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Old 04-03-14, 09:54 AM   #1
JesseMN
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Bicycle Mechanic/Customer Service

Morning,
I am looking for a couple of tips when going into a bicycle shop and applying for a position.
What kind of questions should I prepare myself with before giving a answer?
Does anyone have any confident builders so that I don't get nervous?
What kind of description should I put on resume? Or is handing over a resume a little too much?
Thanks for the help.
Jesse N. M.
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Old 04-03-14, 10:30 AM   #2
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If applying for a mechanic's job, you'll be asked mainly about your experience, and knowledge base. IMO the truth will serve you best, and don't try to inflate your skills because you'll seen be found out.

We used to prefer a hands on test because that was more valuable in assessing skill than an interview, and because speed and proficiency trumped knowledge. For example, even if I accept that you can change a tube, or adjust a rear derailleur, I;m interested in knowing if you can do it fast enough to be profitable. Speed is where many self taught mechanics fail.

Also, understand, most employers are most interested in your work habits, like will you show up daily, on time, every day. If you're an active cyclist that can work against you because employers have too many who want time off, or who won't work weekends in season. Be ready to say you rise early to get your daily riding, and are perfectly happy doing your long ride on Tuesday, rather than the weekend.

We used to prefer hiring lightly experienced mechanics who were willing to learn over school or self taught "experts" who required too much retraining.

So, be calm, be open, and be honest and you should be OK. Odds are that if you are hired it'll be for a short trial basis, where you'll either prove yourself and get a job, or be politely told that it isn't working out.
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Old 04-03-14, 07:44 PM   #3
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+1 to Francis's reply.

We ask about previous retail experience, your riding, your home life besides the usual mechanical stuff. Previous retail experience means that there's a chance that the filter of having to serve on others has weeded out those who only want to hear themselves talk or think working in a shop is easy. Your riding because without passion for riding you are unlikely to understand our customer's. Your home life because you need to be stable and well grounded, you need to have a cost of living that can be paid for by the low wages that shop work gets, you would do well to have a different source for your 401K/health insurance.

After all this we hire on a provisional basis. It's not hard to turn it on during an interview. It's hard to keep up the game for more then a week or two. We try hard to choose those who can handle the work load, situational stress, be self motivated, open to learn, willing to offer their thoughts. But if it was easy every shop would be staffed by nice, informed and professional employees... Andy.
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Old 04-03-14, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
If applying for a mechanic's job, you'll be asked mainly about your experience, and knowledge base. IMO the truth will serve you best, and don't try to inflate your skills because you'll seen be found out.

We used to prefer a hands on test because that was more valuable in assessing skill than an interview, and because speed and proficiency trumped knowledge. For example, even if I accept that you can change a tube, or adjust a rear derailleur, I;m interested in knowing if you can do it fast enough to be profitable. Speed is where many self taught mechanics fail.

Also, understand, most employers are most interested in your work habits, like will you show up daily, on time, every day. If you're an active cyclist that can work against you because employers have too many who want time off, or who won't work weekends in season. Be ready to say you rise early to get your daily riding, and are perfectly happy doing your long ride on Tuesday, rather than the weekend.

We used to prefer hiring lightly experienced mechanics who were willing to learn over school or self taught "experts" who required too much retraining.

So, be calm, be open, and be honest and you should be OK. Odds are that if you are hired it'll be for a short trial basis, where you'll either prove yourself and get a job, or be politely told that it isn't working out.
speed and efficiency is where like line gets drawn between a home mechanic and a pro.
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Old 04-04-14, 09:30 AM   #5
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Applying for a Bicycle/Mechanic position at a bicycle shop.

