Bikefixers is the name of a mobile bicycle repair service franchise being launched at the London Bike Show on Thursday (January 13).

That famous Monty Python Flying Circus sketch, Bicycle Repair Man, could at last becoming of age.

Bikefixers is the idea of Solihull cycling enthusiast and businessman Jerry Toher who, inspired by his wife Claire who ran into all sorts of problems trying to get her bike fixed, hit on the idea of home visits.

When she rang round, other shops were either fully booked or too far away for her to get too. Her bike wouldn’t fit in their car and she had to hire a 4x 4. She could have done with a being able to call out a mechanic! Her husband decided to act.

“We ran a successful pilot locally  and received 20 to 30 replies from a leaflet drop. That told us this could be successful,” said Toher. He’s offering a 25 per cent discount to £15k as the franchise fee to the first 20 who take up the offer. He’s thinking big, seeking to roll this out nationally.

Bikefixers will come to  your home or work place at a time to suit. If they can’t fix the bike on the spot and need to take it away, they will leave you with a temporary replacement.

The franchise buys a plain white van and will be supplied with branding to stick on it. Tools, uniform, training, parts and stock, will be supplied.

With the cycling increasing in popularity week on week, and bike sales up year on  year, he sees a great future for the roving mechanics, especially with customers who have bodged the assembly of  cheap bikes bought from supermarkets!

“We want to ensure that across the country when Bikefixers arrive at a customers home we consistently deliver a great level of service and we believe that franchise owners, given their dedication and commitment are the best way of ensuring this happens,” says Toher.

For further information call Jerry on 07710 034037 or 01564 774472

  • Mark

    I am Bicycle Repair Man and have been for more than 17 years. We are now a Limited Company. This is not a new idea and one would be insane to pay anywhere near £15k for this franchise. I started my own business, stock and all, for less than half that. I considered and rejected working on site at the clients’ houses, but I did offer a collection and delivery service for around three years. The gentleman absolutely MUST run his idea as a successful business for at least several years before he could ethically sell franchises. How can he advise and add value to “his idea” if he has not had full experience himself? At the moment he is selling more or less nothing at all. More worryingly, his ideas on training are very flawed. Good cycle mechanics are gold dust and not easily found. At our shop (5 full time plus 3 part-time staff) we reckon it takes around 2 to 3 years to train a good home mechanic into a proper commercially useful mechanic who can tackle most jobs. A few weeks training barely scratches the surface. Many don’t make it.

    If you fancy trying such a trade, good luck, but do it yourself – it is a poorly paid enough profession without carrying £15k of debt before you even start.

  • Paul Crow

    I think the idea is good and believe that the type of customer this is directed at is wanting a convenient fix not a detailed technical one. Personally, I would charge a lower franchise fee £5k to get people on board as it’s the national coverage that is important and not the initial fee. Once in place it is vital that customers can only ‘call/request/access’ a local franchisee through a Franchisor owned IT system. That way the leads, the fuel for the franchisee, are controlled, collected for marketing purposes and vetted for after-sales, quality etc. A franchisee won’t wont a complaint recorded at ‘head office’ but he will want the lead and the referral so it’s a win win. This could work if the owner has any franchising experience. The dot’s don’t always need to be joined together at this stage for this business to work, but a strategy of franchising on top of the concept is required. Cynics watch out.

  • Laura Pringle

    Yes, the last post raises the point about job pricing -apparently the franchiser says customers will get a fixed price beforehand. It can be very difficult to do this in advance. I often have customers described a repair problem on the phone – say such as gears need tuning – when you actually get to the bike you find it needs cables, or shifter is broken, or rings have worn etc – what looks like a £10 job for starters can turn into a £50 easily. I try not to be drawn into giving prices and will always say we will review when we see the bike for ourselves.
    Also the ‘training course’ is just the start of learning – I’m still learning 6 years on and that has to be factored in when you first set up as jobs take much longer when you are ‘new’!!

  • Philip

    Interesting comments as I saw this stand at the cycling show. The last poster is right of course – its only an idea being franchised not a successful business.

    A couple of other things struck me. One is that although the operatives will be Cytech trained, many won’t have any practical experience at all and whilst you could get away with this in a shop environment (i.e. by asking the help of others) when out on your own things will be different.

