Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

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Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Offroader » Jun 22, 2016 10:20 am

I am considering moving to Florida and will not have any job or really anything to do. I don't want to work a regular job and have some savings to possibly open up a small store. I'm in my mid 30's.

I'm not looking to make a lot of money, I would be happy just to break even with rent/expenses for the first couple of years and have something to do everyday.

There may be another electric bike shop in the area so I will have some competition. However, they only sell turn key bikes and don't have the technical skills that I would have. The reviews seem to be mixed and I doubt they are as passionate about ebikes as I am.

I've been obsessed with electric bikes for the last few years and have learned so much thanks to you guys here. Everything from bicycle mechanics, servicing suspension fork and shocks, battery repair and welding, hub motor fixing, wheel and spoke lacing, electronics and even repairing circuits. I'm basically a bicycle mechanic and also feel like an electrician at the same time.

I became so knowledgeable about bikes that even when I go into regular bicycle stores I find I know more than the mechanics and salespeople.

What I am thinking to make my store unique is I will have the high end bikes to show, like my current Qulbix Q76R and maybe have a stealth bike for show or what ever the best high end bike is at the time. This way I have a variety of stuff to sell, the high end bikes and also the turn key bikes like the strommer that most electric bike stores sell. Hoping that letting people test ride my high end bikes will get some traffic in and this will set me apart from the other stores that I am the place to go if you want good support and someone who will have the technical skills to fix your bike or upgrade it. That will be my selling point and the people should clearly see that I know my ebikes.

I will also be able to upgrade peoples bikes unlike the other store which the reviews seem to hint that they lack the technical knowledge to do that. For example, I called a the most popular electric bike store here in New York City to see if they could weld a few batteries together and they had no idea what I was even talking about. This was before I got my own spot welder.

My question to you guys here is can I make this business work? Or is it not worth it if there is other competition in the area? Store Rental space are cheap in Florida which I think is a major benefit.

I know you guys are mostly negative about making money from electric bikes, and I agree there isn't money to be made trying to do stuff through the forum and internet. I'm wondering if this will be the same deal with opening up a local ebike store.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by amberwolf » Jun 22, 2016 1:40 pm

Have you tried seeing if you could partner up with the existing shop?

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Offroader » Jun 22, 2016 2:53 pm

amberwolf wrote:Have you tried seeing if you could partner up with the existing shop?
No, but I don't know if I would want to go that route. someone in the reviews wrote a long review about how he went in their to ask questions about the bike and one of the owners was acting suspicious like he was trying to open his own shop. I posted part of the review below.

This makes me believe these guys know they have a good thing going on and don't want any competition so they can keep all the profits, but it could mean anything.

I honestly wouldn't mind having a partner, but I think maybe it is best I find someone to start it with me. I believe the barriers to entry are very low for something like this, I rent a store front and only start with a few very popular models that I have found to be the best deal. As time goes on I could always expand my inventory, but in the beginning I could focus more on service & repair, modifications. As I learn more about the turn key bikes I could then start to stock the ones I feel are the best value.



Here is part of the review,

I went there ready to buy with cash in pocket, but after a 1/2 hour conversation with the owner I left - gritting my teeth and completely turned off by the experience. To begin with, I started by asking him some general questions about his store & what other customers were buying (I was trying to find out which makes/models were popular & reliable as I had never owned an electric bike before). Instead of answering my questions, he accused me of "shopping" his business to get information so I could start my own electric bicycle store!! HUH??!! From then on, whenever my questions even remotely required him to give any real advice about almost anything to do with electric bikes that he thought might help a "competitor", he would clam up and refuse to answer.


The reason I think I could do well with an electric bike shop is that I will have superior technical and repair knowledge then most of the other shops. Even one of the reviews of this shop was saying how they were incompetent. To be honest, this is how I feel about all the bicycle shops around me, they are very incompetent when it comes really anything. Recently I called the best shop in my area about if they could push out a bushing from the shock eyelet, they really didn't even know what I was talking about. I had to then use two sockets to push it out.


