Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 106 total)
  • #TOTW New bike shop advice
  • Premier Icon zippykona
    Full Member

    The best advice I can give is to actually be there during your opening hours.
    Even on the worst day you have to wait it out.

    Premier Icon pacman1
    Free Member

    Think very very hard about this. I managed and then owned a bike shop for nearly 30 years until I ‘got out’ and closed the place a few years ago. Since leaving my life has changed for the better and never once have I regretted my decision. So many people I knew in the industry have done the same thing and like me they are so glad they are no longer involved and those who still own shops cannot wait to get out. The majority of customers want you to have everything in stock on sale at cost and then want a discount on top. Finding the right staff is a mare. In a bike shop staff have to be great with customers, mechanically brilliant, honest, reliable and prepared to work unsociable hours and most shops do not make enough profit to pay them a real living wage. You can waste half your working week dealing with constant time wasters who never spend money with you, even customers who do spend money can tie you up for hours and repeated visits when purchasing a low value item. Warranty work is expected in most cases to be done without payment from the supplier.. You have constant crap from everybody from customers to suppliers to the landlord. You constantly worry about shoplifters and break-ins. You cannot take time off and will work through any illness as it is difficult to trust staff to run the place for you. You live in fear of being slated on social media .Even a small shop can cost a staggering amount to keep open….Rent/rates/heating/lighting/water/waste disposal/credit card charges/bank charges/accountants fees/insurance/security/staff wages/stock/tools and replacements/stationary/covering theft/paying staff holiday pay/alarm monitoring/running a van (many bike shops need one)/shop fitting and updating etc etc. The good bit = working with bikes. I could go on and on. Once again think very hard. As others have said the reality is you can earn more per working hour stacking shelfs without the constant worry and stress. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

    Premier Icon devash
    Free Member

    I can’t give any advice about the bike industry but in my previous job I worked as a retail manager and I can echo all of the above sentiments re: running a shop.

    The general British public can be utter b*tards at times. They expect you to be open 24/7, want discount on top of discount, demand the impossible, then get aggressive when you explain that you can’t do everything they are asking for.

    You’ll get into potentially dangerous situations with shoplifters, constantly worry that your phone will go off in the middle of the night with an alarm call, and have to work ungodly hours to keep the place going because as has been said above, it is seemingly impossible nowadays to get reliable staff to work for you.

    I would personally rethink the “bike shop” angle and go down the “Bike repair hub and coffee shop” one instead. If you find a good location near a popular trail area, or on a route where roadies could stop off mid-ride, then you could be on to a winner. You can also get the walker / family / general outdoors type customers as well.

    Good bike mechanics are like hen’s teeth, and the most successful places that I know of are primarily repair hubs only, carrying only a basic supply of components. Nowadays, everyone knows the real cost of components because of sites like Wiggle and CRC, so why not get your customers to buy their own parts and you fit them for a fee. That way, you don’t have to deal with the supplier headaches. The downside of this though is that you’ll need a good few decades of post-Cytech experience to call yourself a “good” mechanic, plus the above mentioned plethora of tools.

    Setting up any business venture based on the face-to-face retail model is a huge gambit in the age of online shopping. Experience-based retail is the way to go though, and it can be done. Good luck with your venture, whatever you decide to do.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free 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.

    That is what the relatively new shop in Lyndhurst (The Woods Cyclery) has done and I think they are doing okay (still there after a few years and busy) but haven’t seen their books!

    Open 7 days a week, organises group gravel rides, has a coffee shop etc,. They do happen to be in a central spot in the first and also hire out bikes so a pretty good location for many types of cyclists.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    @DallasWiseman

    Your first problem will be ROBO shoppers. People who come into your shop, sit on your bike, you spend hours trying to sell it to them, they say I’ll think about it, go away and buy one on line that’s discounted. Then when it goes wrong they bring it to you as the local dealer wanting you to fix it for free.

