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Old 09-29-08, 08:46 PM   #1
CCR
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the part-time garage/shop biz

anybody have a part-time/weekend out of the garage at home shop ?? im not talkin bout a full blown watch your money disappear in a matter of weeks thing.

definately too late in the year to get things organized, but for next spring id like to have a weekend shop out of my garage at home. i already feed my bike hobby from selling stuff on craigslist or locally, but i wondered if i could claim the word-of-mouth title of "the bike man" in my bikeshopless little town by workin out of my garage just doin repairs and maybe sellin some fixed up old bikes.

from the no-brainer bike problems ive seen my favorite bike shop have to deal with, i know im might be askin for trouble with some oddball people but shouldnt be anything i cant handle (as long as i have the tools that is).

just wondering if anyone else is doin the like already and have any advice ?

my house is already in a high traffic area for my town so i figured if i put a fancy paint job on an old cruiser and stick a "bikes" sign on it in the yard thats probably all the advertising i would need to get attention.
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Old 09-29-08, 08:54 PM   #2
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On how good a terms are you with your neighbors? They might not like people showwing up all the time at your home. Depending on where you live, an at home shop(of any kind) where the customer comes to you can be a no-no.
This is personal experience: You do not want customers to know your address or personal phone number. I have had one of the few customers that knows where I live show up at my house at 9 in the evening wanting something looked at. If you have your business at home you will get no rest once people figure out where you are.
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Old 09-29-08, 10:28 PM   #3
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basically i live on the backside of the block on main st in my town, but the side on main st is all business'. and the neighbors on my side of the block wont mind a bit.

as far as the phone # thing, i already use my cell # for my "real" job so thats nothing new (but i agree it can be and is very annoying) and im not gonna advertise other than a sign in the yard, i will give my number to anyone who leaves something to get worked on though.

i also planned to have the bikes for sell in a bike rack along my driveway, so the only time someone would be in my garage is to get work done.

just planned for a weekend thing, ive got a 8-5 M-F job and the wife works on the weekends so im at home during the day tinkering anyway.

still not entirely in motion, so ill take all the "ain't worth it" advice into consideration too
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Old 09-30-08, 05:46 AM   #4
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Get some cards made up with your info on them. Make sure one goes out with every repair job.
I think it is a great idea, but I would post my hours on your sign, and try and stick to them...

Good luck.
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Old 09-30-08, 04:59 PM   #5
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Even though you're operation will be small, you might want look into getting some insurance. If any of your customer's bikes gets stolen or damaged while in your possession, you won't have to completely pay out of pocket on the small chance some screwball decides to try to take you to court for all your liquid assets.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:41 PM   #6
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+1 on getting insurance.
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Old 09-30-08, 06:13 PM   #7
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insurance is one thing i havent looked into yet, thanks for the kick in the pants
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Old 09-30-08, 06:29 PM   #8
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There is a guy in Calgary running a portable bike shop. He usually sets up right beside one of the main bike paths coming out of downtown. Looks like he gets a lot of business.

Joe's Garage
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Old 09-30-08, 07:36 PM   #9
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I don't have much advice, just lots of potential issues.

1. Somebody else has already mentioned the insurance thing.
2. Don't know about your town, but zoneing and business licensing might be an issue.
3. The problem about establishing business hours is that you have to be there. That might cut into your week end riding time.
4. Think about how you are going to deal with the guy who drops off a bike to be tuned or repaired and never comes to pick it up.
5. Don't be afraid to charge a fair price for your service.
6. It's OK to turn work away. The best way is to be direct, honest, and brief. "I don't do that kind of project."

I do a little bike maintenance out of my garage but I've gotten increasingly picky about both the people and the bikes that I'm willing to work with. I don't want to turn my hobby into another job.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CCR View Post
anybody have a part-time/weekend out of the garage at home shop ?? im not talkin bout a full blown watch your money disappear in a matter of weeks thing.

definately too late in the year to get things organized, but for next spring id like to have a weekend shop out of my garage at home. i already feed my bike hobby from selling stuff on craigslist or locally, but i wondered if i could claim the word-of-mouth title of "the bike man" in my bikeshopless little town by workin out of my garage just doin repairs and maybe sellin some fixed up old bikes.

from the no-brainer bike problems ive seen my favorite bike shop have to deal with, i know im might be askin for trouble with some oddball people but shouldnt be anything i cant handle (as long as i have the tools that is).

just wondering if anyone else is doin the like already and have any advice ?

my house is already in a high traffic area for my town so i figured if i put a fancy paint job on an old cruiser and stick a "bikes" sign on it in the yard thats probably all the advertising i would need to get attention.
That plan might fly in the face of your deed restrictions. I know I can't do anything like that here because my deed expressly forbids running a business on the premises.
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Old 10-01-08, 07:00 AM   #11
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On the issue of people dropping off a bike and never coming back.

I know a couple of repair shops (not bicycle) that post a storage fee, one is $10 a day everyday after they call you to pickup your repaired mower. Once the storage fee exceeds the value of the mower, they sell the mower.

You could always start by just reselling used bikes, it would be easier to set your hours and test the waters. It could also be run by anyone, meaning you personally would not have to be around to make the sale, where you would have to be around to quote a repair...
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Old 10-01-08, 07:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercator View Post
There is a guy in Calgary running a portable bike shop. He usually sets up right beside one of the main bike paths coming out of downtown. Looks like he gets a lot of business.

Joe's Garage
I have thought about a moble rental service, setup at local campgrounds on the weekend. My teenage son could run the thing...

I know a guy that lives just outside a local state park, he always has three or four "yard sale" bikes for sale in his front yard. He told me he makes $10 or $15 bucks on each one, non of his bikes are over $50, his kids run it.
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Old 10-01-08, 09:54 AM   #13
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I had an "underground shop" for about 10 years - before I moved. No room for one where I'm at now. What I did was advertised word-of-mouth from friends to friends to friends. This way all my customers knew so-and-so. There were no problems. It helped to be in a town where the LBS was owned by a total jerk with zero people-skills and NASA-high prices.

Good luck!
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Old 10-01-08, 01:51 PM   #14
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I had an "underground shop" for about 10 years - before I moved. No room for one where I'm at now. What I did was advertised word-of-mouth from friends to friends to friends. This way all my customers knew so-and-so. There were no problems. It helped to be in a town where the LBS was owned by a total jerk with zero people-skills and NASA-high prices.

Good luck!

that basically sums up where im at and what i want to do. a mobile shop is pointless around here, lots of people riding bikes, but the whole area is not very bike friendly unless you get closer to some of the national/state parks which is still a ways away.
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