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Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
speed and efficiency is where like line gets drawn between a home mechanic and a pro.
Good Morning,
I wanted to thank everyone for there wisdom and advice.
I will be honest and confident when applying. I am open minded and have a drive to learn not to mention I am patient.
My background is a journey I have had many retail jobs and enjoyed being around people and helping them out. I went to SJSU and have my BA in studio art practice. Here is the kicker I loved bicycles all my life and woke up with the intention of being a bicycle mechanic. I know I am a little late in the game and at age 37 with my wife and two sons living in a small town in Hollister, CA. I wanted something different in my life. That's a little about me. I don't have an ego I am just a person that has a lot of compassion for my fellow man, woman and child.
Kindest Regards,
Jesse
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Old 04-04-14, 10:29 AM   #6
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Our LBS picked up a retired Fireman from Austin Texas , who did the ashland oregon Bike mechanics school first .

So Is not dependent entirely on the $10 (no benefits) an hour wage to pay the bills ..


replaced , or more he got the a few days weekly of winter hours, I just get a few in High Summer now.
wife 0, kids 0 .
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Old 04-04-14, 10:45 AM   #7
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+1 to Francis's reply.

We ask about previous retail experience, your riding, your home life besides the usual mechanical stuff. Previous retail experience means that there's a chance that the filter of having to serve on others has weeded out those who only want to hear themselves talk or think working in a shop is easy. Your riding because without passion for riding you are unlikely to understand our customer's. Your home life because you need to be stable and well grounded, you need to have a cost of living that can be paid for by the low wages that shop work gets, you would do well to have a different source for your 401K/health insurance.

After all this we hire on a provisional basis. It's not hard to turn it on during an interview. It's hard to keep up the game for more then a week or two. We try hard to choose those who can handle the work load, situational stress, be self motivated, open to learn, willing to offer their thoughts. But if it was easy every shop would be staffed by nice, informed and professional employees... Andy.
All that is nice, but at $10 an hour, good luck. What you do, or how you do it on your time is your business, meet the standards while on the clock or go home. I find the passionate about cycling guys don't work out, because they'd rather be riding, and the tedious reality of retailing is never what they expected.
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Old 04-04-14, 12:03 PM   #8
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I recently started a PT job (weekends) at my LBS a few weeks ago. I work a 40-hour week job and wanted to pick up some extra cash to help fund my wedding that’s planned for 2015.

I consider myself fairly savvy with road bikes (specifically the vendors that the shop deals with) but my off road knowledge is novice at best.

As others have said, it’s all about being upfront. The shop owner and I sat down for an initial interview and I treated it like any other job interview. I was well dressed, groomed, had my resume and all that stuff. Ironically, not a lick of my resume had anything to do with bike work. I do have several years of prior retail experience though, so I made sure to highlight that when we talked.

I also brushed up on a factoid sheet about the shop. I knew who their sales and service managers were, and I could rattle off a dozen or so historical factoids about the shop and their history. I didn’t pick obscure things and I also tried to keep all the factoids relevant to the discussion at hand.

I was upfront about my availability and why I was working there. I’m not interested in a lifelong career as a sales rep in a bike store. But I am serious about being a team player, a friendly and helpful face to the customer and ultimately (and I can’t stress this enough):

“The Customer Experience”

I’ve worked in retail, sales and support long enough that you either “get it” or you don’t when it comes to that phrase. It’s not about selling some dude a $10,0000 Pinarello or some new rider a $500 cruiser. It’s about making them satisfied with taking the time out of their day and the money of out their wallets and spending it with you.

For service, it’s all about:

“Repairing Their Relationship”

Whether it’s their relationship with their bike or with their faith in your service department. When they come in for service, it’s because they can’t enjoy the bike currently. You need to be sensitive to that and try to turn the current negative into a positive. I’ve been extremely successful with turning even terrible news into a positive (not always, but pretty consistently).

Good luck!
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Old 04-04-14, 05:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
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All that is nice, but at $10 an hour, good luck. What you do, or how you do it on your time is your business, meet the standards while on the clock or go home. I find the passionate about cycling guys don't work out, because they'd rather be riding, and the tedious reality of retailing is never what they expected.
Sorry to hear of your view of your potential employees. Some shops care to have a more macro view. We realize that our staff are the best advertisement and will determine the experience our customers remember and expect to have the next time they stop in, if they come back at all. Like our educational system, where the home makes it's way into the daily life of the students, I find that employees bring their troubles to work more often then not. I agree that if the employee can keep their work life separate of the home life all is good. But that's a rare quality IME. As far as being passionate about riding goes... Passion can be far more then saddle time. Like the desire to have others share one's joy and sense of accomplishment. I've found that those who are book smart but lack enthusiasm often don't have my customer's needs in their best interest.