Here is the review below.


Do not shop here for an electric bike. They just sell them. After that, you are on your own. The person who services the bikes is completely incompetent. He has never been able to properly install brake pads and cannot fix anything for more than the ride out of the store. I am selling the mistake I bought there and would not recomend buying from that store.Forget about the owners, they are totally unreasonable and just plain rude after they've sold you a bike.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by nutnspecial » Jun 22, 2016 3:58 pm

If you also have or can obtain basic business/finance knowledge/skill and are capable financially, you have everything you need to be a great success. I would never partner 50/50 with anyone. Either do it yourself or make sure 1/2 the split has clearly defined controlling interest.

Are you planning on employees at start or near future? ( I wouldn't rush that)

You can comfortably get/provide start-up costs? ( plan for worst, hope for best - don't over extend)

If moving there, are you buying property? If at all possible I'd buy property that can double as residential/commercial. My first place was (and is) like that, and it not only makes it more desirable (for selling it) today, but I've technically never had to worry about rent for my business, even when taking time off or if I'd gotten slow not by choice.



This is the first thread on here like this I've noticed in a year. I say kudos and am surprised more aren't on here thinking and talking about it. I considered it as well, as the nearest shop is over an hour away, and I'd have alot of potential business with the nearby 100's of thousands residents.

I guess depending on where you go in florida, you could almost plan on a good model. I'd guess you'd be dealing more with retiree's looking for entry right thru to polished hai bikes than the stealth or offroad crowd.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by motomech » Jun 23, 2016 6:40 pm

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Offroader » Jun 24, 2016 8:59 am

Thanks for the link. It is more of a negative towards opening your own shop. I can't disagree and the points are very good.

This is why I think something like this can only be done if you have free time on your hands and have a goal of just trying to break even. What nutspecial said about having real estate double as commercial is also smart for something like this.

But it is very hard to predict because I believe with very good cost effective advertising you could get a lot of people trying the bikes out and buying them when they realize just how much better they are compared to a regular bicycle. You will have to get people to test ride the bikes and be a very good salesperson with letting people know you will be there for any problems or questions that arise.

You will also have to let people know that if you buy off the internet and have trouble it will be difficult to get service.

However, like you said you are better off doing something else if you want to make money.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by agilehumor » Jun 24, 2016 9:47 am

...
Last edited by agilehumor on Jul 19, 2016 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by jimw1960 » Jun 24, 2016 10:50 am

How To Make $1 Million

Step 1: Start with $2 million

Step 2: Open an ebike shop.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Ypedal » Jun 24, 2016 11:00 am

jimw1960 wrote:How To Make $1 Million

Step 1: Start with $2 million

Step 2: Open an ebike shop.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :cry:
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by DAND214 » Jun 24, 2016 11:53 am

Where in Florida? I plan on moving down in the next year or so.

I always wanted to open a Ebike shop but couldn't do it. Lost lots of $$$ in the Hobby Shop I had for 15 years. Was great till others found out what I was up to. Locals started shops too close and ruined it for me. So I don't have the balls to try it again.

Not saying it's a bad idea to open a shop, just be sure you have good insurance.

Dan

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Lurkin » Jun 24, 2016 5:44 pm

There's a massive difference between operating a business successfully and being technically competent. It sounds like you believe you have the technical competence ticked, time to start setting up support systems to make the business work. Whilst you might be happy to break even, your bankers, employees, partners are unlikely to hope for the same thing.

There's a lot to decide before going ahead and plenty of ways to prepare/ investigate ways of doing things before taking the leap. The nice thing about your situation is that you are free to investigate your options before you go further. Once you start, the more you have invested, the more time consuming and expensive the exit is.

Its a pretty confronting thing to do, but challenging every decision early on can be really beneficial. For example - do you need a physical shop? can you operate online solely at least in the interim? (cuts down rent expense and ongoing obligations)

Having an overall strategy overall is very central, because it will guide your approach to decision making. high volume low margin? low volume high margin? product differentiation? There's loads written on this - mostly buzz marketing stuff. If you can get past having to read it, there's value in the overall decision.

