Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Florence Oregon USA
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Seems good bike mechanics are hard to find. Makes sence, the industry typically pays just barely above minimum wage. You've got to love it or leave it. The most experienced bike mechanics soon move onto other work, or more schooling, because if you are good at bike repair, you're probably also good at something that pays better.
So, if you want to fix bikes, but want to make more money, what do you do?
There are two courses of action:
1. Start your own shop. If you specialize in repair, not much inventory is needed at first. Keep your expenses low, do everything yourself, and you have a greater likelihood of sucess than you would in most other businesses.
2. Offer to work in a bike shop on a commission basis. Do repairs for 1/3 of the rate the shop charges the customer. Many shop owners are glad for this arrangement, figuring they won't have to pay for your goof-off time. They only pay for what they make money on. You, on the other hand, can learn to work quickly, making up to $30/hour. The only drawbacks:
a. It is hard to arrive at a suitable price for new bike assemblies. The shop absorbs the cost, so the owner wants to pay little for assembly. You want to do it right, so want a lot. Best bet, if in a large shop, allow the beginning mechanics to do the assemblies, while you do repair and customization.
b. Warranty work. If you get too money-hungry, you may start doing fast, sloppy work. Don't! The owner of the shop would be quite appropriate in having you fix things you didn't get right the first time at no extra charge.
c. Other mechanics in the shop who are still getting hourly pay may become upset when they find out how much you are making. You have to keep it secret (good luck), or be a good ambassador, or talk the owner into putting them all on commission basis also.
d. You may end up doing all the work, putting the others out of a job.
e. Your status may become part-time. You'll work like crazy in the summer, but end up without work in the winter.
f. Taxes. The owner of the shop should handle you as an employee, so there are no tax problems. Other arrangements can be worked out, but the employee status is easiest.