This is a classic issue that bike shops face. Where is the shop's and the customer's win/win found. Some shops choose to hire people who might perform the duties of a clerk/mechanic well enough. Others aim a bit higher. I am fortunate to have worked in, and tried to achieve when i had my own shop, shops that have aimed higher. Andy.
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Old 04-05-14, 01:08 AM   #10
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Any tips for improving work speed besides the obvious answer of experience?
(I'm not looking to get a job in a bike shop, just be more useful to friends and the co-op.)
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Old 04-05-14, 07:11 AM   #11
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As a life long service tech, I can say the speed everyone is talking about will bite you in the butt. If you dont have time to do the job right the first time, where are you going to find time to do it the second and third time?
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Old 04-05-14, 08:17 AM   #12
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Any tips for improving work speed besides the obvious answer of experience?
(I'm not looking to get a job in a bike shop, just be more useful to friends and the co-op.)
Accurate and repeatable work speed only comes from repetition. I've never found anything in life that I can pick up and dramatically increase my speed with and not introduce additional risk/error. It's the repetition part, over time, that smooths that out.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:44 AM   #13
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As a life long service tech, I can say the speed everyone is talking about will bite you in the butt. If you dont have time to do the job right the first time, where are you going to find time to do it the second and third time?
my workmanship does not come at the cost of speed. one must build/have good diagnostic skills to have the speed. a good tech can make more than 10/hr easy and with benefits like health ins and 401k
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Old 04-05-14, 12:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
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my workmanship does not come at the cost of speed. ....
+1, speed and quality aren't a zero sum trade off. IME, the best mechanics are usually the fastest. The spped doesn't come at the expenseof quality, but is the result of familiarity and understanding, which leads to efficiency.

Of course, we're not talking about rushing jobs, and turning out slapdash work. Those who work this way would turn out poor work regardless of how fast they worked because they don't care enough to do good work.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Any tips for improving work speed besides the obvious answer of experience?
(I'm not looking to get a job in a bike shop, just be more useful to friends and the co-op.)
Ironically speed comes very much from not rushing into things - thus having to redo. If one thinks about the process it often becomes apparent which strategies will help speed it without sacrificing quality. Things such as how one organizes the tools and workspace, cutting down on redundant trips for parts or other needs, securing parts that are removed so they are in the proper order and don't disappear, and minimizing interruptions as able, all can help. You can also lean on coworkers' experience. Ask what their tricks are, or just watch for a bit if they don't mind to see what an efficient flow looks like.
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Old 04-06-14, 07:45 AM   #16
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If speed isnt a problem, look at all the complaints we hear about on the forum about bad or sloppy work done by bike mechanics. Speed is fine ONLY if it isnt at the expense of quality.

I will catch hell I suppose when I say that in many cases the mechanics in many bike shops are racers that are only working in the shops to get at cost bike parts, or maybe other shop support. That is the reason I do almost all of my bike maintence. Not only do I have the skill to do my own work, but I have the time to make sure each and every part is cleaned , lubed, and adjusted absolutely in spec.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:02 AM   #17
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If speed isnt a problem, look at all the complaints we hear about on the forum about bad or sloppy work done by bike mechanics. Speed is fine ONLY if it isnt at the expense of quality.

.
No denying that there are bad mechanics working out there. In fact there are far too many. But if you look at them work, you'll see that they're often both bad and slow. One has little to to with the other, except to say that skill usually makes people faster at the same or better quality, not one at the expense of the other.
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Old 04-06-14, 12:40 PM   #18
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Instrumental Music has similarities , practice making the notes clean and accurately , and faster will come with repetition..

I guess singing need you hitting the right pitch too ..
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