    The other is that what might be a 1 hour repair in a shop could turn out to be a 2 hour repair when you have factored in travelling time to and from the job. Granted your overheads may be lower but its still an issue.

  • Neil Exton

    This is not franchising a business. This is franchising an idea. I do not see the franchisor has having a successful business model for which a brand & formula has been carefully designed and properly executed. A franchisor requires a franchisee to perform the services for which the trade mark has been made prominent or famous. Also the pattern of work has to be in accordance with the pattern followed by the franchisor in his successful operations. Plus a whole host of other things which don’t seem to be in place with this franchise. Jerry could not even fix his own wife’s bike.
    I personally am just completing my 4th year in business as a mobile bicycle mechanic and I certainly did not need anything near £15K to get started. Closer to a third of that will get you going. You may not have a van and all the equipment to start with but you can grow as your experience, customer base and reputation develops.

  • Matt Evans

    Alex – I wish I’d made the effort to get to the show and talk to this guy, if only to ask how, if opening trade accounts was so difficult, I’d managed to get Jim Walker, Chickens, Fisher Outdoor, Windwave, 2pure, Moore Large, Greyville, Cyclesport North (okay, so that’s not so hard) and even the dreaded Madison in the last year?

    The really frustrating thing about this is that it’s the franchisees who stand to lose their money, not the franchisor.

  • Fred

    Should have took his idea to Dragons’ Den first!!!!!!

  • Alex

    I visited Jerry’s stand at the weekend and listened to his patter. The stand was pretty much empty apart from some basic ‘Word Only’ posters stuck up around it. Not much effort had been put into his presentation and the A5 flyer that he was dishing out had a glaring spelling mistake (Businesss)

    When I asked him about how established the business was, he confessed that it was in its infancy which then turned out to be just him and this ‘new’ idea.

    I asked about training and he said there was a 2-3 week course that would teach me everything.
    I also asked about the supply of spares to which I was told that all parts would be ordered under his account but he seemed very keen to point out that it is nearly impossible to get a trade account set up with suppliers these days. This I found hard to believe.

    I think I might have been more open to the concept if he had a bit of history and pedigree behind him but for £20K or even £15K for that matter, it all seemed to be a bit too optimistic and a massive risk to take.

    Interesting to read the other comments already posted as it sounds like this idea is already being rolled out by others.

  • Matt Evans

    As others have mentioned, there’s nothing new under the sun. What I would say, is that for the “discount” franchise price of £15k you could set up an extremely comprehensive and well stocked mobile workshop. Presumably, franchisees who pay the full price of £20k will receive the same level of kit, meaning the extra five grand goes into Jerry’s pocket. More sensible to spend it on extra stock, I’d have thought. Presumably, Jerry also takes a slice of your action on an ongoing basis too, meaning either skinny profits for the franchisee, or higher prices for the customer.

    Opening trade accounts as an individual mobile mechanic is easier than it used to be now that most major distributors have opened up to the concept, and provided you have a bit of persistence and can present a sound outline of your business then this aspect of starting up shouldn’t be a problem. And frankly, if you don’t have the where-with-all to sort this side of the business for yourself then running a mobile workshop probably isn’t for you anyway.

    I have few regrets about starting up as a “freelancer” but it’s demanding work if you do it properly, and sometimes for meagre rewards. It’s also very different to working in a shop environment, not least because customer facing skills become much more important when you can’t hide in the workshop all day. And it’s very much a business where the customer buys YOU as an individual.

    Finally, what does “training” consist of? Not training to be a mechanic I hope – the vast majority of mobile mechanics are Cytech qualified, and I hope that Bikefixers is going to insist on this or an equivalent qualification.

    Finally, I’d endorse the idea of checking out http://www.cyclefix.net and talking to Martin, with a view to seeing if you can’t just get started independently.

    Matt
    http://www.revolutioncycleworks.co.uk

  • Kevin Park

    As above, this isn’t a new idea and franchises exist in this sector already, just goes to show it’s not what you know it’s who you know when it comes to PR. What does shock me, however, is that a bargain price of £15k is being banded about for a BRM Franchise which represents a 25% discount.
    Having set up our first eZe RIder franchise I can say without a shadow of doubt that I know where the profit for the franchisor is coming from, it’s also going to be interesting to see further details on the training that’s being provided.

