Bike Mechanic/Repair Shop Start up (Feedback Please)- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6

    Bike Mechanic/Repair Shop Start up (Feedback Please)

    Good day all.

    I am working on a project to change the model for bike repair, service, and support.

    Summarize to keep you reading: Stall rental model (common in hair salons) with mechanics being empowered to operate their own businesses, be paid what they are worth, and to open a community aspect of the biking industry that often remains in silos due to the difficult profitability side of a local bike shop.

    Clearly the shop can be designed to be open, inviting, and modern while provided a top notch rental work space, along with a wash bay, test area, and a couple of rental booths for the DIY guys who can't necessarily dedicate the space in their garage, or who don't have garage space to do so.

    The gain would be huge for the mechanic, as they often have relationships with their clients that trust their skills, and would be able to bring their book of business with them, out of the gate. This would provide a higher income, more flexibility, the ability to collaborate with others in the industry and to push the model outside of what has been the 40 year bike shop model. That is going to change, one way or the other.

    There are a variety of other services that can also be incorporated into this model. The basics are above for digestion and feedback, which is certainly hoped for, and welcomed.

    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Lone Rager's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    7,154
    What's your background? Have you worked as a bike mechanic in a shop(s)? How long did you work there? What size shop and how many mechanics were there?

    How would you work insurance, IT, shop supplies, parts inventory, and parts ordering, customer bike storage...?
    Do the math.

  3. #3
    Cycologist
    Reputation: chazpat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    5,896
    Trying to picture how this would work. First time visitor comes in and a receptionist directs him/her to the first available mechanic? Or round robin since a lot of bike work is dropped off and the customer wouldn't want to wait until all the existing work is completed? I guess the mechanics would all be required to charge the same rate so that there isn't competition amongst them? Would you do all the marketing or would you expect them to mark themselves?

    I've thought that a shop should keep a database of their customers bikes. They could have a "bring in your bike" day, offer to weigh the bike and set up an account listing the basics of the bike. Customers would have access at home so they could update things like when they installed new tires ('cause let's be honest, they bought them online). Shop would input when forks/shock was serviced or again, customer could if shop doesn't do the work. Shop could send reminder email for maintenance, offer a special discount to try to entice the customer to bring in their bike for work, or could offer to get the parts for the customer. I know you can do some of this on Strava but seems like a shop could possibly do it to develop some customers. And if the shop sold the bike to the customer, seems like a no brainer; send them a reminder when that free tune up hasn't been taken advantage of, etc.
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fredcook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    632
    I've always thought a variation of rented shop bays, where the consumer comes in to work on their own bike, renting the bay and supplied tools, might be cool. These used to exist for working on cars (maybe still do somewhere). We called them "hobby shops".

    The facility could have one "master" bike mechanic hanging around to help, give tips, etc.

    Not every bay would need all of the specialty tools. Those could be "checked out" as needed by the consumer.

    The facility could keep some basic parts and supplies on hand, and offer to order parts as needed (another revenue stream).

    Riding groups, clubs, etc., could host 'maintain your bike' days there.

    Master mechanics could hold DIY classes there.

    Add a food truck lot, and expand the possibilities with minimal cost.

    Once it's off the ground... franchise it!
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,634
    I hate this idea. Sounds like it will benefit one owner while the mechanics take all the risks, dump their money into tools, and pay through the nose for their own health insurance.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    2,985
    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I hate this idea. Sounds like it will benefit one owner while the mechanics take all the risks, dump their money into tools, and pay through the nose for their own health insurance.
    I think this is a great comment because it ignores most of the OP, makes the worst assumptions possible, and isn't remotely constructive.

    OP, there's a shop in my town (that already had a TON of shops) that is a mechanic who only does service. No sales unless you're buying parts for him to install.

    It's a cool model because I can go to him for the stuff I really need done that I can't do myself and get high quality work done. I also just pay for the labor (at a premium rate) and he had no problem with me supplying my own hubs and rims for a wheel build because he doesn't make money on today anyway. There's also no upsell pressure.

    A lot of guys around here also share space, as they gave specialties anyway, like someone dedicated to suspension.

    Your didn't give a lot of details, but as a consumer I'd be interested. Sounds like the same way a hair salon works - the barbers out whatever you call them all rent a chair in a larger establishment

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    27,212
    Quote Originally Posted by fredcook View Post
    I've always thought a variation of rented shop bays, where the consumer comes in to work on their own bike, renting the bay and supplied tools, might be cool. These used to exist for working on cars (maybe still do somewhere). We called them "hobby shops".

    The facility could have one "master" bike mechanic hanging around to help, give tips, etc.

    Not every bay would need all of the specialty tools. Those could be "checked out" as needed by the consumer.

    The facility could keep some basic parts and supplies on hand, and offer to order parts as needed (another revenue stream).

    Riding groups, clubs, etc., could host 'maintain your bike' days there.

    Master mechanics could hold DIY classes there.

    Add a food truck lot, and expand the possibilities with minimal cost.

