premium high end bikes that zip zap zoom the streets of Goa. It is the yuppies and college students who make a beeline to rent a bike shops to have a choice of their bikes be it Harley Davidson’s, Benelli’s, KTM Duke’s or RC’s. They satiate their desire to drive their passionate dream bikes with payment of a pittance during their short and sweet stint in the city. Money is not a constraint or restraint for these young connoisseurs who shell out Rs 3000 or above on daily rent besides deposit of Rs 5000. It is an experience in itself as these premium bikes are limited to the rich and famous.
A stroll through the streets of Calangute, one finds Dolphin Rentals with a huge assortment of premium bikes. “There is a good response for Harley Davidson Iron 883, Street 750, Benelli 600 besides KTM Duke and RC 390, Royal Enfield Bullet 350 and 500cc, Thunderbird, besides regular Activa, Dio, Avenger. At least 3 to 4 premium bikes are given on rent per week,’’ says Dominic, proprietor, Dolphin Rentals.
With an initial investment of Rs seven lakh in 2008 and later one and a half crore through bank loans from BOI, HDFC, Kotak, Axis, he stands distinct. “Today I have 80 plus bikes. It is 24×7 business as there is a huge demand. I get 85 per cent profit annually and procure more premium bikes. They don’t require high maintenance but regular service charge with starts from Rs 6000.’’ His customers are Indian tourists.
“My rates are competitive and the crowd booms over the weekend when rate increases by Rs 50 or Rs 100 or more. I have regular customers during season time.’’ He takes customer’s identity cards besides security deposit of Rs 5000 for premium bikes but no advance for Activa, Dio, Avenger, FZ-16, R 15, Bullet, Pulsar.
He does not take chances and attaches a picture of the bike with the receipt before delivery. “I mention if there is a dent so that no altercation arises. The main problem with customers is that they don’t return on time as they go to casinos or clubs. I then take night charges of Rs 100 besides daily rent of Rs 250-600 for ordinary bikes and Rs 3000 for premium bikes.’’
His shop has been registered with Calangute Panchayat. He has government license to give the bikes on rent. “I pay Rs 1200 for each bike annually and road tax for all bikes besides tax for black and white bikes. I pay Rs 10, 000 annually to clean the garbage.’’
Challenges, he says, “are from hotels and restaurants who give their personal white plate bikes to customers. They even rent their bikes to small shops on a commission. There is no hard and fast rule from the transport department except that we take ID and check licence from a customer. I am forced to sell old bikes at throw away prices as Rs 12, 000 as there is no resale value for rented bikes.’’ He reaches out to customers through ZipHop, Patrao Tourism, JustDial, Clear Trip, etc.
Nubia Menezes is a woman entrant in a man’s world. “My rules and regulations are put up on the wall and so I face no problems. My husband opened this shop 12 years ago and today I have 30 bikes on the likes of Benelli 300, Mahindra Mojo, Royal Enfield Himalayan, KTM Duke & RC 390.’’ Her husband had got a loan for Rs 18 lakhs from Corporation Bank.
“I give different bikes at different rates. New premium bikes are costly and rented once a week. The demand for Activa is five days a week. I charge Rs 300 for Activa, Rs 400 for FZ, Rs 600 for NS 200, Rs 1000 for KTM RC 390, Rs 2500 for Benelli-300. I give 30 bikes on rent thrice a week and business is seasonal and during weekends. But it all depends on the market fluctuation and tourists.’’
“I only flourish due to the taxis who over charge with no meter, whereas here they pay Rs 300 for one day. We fix the rates on day to day basis and it depends on the demand and supply. I only give discount during rains.’’ Unlike others she takes a deposit of Rs 1000 for regular bikes besides Rs 5000 for premium bikes. “If there are small accidents we recover it from this amount.’’
She recalled her worst experience when two Russians hired two scooters and did not turn up for a month. “I had to file an FIR but to no respite. Later someone informed me that our scooters were found damaged in some field. I had to shell out Rs 60,000 to fix the bikes. So I don’t give bikes to foreigners unless they give me their passport and not their country ID. I gauge a customer and do not give bikes to those without licence.’’
Her profits ranged from Rs 60,000 to Rs one lakh a month and Rs 30,000 during off season. “I do good business on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays. It took me three years to recover the initial amount which I invested.’’
All her bikes are registered and she has licences to run the shop. “There are a number of formalities in Mapusa and Panjim. We renew every year and maintain the bikes in good condition to get them passed. We have to ensure that the papers are in order in case of an accident.’’
Challenges are when one disappears with the bike in spite of the PAN or Aadhaar card being deposited and disconnect their mobile. “We then approach the cops to trace them. I prefer Indian tourists as it is smooth sailing and they report during an accident.’’ On competitors, “There are those who get into the market without licence. They use white plates while we have registered yellow plates. Two bikes were found with same registration numbers’’.
Angelo’s Rentals in Candolim has got Harley Davidsons. “I bought it to give it on rent but changed my mind when customers manhandled it. It is too costly a bike. I got my first Harley Davidson Street 750 and gave it for Rs 4500 to 5000 but became too possessive of it. I paid about 5.7 lakhs for it and use it personally now. I only keep top model brand new Activa’s and Avengers and have 12 bikes now.’’ He charges Rs 300 for his bikes.
On challenges he says, “People dont wear helmets or go as triplets and cops issue a challan which I have to pay later in the court. People give us their PAN and Aadhaar card but it is not difficult to get another one issued. Another is the competition in the market. Some lower their rates and kill the market. Then there are those who give personal bikes on rent.’’
The transport department he says is pathetic. “I gave my driving license for renewal in February as they impose a fine if it is delayed by a day. All my bikes are registered and licenses renewed every five years from Junta house. We also get permits for Rs 1000 so that it does not get expired.’’
“Rent a bike is a very profitable business, 365 days. There are loads of customers. I get 70 to 80 per cent profit and on an average get Rs 2500 to 3000 per day. Service costs only Rs 5000 a month for my bikes. One has to be genuine in his dealings. I ensure that I service the bikes every 3000 kms and change my bikes every three years and buy the top model. To have an edge over others I provide one litre of free petrol and rain coat. I like to give a cut to hotels who take our bikes. I am on the road to sell. Once a person does business with me he will always come back.’’
On problems, “I take Voters ID or Aadhar card and details of driving licence. I believe that if you ram then you pay. I have had no bad experiences and it depends on the way you interact. Things are clear cut then and there. I deal with those who value things. We have our boys on call to attend to emergency situations so that customers are not left stranded. I like Indian tourists and find foreigners arrogant. I believe that what goes around comes back around.’’