Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 106 total)
  • #TOTW New bike shop advice
  • Premier Icon DallasWiseman
    Free Member

    Hi
    Just wondering if anyone could give any help or advice, I am looking to open a bike shop in April 22, I have located a premises and just waiting on change of use at the moment. Hoping that there maybe some kind soles out there that have just taken the plunge recently, looking for advice on-
    Start up loans
    Suppliers, finding a bike supplier at the moment is proving very difficult, Orange and Stanton have agreed to supply and Orbea but not until end of 2022
    Trade supplies of clothing, spares and upgrade parts.
    Cytech- planning to do level 2 early next year in preparation for opening but want to wait until I have business registered so I can get it at trade.
    Any other bits of help anyone has would be massively appreciated.
    Regards Dallas

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    I don’t want to crush your dreams, but is the middle of a worldwide parts and bikes shortage the ideal time to be opening a bike shop? They’re hard enough things to run at the best of times

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Free Member

    I’m an absolute wizard of a mechanic with years of experience as a workshop manager. I’ll come and run the show but only if you’re based somewhere with year round sunshine and trails that go from mountain top to sandy beach.

    Premier Icon DallasWiseman
    Free Member

    Sorry, I live in wettest West Wales, fantastic trails but you would have a 25 mile ride to the beach.
    Dallas

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    but only if you’re based somewhere with year round sunshine and trails that go from mountain top to sandy beach.

    Swansea?

    (We’ve got loads of bike shops!)

    Premier Icon DallasWiseman
    Free Member

    50 ish miles north.

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Free Member

    Sorry, I live in wettest West Wales, fantastic trails but you would have a 25 mile ride to the beach.

    Premier Icon thols2
    Free Member

    You probably aren’t going to like this advice, but I would think very carefully about opening a bike shop. If I was going to do it, I would work in the industry for several years and learn how it works, as in, where you make money.

    Selling stuff means you need stock on display. You need to finance the stock and also pay rent on floor space. You need to be there when the customers are there, which means you work crazy hours and have to be available on weekends.

    Running a workshop means making most of your money fixing shitty commuter bikes with punctures, worn brake pads, and rusty chains. You’ll be constantly dealing with people at their worst – they need their bike immediately and you’re the guy that has to tell them the bad news that it will cost more to fix the bike than they paid for it in the first place, plus it will take days or weeks to get the parts ordered in.

    Obviously, some people make successful careers and businesses at it, but it’s like the dream of owning your own pub or cafe; it’s much more work than most people realize. Working in someone else’s shop for a few years and understanding how the business works (i.e. where the money is made) is the best advice I can give.

    Premier Icon Aidy
    Free Member

    I don’t want to crush your dreams, but is the middle of a worldwide parts and bikes shortage the ideal time to be opening a bike shop?

    Would opening one when there’s really low demand be better?

    Premier Icon DrP
    Full Member

    I wish you the very best, but…without wishing to sound nasty…your post does read like:
    “Hoping that there maybe some kind soles out there that have just taken the plunge recently, i’m looking for advice on setting up a bike shop.

    Your questions appear very broad, and seem to be the basics of setting up a shop…

    DrP

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    Would opening one when there’s really low demand be better?

    The fact that it’s mid Wales may be of far more relevance than high/low demand/mid pandemic/etc.

    Premier Icon adamr28
    Free Member

    “it’s like the dream of owning your own pub or cafe; it’s much more work than most people realize. Working in someone else’s shop for a few years and understanding how the business works (i.e. where the money is made) is the best advice I can give”

    Started my shop in 2003, having spent a couple of years working in one. Would agree with the above!

    Premier Icon slackboy
    Full Member

    Have you sought out the free business advice available to startups?

    Starting, running and growing a business with Business Wales

    I don’t have any cycle industry experience, but the received wisdom is that the profit comes from the service side of the business.

