Quantcast

Owning a bike shop?

chance199

Monkey
May 23, 2009
226
0
Port Orchard, WA
i wasnt sure where to post,
so i always thought about it, ill be going to college in a couple years, i thinking about getting degrees in engineering and maybe like what is it, business & marketing or whatnot.
is there like a specific degree i would need?
 

HAB

Chelsea from Seattle
Apr 28, 2007
10,666
960
Seattle
Shop experience will serve you far better than a degree for this one. Besides, if you're a couple years away from even starting, you really shouldn't be trying to lock yourself into a degree at this point. Don't worry about it, you've got heaps of time to figure this one out.
 
owning a shop has some very unique traits of dedication that you must adhere to.

1. Its more than a 9-5

this being said you will have to pass on your normal rides in order to make sure your investment is chugging along properly. your presence will dictate the outcome of many things such as,

your employee atittude and experience
your customer satisfaction
your till will always balance
you can be reached on the phone
and most of all, you will know everything about your operation

too many shop owners think thier shop runs by itself (wich they never do) and then they are out of the picture long enough it makes it impossible to deal with. dont be that guy.

2. employees make all the difference

one man shops are far and few between and rarely make it just because they cant crank out the production and service. you will get what you pay for when it come to employees and mechs. people will travel a good distance to have someone who knows what they are doing to work on thier bike

3. if you dont have the starting capital, dont even think about it.

credit lines are killers and loans will drag you down. most major bike lines will have a manditory starting order and if you dont have the money to start a couple good lines you shouldnt be throwing yourself under the bus. interest rates and financing will burn you out of every sale you make and you will never catch up.


these are a couple very basic guidelines you should adhere to. there are many other factors in the business that make life very difficult that so many owners get them selves into, (high overhead, cheap lines, advertising, boutiuque brands)

it seems you have alot of time ahead of you to think about things and what you would like to see. but the best shop owner is a guy who can handle money, drama, and forecast these things in the blink of an eye.

work in some shops and take the good from all of them and note the bad.
 

Straya

Monkey
Jul 11, 2008
868
3
Straya
How do you make a small fortune by owning a bike shop?
























Start out with a big one. :)

Seems to me that a degree might not be the most important thing for you in this specific instance. Some sort of business management qualifications wouldn't go astray though
 

Sghost

Turbo Monkey
Jul 13, 2008
1,045
0
NY
ill be going to college in a couple years,
Work hard and get good grades in high school, explore and make calls to job shadow different things to figure out some things, you've got time. Engineering and business programs at good schools are competitive and you don't want to end up on the 6 year plan, but a full workload each semester because you changed your mind or had to prove yourself to get in.

The only bike shops I know of that make money are ones that convert to ski mode for the winters.
 

Da Peach

Outwitted by a rodent
Jul 2, 2002
12,719
2,174
North Van
Just remember that customer is always right.

Failing that, be sure to take the course that outlines exactly how running a bike shop is completely different from any other business.

Let me know when you find it in the curriculum.

Hint: it definitely won'T be in engineering.
 

dante

Unabomber
Feb 13, 2004
8,814
8
looking for classic NE singletrack
1) Business school
2) Business school
3) Business school

Learn about cash flow, inventory turns, profit margins, purchasing terms and discounts, attracting and retaining customers, merchandising, etc. If you treat it like a business, you can succeed. If you treat it like a cool place to hang out and be around bikes all day, you're destined to fail.
 

drkenan

anti-dentite
Oct 1, 2006
3,443
0
west asheville
^^^ I'm sssooooo with stupid. :D

Seriously - cash is king! Learn how to manage it. Treat your people right (employees and customers) and you'll already be 95% ahead of every other business in the world.
 

ire

Turbo Monkey
Aug 6, 2007
6,199
4
I would get a degree in engineering, get a job, and have lots of money to spend on bikes. If you must I would get a business degree with minors in marketing and accounting. Being able to properly do your books properly will come in handy.
 

BurlyShirley

Rex Grossman Will Rise Again
Jul 4, 2002
19,184
11
TN
In my experience, all you need is a building, a bunch of obsolete, anodized road parts from the 80s, and a condescending attitude.
 

knittingfiend

Monkey
Jun 13, 2008
193
0
A tick north of Seattle
Just don't plan on drawing an income from the store. If you don't have a big starting capital, and a second source of income, it's a tough row to hoe....

Hate to be a downer, but.....it ain't easy...:(
 
Apr 9, 2004
516
8
Mount Carmel,PA
1) Business school
2) Business school
3) Business school

Learn about cash flow, inventory turns, profit margins, purchasing terms and discounts, attracting and retaining customers, merchandising, etc. If you treat it like a business, you can succeed. If you treat it like a cool place to hang out and be around bikes all day, you're destined to fail.


This is good advise. I would like to add that you need to determine what you need to invest your inventory in. I started My shop with $7000.00. (I also had a full time job and family that worked for almost free.) most of that went into inventory. Unfortunately the area I opened the shop in was full of beginners and intermediate type Trail riders. I put my money into mid to upper end components and Too Many freeride and DJ parts. I had to work long hours and devote a lot of time to the business. I eventually turned it around, but after 7 years of never making enough to afford to quit my job. I called it quits.

