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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 05-20-10, 07:16 PM
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Starting my own CL based bike repair/building shop. Need help/advice with pricing

So I've got an ad up on craigslist for bike building, repairing, fitting, and whathaveyou *out of my garage*. Basically all the skills I've picked up working on my own bikes. Just expanding on a hobby of mine taking on some easy jobs, not opening a store.

I've gotten a few calls from people who will be bringing bikes by to be built out of the box from the manufacturer. How assembled are these, those of you have bought bikes in such a manner? My main concern is the BB and headset, since I don't have the tools to install those.

Other than that, how much would you charge to build a bike up? Tune ups? I need to undercut the LBSs in the area obviously or I wouldn't get any business.

Another advantage I have is that I don't have any wait time, which I like. I can do pretty quick turnarounds.

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Old 05-20-10, 07:30 PM
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Just skip to the link below and bite the bullet.
Headset tool is going to cost you about 50-150 bucks. If you plan to be professional about it and don't ghetto rig clients forks. The BB tool - You will need one for square taper kind of stuff (for fixie folks (maybe campy)) and hollowtech 2/mega exo type for external cups and sooner or later will need splined octolink styled installation tools and crank pullers. Two sets of 1.5-10mm hex tools. Chain whips and cassette removers. Cable cutters designed for bike cable housings. A mallet. Crank cap tool...some other stuff and those are going to be the basics for the majority cookie cutter 68mm english threaded American imported/exported frames and bikes.
If you plan on being serious you need this: http://www.ebikestop.com/park_tool_e...kit-TL8610.php

Don't forget a headset installation tool, fork cut guide, Mallet and plenty of extra ferrules and cable ends... in fact buy a box of cable (100 feet min).
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Old 05-20-10, 07:35 PM
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You need to undercut by a lot. You have no reputation, they have brick and mortar shops with a reputation to maintain.

Price yourself out at $20 an hour and figure out how long things will take to do. THere's your chart. It should be cash, so you save a bunch there (you, me and everyone know you won't be reporting this income)

I seriously call into question your endeavor, however, if you don't have a friggin BB tool. At least of some type, let alone the outboard + ISIS + crank pullers, etc. I hope to god you have a proper stand. Headset, meh. I've pressed in cups with two books and a mallet, but I wouldn't charge someone to do that. You just asking the questions you've asked makes me think you aren't a person who should be paid to work on bikes. I sure as **** wouldn't pay you for a fit.

btw, the bikes from bikesdirect are basically assembled. True the wheels (You've got a truing stand, right?), twist a few barrel adjusters, and make sure the stem and seatpost are tight and you're done. You're also liable for when the chain goes over the cassette, into the wheel and they slide out and wreck their face. good luck
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Old 05-20-10, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
I seriously call into question your endeavor, however, if you don't have a friggin BB tool. At least of some type, let alone the outboard + ISIS + crank pullers, etc. I hope to god you have a proper stand. Headset, meh. I've pressed in cups with two books and a mallet, but I wouldn't charge someone to do that. You just asking the questions you've asked makes me think you aren't a person who should be paid to work on bikes. I sure as **** wouldn't pay you for a fit.
That's kind of what I was thinking.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:40 PM
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Don't go with any other toolkit as this is designed to travel with and unless you have your tools permanently attached to a van of some sort.. it would be a crying shame to forget something you need if you plan on going mobile with the repairs and setups.

On that note.... you will have almost no overhead once the parts are acquired so charge per job and not per hour for random jobs in the range of 1-3 total. If a customer wants 4+ different things done then a flat-rate or by the hour charge is sufficient.

Example: BB, Headset = 50 bucks
BB, Headset, Crank = 60 bucks
BB, Headset, Crank, pedals = 40 bucks an hour - have done for you right after lunch... 80 bucks

So you say competition is low-balling at 70 bucks for a "pro-build"... Then charge 70, but remind them that for an extra 50 you will be right there on the spot to help fit them and show them how to use their new machine once complete. With enough experience.. you can bust out a 90% preassembled bike (Thats usually how the cookie cutter rides come in) in 30 minutes.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:47 PM
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you need to charge on par with your local bike shops but offer some introductory pricing to get yourself off the ground. Some people actually want to pay money and will think you are suspect if you charge too little plus it's always easier to lower your prices than it is to try to raise them.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:50 PM
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Man rough crowd.

Why would I own a BB and crank tool right now? Sheesh.

I've put together (fully) three bikes from used parts and it's really not that tough. I didn't need to put headseats or BBs in. I was planning on buying some proper tools once I take in some dough by doing some simple jobs.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:52 PM
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YA...I always look to Craiglist for people to work on my $4k bike LOL
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Old 05-20-10, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Cactuskid View Post
YA...I always look to Craiglist for people to work on my $4k bike LOL
Not who I'm catering to, but I see where you're coming from. I wouldn't do it either.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
Man rough crowd.