    Have you got a business plan that forecasts where the revenue is going to come from (bike sales, parts/accessory sales, servicing/repairs etc) and what the cost of providing those things are. Its really important that those forecasts are both realistic and provide you with the the income you need/want from the business over the appropriate period.. If they don’t then the business *will* fail.

    A mistake lots of sole trader businesses make is under-costing their own labour with the result that (as someone above said) you end up run ragged and earning less than minimum wage (taking into account all the hours worked)

    A good business adviser will be able to help you through developing a business plan and spot the holes/potential issues before you start trading.

    this thread is a good summar of someone’s experience doing what you are planning:

    https://www.retrobike.co.uk/threads/so-i-started-a-bike-shop-update-16-10-20.347464/

    very different location but gives an idea of whats involved in setting up and making it work.

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    I’d echo what some of the others have said. Get some experience in the trade first. If you don’t even know the basics of the trade then taking out Start-up loans isn’t a great idea either.

    They say ignorance is bliss, but not when you’re chucking tens of thousands into a business.

    Premier Icon nickyboy36
    Free Member

    I used to work as a guide in the bike industry and have a little bit of insight I suppose. The most successful shop I know is based near York and doesn’t touch selling bikes, he just does repairs and sells a few bits and bobs in the repair shop, he seems to be doing really well. Busy all the time with bookings sometimes a month ahead.
    If I were doing it I’d focus on doing repairs only (I’m not because learning to be a good mechanic takes years 🙂 ).

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Would opening one when there’s really low demand be better?

    You think the current high demand will significantly outlast the low supply?

    Not that it matters that much of course in the short term, having nothing to sell is the same outcome as having no one to sell to.

    The biggest difference is you can’t upset customers you don’t have.
    You absolutely can upset the ones you take on by not being able to supply.

    At the moment op in any trade your problem will be putting product on shelves. Lots of suppliers in lots of industries currently won’t take new customers simply because they can’t supply the ones they have.

    If you want a “retail” premises in the 21st century you need to be selling something people can’t buy on line, with bikes that means spannering, lots of spannering. If you’re happy with that you’d be as well offering a “parts picking service” then you run a workshop to fit it and only stock the very basic stuff your self. Eg Customer orders and pays for stuff you tell them to buy, gets it delivered to you drops bike off, you fit it and charge for the work and 5% or what ever of the parts you advised.

    If you want to sell stuff you want a cheap lockup, a website and carrier, better still, do it all through amazon and don’t go near it. Retail is dying.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Personally I think you are mad if you haven’t got at least a years experience working in the trade.

    Massively steep learning curve, battling the internet, battling the current chaos.

    Premier Icon dogbone
    Full Member

    Do you have a particular niche in mind? The shops most successful near here specialise in high end mountain bikes – spannering to people who think nothing of a £400 bill for a service.

    Gravel?Road?BSO?

    Premier Icon DallasWiseman
    Free Member

    Hi all, thanks for your thoughts, I had guessed that most would say the same based on lack ok components and bikes at the moment. I am looking to sell MTB, Road and Gravel, MTB and Road is massive in our area, Gravel not so much so hoping to push that. I have been a mechanic in the motor industry since leaving school in 1988, i have looked after mine and my sons bikes for the last few years, and also started working on others over the last few years. I know it is a different thing making it as a business, I have also managed my after sales department over the last 7 years, this has given me a broader in sight into operating a business.
    Appreciate everyone’s points of Vue.

    Premier Icon iamtheresurrection
    Free Member

    A mistake lots of sole trader businesses make is under-costing their own labour with the result that (as someone above said) you end up run ragged and earning less than minimum wage (taking into account all the hours worked)

    Very much this. Paying somebody £23k a year (or taking that salary yourself), adding in employer NI/pension costs, holidays, sick days and so on, and then taking that total cost and trying to recover it across the whole 12 months would give you a cost price of £34 per hour labour.

    I don’t know many shops who feel they are consistently getting that, but if that mechanic isn’t you then you need to make profit on that in order for you to get an income from the workshop. So, let’s say you want to earn £10k off the back of that one tech then you’ll need to be selling out at £46 per hour.