I'd be looking to work part time somewhere that has a similar business, not to gain technical competence, but to investigate how they operate their business. A successful bike shop in the area you intend to operate in would be a good start - see whats making them tick, understand what works well etc. Meanwhile, investigating a good support structure - Lawyers, Accountants, Advisors, Market Research so on, so forth.

You might also what to start considering why your critiqued bike shops are more focused on selling bikes than they are selling services. Margin, time, risk, difficulty... can you compete with superior service alone? or do more customers value the specific bikes being sold more than the customer service or support offered? How long will it take for after sales service to be communicated to other customers? Do they have an established network where their customers value them despite what you think? so on, so forth.

I've re read this post and sounds critical - I've operated my own business before, been an employee of others and seen many, many fail usually due to poor planning and support. Theoretically, anyone can run a business that is performing well without challenge or compromise as it 'could' effectively run itself. Its when issues start to arise that your skills will be the most challenged.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by motomech » Jun 24, 2016 9:46 pm

I guess locality, in large part, determines who the likely market might be.
Here in Tucson, when I had my shop, my major customer base were students. New motor scooters were, at a low, $195, up to $1000 and they would buy them at the beginning of the semester, ride the crap out of them and ditch them after they graduate. At the time, they could ride the 50 cc models without any kind of license or registration. In other words, they had very low involvement with their rides.
I really don't see them being interested in Ebikes, which do require some involvement. And they are all pretty close to campus and the way they park them in rows and rows of racks, makes security problematic. A Wally World bike works for them.
The other two groups that seem to take an interest in my Ebike, are what I call the "Spooky riders" and retirees.
But "Spooky" is a brand of gas-motor powered bicycles that the name is used in a genaric way. We know each other because we share the bicycle lanes and they are always interested in a bike that can go as fast as they do and is dead silent. But Spooky riders don't have any money(it's why they are riding them in the first place) and I suspect many of their builds start with "hot" bikes.
Older folks, like me, once they realize what it is, immediately understand here is a way to stay active with some help.
I have a feeling, a guy(or gal) that lives in an area with lot's of retirees, could makes a pretty good hobby/business out of selling/ maintaining low-power assist-style Ebikes.
A place like Sun City(God's waiting room)would be perfect and it would be easy to target advertizing.

P.S. Speaking of advertizing, a guy could take a play out of my playbook. I used to ride around and place a business cards on the seats of parked scooters to drum-up the service business. One could do the same in a retirement community promoting "powered upgrades" to their bicycles.
Last edited by motomech on Jun 25, 2016 4:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by agilehumor » Jun 24, 2016 10:29 pm

Lurkin wrote: Its a pretty confronting thing to do, but challenging every decision early on can be really beneficial. For example - do you need a physical shop? can you operate online solely at least in the interim? (cuts down rent expense and ongoing obligations)
That is priceless advice

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by spinningmagnets » Jun 24, 2016 11:11 pm

I have a feeling, a guy(or gal) that lives in an area with lot's of retirees, could makes a pretty good hobby/business out of selling/ maintaining low-power assist-style Ebikes
Pedego sold roughly 8,000 turn-key ebikes last year. Their advertising was mainly focused on retirees and women. The advertised prices were around $2600 for a rear hub cruiser. There's nothing special about their slightly stretched cruiser frame. I have an Electra Lux that is very similar. Lots of frame and rim color selections, but that's not expensive if done in high volumes (compared to only having one or two colors).

Their most popular model has a welded cargo rack on the rear, and dual disc brakes. A single chainring, and this year a 48V / 1,000W direct drive system (over the past 36V and geared hub). Nothing special, compared to many of the builds here on ES.

If bought in bulk, the electrical propulsion system (motor/controller/throttle) "should" be purchase-able wholesale for under $700. This means there is roughly $1600 per-bike available for Pedego and their dealers to split, plus cover warranty issues and advertising.

