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Bike Shop Employment???(16 posts)

Bike Shop Employment???CaliforniaDreaming
Feb 11, 2003 10:58 AM
I've decided to take a weekend job to support my cycling habit. I may land a sales position with a local LBS with 5 stores in my metro area. The position would be in sales and seems rather interesting. Meeting new people and discussing bikes appears to be a nice way to support my cycling purchases.

My question is what is a standard compensation structure for a multi-store LBS. I believe the chain pays a hourly wage plus commissions. Additionally, after a month or two, I'd receive an employ discount. Any ideas on what I should expect on the wage, commission %, and discount%. In the end I'm sure 80% of what I'd make would go back into the new purhcases. I'd like to develope some expectation as to how sales employee compensation is commonly structured.

I like the store, the manager, and the locale(very close to home). So I'm confident I'd have a good experience and meet new people to ride with. Any and all your input is appreciated.
My experience in retailPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 11, 2003 11:04 AM
I've never worked in a bike shop but I've worked with 2 large national/internation chains - 1 paid slightly above minumum + 0.5% commision + spiffs on big items of about $10 Canadian - the next one which is a sports store I'm paid pure commision of 4.5-5.5% or minimum wage. So commision can be awesome or completely kick you in the butt.

If I were you I'd expect to make probably 0.5-3% commision on top of a base wage.

As for discount generally cost + 10% is a deal pretty common and should be fair for the work you do. Some shops are cheap and only give like 25% to their employees which is dumb.

my shopJas0n
Feb 11, 2003 11:10 AM
i work at school during the summer (im in college) and while im at home. this past summer, i made $9.00 an hour without any commision and usually recieved a cash tip from the shop owners (usually $60, but sometimes $40). as for the discount, i was given cost on everything i bought (plus any freight if it applied. i also worked off a couple of bikes, so that helped with taxes). some companies though, actually most companies, have employee purchase programs. often, epp prices are below cost, but you have to payby credit card. ask you shop if you can work off purchases, so that anything you buy is deducted from your wages (helps alot with taxes). youll have alot of fun. and youll meet tons of people to ride with
Varies wildlyjhr
Feb 11, 2003 11:42 AM
I have not worked in a shop since '91 so take this with a grain of salt. The first shop I worked at was very mom and pop (1800sq feet in a strip mall, three employees). I was paid hourly (even if I could remember the rate it wouldn't be of any use now), and got cost on all items and freebies on some things (cables, housing etc.). I also got equal chances at saleman samples (these were some of the best deals as I recall). I loved that job. We used to go riding as a group after work in the summer, then come back to the shop, drink beer and clean bikes.

The last bike shop I worked at (during law school) was at a large (5 store, Schwinn and Trek) shop in the midwest. That job paid better hourly (plus %10 of accessory sales with a new bike) but the shop discount was only %10, with ONE (ONLY) at cost (or employee discount) bike per year. Nobody else rode, and we never hung out after work. It was staffed mostly with salesmen who didn't much care what they sold (TV', stereos, shoes, cars, etc). More than once I got in trouble for not selling what was in stock (code for not jamming somebody on something that didn't fit). Still it was better than a real job!

My experience is that enthusiast stores generally pay hourly with no commission. Nobody makes much money but there is a good feeling or soul about the place. The big successful (often multi store)shops are much less soulfull and are much more sales and marketing driven (ie. you may make more money but you may not like it as much). Ask yourself are you prepared to bite your lip and sell product you wouldn't use yourself, because it is a money maker for the store. If your prospective employer(s) is/are also friends you want to be careful, because your opinions/salesmanship (or lack thereof)can effect their bottom line income (this can creat stress on an otherwise friendly relationship).

If you only want the shop discount and to roll all wages into purchases, you might try work out an informal arrangement.

hope this helps

re: Bike Shop Employment???laffeaux
Feb 11, 2003 12:15 PM
I work part time at a LBS as well. It does not pay that well, but it is a fun, and the discounts are nice. If you're like me and have a regular job that pays pretty well, you'll quickly find that $8/hr after taxes (at your regular job rate), quickly turns into $4/hr take home. Our shop does not pay commission (I think that's a good thing), and SPIFFS are paid.

What I've found is that being around biking gear more often, combined with knowing the products better and being able to get them at a discount leads to spending more money on bike related goods. I speed as much now (or more) than I did before (although I get more for the money). I can buy anything in the shop for cost +10%. Plus there are many things that you can EP (employee purchase) for much less, if you order directly from the supplier - helmets, shoes, and bikes are much cheaper to EP.