    That’s allowing for a very low £6k share of the overhead, £1k for damages/losses and being 80% utilised on retail work March to October and 50% utilised over winter months. I reckon you’ll dream of these numbers in the first year or two, to be honest, and once you factor in bike building and non-paying warranty work, along with goodwill, they look a big ask.

    I’m not in the cycle trade, but have friends who are and know they struggle to get a good return from the workshop.

    There is an assumption in the above numbers that you’ll be VAT registered pretty quickly and paying 20% VAT on all retail sold…

    EDIT: Just seen your coming from the motor trade – presume you’ve done the maths already.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    I’ve had a couple of spells of bike shop experience, 20 years apart. I would be doing my utmost to get experience working in someone else’s shop – get to know the reps/distributors/ what sells/what doesn’t and if you’re looking for mechanic experience, get paid whilst doing it rather than looking to pay someone else. Bikes and high-end parts are likely to be in short supply for the foreseeable, so the service said is where you can build up a base for relatively little outlay. Cash flow is what kills small businesses – sinking cash into premises, outfitting and stock leaves you the cost of servicing that debt. After getting a few years of shop experience, I would probably start off by offering a mobile repair / service business if it was me – then you can understand what the core revenue from that looks like before expanding into the retailing/ renting premises etc.

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Full Member

    I’ve spent the last 10 years working in bike shops, I escaped earlier this year and never been happier

    I have been a mechanic in the motor industry since leaving school in 1988, i have looked after mine and my sons bikes for the last few years, and also started working on others over the last few years.

    This scares me.

    Working on your own bikes is NOTHING like working on customer bikes. I had plenty of assistant mechanics who thought they were great because they’d worked on their own bikes or their mates bikes but bring them into a workshop and it’s very different. Even after 10 years I was still coming across stuff I’d never seen before weekly, and that’s just historic standards let alone new standards.

    As far as workshop is concerned, you are mostly working on cheap rubbish. You can’t charge a lot because it’ll be more than the value of the bike so you have to work fast and still to a good standard. Can you re-cable a 7 speed v brake bike in less than 15 minutes? Change any bb in less than 10, fit a headset including facing and reaming in 15 mins? If you can’t, forget it, you won’t make money.

    My advice, get a job in a bike shop for 2 years first then see how you feel.

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Free Member

    Before I got my first workshop job I was a self taught mechanic who thought I could do everything because I’d been building and maintaining my own BMX’s and MTB’s for a few years. It all goes out the window when someone walks in with a rusty old Apollo because something snapped on the way to work and it’s got a bunch of BSO standard kit that you’ve never seen before and of course you don’t have it in stock.

    Very steep learning curve. Every different type of bike, every headset, every BB, every squeeling hydraulic brake. Bloody cup and cone hubs, loose ball bearings bouncing all over the floor, rusted solid quill stems. It never ends.

    In a busy workshop in Sheffield we used to take so much money through the till just for chains, cassettes, break pads and £40 basic services. Then at the end of the month you get paid minimum wage and go back to your shitty room in a shared house. Pay your staff peanuts and they’ll always be looking for something better. That shop lost all 3 mechanics in the same month when we all found better options.

    Edit: Beaten to it while typing but pretty much what he said^^^

    I’ve spent the last 10 years working in bike shops, I escaped earlier this year and never been happier

    Also very much this. I finally feel like a grown up and no one tries to pay me with biscuits.

    Premier Icon benpinnick
    Full Member

    Honest truth… It’s freakin brutal in the industry now. I wish you the best of luck but go in with your eyes wide open. Lead times are crazy long, stock is running very low at all distribution hubs, everything that might say it will be in-stock in 2022 is probably already sold. It’s not getting any better by April either, 2024 maybe, but definitely not 2022 and only partially in 2023.

    Premier Icon sillyoldman
    Full Member

    What boriselbrus said.