    Have you sat down and worked out how much capital your going to invest in bike stock? How much is that going to cost you in interest? It’s going to be a lot. At the moment bikes aren’t discounted due to lack of stock but once that’s fixed the big boys will be selling bikes on line cheaper than you can buy them at trade.

    My advice is don’t sell big shiny bikes. Sell a few cheap sub £500 bikes to start with but if a customer wants a bike, order it in for them after theyve paid upfront. This reduces your stock costs, risk and is one less reason for your shop to be ram raided.

    The reality is that to make money in a bike shop, leave the big boys to sell the bikes on line (wiggle, crc, Evans, Halfords, Paul cycles etc etc) and concentrate on fixing bikes. It’s easy to buy a bike off the Internet but really hard to post it back to be fixed.

    Repair people’s bikes, make the money on repairs. Yes, it’s not glamorous but it’s less risk and a service people need.

    But as others have said, the reality is working on rusty, old, cheap bikes that cost £300 new. They will bring it on and not understand why you want to charge them £200 for new tyres, drive train and brake pads and bearings.

    It will take time to build up a loyal customer base. You will need this to get you through winter.

    You will need to be proactive so setting up a riding club that sets off from your shop will help but that means working later and longer than already doing.

    Be prepared to fit components that the customer has bought off line and that you will only make money on labour and cables.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    Why do you want to leave your current trade? Sounds like your on a well paid job.

    How about reducing your hours and working part time and setting your work life balance right? Yes, you will take a wage cut but you will probably earn more money than owning a bike shop and work less hours.

    Use your spare time to work in a bike shop, or flip bikes, repair and sell them etc and then in 2022 when things might get back to normal think about setting up a bike shop.

    However, if you ignore us all, I wish you the best of luck. Please keep us posted how you get on.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    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.

    Second what @boriselbrus (and a couple of others) have said.

    We had a number of mostly teenagers employed over the years – most on the back of them being keen on bikes, handy MTB racers, etc – and most thought they were good mechanics as “they fixed their own bikes plus those of a mate/brother”.

    Ask them to build a £300 Rockhopper or fix the brakes on a shopping bike and they’d be unable. One guy (who’s very rich Dad bought him all the top end gear for his racing) was genuinely shocked to discover that we didn’t spend our days working on XTR-equipped dream bikes, in fact he was such a snob that he refused to work on “the cheap shit”. He lasted 2 days.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    One would almost think there is a bit of real journalism to be done here, follow the fate of a few hardy souls who take on the job of bike shop owner.

    Look into why the model is broken for many.

    Look at who succeeds and what is the magic combination for them

    Despite being negative I would add that if you really want to do it then do it. You need to have a clear and honest business plan first though.

    In Binner’s home town someone who was an experienced mechanic tried but eventually sold up, the new owner seems to have a different model and deeper pockets at startup and is still going (again not seen the books). You need to talk to people like these before starting up, those who have left, those who are still going.

    I wish you every success whichever way you go.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    If you are quick, you could take on an apprentice using government money (not sure if available in Wales)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme

    Premier Icon ctk
    Full Member

    Retrobike

    Good thread on retrobike about someone starting a bike shop.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    OP, a few thoughts on this and bike retail in general. I’ve worked in the industry for some time inc bike shops though none of it was retail premises management.

    They say the workshop should be the most profitable part of your shop – easier said than done but look up Jay Townley’s talks from Madison’s IceBike shows as a starter if you’ve not heard of him, he’s covered this among other bike retail topics.

    Reading the comments about fixing cheap bikes above – simple answer may be, don’t? Not every garage works on every car. Work out a policy that refuses without offending and it may even help people see the value in a new, half-decent bike. There are £6-8k e-bikes all over the trails and a good number of people with a lot of time and money so if your offering is good you may be able to set your prices higher per hr by taking on the right work and specialising. Bikes aren’t getting any simpler. Work for e-commuters and e-mtbers, not sure what the market is like where you are but anywhere hilly will have more e-bikes as the years go by.

    Can you set up a collection and delivery service for bike repair? Charge for the convenience. Costs a retailer about £30 to deliver a built and boxed bike (not inc assembly labour) – many people value their time more than that.