I loved owning a shop, but it had its pitfalls. First time you tell some walmart bike owner that it is going to cost more to fix their bike then they paid for it, or first time you put time and inventory into something only to have the owner duck you for pick up for 6 months, will test your nerves. Also, when some of the "friends" you have been riding with for years, who hang out and BS with you while you are wrenching, show up with new parts on their bikes, or new bikes for that matter, without even giving you the chance to get them for them... Be prepared to grin and bear it.

Bottom line, watch your dollars, cater to the available customer base , be prepared for every insulting situation in the book, and everyone, including your best friends pay above cost for parts and pay for labor.

Oh, and by the way. I would do it again, but this time a little different in a different location.
 
Last edited:

Serial Midget

Al Bundy
Jun 25, 2002
12,717
1,428
Fort of Rio Grande
My favorite LBS is run by a guy with an engineering degree - he stays busy even when the economy sucks because of his reputation for being precise. Education never hurt anyone except English majors... they always turn out to be the most bitter waiters. :)
 

Brian HCM#1

MMMMMMMMM BEER!!!!!!!!!!
Sep 7, 2001
31,547
46
Bay Area, California
beginners and intermediate type Trail riders. I put my money into mid to upper end components
You hit it right on the head. While we here on the message boards and forums live for the upper end stuff and always search for the LBS's that can carry it, it's pretty much unrealistic. You need to cater towards what the majority of the customers want. Your average person wants to spend between $400-$1500 on a bike and that's it and where the main focus should be. Not saying you can't carry some higher end stuff, it will just take a lot longer to move, especially at a retail location.
 

DirtyMike

Turbo Fluffer
Aug 8, 2005
14,312
902
My own world inside my head
you not only have to carry the name brands but you must carry generics and inexspensive products a well. ironically the cheap stuff is the bread and butter of any shop!
This is truth right here. Entry line parts is what really keeps the lights on, and cash flowing. Youllneed to be able to pull in the hi end at the same time, specially when you get set up as a dealer for a particular brand of bike, they will usually require you purchase a set amount of x bike model per year. IE we have a req of two top line Roubaix's a year, cool thing is th area we are, its easy. At the same time, we cant move enough for the hi end alone to even come close to paying the pills, let alone payroll. As far as Mtn bikes we sell the most in teh range of entryline level of 300 bucks, to mid line of 700 bucks, Road bikes 800 entry to 1500 is what we move the most of.







You hit it right on the head. While we here on the message boards and forums live for the upper end stuff and always search for the LBS's that can carry it, it's pretty much unrealistic. You need to cater towards what the majority of the customers want. Your average person wants to spend between $400-$1500 on a bike and that's it and where the main focus should be. Not saying you can't carry some higher end stuff, it will just take a lot longer to move, especially at a retail location.
Biggest thing to remember is to cater to what sells in whatever area you are really wanting to open a shop up.




As far as what educations you want for a shop...First two would be bussiness management, and accounting. Then go to school for bikes.
 
oh, and one more thing, always be ahead of the technology curve, know more than your customers and know it well before they do. nothing will turn a shopper away than a store that has no clue about the products the customer wants.

you have to have the ability to build any type of wheels, rebuild and service forks and shocks and have a deep understanding of fit technology for any bike/rider/style. this alone will set any shop apart from 90% of the shops out there.
 

zebrahum

Monkey
Jun 22, 2005
406
0
SL,UT
Some great advise up there, listen to gonefirefightin, tons of good points getting tossed out.

I don't know if you have any shop experience so far, but make sure you start working at a shop. Get to know as much as you can, not only about working on bikes (my opinion your repairs are what will make or break your rep as a shop) but about how to order things, how to set up new accounts, special orders, pre-season orders, and that sort of stuff. It's not all sitting back and B.S.ing about what new part came out, it's going to require a lot of work, and you better love it.
 

chance199

Monkey
May 23, 2009
226
0
Port Orchard, WA
Some great advise up there, listen to gonefirefightin, tons of good points getting tossed out.

I don't know if you have any shop experience so far, but make sure you start working at a shop. Get to know as much as you can, not only about working on bikes (my opinion your repairs are what will make or break your rep as a shop) but about how to order things, how to set up new accounts, special orders, pre-season orders, and that sort of stuff. It's not all sitting back and B.S.ing about what new part came out, it's going to require a lot of work, and you better love it.
yes he did,
i dont have any yet but next summer im going to do the Bikeschool thing, for intro, then the next summer try the shop course they offer
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,411
0
SF
Of the 5 shops I have worked for, only one owner had a degree, which was not exactly being utilized at his previous job at Sports Authority.

Frankly, I find that the most shop people I know do not have a college degree. It may or may not be an indictment of the profession, but as someone who is college educated with plenty of professional experience, when managing a shop went bad, I went back to work in computers for more money and less hours.
 
Last edited:

zebrahum

Monkey
Jun 22, 2005
406
0
SL,UT
Your time may be better spent just getting a shop job and forgetting the mechanic school. If you work with good mechanics you won't need formal training, you'll learn everything you need to know and not have to pay for it.