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Opening a part-time "fred" repair shop

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Opening a part-time "fred" repair shop

Old 07-21-08, 04:02 PM
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charly17201
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Opening a part-time "fred" repair shop

Okay, so I've been thinking for a while about opening, on a part-time basis, a bike repair shop for all of us 'freds'.

It would put me in direct competition with the LBS here in town. But then, they don't like 'freds' anyway - unless it is the (other) freds spending thousands on bikes.

With the increase of commuters, casual riders and car-free riders, I don't see how I can go wrong as a part-time business. I can even get a location for about $200 a month.

Comments/suggestions?

Shop name "freds Place" ?
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Old 07-21-08, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by charly17201 View Post
I don't see how I can go wrong as a part-time business.
You work on someone's brakes. Shortly after he picks up his bike, he's riding down a hill and his brakes fail and he gets seriously injured. Within a few days, you receive notice of a pending lawsuit.

You're tightening the clamp on a customer's brake levers when a piece of the aluminum on the clamp rips. Your customer shows up later in the afternoon expecting to pick up his bike so he can go for a ride the next day, but the only thing you have to show him is a busted brake lever.

You show up for work one morning and you find that your shop has been broken into. All your expensive tools are gone, as well as some of the customer's bikes.

I don't mean to burst your bubble, but there are tons of things that can go wrong.

Of course, you can buy yourself an insurance policy to protect against those things. But once you factor in the fixed cost of rent, insurance, utilities and administrative costs (unless you plan to do all of your own bookkeeping and tax filings for the business), then you have a certain minimum level of repairs that you need to do each month, just to keep your head above water. How are you going to get those customers? I would never take my bike to be repaired by some guy who just opened a repair-only shop (unless the person were a close friend). Especially if it was a part-time business. I'd trust a bike shop first.

Cycling is fun. Running a cycling-related business is a PITA.
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Old 07-21-08, 05:31 PM
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[Cycling is fun. Running a cycling-related business is a PITA.[/QUOTE]

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Old 07-21-08, 06:31 PM
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Your customers wouldn't know what a Fred was. They'd assume you were Fred.

You say your LBS doesn't like Freds. How do you deduce this? It sounds like if someone goes in to get repairs on their Edselcycle, that the LBS won't do it, but you would. In reality, though, you'd probably find that the LBS wants $40 for the repair, and the cyclist won't spend over $10. So I suspect they're not turning away a gob of Fredbusiness that you'd pick up and make good money at.
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Old 07-21-08, 07:51 PM
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Ok. I'm new here and see this term "Fred" thrown about now and then. What-the-heck's a FRED???
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Old 07-21-08, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by flian View Post
Ok. I'm new here and see this term "Fred" thrown about now and then. What-the-heck's a FRED???
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=362275
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Old 07-21-08, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by flian View Post
Ok. I'm new here and see this term "Fred" thrown about now and then. What-the-heck's a FRED???
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Old 07-21-08, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
Your customers wouldn't know what a Fred was. They'd assume you were Fred.

You say your LBS doesn't like Freds. How do you deduce this?
Personal experience with them.
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Old 07-21-08, 09:15 PM
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Wow, a lot of naysayers! I say go for it. Make sure to get some liability insurance as a backup. If you don't give it a go, you'll look back and wonder if it would have worked or not.
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Old 07-21-08, 10:16 PM
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Give this some thought. You need to figure out how to get reasonable paying customers, not just the guys who don't want to pay LBS prices. If you are only attracting the tightwads, you will burn out quickly. bk
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Old 07-22-08, 06:53 AM
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Setting aside the legalities, liabilities and such of establishing a business, take a good look at real costs. I recently wrote up a business plan for a proposed venture* and needless to say, there is far more to consider than most people realize. I'm not saying that you don't realize this, but it really is an aspect to setting things up that most people overlook or just plain don't know about.

That said, I think part of the success would hinge on what time your part time was. It bugs me to no end that most of the shops close to my house close at 6. Working until 5, and then a 30 minute ride home leaves me with little time to head to shop if I need something. The same bodes for early morning service as well. I've gotten quite adept at doing my own bicycle repairs bit if your "part time" services were available early in the morning and later in the evening, I think that it might have some appeal.

Does the $200/month include utilities? Also consider overhead in stocking up parts for common (and less common) repairs. And then consider the fact that its going to take a bit to get your name out there. And to that end, if the area you're in has many bike shops, you have to consider that you'll be directly competing with them. And, in the same direction as that, you must also consider location. Would your place be in a location that appealed to the majority of cyclists?

I'm not trying to be a jerk with this, but in all seriousness when setting up a proper business venture, you do need someone (or many people) to shoot as many holes into your plan as possible before you spend a cent on it. A lot of things sound great in theory, but in practice many aren't plausible.

* My business plans including telecommunications and shipping ventures, so my advice may or may not be directly applicable, but one general trend I learned is that things are rarely as easy or as sure of a thing as they sound and you will spend far more time than you think right now. I can guarantee that if you want to run a successful business that will make you money. If you're doing this purely because you have the skills and want to help out, the time issue may be moot.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:18 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by charly17201 View Post
With the increase of commuters, casual riders and car-free riders, I don't see how I can go wrong as a part-time business.
Speaking as a car-free cyclist, if I have a mechanical problem I can't fix myself, I cannot wait until some part-time guy decides he has some free time to open his part-time shop. I need it fixed *now*.

