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Starting my own CL based bike repair/building shop. Need help/advice with pricing

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Starting my own CL based bike repair/building shop. Need help/advice with pricing

Old 05-21-10, 05:38 AM
  #26  
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another idea would be to try to source some old bikes from yard sales etc and fix them up for resale. this is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to get you some more more experience working on bikes and ideally flip them for a small profit. As for opening up a shop in NYC, good luck, thats another whole can of worms, your probably better off opening up on the cape. Real estate costs for one are completely outrageous although there is a ton of business to be had. the revenue generated from repairs from all the restaurants that deliver food on bikes here is substantial and yes people here do have plenty of $$$ to drop on high end bikes but they expect nothing but the best service and can be demanding pricks!
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Old 05-21-10, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
A few things you should consider/think about:

cdr
Woow, lots of good info here. Thanks for taking the time to write all that. Liability insurance I'm sure would be a good idea, and would probably put the ki-bosh on my small venture. I'll have to look into it.


Flipping bikes would be pretty fun too, especially since I'll be in Boston over the school year.
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Old 05-21-10, 06:13 AM
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liabilitiy insurance probably isn't all that expensive. as a personal trainer i have a million dollars of coverage for about $200 a year.
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Old 05-21-10, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by CPFITNESS View Post
liabilitiy insurance probably isn't all that expensive. as a personal trainer i have a million dollars of coverage for about $200 a year.
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Old 05-21-10, 08:20 AM
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Liability insurance for a business that sells or repairs things that can cause injury or death cost a heck of a lot more than $200/year
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Old 05-21-10, 08:28 AM
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Yeahh either I'm not going to buy insurance, or I'm not going to run a shop out of my garage. Either way I'm still buying a bunch of tools.
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Old 05-21-10, 09:40 AM
  #32  
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There's a lot to consider. I applaud your desire to do this, and it can be done on a shoestring budget, but give serious consideration to doing something formal. There is usually no tax on service. Go and register the business. To reduce liability I would suggest opening as an LLC. Get liability insurance and have them underwrite you as a bike shop. that will make sense to them and they have standard tables for that type of business. After that....make sure you have the right tools.

FWIW - if you set up as a real business you should be able to set up wholesale accounts at distributors at least for tools to use in the shop.

Don't half-ass it. It could ruin you financially if you do.
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Old 05-21-10, 10:09 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
Yeahh either I'm not going to buy insurance, or I'm not going to run a shop out of my garage. Either way I'm still buying a bunch of tools.


You're not going to take any of the serious suggestions in this thread that actually require you to burn some calories to do this the right way, are you?
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Old 05-21-10, 10:13 AM
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Maybe you should just start with working with your friends, relatives and neighbourhood bicycles. Putting bikes together is one thing, there are also the people, business, warranty etc aspects. What if the bike you built fell apart and hurt someone. Are you insured for that?
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Old 05-21-10, 10:15 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post


You're not going to take any of the serious suggestions in this thread that actually require you to burn some calories to do this the right way, are you?
I'm considering it, however I won't be at it long enough to even make my money back since I'm going back to school for engineering in the fall.
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Old 05-21-10, 10:18 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
I'm considering it, however I won't be at it long enough to even make my money back since I'm going back to school for engineering in the fall.
back to school as in summer break or I'm tired of my accounting job? What kind of engineering?
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Old 05-21-10, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
back to school as in summer break or I'm tired of my accounting job? What kind of engineering?
Summer break, electrical engineering. Senior year!
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Old 05-21-10, 10:30 AM
  #38  
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I've seen those craigslist ads and have been tempted to try it myself, but even after spending a year as a shop mechanic, there are a still few things I'm just not comfortable doing, and a few tools I'm still missing. Liability is also a deterrent for me, and as someone mentioned before, it's the rusted Huffys and X-Mart bikes that are the hardest to work on... and the most likely to roll into your shop... I mean garage.
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Old 05-21-10, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
Summer break, electrical engineering. Senior year!
Heh, two of my brothers-in-law graduated with a BS in that in the last 2 years. Start working your connections if you want to get a job in this economy.
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Old 05-21-10, 10:32 AM
  #40  
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Liability insurance is the number one tool you need.
Unless, of course, you have $1,000,000 laying around for when someone sues you because the bike you built for them fell apart at 30mph because you assembled it with no knowledge, a screwdriver, and a hammer....

I don't know about other shops, but when I opened mine, the agent needed to know - among other things - how long I had been working on bikes, and thusly what level of experience I had. ie: Was I *likely* to f@#$ something up and cause someone to die?
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Old 05-21-10, 11:15 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by PlatyPius View Post
I don't know about other shops, but when I opened mine, the agent needed to know - among other things - how long I had been working on bikes, and thusly what level of experience I had. ie: Was I *likely* to f@#$ something up and cause someone to die?
Mine was like, "oh....so like a bike shop? i can do that. no problem."

Reminds me of when i started my locksmithing business back in college.