The two guys who started Pedego did not start as ebike guys who wanted to go into business, they were successful businessmen who decided to add ebikes to their business group. I would consider myself a reasonable success if I worked part-time out of my home, and averaged one ebike a week (50/year?). If I made $100 per ebike, it would be $5000/year, minus warranty claims.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by drewjet » Jun 25, 2016 3:58 am

I have worked at an Ebike shop on and off for about 8 years in Orlando. The owner is a doctor and a "Green" guy. He swears the shop does not make money, but he doesn't care.

Seams to me our biggest customers are "DUI" recipients. We have everything under the sun coming in for repairs, including gas bikes, and balance scooters. The owner barely advertises. I really believe that if he spent some money getting his name out there the store could easily be profitable.

I wish you good luck. What part of Florida are you planning on?

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by amberwolf » Jul 18, 2016 11:45 am

If you want to post articles here on ES, please post the articles *here*. Just linking to your site could be considered spam.



https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 5#p1204785
amberwolf wrote:The problem is that he has a site that has ads on it, that he (or someone) gets revenue from. Driving traffic from ES to that site without really contributing to ES directly could be considered spamming.

Others have done it before, and have also been asked to post the articles. Some did and stayed as contributors to ES, some didn't and left ES as non-contributors.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by eyebyesickle » Jul 19, 2016 8:03 am

Yeah... around here, it is college kids for a cheap conversion (Nashville is very hilly) and DUIers... which techinically the latter could get themselves into trouble with local TN legislation (that I am lobbying to change), but the issue has not come up... I do notify customers of possible legal issues, and supply them with a link or printout of the current legislation here... Adding high power e-bikes now. Nashville is very busy now, and growing, and traffic SUCKS. The high power e-bike will cater to the higher end crowd that will want to circumvent traffic with the 'legal switch' etc...

If I had more capital to invest initially, and seriously needed to make it work a little while back, I could be REAL successful now, but I was preoccupied....

I will give you a good tip for local advertising. PROGRAMMABLE LED SPOKE LIGHTS - TO DISPLAY ADS when driving around town (of course check your local legislation!)

Oh, the Pedego stats... yeah, when I made my first conversion, the only thing anywhere close was a Pedego shop. I was like, oh no... I can make these ridiculously cheap... and here I am, not doing that really, but close enough!


FYI - I operate here without a storefront, but do network with local shops, at colleges, craigslist, and even consider giving local 'deemed trustworth' homeless population e-bikes to advertise, but I was afriad they would pawn em! haha

A couple shops opened here ahead of their time... was a major loss for them it seems. Sad!

interesting conversation

Thanks,

David

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by LockH » Jul 19, 2016 8:43 am

Always take the money from the rich (`cause they are the only ones with money).

Hehe... Didn't see exactly what part of Florida you're moving to? I'm an Urban Guy myself, but Toronto (where I am) is a huge "town" made up of a bunch of little towns all chucked together. Where incomes vary greatly from one "neighbourhood" to the next.

So I'd be looking for a combo living/shop space (minimizes commute times) right next door/on the edge of a "more affluent" area (to keep rental costs down). In the early daze of the "horseless carriage" (automobile) it was the more wealthy that were the "early adopters". (Then that guy Henry Ford came along...)

With "high end" stuff it's all about the service (quality a given/assumed), so be prepared to pamper. Be ready to offer fancy coffee, nice chairs... etc. One (tiny) example? Here in Ontario, wearing a helmet is a law requirement for ebike riders. So you *could* offer some "standard", upsidedown ice cream bucket-style helmets... or ya can offer `em a helmet made by Norwegian firm Yakkay:
Image

I've wasted much of my life as a (well paid) accountant, where one client made fancy "bespoke" shirts. He has a great "showroom" offering big, comfy leather couches, a fridge w/various liquors... full-length mirrors...

