ancker wrote: ↑
Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:01 am
dj97223 wrote: ↑
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:39 pm
Guy walks into his LBS, after having spent several years buying his gear online rather than helping the LBS thrive, and is surprised to find the shop can only hire low-wage,inexperienced mechanics.
Certainly the internet and places like Amazon, PBK, Wiggle, etc have hurt the LBS industry. But if a LBS is making up for lost sales on marked up tubes and tires by hiring inexperienced mechanics and allowing them to send a poorly assembled bike home, regardless of whether it's $500 or $15,000, it is 100% on the LBS, not the consumer's choice of retailer.
Surely (and please correct me if I'm wrong) labor makes up a substantial part of the LBS bottom line. $25 for a flat change (can do 10 an hour), $75-100 for a tune up (1-hour max), $150+ for assembly (maybe 2-3 hours), $60 to box a bike for shipment (30 minutes?) etc. Of course all take man-hours, but at the assumed $15/hr, or even at the high end $25/hr, the LBS is still making a ton on service and not passing it down to the mechanics. And from what I can tell, LBS mechanics' time is in high demand. The last couple times I called my LBS up for something I just didn't want to deal with, they gave me a 4-5 day turn-around estimate. I ended up buying the tool and doing it myself. Now I have the tool and will never call them again.
I think the idea that LBS mechanics _should_ be poor and you should bribe them for favors or priority for beer is something that LBS owners take advantage of. Charge a little less margin on those tires, gels, tubes (though I'm 100% tubeless now), and other consumable things I need on a regular basis, and pay/retain good mechanics that don't have a queue two weeks deep and I'd start having them do more of my work.
Probably unpopular, though maybe not to the WW crowd, opinion: Wrenching on a bike is easy. Outside of things that are potentially catastrophic if done wrong, doing most things on a bike, even high-end electronic groupset internal-cable bikes, is doable with a set of allen wrenches, end wrenches, and youtube. Even the super scary things like pressing bearings, cutting steerer tubes, and bleeding hydro brakes are easy if you're careful. The idea that an LBS is charging someone $75+ to run new cables is ridiculous. Most I've seen charge for materials separately. It's not surprising that once you do it yourself, people are reluctant to have the LBS do it again, and start to wonder what else they can do themselves to save money. Once they realize it's _nearly everything_ AND the internet has parts for 30% less, it's easy to see why LBSs are in trouble.
I'm not arguing it _should_ be this way. The big manufacturers and distributors are undercutting their own LBS partners every chance they get and that sucks. I wish they didn't have to compete with their own suppliers on the internet. But things are as things are.
Well, I was involved in the sale of a (long-established, highly profitable and with a very good reputation) shop to two guys from the banking industry, who had a rationale just like this.
The shop folded in 2 years flat, post-sale.
Owning and running a bike shop is not something GCN make videos about ...
Now, I train mechanics for all types of bicycle business, so I have to declare an interest but also, I have to say that I have read this thread (all of it) with quite a lot of consternation.
There are some basic things that consumers never see, never think of - and often these are just the things that many of the enthusiasts that fall into cycle shop ownership never think of either ... until they have to. So before being hyper-critical, it is worth slipping into the other man's shoes. Otherwise, all anyone sees is the headline figures rather than stopping to drill down.
No matter what you think, there are no five-minute jobs, there are no 30 second fixes - because a good mechanic has to spend some years learning to do those things quickly, accurately, and right, 99% of the time. Why only 99% of the time? Because no one is ever right all the time. Think about your own job - did you never, ever, make a mistake?
There's only one guy in that position - he's upstairs, running affairs - and we only get to meet him the once, apparently ...
So, if the mechanic does this simple job wrong, just the once, misses something that he or she *should* have seen ... there's the potential of a claim against the business - so the job has to be properly documented.
So now, you aren't just replacing a tube, you have to accept the job from the client, do the job, document it and you have to hand it back and take the money. Try doing that, and doing the job, in a total labour time, of 6 min - even if you have a front of house guy or girl, his / her time also has to be factored in. Can't be done, is never done. So that 10 flat repairs in an hour *isn't* the real world even in this simple model of affairs but it *is* a high percentage of the average workshop's work.