    If you can’t/won’t justify working on £99 BSOs, maybe the only bike you do sell is a sound £299-399 commuter? Don’t sell a wide range of bikes, just a couple of models with a promise of fair service life, maybe with a service pack offer. Aim to convert some repair refusals into new customers. Ridgeback if you can get them. Evans did really well from the Pinnacle Lithiums. A £999-£1200 e-bike equivalent would be a winner. Sell them while you judge the interest in other bikes rather than invest in a load of stock up front?

    Bikes and PAC stock – I’d be wary of this. Clothing in particular with seasonality, sizing etc. So hard to compete with big online retailers and cash tied up in stock. I know how much clearance goes on in big retailers, how hard it is to predict demand and how much support a big company gets from their suppliers. Not sure how a small IBD could have the same leverage.
    It may work to go the other way, not stock anything but service items and be pro-active with prices for fitting the parts people buy online or processing a warranty claim.

    Community and people – if you have space to make a hang-out bike wash and there’s trails nearby then making it a part of the riding culture should pay you back.

    I still believe bike shops will be one of the last forms of independent retail. The internet can’t replace the whole supply and service chain for bikes. But the trad form of bikes and parts retail that can be done online is very hard to keep alive if the business isn’t based on something that the internet can’t do – service and people, help and expertise etc.

    Best tip I can think of – Read Seth Godin’s ‘This is Marketing’ and understand what he means by smallest viable market. If you can crack that part of it to begin with you’ll do ok.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    I’d also be looking for a gap in the market. My opinion is you should forget cytech, it’s easy to work on new shiny rust free bikes but the reality is a lot different.

    Instead train in repairing ebikes. How to fix motors out of warranty, how to re cell batteries etc. Become a specialist in this. People will post you their broken bits for you to fix. As we move to the new “right to repair” era, this will be a great place to be if you are good at it. With your mechanics back ground you should have some transferable skills. (if this is what you want to do? But I suspect you probably just want to sell shiny new bikes)

    I have a friend who works in a large posh bike shop. He says people come in looking for a new bike, look at a £4000 orange, then look at a cube next to it that has all the same gear on plus a motor and battery for half the price and walk out with an ebike.

    Most of the people I know buy specialized ebikes for the warranty and peace of mind but then sell them after 3 years and buy another one with a warranty. They have too much money and not enough time to have a bike that doesn’t work. Also when an ebike breaks down 20 miles from home its a lot harder to deal with. These 2nd hand bikes are bought but where do they go when they break? Would you spend £800 on a new motor or £500 on a new battery (if they are even available) if the bike cost you £1200 2nd hand?

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    As an observer, this thread has a lot of very good advice. I never thought about opening a bike shop and certainly wouldn’t now however!

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    As an observer, this thread has a lot of very good advice. I never thought about opening a bike shop and certainly wouldn’t now however!

    My local one has survived for years. Sole trader, mostly doing repairs on all sorts and he’s built himself a good loyal following.

    He sponsors the local cycling club so he does get a lot of people from that in there buying (quality) bikes, parts and kit and having repairs done but he also seems to cover pretty much every other type of customer. It’s not unusual for there to be an £8000 road bike hanging next to a £99 “full sus” in the work shop.

    I’ve never yet seen a repair that he can’t manage either. However I also know that he works incredibly hard at it and he doesn’t get much time off. If the shop is closed, he’s not earning.

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Full Member

    To address some of the suggestions…

    Only working on high end bikes? No, I thought I’d do that but it doesn’t work. You get a family come in with two nice bikes and two BSO’s. Are you going to tell them they have to take the crap bikes somewhere else? So you do their bikes, then their mate comes in with a BSO. “You did my mates bike which is the same as mine, why won’t you do mine?” Plus where do you draw the line? An “as new” Carrera or a beaten up, rusty Rockhopper? A five year old Ridgeback or a ten year old Boardman?