Why would I own a BB and crank tool right now? Sheesh.

I've put together (fully) three bikes from used parts and it's really not that tough. I didn't need to put headseats or BBs in. I was planning on buying some proper tools once I take in some dough by doing some simple jobs.
who'd you borrow the tools from?

I work on cars, I don't think working on bikes is tough either. When I think of "fully putting together a bike", that includes at least a BB. depending on the frame an integrated headset doesn't require tools, but unless you're restricting yourself to nice road bikes, you'll need some of this stuff.

I'm sure it seems like I'm busting your balls, but IF YOU THINK INSTALLING A BOTTOM BRACKET IS A MAJOR REPAIR then I don't think you should charge people to work on their bikes. That's my opinion and is worth exactly what you paid for it.

As I heard at a shop once "any idiot can work on a nice, new bike; it's the old rusty ones (that always come into shops) that challenge you"
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Old 05-20-10, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kudude View Post
who'd you borrow the tools from?

I work on cars, I don't think working on bikes is tough either. When I think of "fully putting together a bike", that includes at least a BB. depending on the frame an integrated headset doesn't require tools, but unless you're restricting yourself to nice road bikes, you'll need some of this stuff.

I'm sure it seems like I'm busting your balls, but IF YOU THINK INSTALLING A BOTTOM BRACKET IS A MAJOR REPAIR then I don't think you should charge people to work on their bikes. That's my opinion and is worth exactly what you paid for it.

As I heard at a shop once "any idiot can work on a nice, new bike; it's the old rusty ones (that always come into shops) that challenge you"
You'll see after that sentence I said I didn't need to install BBs or headsets. They were already installed as I used not new frames. I've done a BB before, I just don't have the tool. Of course I can purchase one and be done with it.

I guess I can understand the hostility from this forum because I'm not going to be working on bikes worth thousands of dollars. Mostly older bikes needing help, maybe the occasional BD assemble. Asked the wrong people.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:24 PM
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This is the absolute bare minimum for a complete bike build regarding Shimano products from splined octo-link v1 and up(minus headset installation tool*):

*you can ghetto rig the headset installation for near free though.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:04 PM
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So... you've never installed a bottom bracket?
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Old 05-20-10, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
You'll see after that sentence I said I didn't need to install BBs or headsets. They were already installed as I used not new frames. I've done a BB before, I just don't have the tool. Of course I can purchase one and be done with it.

I guess I can understand the hostility from this forum because I'm not going to be working on bikes worth thousands of dollars. Mostly older bikes needing help, maybe the occasional BD assemble. Asked the wrong people.
Never.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:11 PM
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i love it.

your can quote your qualifications as

1) i've PARTIALLY assembled the few bikes i've owned
2) i may own some of the tools i might need for your bike
3) i've graduated from the bikeforums.net braintrust mechanic school.

you'll have a backlog three months long with that resume.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
Man rough crowd.

Why would I own a BB and crank tool right now? Sheesh.

I've put together (fully) three bikes from used parts and it's really not that tough. I didn't need to put headseats or BBs in. I was planning on buying some proper tools once I take in some dough by doing some simple jobs.
i think many here are just trying to give you a dose or reality, the title of your post said you were starting a business. In reality it sounds like your just getting a little more passionate about your hobby. I do the same thing with golf club building and if I post a thread about something I immediately get shot down by the "pro's" who have their 15k dollar launch monitors when the reality is they aren't helping their customers shoot lower scores and they have too much overhead.

When you make a statement that says "I've put together 3 bikes" it makes people laugh. I'm a newbie but I can only imagine that the seasoned veterans at my lbs have put together HUNDREDS of bikes. With that said, everyone has to start somewhere and your not going to get more experience unless you go out and seek it. if your serious about starting a business than perhaps getting ajob at a lbs andbuilding a reputation there and then striking out on your own is more appropriate. If you are simply trying to take your hobby up a notch and put a few bucks in your pocket to help offset your habit (this is how I got started in clubbuilding) then ignore the ******bags here and do your thing!
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Old 05-20-10, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by stien View Post
I guess I can understand the hostility from this forum because I'm not going to be working on bikes worth thousands of dollars. Mostly older bikes needing help, maybe the occasional BD assemble. Asked the wrong people.
Not everyone here is hostile. I, for one, applaud you for starting your own business.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by CPFITNESS View Post
i think many here are just trying to give you a dose or reality, the title of your post said you were starting a business. In reality it sounds like your just getting a little more passionate about your hobby. I do the same thing with golf club building and if I post a thread about something I immediately get shot down by the "pro's" who have their 15k dollar launch monitors when the reality is they aren't helping their customers shoot lower scores and they have too much overhead.