I've been told too, by area ebike shop owners, that letting folks go for a "test ride" is their most effective "selling tool". So also look for an area that has low volume traffic.

G'Luck!
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by eyebyesickle » Jul 19, 2016 9:16 pm

Yeah, a lot of options and decisions. Introspect, decide what you're comfortable with. Others already mentioned these, but some major points would be:

1) Commercial/Residential Zoned property - you live at the shop - this is not living in a residential area having the shop tucked back in the shed behind the house where you live... if you are picking this option, YOU LIVE AT THE SHOP, and not vice versa, if you understand this. Otherwise - don't do it. You won't be happy if you are not successful, but then you won't be happy if you are successful because you will be BOTHERED. Of course, if it goes successful, as much of a pain living at the property is by then, you could afford to lease a separate residential property by then. My tenses are all over the place trying to describe a future situation from past experience. Said experience was not with e-bike store, but I feel the concepts cross-over.

Initially, even if you have $ to lease a storefront... this may not be the most efficient choice. If you are committed to making this work, quicker, I mean, you gotta though! =) If you have $ for a storefront, but are starting 'from scratch' without clientele or reputation, you had better do some SOLID local market research, know your target, and have a good advertising campaign, otherwise you just got that storefront for what I will now overstate as 'no reason'. I mean, the storefront will build on itself, but... without proper preparation and advertising, you will be losing time/money.

2) Network with Bicycle Shops - It would be nice, if you make a display stand for them at the shop, and also have an online calendar booking system, to where people can set an appointment with you, and you meet them at the bicycle store, and what they get out of this is to be there to sell any secondary components etc...

Settle for leaving a card! hahaha

3) Network with E-bike Shops - Eh... I have toyed with this in the past, and am currently thinking about this, but my situation is that the shop I have my eye on, is by appointment only. Not enough business, which goes hand in hand with not enough time for it, because he had to make time to make money elsewhere, because he had no money from his EV store! Am I talking in circles? - In a situation like this, we could 'combine' business, and maybe make it worth keeping the shop open full hours, and in addition one could provide additional technical expertise, or perhaps more labor than a perhaps more senior partner etc...

I mean, the situation just varies so much.

4) RENTALS - you HAVE to offer them if you got a decent location of any sort. With no clientele and no reputation, you need something for people to get their hands on cheap, other than a test ride. I would consider governing the speed, but not going low power on the rentals...

5) Also, be careful giving people test rides, and consider having them sign something for them to pay for damages, it does not take but a twist for things to go real bad! Usually my body takes the damage saving the day hahaha. I would practice briefing people of the essentials for sure...

6) numbering and talking - i fell off. can I come back later and finish this? PLACEHOLDER

- David

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by cycleops612 » Nov 30, 2016 11:17 am

You can always tell the pioneers. They have arrows in their backs.

If you have to educate customers, its a time wasting loser sale, if it happens.

Bikes need expensive retail space for display stock.

....

I cant do business with bike shops. The model sucks. They sell rubbish bikes but are sniffy about repairing not from this store bikes, and ebikes - forgeddaboutit, even if the repair is just a bicycle issue.

Also in my experience, in addition to making it the clients problem they are going broke, they are often former racers with giant egos. They imagine slights when u simply ask for a problem to be solved.

Invest in a really well setup, standing room, mobile workshop if u r as competent as u say.

A pantech truck would mean u could transfer the evolved ideal workshop to another truck if need be.

Be really organised and time effective about spares on hand in the truck. Taking it back to the shop each time gets lame fast.

Plenty of time poor ebikers will pay good money for trustworthy competence.

Establish a good relationship with an electronics repair guy for the tricky stuff, but most things can be cost effectively simply be substiututed.

The dead time is getting there, so better for both to sell extra niceties while there. Just getting crappy bolts swapped for good stainless, of which u have a stock and overprice with some justice. lights etc. spot jobs needing doing on his other bikes.

From customer recommendations, consult on an hourly basis to source ebike purchasers best solutions at cost price. no invoices or markups for goods to worry about. u simply sell your time.

