Bicycles are a continually popular transportation and recreation option. Rising fuel prices and increasing concern about the environmental impact of motor vehicles has only helped the image of bicycles as a “green” transportation option. The popularity of bicycles, coupled with the fact that bicycles last nearly forever with a bit of attention, makes a bicycle repair and sales business a good option for the home-based entrepreneur.
The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in their occupational projections data that there were slightly more than 10,000 bicycle repairers in 2008. During the decade from 2008 – 2018 this occupation is expected to grow significantly. BLS estimates a 19.3 percent increase in bicycle repairers over this decade. Median annual wages are reported to be low at $23,200. 5.2 percent of bicycle repairers were self-employed in 2008.
A home-based, bicycle repair and sales business can be started easily by anyone with a garage or workshop, some mechanical tools, and a small amount of money to invest in parts and inventory. The great thing about a bicycle repair and sales business is that used bicycles can be purchased inexpensively at garage sales, flea markets and auctions. The bicycles can then be cleaned, serviced or repaired, and sold at a respectable profit. Bicycles that require parts or repairs obviously offer the opportunity to trade some effort repairing the bicycle for an increased profit because the bicycle can be purchased cheaper than a bicycle that does not need repair.
Accumulating a parts inventory from old bicycles that have been disassembled provides a way to repair bicycles without needing to purchase new parts. These used parts can be collected for next to nothing and placed into inventory for use on future projects.
A bicycle repair and sales business can be operated from a garage or shop at home. Businesses that would like more inventory than what can be displayed at home can consider selling bikes through a local consignment shop or resale store. Selling bicycles through a consignment or resale store will require paying a commission to the store, but this may be worth considering if space or other considerations prevent maintaining a large inventory of bicycles at home.
Posting brochures and business cards on community bulletin boards can be a good way to target potential customers in a certain area. This inexpensive marketing tool can yield results, particularly when several business cards are posted at a time so that customers can bring a card home with them to call at their convenience.
Community newspaper or classified ad publications can be a good way to keep your business in front of many local customers. Ask about long-term advertising discounts as these are frequently available for regular advertisers.
Craigslist is an increasingly popular way to buy and sell items for many people. Craigslist offers free online classified ads in most communities. Classified ads on craigslist feature photos and plenty of text for good descriptions.
“Word-of-mouth advertising” is almost always the best advertising that any business can receive. Customers who are referred by a friend, relative or co-worker are far more likely to buy than customers who lack this connection. Word of your home-based, bicycle repair and sales business will spread over time and people will come to buy used bicycles because they know they will be able to find a good deal on a used bike. This trend can be encouraged by offering rewards, bonuses, or credits to existing customers who refer someone to your business. Maintaining a mailing list or e-mail list would facilitate making periodic offers to existing customers.
Zoning and land-use regulations vary by community. Home-based businesses that plan to have a lot of customers stopping at the home should inquire about any applicable zoning or land-use laws in their community. Contact your city, town or county clerk for more information about zoning requirements.
Business liability insurance is a good idea for many businesses, and would probably be a good idea for a bicycle repair and sales business. Liability insurance would help to protect you in the event someone were injured on a bicycle that had been repaired or sold by your bicycle business.
Starting a home-based, bicycle repair and sales business can be the perfect business for the home-based entrepreneur who has reasonable mechanical skills and enjoys bicycles.