My LBS has one service bay dedicated to car-free and commuter cyclists. Ride in (or push it in), get it fixed, and ride out, PDQ. No appointments, no checking to see if someone's schedule meshes with mine (they usually don't), always available 10-8 six days a week. That's what works for me.
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Old 07-22-08, 10:06 AM
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I guess many riders have more than one bike. If one has to get fixed, I use the other bike which is a very good bike. That kind of solves the wait issue.

If you just want to help out part time, why not get a part time job at a local bike shop? Extended hours is for customer convenience. Open at 5 am before the early riders and open late for those who work and like to have dinner first. Either one works.

If you are near a major college campus with lots of students riding bikes to travel thru several hundred acres, then maybe there's a not for profit bike shop on campus like Univ of Calif at Davis.

It seems to me that the bike shop business is not that profitable and a businessman really has to look at economies of scale. That said, it seems that an alternative is the not for profit model. Make it a 501(c)(3) organization and solicit funds from local government, other non profits, or even the general public. The big college campus that is "state run" is like this.
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Old 07-22-08, 10:26 AM
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This thread makes me happy that I fix my own bikes! The nearest bike shop is about 18 miles away. Meaning (in my car) 4.50 or so just to get there and back...if I have to go back to pick the bike up, another 4.50.

my girlfriends bike came with a free tune up, but it hasnt needed it yet, and I will end up doing it anyways and she wont be without a bike very long.

as far as opening up a part time bike shop...I dunno how that will work. Maybe youd do great. but the insurance thing would be important. We live in the era of "I screwed up but im gonna sue this guy because he worked on my (bike,car,boat whatever...)
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Old 07-22-08, 03:58 PM
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I think you've got a good starting idea, but the devil's going to be in the details. You definitely need a name that is more n00b oriented -- "The Utility Cylist" or "Maple Street Bicycle Commuter," something like that. Overall, I think you could get a lot of business if you did it right.

The recommendations for liability coverage are very good. Consider contacting your local office of the Small Business Administration for assistance getting rolling -- they're good for things like checklists, contact info, etc.
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Old 07-22-08, 06:11 PM
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score.org for small business advice. BTW, why can't you just work for the local bike shop and learn the local LBS business ropes? IMO best name for a bike shop is it's location "4th street bikes" for example.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by geo8rge View Post
IMO best name for a bike shop is it's location "4th street bikes" for example.
Unless you have to move.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:55 PM
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i'd call it "don't fart! cycle!"
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Old 07-22-08, 11:30 PM
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Almost everything is a PITA.
Why do you think I'm the Slackerprince?


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Old 07-22-08, 11:36 PM
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The money in the cycling biz is in the sale of accessories. Roadies/OCPs buy tons more
of it than freds do.
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Old 07-23-08, 02:19 AM
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Maybe volunteer or work for a bike co-op in your area, and if there is not one, see about starting one?

Make sure to have it as a nonprofit corporation, so if something happens such as the broken brake lever, it won't mean one's personal assets can be seized.
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Old 07-24-08, 01:23 PM
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I think it's a great idea. Go for it!

Here's a few names

Freddies (friendly)
Freds r us (fun)
Phreds (Dorky)
Fred'll fix it (Practical)
Freddos (your mate)
Fred Fix (Workman like)
Fast Fred(dy) (Famous)
"Right said Fred" (I like this one)
Cicli Fredericco (Exotic)

my 2Ę

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Old 07-24-08, 01:39 PM
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Before you do it come up with about 20 different expence sources....rent, phone, insurance, overhead, tools etc. and divide by the nmber of hours you plan on working.

If your doing this part time figure about 60 hours per month (15/week)...maximum. I'd say it'll cost you somewhere in the $10/hr. just to 'open the door'. I have no idea what your skills are like but can you properly repack a loose ball BB in an hour? How about a headset? What happens when get stuck trying to troubleshoot an old school Campy or Suntour index system the LBS cant fix? I'll clue you in.....they cant be fixed.

Alot of good shos started as garage/basement ventures so it can be done. But it takes alot more time and alot more money than most think.

About 12 years ago I had an opportunity to buy one of the premiere bike shops in the NE......I didnt think twice. I finished college instead.
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Old 07-24-08, 04:51 PM
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mlts22 has a good idea -- it'd be a good plan to incorporate as an S-corp; you don't even need to be a nonprofit.
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Old 07-24-08, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by charly17201 View Post
Okay, so I've been thinking for a while about opening, on a part-time basis, a bike repair shop for all of us 'freds'.

It would put me in direct competition with the LBS here in town. But then, they don't like 'freds' anyway - unless it is the (other) freds spending thousands on bikes.

With the increase of commuters, casual riders and car-free riders, I don't see how I can go wrong as a part-time business. I can even get a location for about $200 a month.

Comments/suggestions?

Shop name "freds Place" ?
If you simply sold parts and supplies that a Fred would be looking for you might do even better. Bike shorts like the baggy ones you can get on line with the Chamois. Shoes you can ride and walk in. A line of platform pedals Racks, trailers and cargo bikes. Parts that would make the life of a commuter easier.

The reason commuters tend to be Fredís is because they are going to work and donít want to look like a Poser. Nothing wrong with wanting to look like a poser if that is your style but I have been to other places in the word where bicycles are more popular than here and they seem to manage very well without looking like they are riding in the Tour.

It is easy to tell if the LBS in not Fred friendly. Go to the clothing rack and see if they have bibs and lycra shorts in every size but the cargo shorts only come in small and medium and they donít know when the next shipment might come in.
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