Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Are you being productive or just active?

These days it is very easy with all the latest electronic gadgets, (That are meant to make our life easier) to find yourself inventing things to do, just to avoid what's important.

How long do you spend a day on FaceBook? The effort and time you put in, do you get that back in payment from having a FB page?

Managing your time more constructively, you can actually work less hours for the same or even more money!

I spend a lot of my time travelling the world and it's not unusual for me to take 3 months off.
The people I meet whether other tourists or locals, often ask me "What do you do?" And they are surprised when I say "I fix bicycles for a living" and wonder how you can make enough money to keep taking time off, to travel the world from fixing bicycles.

How to work less hours for the same money:

You will need to ask yourself at least 3 times a day: "Are you being productive or just active?"

One major advantage of a smaller company is the ability to be closer to its customers. Running a small mobile business is normally a one man band, meaning you are; the mechanic, part's man, secretary, bookkeeper and odd jobber. Being in charge of organizing your day, taking phone call's and making parts orders, and of course the part that makes the real money "fixing bikes" But for it to work you need to prioritise what's important and it's only you who can make their own business successful!

I never fill my diary full of work; I like to leave space so I don't have to rush! I first started by having a list of to do and a list not to do. You need to start this list today and put down what's really important and needs doing and what can wait.

Busy Fool:

Remember: Being overwhelmed with bike repairs, may sound like the ideal position to be in, but is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant.

"Each bike you work on, is the customers pride & joy. You need to  treat with care and repaired to a high standard."

By focusing on the important job's, by being selective, doing less and you will find the path of productive.
The key to not feeling rushed and to remember that lack of time is actually lack of priorities.

You may also like to read: Starting up a bike shop

Quote from: Liz Earle, founder of Liz Earle Skincare.

"My one piece of advice would be not to rush things. It's incredibly tempting to accept every opportunity, even if you're not ready.
"We have an expression: if it has to be 'now', it has to be 'no'. It's really important to not get pushed into making quick decisions. I take the view that it is better to crawl, and then walk, and then run."

Does not work!!! That's why I only fill my diary half day, (For me in the morning, as I have more energy and I feel I have been more productive) so I have time to answer the phone and don't panic if I to late to my next job and then find myself stuck in traffic.

You need to organize your working day, allowing time for the non productive job's that need doing and those unexpected job's, you may need to fit in. It's non unusual to have job's waiting parts "Work in progress" from waiting for a spoke to bike builds waiting for a frame to come back from the paint-shop. Or even a bike that may have rusty parts and it takes time to remove and clean. There needs to be space in your dairy to accommodate unforeseen issues during your working day.

You can not drive and deal with customer's needs on the phone. Whether talking, texting or emailing. This needs to be done when you have you hands free and you can concentrate one thing at a time.
By leaving a message on your phone, to say; "Thank you for calling.............. I am busy right now, your call is important. Please leave your name, number and a short message and I will call you back asap"

The honeymoon period: 

Normally after the first 3 years of hard work and long hours the love of your job could be at tipping point. It is now a good time to make sure you still have an understanding of your customer and how you reply to them, which is imperative to your success. You will encounter every type of customer and their bikes, how you deal with their needs is how they view your business. (Customers are what makes or brakes your business) We don't want to sound like the moaning and stressed out bike shop owners we hear our customers tell's up about and why they prefer our service's 

Solution and Recommendations:

  • Start by getting rid of everything that could hinder your success and set yourself realistic expectations.
  • Listen to your customers and learn how to communicate better by Knowing how to communicate your message in a clear, concise and compelling manner.
My working day starts by having breakfast and a coffee, before I view emails and only replying to important ones. Then I head off to my first job. I put a maximum of 4 jobs per day in my diary, I do a high quality job at a reasonable speed (I don't rush) This gives me time to drive to each job and maximize being efficient; by completing the job onsite (Over 85% of job's) and carrying out any extra work or any other unexpected bike(s) that may need attention.

Of course you need to have the right business setup/model and your van "The Mobile Workshop" will be one of the most important pieces of equipment you will buy for your business.
I am not under any pressure of getting behind with my other jobs of the day and I have time to talk with the customer with any cycling related issues.

Cycle Tech UK cannot give quotes (or even vague estimations) without seeing your bike. Every job and every customer is different and our prices and service reflect this:

Service check sheet

When booking in a job, I do ask questions about the bike, the make, model, year and type of use. This gives me an understanding of the type of bike and work required. "I never really know what I am going to find till I view the bike and how long the job will take. The bike may have been worked on by the customer, parts incorrectly fitted, it could be a pile of junk brought off ebay, been left outside or a hole list of reasons" But you need to see first!!!!!
Going to a job that has just a flat rear tyre, is never just replace the tube; we often find the rear wheel needs truing, brakes need aligning and gears need adjusting. As the mechanic has removed the rear wheel, these adjustments need rectifying. Working onsite with the customer near by, the mechanic can show the issues which makes charging for his time more acceptable and he can give advice to the customer. Example; keeping tyres inflated to the correct pressure (to insure smooth riding and reducing punctures and re checking each month or before a big ride.) Not only can you sell a track pump, the customer feels they have had value from your service which they don't always get from a busy bike shop!
But if the bike is a low-end supermarket bike, "BSO" I give the customer my view of it's safety and poor quality parts for this type of bike and try to recommend a solution; A suggestion they bring the bike to my Saturday bike clinic, where I can give a free estimate or I tell them I sell new bikes and point them to the website and a model I recommend, all offered with a home set-up service. If this does not work with the customers requirements, then I offer to view the bicycle with a minimum charge to cover my time.
When booking in jobs, I group an area together to save time travelling. I also book days off or time to myself in the diary.