    Coffee shop? No. You need food hygiene certs and the place will be full of people who want to chat about bikes all day so you can’t work but they’ll only spend £3 on a coffee whilst charging their phones and using your wifi.

    Shop rides? Great, but who is leading them? Do they have qualifications and liability insurance? People will turn up 10 minutes early and say their gears don’t work so you fix them for free to get them on the ride. The regulars become your “friends” so want everything done at mates rates and want you to teach them how to maintain their bikes so they don’t need you anymore.

    Doing repairs only? Currently no parts supply unless you buy fake stuff on AliExpress which you are covering the warranty for. Plus you get no work at all from November to February. Last winter we took less than £150 a month in repair labour for four months.

    Not bothering with Cytech? Well that’s fair, Cytech is rubbish but you have to have something or you can’t get liability insurance.

    Specialising in e-bikes and re-celling batteries etc? Actually this really could work. Learn everything about e-bikes and get handy with a soldering iron. Make yourself the TF Tuned of the e-bike world. Offer exemplary service and fix things that no-one else can. Operate out of a cheap industrial unit, fit after market (legal) Bafung kits to peoples own bikes and make small back up range extender batteries etc. If I had to go back to making money from bikes that’s what I would do. High value, low volume work that even most bike shops can’t do.

    In reality though I’d have to be desperate to go back to a bike shop. I now work in facilities management – a great variety of compliance, contractor contracts and repairs so I still get to use tools. Last week though I got a call mid afternoon to say that one of the public toilets in a library had poo on the floor. Yes, an adult human had poo’d on the floor in a public toilet. Even my Labrador knows not to do that. So I spent half an hour clearing up poo and disinfecting the floor. And that was still a better day than most of my days in a bike shop.

    Premier Icon qwerty
    Free Member

    Yes, an adult human had poo’d on the floor in a public toilet.

    Just out of curiosity… did they wipe their bum? and if so was the loo roll on the floor or in the bowl?

    Premier Icon sillysilly
    Full Member

    Outside of stock so many of the issues seem like they could be solved with:

    Be slightly better x charge more. Also let people come in with there own gear from chain reaction if they want. Just charge a corkage.

    7/10 bike shops can’t bleed / adjust a set of hydro brakes well.

    9/10 can’t service suspension forks or dropper seat posts.

    X/10 charge stupid money for setting up tubeless.

    If family have 2x £5k bikes + 2x BSO’s for kids they probably won’t be too bothered paying £50+ ph labour. Charge flat fee corkage based on product type e.g Pads £2 a set, chain-set £15 kind of thing.

    All other advice sounds good. I’m not in industry so take with a pinch of salt. Just observing who is doing well with a one month wait on service.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    Only working on high end bikes? No, I thought I’d do that but it doesn’t work. You get a family come in with two nice bikes and two BSO’s. Are you going to tell them they have to take the crap bikes somewhere else? So you do their bikes, then their mate comes in with a BSO. “You did my mates bike which is the same as mine, why won’t you do mine?” Plus where do you draw the line? An “as new” Carrera or a beaten up, rusty Rockhopper? A five year old Ridgeback or a ten year old Boardman?

    All I was getting at is that there’s no obligation to provide a service that doesn’t make you money. Start with a policy, position yourself and explain what+why, etc. Being able to say no, etc – which would suggest there’s enough business around for you to be able to choose.
    I know a chap who ran a shop well that way, not saying it works in every area or for everyone though. It might be a misjudgement of your market or it might be sound business sense but it’s up to the business owner to decide, if there is a choice.

    And that was still a better day than most of my days in a bike shop.

    Sort of lol…! Guessing you don’t miss it.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    This is an absolutely brilliant thread of knowledge and information. Stw at it’s very best

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    X/10 charge stupid money for setting up tubeless.

    go on then, how much for setting a wheel up tubeless, so thats taping, seating the tyre, supplying valves and sealant? a job 8/10 diy customers seem to have no concept of how to do properly ime.

    as for only servicing high end bikes. We do a simple 2 minute bike check if the BSO rolls up, it’s easy to let the customer know then that the cost of repair will be 5 x the original cost of the bike. usually because they have ridden it into the ground. The amount of times i’ve explained that yes their 8 speed chain does wear after 8 years of constant use and that it also wears other components. and ask if they actually store it in the sea?

