Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Are Mobile Mechanics Replacing Traditional Bike Shops?

Customers want the widest choice of bikes, parts, and accessories offered by the Internet which many shops find difficult to compete with. Once the Internet bike has been purchased the customer has no affiliation with a shop, which is why they then call the Mobile Mechanic. A good example is many customers buy the Boardman brand from Halfords direct or via The Cycle to Work Scheme and most often like the knowledge of having a mobile mechanic assemble it and check it over before they use it.

"Cycling is still booming, yet many traditional bike shops are not seeing their margins grow. Shops are not economical, you may need to work 7 days a week and bring the wife into work for free just to make ends meet."

Many high street shops have been declining for years and the traditional bike shop has managed to hang on for the longest, but at what expense? You can't keep holding large amounts of stock and selling by giving big discounts to match online, while rent and rates keep rising it is easy to be eating into your profit or even into savings. 

It's now an interesting time in the bike trade. 
Customers are expecting a demanding level of convenience, that our mobile business service can offer. A unique service for customers that traditional bike shop may not give.

Customers value convenience, Cycle Tech UK can tap into that. - The future of the mobile bike shop is continuing to grow worldwide, and is a service that is very convenient, making riders life a whole lot easier getting their bike serviced or repaired at their home or place of work. No more trying to put the bike(s) in the back of the car and then having to return, or worst still to be told to bring it back in 4 weeks time.

"People will miss the bike shop once its gone, but if they don't use it then they will loose it"

Are Mobile Mechanics Replacing Traditional Bike Shops

"Cycle Tech UK is at the heart of cycling " 
The workshop that comes to the customer, instead of the customer going to the shop, where we have the ability to interact directly with the customer where the mechanic works closely. Talking with the customer direct - makes explaining what work is required a lot easier face to face than over the phone. Along with offering any free cycling advice. Customer's feel they have had good value with a mobile service, they return and they soon tell their friends.
Our Mobile Mechanics come from all walks of life. But what they all have in common is they are professional, a passion for bicycles, able to focus and continue to learn new skills.
With their knowledge and input they have become an asset to our network of great business owners.

Anyone who makes an inquiry to start their own bike business is sent an information brochure about our network and a confidential questionnaire for them to fill in, then a meeting is arranged to find out if this business is for them and if they will fit in with Cycle Tech UK. Once accepted they will undergo "minimum" level 2 training and by the end of year one in business, have completed high-end wheel building, disc brake & suspension, BOSCH e-bike training, along with updates, trade days to network and learn the latest product knowledge. Cycle Tech UK mechanics also receive a welcome pack of business information I have put together over the last 10 years to help get their business off the ground and onto the road. Including what to stock, suppliers info, tooling, insurance, what type of van and how to kit it out. Each mechanic will spend a day with me or a lead member to go over business best practices, what's included in a service (How to look, feel hear for faults the M -Check) that are included in our service checklist.

Cycle Tech UK is not a franchise, (though we do have an agreement and territory similar to a franchise) we are a cooperative of like-minded businessmen with a large network of bicycle mechanics that offer support in business and mechanical that we share within our group. Promoting, bulk buying stock and helping new business start ups, how not to waste time and money starting and running their own bike business all under the Cycle Tech UK name and branding. The largest network of mobile bicycle mechanics in the world, we also have worldwide associated mobile mechanics in our network, that continues to grow.

Time will tell if the franchise setup in USA and Canada pays off. They have definitely moved things forward and caused a stir in the bike trade at a crucial time in the bike industry! But it will be interesting to see if the mobile franchise system will grow and the mechanics make a profit from their large investments! The UK is different to the North America, there is already a large network of mobile mechanics already setup here, that's established and continues to grow within the cycling community.

A typical Mobile outfit

As well as offering mobile repair and service, new bike builds, warranty, home mechanics school, bike fit, we also cover large cycle events with mechanical support in the UK and Europe, our latest mechanical support where 7 Cycle Tech UK mechanics supported the Dragon Ride over 3 days. We also run bike clinics, Dr. Bike and mobile workshop at various train stations. 4 of our mechanics have also now opened shops.

Even if we get a call to a puncture, it can normally be more, if you are removing a rear wheel it will quite often mean adjusting brakes and gears. And the customer likes our service and will say "can you look at some more bikes while you are here", we have a fully equipped workshop, carrying workshop parts, and specialist tools allowing us to do first fix first go. We have a minimum call out charge to cover costs.

What is growing - is fitting customers own parts they supply - Cycle Tech UK fit these parts subject to our terms and we charge a little extra, we work with it. Online is not going away and this can also help in busy times, customers supplying parts frees our time up and helps with cash flow.

We work closely with our trade suppliers, we like to support them. If we can find cheaper online we let them know! Trade suppliers have a wealth of knowledge that can save the mechanic time.
It doe's take the time to learn what each supplier supplies and how each one run's their business. There is a lot of competition between trade and online, especially with click & collect, free returns, 10% extra discount to British Cycling Members, and choice of delivery addresses. Where if we are working at a location where there are more than 20 bikes we can have parts sent to site.

"Parts are sold online cheaper than what can be brought at trade. That means the shops and mobile are supporting the Internet by buying online

Shops could do better by making more sales to customers who do enter their shop and not letting them walk out without a sale, who then they buy online instead.
Many trade suppliers are trying to get people back into shops (And cycle to work) - with buy on-line and collect from the shop and this can help with cash flow, the customer can buy bicycles over 2 years with no deposit, can only be a good thing. Better than having a min of 5 bikes of each brand in stock and with no stock available in the busy summer months as waiting for next years models to arrive!
There needs to be a back of mechanical support available for warranty issues, repairs, and servicing. I believe that the mobile when setup correctly is ideal to offer this service direct to the customer.

We do often find that suppliers can be out of stock of large numbers of everyday parts!!! This could be to do with new products/next year's models due to be available soon.

Mobile will NOT kill off the bike shop there is room for both. 
There is now more choice for customers and there is a market for both. But to make your business work you need to know what your customers want. These days they expect everything cheap and done quick.

Going mobile is not for everyone - How you set up your business, where you are, open to learning/ customers needs, how quick you get up to speed, your skills, your professionalism, grow your business slowly and being nice to customers will determine your outcome.

"What we do know for mobile or bike shops is that are looking at offering a delivery service. That if you are not setup correctly and organised then you will be doing more miles than minutes"

Our aim over the next 5 years is to help more people to cycle, double the market share "sales", invest in quality service and always looking to change to our customer's needs.
We also have an App. Pocket Cycle Tech The Internet has lots of How To instruction guides and Pocket Cycle Tech does not seek to replace that. Instead, its aim is to help keep an accurate record of how a bike is used to assist the user or a cycle mechanic understands how a bike has been used to ensure maintenance is effective and cost efficient. Secondly, it provides a set of hints to guide a user or mechanic to likely causes of particular symptoms. Initially, it is only available for Android but an iPhone version is planned for Autumn 2017.

What can be done to get more people to start cycling and keep them cycling all year round? 

  • To use as main transportation, by having more bike lanes needed particularly to schools, shops, business parks, and linking up with train stations. 
  • Sell more city type bikes that are made more durable
  • Get more involved and do everything you can to make bicycling in your town's area comfortable and safe for normal average people.

You may like to read:
BEING DIFFERENT - STAYING AHEAD by Liam FitzPatrick BikeBiz Bike Trade Media

Join our network of mobile bicycle mechanics today.
Our business support cut the learning curve and setup in half, so you don’t need to spend years in trial and error. This translates into CONFIDENCE.

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 Martin Wilkins

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