    Once it's off the ground... franchise it!
    This is a cool idea, but then you wind up with a lot of space not returning you any money during the middle of the day when those customers would mostly be at home. I think to make money on service, you need mechanics in house at those times with work they can get done.

    Combining your model and OP's model might work. I'd be putting the expensive specialty tools for a rental fee. Not just to check out. Cutting tools need the business end replaced after awhile. Gotta cover wear & tear on the expensive tools.

    I fail to see how a booth rental model will translate to higher pay for the mechanic, though.

    I know a couple people who are doing well enough operating appointment-only concierge service. One of them even sells bicycles this way. Make an appointment to come shop for bikes. Make an appointment for a fitting. Make an appointment to bring in your bike for service. This benefits the shop and the customer because they don't have to split their attention. They charge a little more for service (but not THAT much more for it, because at a certain point, people will only pay so much before they go somewhere with cheaper labor rates) because they're basically self-selecting higher end clients who have money. This model won't "change the industry" because these people aren't most customers. In the end, the mechanics don't really make more money overall. They may charge more for each job, but they get fewer jobs, so they more or less make the same money. As business owners, they've found other ways to have a little more take-home pay, and for them, it's mostly about reducing overhead in other ways. And the major one is from rent/utilities. They have less floor space they have to rent/maintain, less stock, and so on. One even operates his shop out of his house in the country.

    I don't see bike mechanics being all that interested in a booth rental model, in all honesty. For this to work, THAT's who you have to convince. Not the customer.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thanks Fred. It sounds like you are on the same general wavelength as I. I used to work in the auto hobby shops on Air Force bases on my junk cars back in the early 90's and always was intrigued by the model as well. Great way to get things done but not invest money in a part you need one time.

    I am going to outline some of the details and specs in an above post to another user - and would welcome additional feedback. The bigger idea is at some point to explore the franchise model - if we can make this successful.

    I come from a trucking and hazmat background but have always been an avid cyclist. I am at the point in my life where I want to start a business that (while it needs to be profitable) that is not goal #1. I want to develop a model that enriches the mechanics and customers lives, not the building or business owner. The business is there to provide opportunity and support, vs. profit for the owner. The main hitch for me is to own the building it is operated in to allow for passive wealth generation over time while also supplementing income by actually working in the business as a mechanic, etc.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6
    This really is exactly opposite of the angle I am going for.

    I come from a trucking and hazmat background but have always been an avid cyclist. I am at the point in my life where I want to start a business that (while it needs to be profitable) that is not goal #1. I want to develop a model that enriches the mechanics and customers lives, not the building or business owner. The business is there to provide opportunity and support, vs. profit for the owner. The main hitch for me is to own the building it is operated in to allow for passive wealth generation over time while also supplementing income by actually working in the business as a mechanic, etc.

    I completely understand the skepticism and how it could appear that way, but if business is done right it does not have to be approached in a way that only enriches the owner. Quite the opposite. I have seen firsthand how applying employee (board member, mechanic, co-op member) needs first, the company will far exceed anything possible with a top down model.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,634
    Consider my skepticism part of your challenge then. At first glance, it sounds like an Uber/ Instacart model, meaning it does not sound like a path toward a stable income for mechanics or anyone involved. Food on the table, a roof over the head, the ability to save for bigger things without fear of ordinary life events bankrupting us. It might work well in some markets and flop in others. Prove me wrong.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6

    More Detail - Rough Form - For Consumption

    To lay out the basic background for my scenario, see below. I think it is important in understanding the genesis of this as well as the motivation. I do want this venture to be profitable, but for me specifically only in the area of a fair rent rate on a building I own, and modify for the purpose in the form of a lease to the operating company.

    To be fair, I have never been a bike mechanic beyond working on my own, and my kids bikes over the years. I grew up here in Alaska and have mountain biked my entire life, exploring the massive wealth of nature we have here. The bike shop/repair facility idea is different - but I do not think that people in an industry are the only ones who can really make it happen. Quite the contrary, more often than not the ones who are the loudest against change are the ones who have skin in the game and want it to stay the same..........

    I come from a trucking and hazmat background but have always been an avid cyclist. I am at the point in my life where I want to start a business that (while it needs to be profitable) that is not goal #1. I owned and operated a 2mil company for the past 14 years, sold it in 2018, and sold another start up transport company just last month. I am now looking for how I can make a difference, use my time and resources to affect my community, and to provide myself with a diversification in real estate, knowledge, and to be able to learn new skills and be a part of the biking community.

    I want to develop a model that enriches the mechanics and customers lives, not the building or business owner. The business is there to provide opportunity and support, vs. profit for the owner. The main hitch for me is to own the building it is operated in to allow for passive wealth generation over time while also supplementing income by actually working in the business as a mechanic, etc.

    Pricing for services (tires, derailleur adjustments, basic tune could be set for spec within the shop as a 'floor' rate, which would allow for mechanics to up charge if they and their customer see fit, or as the repair dictates. Mechanics could also potentially utilize a 'MRU' Mobile repair unit, that is set up for services at races, events, etc. that would be operated by the company but be onsite with inventory. Think Velofix set up, but local. This would provide great exposure and advertising.

