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Old 05-11-10, 05:17 AM   #1
marvelous
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freelance mechanic

Does anyone have any advice on how to be a freelance bicycle mechanic. I figured it would be a good way to expedite my professional development. I have a friend who freelances as a carpenter and he does everything by word of mouth. I also researched it on the internet and it seems like the strategy is to be on some database of mechanics; so I decided to get licensed as a race mechanic. They have a database of these mechanics. My plan is to build up a clientele of racers until I can afford to have my own location. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to here them.
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Old 05-11-10, 05:25 AM   #2
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Just open a shop and do your thing as best as you can. The clients will be happy and tell other potential clients.

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Old 05-11-10, 06:08 AM   #3
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Just open a shop and do you thing as best as you can. The clients will be happy and tell other potential clients.
Having a brick-and-mortar shop requires a significant investment so you have to be capitalized enough to cover the expenses until the business becomes profitable (assuming it will). Do you plan to work out of your home? How about a "mobile" shop, i.e. a van that's used to go to your clients?
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Old 05-11-10, 06:30 AM   #4
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I'm doing it now, though it isn't my main source of income. I think some paid advertisement is going to be important. I don't think you can build word of mouth for free and get enough clients. I'm trying to decide how to do this.

If you google "Tom Reingold bikes" you get quite a few hits.
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Old 05-11-10, 07:46 AM   #5
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My plan is to as I said build up a clientele until I can afford a location. Part of being a race mechanic is to be mobile. However I think having a location would make the venture more profitable.
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Old 05-11-10, 07:56 AM   #6
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noglider i don't know what you think but i'm interested to learn. i thought the idea of being a freelancer is that without a location you could keep you're overhead low as hell. slowly buiding up you're clientele from word of mouth offering high quality service.
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Old 05-11-10, 08:44 AM   #7
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I agree that not having a bricks and mortar location, your overhead will be tiny. Once you have a commercial location, they go up tremendously. I'm working in the basement of my house.

The trouble is, the location is the best advertising. Without it, you don't get many clients.

And then the location needs to be the right size, and so does the business. I notice that small bike shops have a hard time competing with the big ones. The big ones have several employees and usually more than one location.

I saw a web ad for an itinerant bike mechanic in the Portland, Oregon area. He only does pickups and dropoffs. Clients can't go to him. Perhaps he manages to make a living for himself. Of course, Portland is one of the ripest markets in North America. I regret I didn't save his information when I stumbled upon it.
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Old 05-11-10, 08:53 AM   #8
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Are you looking for any specific kind of client? If not why not setup a folding table at a large recreational bike path on saturdays and charge for fixing things there and hand out business cards. The recreational groups tend to not be as DIY and tend to not maintenance their bikes. I've invited co-workers to ride before and end up pumping tires and oiling chains and such before we go because people show up with flat tires and such.
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Old 05-11-10, 09:03 AM   #9
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Darn, that's a good idea!
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Old 05-11-10, 09:10 AM   #10
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I've seen a couple of the smaller bike shops setup shop near a larger trail or have their mobile shop at a trail on weekends. You may want want to contact supporters of the trail the advertising can work both ways, I'll see a trail web site say bike shop/mechanic is available at trail hub/parking lot x location.
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Old 05-11-10, 09:14 AM   #11
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I'm doing it now, though it isn't my main source of income. I think some paid advertisement is going to be important. I don't think you can build word of mouth for free and get enough clients. I'm trying to decide how to do this.

If you google "Tom Reingold bikes" you get quite a few hits.
I met a young dude not too long ago who started freelancing out of his garage and seems to be doing OK. He had been a brick and mortar mechanic for some time, so he had amassed his tools over time. He also posts on several local cyclist blogs such as thesustainablecyclist.com So word-of-mouth may not be such a bad thing as long as you use the internet as a megaphone.
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