When you make a statement that says "I've put together 3 bikes" it makes people laugh. I'm a newbie but I can only imagine that the seasoned veterans at my lbs have put together HUNDREDS of bikes. With that said, everyone has to start somewhere and your not going to get more experience unless you go out and seek it. if your serious about starting a business than perhaps getting ajob at a lbs andbuilding a reputation there and then striking out on your own is more appropriate. If you are simply trying to take your hobby up a notch and put a few bucks in your pocket to help offset your habit (this is how I got started in clubbuilding) then ignore the ******bags here and do your thing!
Yes you're right it's not a business. It's out of my garage, expanding my hobby. Absolutely what I'm out to do, thanks!

Originally Posted by GeorgePaul View Post
Not everyone here is hostile. I, for one, applaud you for starting your own business.
Thanks man, just doing what I enjoy. I've talked with my brother (who is in finance, NYC) and in the near future we hope to open up a serious shop in NY.
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Old 05-20-10, 10:56 PM
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I'm a little more mellow with a couple of beers in me.

Look, my bikes aren't worth "thousands of dollars", and depending on where you are there might be a bunch of bikes that need rehabbed for you to work on. Maybe you should float this idea in the mechanic's forum as they'd probably have more experience with what you're talking about. My main point is that there are hundreds of hobbyists within probably 10 miles of you who have forgotten more about bike repair than you know. I guess I took offense at the idea that once you could tune a derailer that's a skill you should be able to monetize. Maybe no one else has that great idea, but I just don't see the market.


Now go out there and prove me wrong.
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Old 05-21-10, 01:55 AM
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I started a masonry business by hauling a mixer around attached to the back of my car. I borrowed scaffold, barley was able to pay my bills, and didn't know everything I should or would. I almost went bankrupt. What I did do though, is study and learn. Quality and going the extra mile was the key and long, long hours. I think I paid to do most of my first jobs. 30 years later, I have over 100 employees and a highly successful business. If a bike comes to your shop, do not only repair but go the extra mile. If your not qualified to do a repair let the customer know. You will do just fine. I can tell, because you have kept a positive attitude in fending off these nuts!! They act like your trying to get into engine repairs on Formula one race cars..

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Old 05-21-10, 02:32 AM
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A few things you should consider/think about:

1. Liability: A business has more costs than just the tooling or the space. One huge thing that you really have to get is liability insurance. You can have someone sign a waiver or whatever but depending on the state (I don't know about MA), waivers are meaningless. If someone pays you to do some work on their bike, and something happens, you're liable. It's great to work on a bike, but what if someone ends up with a boatload of medical bills. I have medical insurance (relatively inexpensive, granted) and it cost me $7k when I crashed last year - and my bike was so unhurt I didn't even wrap the bars after the crash. So say you work on, say, a tuneup. And the bars come loose after the customer picks up the bike. They crash. They want you to pay for their damages. What if they get really hurt - a car t-bones them because the brakes you adjusted didn't work. They're in a hospital with a crushed pelvis and need a year of rehab before they can walk. Now what? You absolutely have to have insurance.

2. LLC or similar. Related to liability. If legally you are working on a bike, you're liable for stuff related to it. You can distance yourself just a bit by forming an LLC. This way, legally speaking, the LLC is working on the bike. You just happen to be part of that LLC. I learned a real cool trick from a company I worked for for a week - it seems that for each huge project they form another LLC. This way if they get sued over that particular job, they can just shut down that LLC. They continue in business with the other LLCs. I'm not saying they get sued a lot, but they've been doing some things for over 20 years. And if a project fails, they shut down that LLC. Doesn't hurt the other LLCs.

LLCs are inexpensive for a "real" business, but I'm not saying that you want to set one up for each customer. But you need to set up at least one. I set one up for the bike promoting gig I do. But "inexpensive" is not free - it was about $100? for the LLC paperwork with the state and $400? for legal fees - the lawyer (who I trust and have used before) made sure I wasn't making any mistakes. Worth the piece of mind. For what? Mainly for liability purposes - the races I promote make me maybe $500-1000/year so doing the races is a hobby. For 15 or so years the only money I made from the 6 to 7 weeks of race promoting was prize money I won, just like any other racer who helped out at the race (if you help out you race free). But if I got sued, I could lose everything - house, cars, bikes, name it and it's gone. For what, right? It's kind of depressing.

3. Investment in tooling and parts. Nothing is more frustrating than not having the right tool for the job. If you're working on your own bike (or I on mine), hacking the job is fine. I've done a bit of hacking in the last 5 years as my toolkit catches up with the new trends. So, for example, I tightened a cheap BB with a screwdriver and a hammer. For a customer? Totally unacceptable. For safety related things you have to use the right tool. I bought a Campy 10s chain tool because I knew I'd be using it and I wanted absolute faith that the chain wouldn't break when I jumped hard. I just (it's still new) bought a BB tool for external bearings, after borrowing the shop's tool to install a BB (I bought the tool from the shop). I want to buy a BB30 facer and the right BB tool to use it with (Park something or other).