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Full Member

    And also…

    Set up costs. Are you going to buy the tools you need to fit cotter pins and rod brakes along with every BB tool ever (spoiler, I have more than 30 BB tools) and kit to set up Di2 and service e-bikes. Can you bleed and set up Magura HS33’s? Set up canti brakes? Build any wheel to 0.5mm lateral and radial tolerance with perfect spoke tension in 30mins?

    Cytech 2 won’t give you more than 20‰ of what you need. I have Cytech 3, Velotech platinum plus and trainer, and Halfords technician qualifications. Between them they teach you maybe 40% Halfords was actually the best one, but most shops don’t have a technician.

    Try a little test. Get a v brake bike with cup and cone wheel bearings. Strip it. That’s everything down to its component parts, bb and headset out, mech hanger off, cut the cables so they can’t be reused, chain split, cassette off, tubes and tyres off, wheel bearings out of the front wheel, brake pads off the arms. Then face and chase the bb shell, and rebuild it, with a torque wrench so it’s perfect. No skipping gears, properly toed brake pads each the same distance from the rim, stem bolts all looking the same, wheel bearings smooth with no play.

    If you can’t do it in 2 hours, forget it. To be a Halfords technician you have to do it in 90mins. That’s how workshops make money.

    Can you actually buy stock of chains, cassettes, chainrings etc? In my town 4 shops and mobile mechanics went bust this year. One because he was too slow, the others because they couldn’t get the parts they needed to fix the customers bikes.

    All the customers want a discount and will price check CRC in front of you before demanding a discount. To make a sale on a high end bike you’ll discount it by more than your monthly wage so you make more money selling the matching helmet than the bike, then when they break it they’ll demand it’s fixed immediately, for free or they’ll be on Facebook slagging you off. Customers will want “little” jobs like facing BBs done instantly for free because “it’ll only take you a minute”
    You’ll be asked to work on dodgy, homemade e-bikes which will do 50mph, and if you refuse you get threatened, and it’s a virtual guarantee that your shop will be broken into at least once a year.

    It’s a brutal world and you’ll make less than working at a Tesco checkout. You will end up hating bikes and everyone who rides them.

    Good luck!

    Premier Icon sharkattack
    Free Member

    Argh, please stop! Your posts are giving me flashbacks! I think I’ve got mild PTSD. Everything you’ve said is bang on though.

    Premier Icon Trimix
    Free Member

    OK, so all the advice is basically dont do it. Some from those with actual real experience.

    So, question is, do you take the advice. Thats probably the first test you need to pass.

    Premier Icon mjsmke
    Free Member

    You will have to compete with Wiggle or similar which will be near impossible.

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    This thread is absolutely terrifying – and I thought I had a decent idea of how hard it is to run a bike shop and also zero intention of getting involved in the industry!

    Premier Icon Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    reaming in 15 mins?

    Probably pays better than working on bikes

    Premier Icon Ambrose
    Full Member

    Hi Dallas, I’m pretty certain that we’ve met on a couple of occasions in Bassett’s when I have had a car off you guys.

    50 miles north of Swansea? Surely most bike shops need a local customer base and 50 miles north of Swansea is putting yourself pretty much in the middle of a very empty part of the country. Not a lot of local trade.

    Llandovery however… Loads of riding, no current bike shop, a great vibe to the place, loads of cyclists living locally and even more visiting.

    I wish you all the best in your venture and tbh if you can get it up and running I’ll definitely be calling in.

    The world is going electric. Will you be able to cater for that?

    Can you link in with local providers? B&Bs, events organisers etc.

    Premier Icon munrobiker
    Free Member

    If you don’t know where to start looking for suppliers, you probably aren’t in a position to open a bike shop.

    I’d agree with basically all the advice above. Fixing your own bikes is totally different to making a fifty year old three speed hub work again after you’ve replaced the 27 X 1 1/4 inner tube in the wheel, or even setting up cantilever brakes with post fit brake pads if you’ve not come across them before.