Me: "So i started a locksmithing business. Will you sell me tools and parts?"
Distributor: "Um, Where is your license?"
Me: "I was told that in Indiana you don't have to have one, and that there actually isn't one."
Distributor: "That's true. Do you have any training?"
Me: "Yeah. I spent a few hours on the internet and found out how to pick locks, re-key, open cars, etc."
Dist:"OK."
Me: "I'll pay cash."
Dist: "I'll send an app right away. Can I get an order started for you?"
Me: "Sure. i will take the deluxe lock pick set, 1 of the Model 2000 auto unlock kits......"
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Old 05-21-10, 11:19 AM
  #42  
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^^ win. Reminds me of one of Feynman's stories in one of his books.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:13 PM
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OP's ability to take advice seems pretty insightful as to how he'll deal with customers. Reminds me of the 'foodies' I run into who watch the food networks, but have never worked in a restaurant kitchen, and still romanticize being a chef. They don't want to hear about the details like distributors, insurance, and aggrieved customers. If the OP really wants to practice his wrenching he should volunteer somewhere with repairing kid's bikes. I used to run a little neighborhood shop out of my garage fixing the princess and bmx bikes. I earned/learned way more than I ever have putting together any of my other bikes.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Mine was like, "oh....so like a bike shop? i can do that. no problem."

Reminds me of when i started my locksmithing business back in college.

Me: "So i started a locksmithing business. Will you sell me tools and parts?"
Distributor: "Um, Where is your license?"
Me: "I was told that in Indiana you don't have to have one, and that there actually isn't one."
Distributor: "That's true. Do you have any training?"
Me: "Yeah. I spent a few hours on the internet and found out how to pick locks, re-key, open cars, etc."
Dist:"OK."
Me: "I'll pay cash."
Dist: "I'll send an app right away. Can I get an order started for you?"
Me: "Sure. i will take the deluxe lock pick set, 1 of the Model 2000 auto unlock kits......"
You should have taken a vacation to Los Angeles where they know how to do it with a pair of child's scissors.
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Old 05-21-10, 02:15 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Treespeed View Post
OP's ability to take advice seems pretty insightful as to how he'll deal with customers. Reminds me of the 'foodies' I run into who watch the food networks, but have never worked in a restaurant kitchen, and still romanticize being a chef. They don't want to hear about the details like distributors, insurance, and aggrieved customers. If the OP really wants to practice his wrenching he should volunteer somewhere with repairing kid's bikes. I used to run a little neighborhood shop out of my garage fixing the princess and bmx bikes. I earned/learned way more than I ever have putting together any of my other bikes.
Yes....I can agree to an extent. I do feel that too many people jump into "business" with good intentions but not a firm grasp on what is required. I also feel that sometimes too many of us approach it with too much trepidation. sometimes i really think that we've turned from a country of entrepreneurs into a country of employees.

OP - the way I started wrenching a bunch of years ago was to work on everyone's bike that I could. I learned a lot. Quickly. I adopted the philosophy early on that any time i needed a specific tool I would use that as the time to go out and buy it - regardless of whether or not I was getting paid for the work. I have never really charged good friends. Most usually bring something - even though they don't have to and they know it.

There were more than a few years where it went something like this,

"What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Sit and talk to me while I am doing the work if you can."
"You sure?"
"Of course."
"Seriously what can I pay you? I would have to pay a shop a lot to get this done."
"Seriously....don't worry about it."

The result is usually that the individual shows up with a 6-pack. More and more often people are finding ways to slip me money. Then it's technically a tip....might give you some wiggle room if you end up with a problem.
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Old 05-21-10, 02:28 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
^^ win. Reminds me of one of Feynman's stories in one of his books.
I like the story of the window/valve thing.
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Old 05-21-10, 02:49 PM
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Gotta say, you might want to learn how to work on bottom brackets before you start up. They're kind of important, and the tools to do it are not the expensive ones that you ought to be worrying about.
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Old 05-21-10, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Yellowbeard View Post
They're kind of important.
No way dude!
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Old 05-21-10, 04:05 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Yes....I can agree to an extent. I do feel that too many people jump into "business" with good intentions but not a firm grasp on what is required. I also feel that sometimes too many of us approach it with too much trepidation. sometimes i really think that we've turned from a country of entrepreneurs into a country of employees.

OP - the way I started wrenching a bunch of years ago was to work on everyone's bike that I could. I learned a lot. Quickly. I adopted the philosophy early on that any time i needed a specific tool I would use that as the time to go out and buy it - regardless of whether or not I was getting paid for the work. I have never really charged good friends. Most usually bring something - even though they don't have to and they know it.

There were more than a few years where it went something like this,

"What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Sit and talk to me while I am doing the work if you can."
"You sure?"
"Of course."
"Seriously what can I pay you? I would have to pay a shop a lot to get this done."
"Seriously....don't worry about it."

The result is usually that the individual shows up with a 6-pack. More and more often people are finding ways to slip me money. Then it's technically a tip....might give you some wiggle room if you end up with a problem.
Good advice. That is what I'm going to start doing. Free tuneups, if you want to pay me, bring beer or food. I gain experience. More complex stuff can warrant more swag (bike parts even!), but I don't really want money. This way I can't run into trouble and can work at my own pace.
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Old 05-21-10, 07:49 PM
  #50  
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Good call, I used to own a bike shop. I have most of my tools, except for the stuff my soon to be ex sold off in her garage sales. I get people recommending for me to open a repair shop but I remember everything I went through. Psimet is right, an endeavor like that is basically a bike shop without rent. You still need to treat it as a business as it is and go through all the hoops as one would opening up a LBS. I'll keep it simple doing upkeep on my bikes and for family and friends. Good luck though, being a mechanic is what I enjoyed most.
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