See "BSO's: Bicycle Shaped Objects

You might like to read: Bikes brought on ebay

You will have a reputation to uphold and the customer will soon tell their friends of any shoddy workmanship or you will be known for doing a cheap job, whether you did a good job or not. You need to aim for being known for doing a good job and being reliable.
There is always going to be customers that are only price driven and don't care that you do a good job or not.
You will never know what you are letting yourself in to until you see the bike you are going to work on. You may find yourself at the mercy of the customer, in terms of what they wish to spend on maintenance. You may not be able to complete repairs to a good standard as the customer may think they can buy cheaper and fit them self's. In this situation, you will need to explain what requires replacing and why it is important to have the repairs done at the same time. If you don't have the parts and the customer wishes to have his bike back, then it is up to you how you play it; tell them while the bike is taken apart, it will work out cheaper as you don't have to refit and take apart again or you take a deposit for parts and return when you have them. Or offer to take the bike away, if still the customer doe's not want to part with more then just paying for a service, then you need to make a report of recommendations and whether the bike is safe to ride or not. This is when the customer may ask you for a description of the parts so they can order them! It's your time taken so it's up to you what you going to tell them. If it's a regular customer and they tell their friends of your service, then you can feel happy to give this info away, if not, tell them you have offered to repair their bike to a high standard and for trade information you charge a fee or I offer them the chance of attending one of my home bicycle mechanics school 1/2 day courses which will include going over parts descriptions.      

Fitting job's in with my working day:

It is trying to find the balance of fitting your job's in, working to your business model of only working 1/2 day's. If you can do this for over 85% of your jobs, you will enjoy your work that much better.

There are customer's who work 80 hour a week and are unable to get their bike serviced in my working hours. So I have to have a solution or have some recommendations to suit their needs if I intend to work out of hours! (To be honest I don't) I look in my diary and see if I have any jobs in that area and offer to pick the bike up, they can drop the bike to me or see if I can fit them in after hours. There may be a different rate to charge as is out of my working hours, but I try to work and fit something else in that is near buy. Does not have to be work related, could be anything from shopping or visiting friends who live in the area.

Suppliers and buying stock:

Having the right stock and buying at a good price, adds to profit. Not only can you complete a job on time, you save time.
Make sure your suppliers are working for you; having your delivery's sent next day and to the correct address with the exact stock you ordered saves a lot of time.
Good suppliers have b2b websites, that give you information to what is in stock or when due in.
There is no need to make an order on every job, wait to see what the next job may need; b2b websites have a shopping basket, make good use of it before clicking "Confirm Order"
Your supplier should have great product knowledge of what they sell, this will be a great benefit and time saver until you become familiar with the different brands.

Make better-informed decisions on who to do business with. By having good suppliers will save you time and help when things do go wrong.

  • Product availability 
  • On-time shipping 
  • Order accuracy 
  • Sustainable margins 
  • Control of distribution 
  • Warranty support 
  • Product quality 

Selling new bikes
can take up a lot of your time, which might not end in a sale and you be fixing repairs and making money. But if you have a supple where you can stock some demos for sizing and order as required, makes life easier.
Your chances of selling a bike you have condemned, due to uneconomical repair is much higher and you don't need to stock a huge range of bikes.

Recommended Retail Price "RRP"; make sure you are charging the correct amount and not what you can find on the internet. 30% is the minimum margin you should be charging.

Pricing the service you offer:

Pricing what to charge/hour? The answer here is quite simple; the best price is the price the customer is willing to pay today. At first you may be spending too much time on a bike and not getting a good return. Until you have built your conference and experience!
Look around at what local bike shops are charging in your area, we find it is around the £40 -45/hour. It is ok to be flexible, but I don’t recommend charging less to often, if anything we can charge more for the service we offer! Remember we are saving the customer time, not having the hassle of taking their bike to and from the shop. "Time Is Money"

Get your diet in order:

No eating fast or convenient foods and no skipping meal times.
Fuel your body with a healthy diet that works for you and you will have the positive energy to deal with a full working day.

How would you solve this situation?

A customer call's you late Friday night, you don't answer as you are busy, but they leave a message; "Can you service my bike tomorrow morning? It's only the gears that need adjusting and a quick look over. I need it for an event on Sunday morning"

It maybe a old or new customer, but this situation is quite common; everybody wants there bike yesterday!

So; how would you solve this situation? What actions will you take, solution can you recommend?

We are looking for passionate individuals to become our network partners operating their own local mobile repair business in territories that complement our established network throughout the UK

If you would like to receive a copy of our information brochure which provides further details, joining fee, including an overview of our business model then please contact the Managing Director Martin Wilkins

1 comment:

  1. I regularly get “night before the big event” calls. They've always been meaning to sort their bike out since their bottom bracket went a couple of Sportives ago and then they thought it would get by but has now seized. It doesn't do us any favors to pander to too late repairs, too much stress and not enough gratitude.