Both avid cyclists, Chris Guillemet and Davide Xausa know first-hand the struggle of getting your bike repaired.
The Vancouver natives were frustrated with having to get their rides into a shop during “open hours,” which often overlap with a nine-to-five schedule, loading them into a car or somehow getting them there via transit or walking them, and then having to make your way back when after the fixes have been made.
So the pair, along with Boris Martin, a frustrated employee of one of the aforementioned establishments, came up with the idea to make it easier on the customer by bringing the shop to them at the time of their choosing. Together they launched the mobile bike shop company velofix in 2013.
“It was born out of the frustration of poor service and time constraints of having to take a bike to a bike shop to get serviced,” Guillemet told Yahoo Finance Canada in an email.
“We all shared the same belief that there had to be a better business model for getting your bikes serviced.”
The company now has 89 franchises across most major Canadian hubs – including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal – as well as many mid-sized cities and parts of the U.S.
These franchises are owned by local residents, and operated by certified mechanics, who dished out the $25,000 fee and are either leasing a Mercedes Sprinter Van, turned mobile bike shop, from the Canadian company or purchased them for $90,000. They also pay an additional eight per cent in royalties and two per cent for marketing.
And the model has been wildly successful. Guillemet said velofix has a database of more than 30,000 customers. It is also planning to take its services across the Atlantic to Europe sometime this year.
And it has launched velofix Direct, which will build and ship bikes directly from manufacturers to a customer’s home.
“Our goal is to be the largest system of mobile bike shops in the world,” said Guillemet.
That’s a far cry from where the company just three years ago when the three co-founders inked a $300,000 deal with Jim Treliving after an appearance on season nine of “Dragons’ Den.”
The company originally started working out of a single van with a 100-square-foot shop.
But now vehicles are equipped with luxuries, such as espresso makers, big-screen TVs, WiFi
So you can sip a hot beverage and pick your mechanic’s brain for tips and advice, while they work.
The price of a basic tune-up will run you about $80, after taxes, which is more than your average bike shop.
But Guillemet said velofix’s prices are competitive and offers something they can’t: it saves customers the hassle of making a trip to a bike shop.
“velofix offers a convenient and premium experience that a bike shop simply cannot provide,” he said.
“A service (they can get) where and when they want … without the need to load up bikes in the car, drop (them) off at a brick-and-mortar store and then go back at a later date and pick up the bikes.”