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    Is this the first thread in forum history where everyone agrees?

    Premier Icon jameso
    Full Member

    and ask if they actually store it in the sea?

    : )

    https://www.instagram.com/mtbmechanicalsympathy/?hl=en – a great IG account along those lines

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    #yourbikehatesyou is also a source of many a gem

    Premier Icon doomanic
    Free Member

    Read the Retrobike thread. Jon seems to have his head screwed on; he knew what he was getting into and had experience and contacts. Look at the pictures of the shop; just how much capital has he sunk into stock? Read, and inwardly digest, the part where he took no wages for the first 12 months but was often/usually working 16 hour days. Look at how he used his contacts to get the build contract for a bespoke frame builder and then look at the quality of his work; while he won’t be chucking them together in a couple of hours, he certainly won’t be dragging his heels. Look at his location; near a largeish city with properly scoped out competition, not in the middle of bumfeck nowhere.

    If you can do what he did, it might be a success. If not, it will certainly be a failure.

    Finally, think long and hard about why you are considering this; if it’s because you love bikes, biking and bikers be warned that if it doesn’t work out it may ruin your love of the sport. Ask me how I know…

    Premier Icon thols2
    Free Member

    Is this the first thread in forum history where everyone agrees?

    My first inclination was to agree with you, but then I thought about it and now I’m not so sure.

    Premier Icon klunky
    Free Member

    I worked in a bike shop that was part of a chain for over 10 years and did pretty much every role.

    I think it’s important to remember some people do make it work. Some shops in the right location with the right stock are doing alright. I don’t imagine the owners are going to be paying cash for a new Bentley anytime soon but they can have a fun job that pays ok if you are not too bothered about making lots of money.

    If you want to make a comfortable living financially I’m sure there is easier routes.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    @rOcKeTdOg

    go on then, how much for setting a wheel up tubeless, so thats taping, seating the tyre, supplying valves and sealant? a job 8/10 diy customers seem to have no concept of how to do properly ime.

    You forgot, remove gorilla tape then spend 30 minutes removing the gum sticky stuff that’s left behind.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    I was chatting to a rep last week. She earned over £60k a year and gets a company car. Lots of driving and listening to pod casts and meeting people. Still gets bike discount and doesn’t end up hating bikes. That seems like the smart choice to me if you want to work in the bike industry.

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Full Member

    Be slightly better x charge more.

    X/10 charge stupid money for setting up tubeless

    So which is it? Charging more or stop charging stupid money?

    Yes, an adult human had poo’d on the floor in a public toilet.

    Just out of curiosity… did they wipe their bum? and if so was the loo roll on the floor or in the bowl?

    I have no idea! And the question never occurred to me until now.

    All I was getting at is that there’s no obligation to provide a service that doesn’t make you money. Start with a policy, position yourself and explain what+why, etc. Being able to say no, etc – which would suggest there’s enough business around for you to be able to choose.

    Yes, you can have that approach. I used to quote some jobs at silly money to either discourage the customer or if they went for it, the pain was offset somewhat. I do know of several cases where it’s backfired though. One customer brought a horrible old tourer in for a full service which we did and the customer was happy. He then brought in his S-Works Tarmac as he trusted us to do a good job. He said another shop had turned down the tourer so missed out on the S-Works. He turned into a very good regular customer.

    Sort of lol…! Guessing you don’t miss it.

    No. Not for a second. Actually there is less poo in this job than there was fixing bikes. So many come in covered in dogsh1t.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Coffee shop? No. You need food hygiene certs and the place will be full of people who want to chat about bikes all day so you can’t work but they’ll only spend £3 on a coffee whilst charging their phones and using your wifi.

