The mountain bike industry is changing rapidly with on-line retailers getting bigger and stronger, major manufacturers are now selling directly to the consumer so the traditional bike shop model will have to change or it will die. - Chris Guillemet, Co-Founder & CEO
The first time we sat down with the folks behind Velofix was a year ago, they had five vans on the road servicing Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and the Sea 2 Sky (Burnaby, North Shore, West Van, Squamish and Whistler and Vancouver Island); all in British Columbia, Canada. Now, just twelve months later, they have thirty-five franchises servicing both Canada and the United states. This time, we sat down with Velofix CEO and Co-Founder, Chris Guillemet to get the goods one their company vision, popularity, and what you can expect from their service.
What is Velofix?
Velofix is the largest fleet of mobile bike shops in North America. We now have thirty-five franchises sold! You book on-line and a fully equipped Mercedes Sprinter Van comes right to you; your home or your office, and services all of your bike needs. Our motto is 'Save Time. Ride More.'
How did you get your start?
We started with one van in Vancouver in January 2013. The business was started because we were frustrated with the inconvenience and length of time that it took to get our own bikes serviced in the current bricks and mortar [bike shop] model.
Describe your franchise model.
Our franchise model is a complete turn key solution for someone who has always wanted to own their own bike shop, but could not afford the massive investment of money and time. We provide the training, the back end system that handles the bookings, payment processing, CRM and inventory management. We also invest heavily in brand development and social media.
Where does Velofix currently exist?
Velofix is currently operating in Canada with one van Victoria, three in the Vancouver area, two in Calgary, two in the Ottawa/Gatineau, and seven in the Toronto area. We will be launching Montreal, Edmonton, and the Okanagan shortly. In the USA, we are launched in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Denver, Boulder, Kona, and Cincinnati.
What can customers expect from the 'Velofix' experience?
The Velofix experience is a premium and convenient service that eliminates all the hassle currently involved in getting your bikes serviced. All of our mechanics are professionally certified and we only use the best parts and accessories in the industry. The mobile shop has an espresso machine, flat screen TV and wireless internet to ensure customer comfort.
Who is Velofix ideal for as a customer?
Our service is ideal for anyone who rides a bike. Our service rates are the same as most bike shops and we service road bikes, mountain bikes, commuter bikes, fat tire bikes, electric bikes, and kids bikes. If you are busy and you want the shop to come to you, then Velofix is your answer.
How does your service vary from a local bike shop?
Our service offers a personal one-on-one appointment, the Shop comes to you - wherever you are and you deal directly with the mechanic. Customers can stay in the van if you want to get educated and have the mechanic show you what he is doing or they can go back to work and be notified when the service is complete. With our booking system, you book the exact time you want your bike fixed and it will be done right there, right then.
You've customized some of your vans to meet the needs of mountain bike specific areas. How do you identify these areas and how are you customizing your vans?
In some markets mountain bikes are the majority of the bikes we work on, so firstly the mechanic will be a mountain bike expert and secondly the mobile shop will be equipped with mountain bike specific parts and tools. Our North Vancouver van has a suspension station built in so we can do full repairs.
If someone is interested in franchising with you, what can they expect? How should they apply?
We have franchises available and people can simply go to www.velofix.com and click on Franchise to find out more. If they make an inquiry, they will be contacted within 24 hours of your request.
How do you see the Velofix model impacting the future of the mountain bike community?
The mountain bike industry is changing rapidly with on-line retailers getting bigger and stronger, major manufacturers are now selling directly to the consumer so the traditional bike shop model will have to change or it will die. We always say that the Internet can't fix your bike so there will always be a need for the direct to consumer service model and Velofix is that premium mobile service model.