    Mechanic Specific Specs (Rough Draft):

    Stall Lease Rate - $250.00/week (~175 sq ft.), Work bench, stand, cabinet.

    Includes: Credit Card processing, access to purchase from standard parts inventory (kept by company) at a fixed rate which keeps them from having to outlay massive cash to have lets say, a fork in stock, pedals, etc., (~15% over cost for wholesale, and allow for additional 15% to be charged to customer as margin - even share model), access to a scheduling and appointment app that would be pushed out for potential customers to book services, show pricing, quote, etc., website, social media, and other ad services would be handled by company (LLC) and paid for via a holding account which would total 10% of total rents, with 60% of available ad funds being used per quarter for ad planning.

    The shop would also act as a funnel for business and provide a clerical worker to handle phone, vending, and other needed services, while also assiting in items like custom online bike purchase drop ships, to be assembled and fit by (and sold by hopefully) one of the mechanics. This eliminates some of the oddity of an online bike purchase, and no bike shop wanting to 'take the bike' and be its provider.

    Each mechanic would certainly have to have their own llc, or operate as a sole proprietor but the company could also assist with resources for that, even to the point of having a co-op cpa and attorney that is familiar with the set up, and has the bookkeeping and other assistance readily available at very low cost. Each mechanic would have to have an umbrella liability policy covering the work that they do, but the rest of the coverage would be held by the company (minimal)

    By no means do I have this all figured out. If approached properly it will work. I have no doubt. I am hopeful that this will continue the conversation, and that maybe someone far sharper than I can assist in expanding on this a bit more and on some things I am missing.

    Thanks all. Hope everyone has an awesome day - even if you think my idea is stupid. Often its the most outlandish ideas that are the most fun, and make the most noise.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thanks Mack - and I truly hope to. With the availability of a variety of new financial tools for small businesses, my goal would be to not only provide and nurture a quality workplace, higher income, but to also assist in life planning and long term goals of all that dedicate themselves to the trade. I truly believe that anyone who works hard should be given equal opportunity. Not the same as equal outcome, but equal opportunity. Just because someone turns wrenches on a bike doesn't make their skill less valuable and I think they deserve a place that pushes them, provides opportunity, collaboration, and also pushes them to new things like marketing, sales, learning how to be your own boss.......the sky is the limit.

  13. #13
    SS Pusher Man
    Reputation: mtnbikej's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    7,531
    We have a shop like this locally.....I've never been, as it is not a service that I require. But I hear good things about them.

    Orange County Bicycle Service + Garage ¬Ľ About
    Bicycles donít have motors or batteries.:nono:

    Ebikes are not bicycles :nono:

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    6
    Thx mtnbikej! Already reached out. Love it!

  15. #15
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    27,212
    While the service-only model is out there and is doing well for some shops, I see major problems with the stall rental model.

    The parts inventory structure, I think, is a problem. Margins are tight enough that cutting into those will be problematic for the mechanics.

    I also think it's a BIG problem to require the mechanics to each have an LLC or sole proprietorship (a sole proprietorship in this case is probably a very bad idea) AND require them to carry their own insurance. You're just pushing your own overhead onto your employees and that's not going to benefit them in the slightest. Economies of scale are going to come into play here, and your individual employees are most likely going to be paying more collectively for insurance than you would if your single policy covered everybody and everything.

    I don't know all the answers, but the way it's outlined, it seems to me like it's going to be burdensome for the mechanics. Whereas for a more traditional employer/employee model, they just get hired. They show up to work and do their jobs, and they receive a paycheck and whatever benefits were agreed upon. They don't have to create an LLC and deal with associated business taxes. They don't have to maintain their own liability insurance.

    I think there's potential to do something cool and innovative, but I don't see this stall rental model as that.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: EatsDirt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    1,110
    How does that saying go... "want to have a million dollar business in a sports industry, start with five" ?

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    14
    Quick question. Can you give me an idea of how much an average bike mechanic makes per year?

    RForbes you're giving numbers that seem to be randomly pulled out of thin air. Or maybe we just don't have enough info. For example, where did you get the $250/week number from? How big is the building you're talking about? How many mechanics are you figuring?

    I've seen a similar model with "antique malls." A large space with lots of vendors paying an astronomical amount for rent then a percentage of sales but it allows these small businesses to start up shop with very little overhead, startup costs, and risks. There are several where I live and most have all kinds of little businesses in them now. Not just antiques.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 16
    Last Post: 08-26-2014, 09:01 AM
  2. Feedback Sport Mechanic Repair Stand
    By scolist in forum Tooltime
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-29-2014, 08:33 AM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-30-2014, 08:43 PM
  4. Replies: 16
    Last Post: 06-09-2006, 11:38 PM
  5. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-13-2005, 04:38 PM

Members who have read this thread: 84

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2019 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.