    Can you build a wheel from scratch? Would you know what to do if you’re presented with a bike from India with 4 chain rings (oh yeah, they exist)? Do you know all the different suppliers of Shimano to get accounts with? Can you patiently explain what’s very obvious to you to someone who has no idea about how bikes work? Can you get excited about selling a £300 hybrid five times a day? Can you make angle grinding a crank arm off cost effective? Do you know how rod brakes work? Can you bleed a ten year old Avid Juicy in twenty minutes without killing a man?

    As a lot of people have said, work in a shop for a while. Get a handle on the industry, make connections and see the downsides as well as the upsides. Learn about the suppliers and how they operate. Then you’ll be in a better position to set up yourself.

    Premier Icon Stainypants
    Full Member

    The person that looks after my bikes after doing exactly what people are suggesting here starting mobile and then getting premises and building a successful repair business has had to close due to not been able to get parts. It may not help that he looks after the higher end where the part shortage is worse, he didn’t deal with too many BSOs as they are catered for elsewhere in our town. I’d really think twice about setting up now plus for a lot of folk disposable income is about to tank as fuel, gas and electricity and the new taxes kick and a potential interest rate rise and you aren’t aiming at the budget market with Stanton and Orange.

    I don’t know much about West Wales but I think it has pretty low population density will you get enough footfall to sell enough bikes to make it worth it.

    Premier Icon rootes1
    Full Member

    What do they say?

    “how to make a small fortune in the bike industry?….

    Start off with a Large fortune!”

    And that was before competition from the internet.

    On a serious point, be interesting in STW mag given they have Charlie on the staff on his experience.

    Premier Icon rootes1
    Full Member

    The other thing that has changed so much is all the standards and thus the stock and tools to deal with it all.

    When I worked in an shop, just as aheadset was coming in, before that pretty much 2 sizes, and then budget, mid and expensive option in both. Just look at how many headset options alone there are now, then multiply that across all bike components.

    As several people above have said, in order to compete with online, have to do something online can’t do, and even then something niche.. but just what?

    Premier Icon jblewi
    Free Member

    Here is my two cents based on 10 years or so working in the industry in three different countries.

    Now would be an incredibly difficult time to open a bike shop for these reasons (some mentioned above)

    -Parts, bikes and stuff in general is difficult to source (Current ETA on a 10 speed 11-34 cassette in Canada is March 2023, if you haven’t got preorders in 2022 is going to be very tough for parts)

    -Bikes brands are mostly allotting bikes to dealers based on previous years orders/history and relationships (my current stores Devinci booking for next year is based on this years $ value plus 10%)

    -Bike shops in mid/South Wales have a history of not working-not sure why but I know of a reasonable number of examples of stores that no longer exist

    -Some suppliers are not willing to open new accounts as they cannot fulfil their current accounts demands`

    So basically unless you have some existing relationships in the industry that are going to get you to the front of some pretty big queues or you have a few million in the bank and some experienced people to hire I think now would be a very hard time to get a bike business up and running.

    Yes the demand is there to start pulling money in immediately but the product isn’t!

    Premier Icon benpinnick
    Full Member

    Just so you get some good news… If you do start up in April, if you’re still around by the following April then you almost certainly have a good long term business as it will only get easier than it is right now.

    Premier Icon FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    I know nothing about the bike industry, but reading the above is enough for me to be scared on OP’s behalf.

    + 50 miles north of Swansea, not many people live there !

    Premier Icon jkomo
    Full Member

    If after all that you still go ahead, I’d incorporate a little coffee area, and try as much as possible try to become a local hub for bikers. Get as many email addresses of your customers, get to know their bikes, so you understand what appropriate upgrades they would need. Throw out seasonal offers, new mudguards supplied and fitted for £x.
    Still sounds like an impossible task.

    I love working on my bikes but that’s cos I spend all day doing a job a shop would do in an hour.

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