Mobile Repair, Cycling Joy, and our collective future
- November 4th 2016
Outside magazine just posted this interesting article about the changes facing brick-and-mortar bike shops:
Now, the “death of the local bike shop” was predicted many times before, going back to the invention of the automobile. But Robbie Carver’s overview of the forces at play in 2016 is spot-on. That is, if you’re talking about the industry of selling new bikes. It’s always been challenging for a shop to profit on a retail bike sale. It continues to get harder, for all the reasons mentioned.
But if you’re talking about the Bicycle Repair Industry, the future has never been brighter! Threats to bike sales are shining a spotlight on more profitable areas. There’s a new Professional Bicycle Mechanic’s Association to raise the quality of our profession. The NBDA is actively engaged in the future of repair. Mobile repair is taking off. Bike schools are booked solid. Even big manufacturers are investing in more in-house mechanic training, because they know that repair department profitability numbers will make or break their dealers. They did the research and crunched the numbers. It showed what we already know: a profitable service department correlates to a profitable shop.
The wonderful thing about our beloved Bicycle Repair Industry is that profit is so closely tied to creating joyous experiences. When it’s working right, our riders have better lives! The business is healthier so it can make our lives better too. How many industries do that? How many can do it with just 2 hands, some parts, some tools, and universal respect? The path to this positive feedback loop of cycling joy is narrower than all the ones leading to frustrated employees, disrespected riders, and struggling businesses. But it’s no mystery. Brett Flemming has been guiding on this path for decades. EVT exists to show the way.
It’s privileged work to spread cycling joy through excellent service. We can make a really good living doing it. And perhaps the biggest winners of all will be the riders we serve. They spend their hard-earned money with us to have amazing, life-affirming experiences with their bikes. We all know someone who’s life has been saved by bike riding. How about just saving their day with a friendly on-the-spot solution? Professional brick and mortar service departments improve human lives, every day. Mobile repair vans exist to do the same thing. There’s lots of ways to buy a bike but what mechanics do requires one-on-one human connection. This is a people business. Will selling lots of new bikes continue to be part of most bike shop business models? That’s not certain at all. Will Professional Bicycle Repair Mechanics still have awesome jobs? Totally for certain. Here’s to the future!
-Andy McKerrow, EVT Shop Productivity Advisor