Maybe loaner ebikes if you need to return it to your home workshop?

No staff, no over heads.

Overheads are scary. It puts u in a race against the clock til u burn thru capital. u dont get much time to fix wrong assumptions in the biz model. You cant take a holiday with 2 staff and $1k pw rent. "Consultants" can and do. Optometrists, doctors, dentists... Folks are understanding.

You have to be hungry. Never rest on your laurels. Be good at juggling lottsa balls and clear communication.

work for an ebike shop and make your mistakes on their time.

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by lester12483 » Dec 03, 2016 8:45 am

I've seen several ebike shops go under since I started ebiking. Profitability is hard when there is so much competition out there.
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by LockH » Dec 03, 2016 10:57 am

I'm still betting on conversion kits for NA. For the millions of bikes already out there. And `cause folks tend to like "cheap"-er. One nice thing about DIY? Ya get ultra familiar with the electrics and can mod later/as you go. AND ya have lots of tools left over from initial conversion :)

So were I interested in opening an "electric bicycle store"? Would be to sell kits and batteries... etc, and teach weekly classes in "ebike mechanics".
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LockH
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by LockH » Dec 10, 2016 9:55 am

ES Bible "Search found 2 matches: +Justebikes"... so one more:

"Justebikes talks about life as a city centre e-bike only retailer":
https://cyclingindustry.news/justebikes ... -retailer/

They say: "London’s branch is one of three stores, making the growing business one of the UK’s larger electric specialist retailers."

http://justebikes.co.uk/
ES changed my life (for the waaaaay better).

Eff. June, 2014 Phoenix Ebike Promotions

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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by Ykick » Dec 10, 2016 10:15 am

Fact is, ‘helluva lot of people simply don’t and won't ride. eBikes have drawn more people and most likely converted some to try riding for serious transportation but the fact remains, it’s really not for that many folks.

Think about it, there have been fine, durable and reliable motorcycles available for several decades yet how many do you see on the roads in warm/dry climates compared to cars/trucks? 1 moto for every 20 cars or worse?

Fact is, riding and surviving in traffic on 2/3 wheels scares the shit outta majority of folks. I think the hurdle to any retail business in this area will be getting people trained and comfortable with the needs & demands of riding for serious transportation.

Further infrastructure improvements and cracking down on murderous cars/trucks would be a good start but I think offering affordable, competent and friendly rider training services should be part of any eBike retail floor sales model?

If for no other reason you want customers to live long enough to come back and buy another eBike…
Talent must not be wasted.... Those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.

- Frank Sinatra

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LockH
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Re: Ideas about opening up an electric bicycle store.

Post by LockH » Dec 10, 2016 10:31 am

^^ Hehe... Yah. Infrastructure. So, growing list of "safer biking" places:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_car-free_places

A bit of watt I wrote my neighbours recently:
The futurist/book author Wm. Gibson is quoted as pointing out that the future is already here but not evenly distributed?
In other words the "future" (new products and ideas) has to start *somewhere*, then spread.
... which makes it easier to "tell the future" just by reading the news from elsewhere.
Transportation seems a "hot topic" these days as more and more people like to travel around Toronto. More and more and more folks on the same patch of earth.
Two bits of news leave me hopeful for the future in Toronto.
The first is to read about towns and cities around the world that are going "car free". Use of the private vehicle is being severely constrained if not banned outright.
... and:
The second bit of news is about the rise in use of relatively tiny motorized vehicles.
Already in use by the many millions in China, and now popular in Europe. Their "EPACs". Electric Pedal-Assisted `Cycles.
Full text here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/5858352 ... 488241731/

:)
ES changed my life (for the waaaaay better).

Eff. June, 2014 Phoenix Ebike Promotions

(Current ride? High speed lawn chair.)
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... =3&t=57408

Phoenix Ebike Promotions conversion kit (work in progress. More drink holders, etc etc)
https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewt ... 15&t=60564

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