With Cape Cod customers (if that's where you really are) you'll be getting bikes with freewheels, older cassettes, weird stuff. You won't believe how many Peugeots are still rolling around with Maillard freehubs and disintegrated bearings. You'll want to have the bare minimum of freewheel tools, cone wrenches, new loose bearings, grease that's clean (I use one of those Pedros/etc grease guns).

The most frequent thing you'll deal with are flat tires, bent wheels, and drivetrains that don't work anymore. You'll need replacement tires (initially you can buy them from a shop, but if you can score a wholesale account or buy stuff online then you'll save money and therefore make money), tubes, replacement quality wheels, maybe chains, cables, housing, etc etc. That means other things - cable ends, cable housing ends, cable cutting tool, lube for that stuff. Someone will show up with a flat tire but if you notice that their whole drivetrain is one solid chunk of rust, maybe you can drum up business. Or, if you don't have the tools/parts to do it, don't mention it but make a note of the brand of whatever part it is and what tool you need. You run into it once or twice more and it'll probably be worth it to buy the tools.

You need to trade time for money. Spend time perusing eBay and online stores, experiment with what you can/can't get, and figure out how you can make the most money without causing yourself headaches. That $1.19 tire may sound great but when you mount it and it turns out it's oval shaped, it's no longer a great deal. Now you have a customer bobbing up and down as they ride down the road. Bad for biz. Funny for YouTube.

You ever read about how Dell got started? That's a good story, although the bike biz won't make you rich right away. Read about Dell if you haven't already.

4. Customer service. If you are going to work with people, you better like working with people. Are you nice? Have you worked anywhere before? Do people ask if you're the manager or owner? That's the best tip (unless the person asking is a salesperson) - if someone thinks you did such a great job that they wonder if you're an owner or part owner, then you've done a reasonable (that's it, just reasonable!) job. Not a great one, a reasonable one. If you do a great job they just assume you're the owner. If they have to ask, you can do better.

And don't trick them into thinking you're the owner by doing stuff only an owner would do. When I'm helping out someone (successfully) at the store where I work the best thing to hear is when the customer asks if the store is under new management (not "are you the owner"). Because the only thing that's changed there in the last two years is me.

5. Hours. Although a lot of people will want work done during normal hours, what will you do for the folks that call you at 1 AM? Or, say, right now, 3:53 AM? Manage your customers' expectations. Do you have a car? Will they have to drop off the bike? If you get a steady stream of traffic will someone complain? Are you nice to your neighbors or will they call the cops on you because they think you're running a bike chop shop (this happened to someone out in CA recently, probably because this guy wasn't dealing with his neighbors effectively - if they called the cops on him, then by definition he wasn't dealing with them effectively).

6. Business plan. Think about how much your hobby will cost you. Jot down your expenses (figure tools, maybe printing business cards on DIY card "paper" on your home printer, LLC, insurance or a way to get insurance piecemeal). Then figure out how much work you need to break even, while paying yourself a salary. If your monthly expenses are, say, $150 (we're talking 1/100 of a shop here) then you'll need to have 15 hours of work at $10/hr, 7.5 hours of work at $20/hr.

7. Uniqueness. What makes you unique, different from the shops? You need to do one of the following things better than a shop: quickness, convenience, cost, quality. If you can do more than one thing better you're really on your way. You may be dealing with tourists so you have just a little bit of time to get the word out that you've set up shop - your potential customers will be gone in 5 days. You need to make your presence known.

8. Internet/blog. The best way to do that is to get a site. Now, with Facebook/blogs/etc you can create your own page without paying for it. I see at least one indie "bike shop" (one guy) who posts pictures of his work as he does it so his customers can see that, yes, he really did take it down to the frame. He is an established mechanic and therefore gets a premium for his work. You may want to think of the same thing.

I'm sure there are other things but my brain is a bit fuzzy right now.

cdr
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Old 05-21-10, 04:36 AM
  #22  
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LIABILITY INSURANCE!

If you don't have it, don't do it. Injury lawyers are sharks and will go after the weakest link, even though you have nothing to do with the injury (rider gets hit by a car)
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Old 05-21-10, 04:58 AM
  #23  
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in before flagging...
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Old 05-21-10, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by gumbii View Post
in before flagging...
why? there's nothing wrong with this thread.
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Old 05-21-10, 05:03 AM
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i meant it as a joke... in my craigslist location, there has been some bike nazi flagging everyone making an honest buck...

he even makes hate post like... "flag this poster" and it contains links to their ads... there's a couple of mechanics i see that always get flagged... haters... also this guy trying to get his online webstore some face time... nothing is wrong with that... don't understand why they get flagged... haters...
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