    K Park
    http://www.ezerider.com

  • Laura Pringle

    This guy makes out like it is something new. My business has been around for over 6 years in the Chorley and outlying villages area of Lancashire and we have a great customer base which we have built up over this time. I am a fully qualified C& G bike mechanic. I trained at the Buke Inn where Alf & Teresa have been training mechnaics for years! There are already a whole host of mobile outfits all over the country as Martin from Cyceltech has already pointed ou – all qualified and fully insured. Many of these are very experienced people. A lot offer a wider range of services than just fixing your bike – event support, training, parts & accessories and some sell bikes too. How come Cycling Weekly is only now picking up on this thread lik it is something of a revelation. Even Bike Biz ran a coupe of aticles on us last year! It just shows how the media fail to keep abreast of developments in the bike trade. If you want to know more about us or need bike work done in our area please see the website at http://www.wheelygoodbicycles.co.uk

  • Ian Galloway

    I already offer a service like this and have been for nearly 17 years now in the leafy suburbs of Linthorpe, in Middlesbrough, Cleveland. For a small fee (dependent on where you are situated), I will come out and carry out a repair to your bike (where poss.). Or, take it away and bring it back to you at a time suited to you. (again where poss.). I have a lot of customer’s “out in the sticks”, where there are no bike shops for miles and are singing my praises for bailing them out and letting their ears have a rest from their whining off-spring complaining about why their bike hasn’t been fixed yet? If anyone is wanting/requiring these services I already offer, then give me a bell on: 01642-816999/750957 or 07786-233527. Or, just drop me an email @: bike999emergency@hotmail.com You won’t be sorry I can assure you that! Cheers!! Ian @ On Yer’ Bike! Middlesbrough

  • Martin

    The idea of mobile bicycle mechanics have been about for a long time and still growing. There is a network of mobile bicycle mechanics. In the UK and worldwide.
    View http://www.cyclefix.net
    There is training, parts suppliers and much more on offer to help anyone wishing to start a new business.

  • Phillip B

    Without “investigating” this business opportunity, I would say:
    - A lack of cycle shop exists in many places – my parents’ home town in Surrey with a population of 20,000 only has a small Halfords since the bike shop closed. It is expensive to run a shop, whereas a man and van is significantly cheaper and can potentially cover a larger catchment area.
    - Why a white van? Why not a cargo bike? :-) Alright, with the British weather the ability to carry a canopy or use the rear door as shelter is useful.
    - It won’t get people to buy better bikes. I’ve worked on sub-£100 bikes a few times – horrible. I suggest that shops are what’s needed to encourage that essential bit of larger investment in a worthwhile bike. The maintenance and spares for said bike is what then keeps the shop going. So a man and van will make it harder for a shop to exist.
    - “20 to 30 replies” is actually a reasonable basis, when one considers that MPs are known to take significant action upon receipt of just six letters on a topic. The number of people that bother to take action is a small percentage of the ones that are bothered about it. I suggest the same is for cycles. After all, local campaign groups have gone door-to-door offering free fix-ups and managed to noticeably flush out many of those dormant bikes from sheds.
    - So in conclusion, we are in a capitalist society, so anyone is free to start a business. Whether it’s still here in one, ten or twenty years’ time is another thing entirely.

  • jason

    Hiring a 4×4 to get your bike fixed ( WHEN ALL THE SHOPS WHERE FULLY BOOKED, WERE WAS SHE TAKING IT) seems to be a bit ex stream and a waste of money,
    15 K for 20 to 30 replies from YOUR local leaflet drop ??

  • Mrs B

    I think it’s a brilliant idea. As a working mum with kids and bikes I would certainly use the service. Need a franchise near me in Harrogate please!!

  • Mr Cynical

    “We believe that franchise owners, given their dedication and commitment are the best way of ensuring this happens,” says Toher.

    Yeah, considering he has never touched a bike in his life. If the banking sector is anything to go by, then the bikes will be coming back with the forks in the wrong way around and no brakes to stop the subsequent crash.

    Also, you are going to have to fix quite a few bikes to cover the franchise costs (with a brand that has no reputation whatsoever), van costs, premises and equipment.

  • Hadyn Bosher @ 78in Thailand

    ANY BIKE????????????/