    On the other hand, the markup on coffee is immense – my dad worked in the bakery trade for his entire working life and reckoned the most expensive part of a takeaway coffee is the cup.

    In theory if you do bike repair + coffee there could be a viable model there, assuming the coffee is decent and there isn’t a good independent coffee shop locally already.

    Premier Icon toofarwest
    Full Member

    Will there be a fat boys discount?? 😀

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    In theory if you do bike repair + coffee there could be a viable model there, assuming the coffee is decent and there isn’t a good independent coffee shop locally already.

    A mate did a “bike-themed” coffee shop for a while, using it as a hub to build a bike touring / guiding business from and he ran a few events as well – audax / basic Sportive type stuff. Once you’re set up for that (after the initial costs of signage etc) that’s actually not a bad income stream.

    Don’t expect to run a shop on top of it though, you need staff dedicated to the cafe part and staff dedicated to the bike/workshop part; you can’t be having the mechanic coming to front of house every 5 minutes to make coffee.

    Premier Icon damascus
    Free Member

    In theory if you do bike repair + coffee there could be a viable model there, assuming the coffee is decent and there isn’t a good independent coffee shop locally already.

    The Yorkshire cycling hub is in the middle of nowhere. You get there by single lanes with passing places. Everytime I’ve been the cafe is really busy. Mrs D likes going here just to eat. I expect they’ve spent a lot of money but it’s a great set up. Perhaps in the right place a cycling cafe can work well.

    http://www.yorkshirecyclehub.co.uk/

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Location is everything, though, isn’t it?

    This is a bit like the thread where someone asked about setting up a bike business and what they should sell, and got answers that weren’t quite what they were looking for, such as ‘decent commuting clothing’

    Premier Icon boriselbrus
    Full Member

    The OP has gone very quiet, wondering what his thoughts are now?

    Premier Icon DallasWiseman
    Free Member

    I would like to thank everyone for their honest opinions, I had an idea that the responses would be along these lines but, nothing is easy, I currently work 60 hours a week in a pretty thankless job where most customers do not trust anything you say, and on top of this I have almost a 1 hour commute to and from work. Some of the thoughts I really appreciate and take on board.

    Premier Icon cyclistm
    Full Member

    Good luck op. Let us know how you get on

    Premier Icon walleater
    Free Member

    I’ve skimmed through this thread and might well have a proper read later, but comments around always working on knackered bikes stood out.

    Historically it’s been a race to the bottom with regards the pricing of repairs. Both in terms of $ per hour and properly assessing a bike. If someone comes in with a BSO, and you give a fair assessment of the bike and what it needs (properly a lot!), with good communication so the customer understands that bike will never perform great, if they say yes to the repair, then great! You get to do a profitable easy job and the customer gets what they agreed to. They are more likely to just buy another bike or try and fix it themselves but both of those situations are better than you fixing it at a loss.
    Mechanics can also spend way too long trying to resurrect a cheap / old part……removing a front derailleur and trying to unseize it for an hour. If the customer wants to pay the labour to do that, great but otherwise tell them the potential labour charge to do that work, or replace the part.
    Some people are actually really happy to spend significant money on an old bike for sentimental reasons. Don’t assume that just because it’s old that you should be doing a cheap job on it, or throwing away labour. I recently did a $500+ repair on an old Fisher CR7 which I bet most mechanics now would think is a POS, but it’s a rad old bike and the customer had owned it since new and wanted it running really well. He came back in the shop a couple of weeks later to say how much he great the bike was riding now. Win / win.

    But yeah, don’t open a retail store now 😉

    Premier Icon DavidB
    Free Member

    OP if this is your dream then make it happen. I walked out of a highly paid job to become an author. Never managed to make a proper career out of it but if I hadn’t made the leap I wouldn’t have the brilliant life I have now. Loads of good advice here…but if it’s nagging at you then crack on

    Premier Icon plus-one
    Free Member

    Crack on I say all bike shop owners I know are minted !!! Driving posh cars have newest best bikes too 🙂

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