So, to explore a little deeper, lets break even this simple, common-place job down properly:
Most people who bring in a seemingly innocuous job like a tube change will bring the whole bike - so it's now book the job in, put the bike into storage while you do all those other "5 minute jobs", pull the bike out of storage, take the wheel out (full chain-case job, anyone?) - peel the tyre off, check the tyre for the cause of the flat, check the rim tape, check the rim, check the tyre sidewall for hidden damage, replace the tyre and inflate, check the seating, reassemble into the frame, check the brake block alignment, cable condition and adjustment - because that is now your direct responsibiliuty as a mechanic, having disturbed part of that system - then M-check the whole bike for anything that is automatically a safety advisory, write up the notes, probably call the customer. In a good shop, a second mechanic will also at least QC the job too. Then and only then <phew!> do you get to hand the bike back.
I'd say, total person time is around 15 - 20 minutes minimum. So yes, I'd want £17.50 for that ... and I haven't even mentioned shop rent, heat, light, insurance, assorted business taxes and all the other below-the-line costs that go with running a shop.
Now, expand that out to a full service with all the knock-ons of stock, unforseen issues when you get all the sub-assemblies into bits, random stuff that's been done to the bike by the customer's mate who *used to work in a bike shop" and you can see why shop work costs what it does.
You don't see many bicycle shop owners driving around in Aston Martins ...
Now, back to the OP's experience, that's pretty extreme and if that was my shop, I'd be having a fit of the screaming ab-dabs and neatly arranging heads on platters - but I don't think it's at all typical. Most stores that have been established any length of time and are selling bikes at that level, would not have made those errors, simply because if their business was predicated on sales at that level and that sort of history was typical, they'd have been history long ago. Sure, I know stores that have been pretty damn abysmal and have survived by "Phoenixing" but they are few and far between ... so it looks like a pretty atypical case.
But even if it isn't, lets really think things through.
GCN, forums, all the rest - where does that expertise come from, originally? I may have been a mecahnic for nearly 40 years but I wasn't born knowing what I know and with the abilities I have - I had to learn them, just like the dudes online do. Where did I learn them? In a bike shop, that's where. So in another 40 years time, when I have gone off for that meeting in the sky (or more likely, to a less pleasant one in the Other Place) and all the bike shops are gone, what are the "I never use my LBS" crew going to do?
Now you may say "but there's training courses out there - you run them for goodness sakes", to which my reply would be - yes, there are - but when I have mechs in for basic training courses and they leave us, part of my standard spiel goes a bit like this:
"You have passed the course but you are not a mechanic - yet. All we have done is tried to give you some additional tools for your toolbox. Now you have to go and start really learning. You will make mistakes. The unforgivable thing is not to make a mistake - it's to make the same mistake twice. Keep that in mind and you will, in time, if you have the basic aptitude and an ongoing willingness to learn, become a good bicycle mechanic".
And then the majority go off and work in ... bicycle shops.
The good ones, I see time and time again for training on new product - they are the guys and girls I refer final customers to.
I'm an optimist - I have to be, I work in the cycle industry - so I have to believe that for everyone who says "It's not surprising that once you do it yourself, people are reluctant to have the LBS do it again, and start to wonder what else they can do themselves to save money. Once they realize it's _nearly everything_ AND the internet has parts for 30% less" there are a few who realise that without the LBS, a whole bunch of things get much, much harder.
In a nutshell, it seems to me, having played in this playground in a variety of positions for those near 4 decades, that once LBS are gone, or even fall significantly in number, wholesalers are in deep trouble. Consolidation will take us so far but eventually supply chains will have to modify, with manufacturers dealing more and more with the web vendors directly. Web vendors can't see your bike, they can't diagnose what you've done wrong easily and so, since they will now be working with all consumers, not just a limited number of time-rich, savvy ones, they'll have to directly employ legions of guys and girls to do what I occasionally do here - either via keyboard or as remote mechs. Some will employ sub-contractors with their own businesses to do the same. In other words, though, they'll have to start adding real value and become retailers again, rather than simply highly advanced logistics businesses.
At that point, they have to make significant margin and prices will climb again and consumers will be back in the same position - because once you start to do the single most important thing - price time - you'll realise the model of "buy it 30% cheaper online and do the labour yourself" is actually costing you the same as "buy at a fair retail price from a retailer who genuinely knows what he/ she is about and pay them to do it properly" ...
Rant over ... :