If you're working there part time, expect to have fun. Do not expect the extra income to go far (unless you have a lot of will power).
re: Bike Shop Employment???CaliforniaDreaming
Feb 11, 2003 3:10 PM
Ok, so I'm a little slow, but what's a SPIFF??? Happily my day job supports all my needs, so I'm not particularly concerned with my earnings being able to make a car note or anything like that.

BTW, have you made any larger ticket purchases? Custom Frame? Carbon? Ti? Did you even consider these before working in a bike shop?

While speaking with the manager and discussing my desire to purchase a new bike soon, he brought up the possibility of a custom steel Serotta given my height and frame... so you can imagine that the employee discount piqued my interest. The employee discount didn't really factor into my desire to work on the weekends. I was compelled to do something I truly enjoyed and this seems reasonable.

Thanks for the feedback.
re: Bike Shop Employment???laffeaux
Feb 11, 2003 4:13 PM
I'm not sure what SPIFF stands for, but it's a small kick back for selling items along with a bike.

Unfortunately the shop that I work at does not sell custom frames, so that's not an option for me. I imagine the there would be some discount from retail (for me), but not as much as buying a bike that our shop sells. Bikes that are EPed through the shop (brands that we sell) are generally sold to employees for 20% less than the shop would pay for the same bike. It's a good deal.

I've resisted the urge to buy any big ticket items so far - although the small ticket items add up quick. Although there's a new TI bike that I'm kind of interested in right now.
re: Bike Shop Employment???gtx
Feb 11, 2003 4:41 PM
try contacting small builders directly. Tell 'em you work at a shop, and if you race... you might be surprised. Also, some companies like Speedplay, Chris King, etc., will offer pretty good pro deals (or they used to...)
Feb 11, 2003 3:24 PM
If you're at all mechanically inclined, try to get a job wrenching. Usually you have to beg your way into a job building cheap new bikes and work your way up from there. You'll learn more and have more fun and eventually make more money (if you want to keep it part time and not be a manager). In general, dealing with the public in sales stinks IMO.
Feb 11, 2003 3:56 PM
Well you may be correct... but I think I'm on the path to a sales position, for now. However, I'll keep this in mind as I'd genuinely would like to learn how to strip down and rebuild my bike. I believe I am mechanically inclined, but never really have done much bike wrenching. Are mechanic positions tougher to land. I'm sure the skills have to be solid to build bikes for a reputable shop given the product liability of a faulty bike build.

How much different is building an entry level mtb or hybrid versus building a mid-to-high end road bike?

Thanks for the input.
Without mechanical experienceStraightblock
Feb 11, 2003 4:11 PM
expect to assemble tons of bmx & comfort bikes before you ever touch anything with Campy or Shimano 105 or better. Plan to fix flat tires until you can do it in you sleep, too.

The shop I worked for in college had deals with a couple of discount department stores assembling their bikes, too. It was a good way to break in the new guys and find out who wasn't going to cut it.
Feb 11, 2003 4:22 PM
It's pretty much sink or swim at first. When I was a service manager I'd basically hire anyone who cold put a safe, tight bike together in less than a hour. If they were reliable and improved their speed they'd get to stay on past summer. From there you move on to doing easy repairs, then tuneups, eventually wheel builds and high end bike builds. The better you get the more likely you are to be thrown out with the public again. A lot of people like to just keep their head down, stay in back talking bs and blasting the tunes.
Feb 11, 2003 4:32 PM
"How much different is building an entry level mtb or hybrid versus building a mid-to-high end road bike?"

These days any bike out of a box can be built pretty fast by a good mechanic. We used to race on cheap bikes--5 to 8 minutes for the $300 bikes, though it can take a newbie an hour or an experienced wrench working at a normal relaxed pace around 20-30 minutes. There is a lot more to a high end builds, and they are usually done by the best wrench, who is often the guy dealing with customers and many interruptions.
Don't do it for the moneyj-son
Feb 11, 2003 4:04 PM
I worked in shops from late 92 to early 98, while I tiptoed thru college and grad school. I did it because I loved cycling and working on bikes. The pay, which was quite paltry, was secondary.

I totally agree that you should try to work your way into the mechanical side of things. I found it infinitely more enjoyable than dealing with the retail side of things.

A caveat: My years in a shop jaded me. I can now barely stomach a trip to the LBS. CC and Excel via the net are now my only conenctions to the retail world of cycling.

Best of luck,
Feb 11, 2003 4:42 PM
"A caveat: My years in a shop jaded me. I can now barely stomach a trip to the LBS. CC and Excel via the net are now my only conenctions to the retail world of cycling."

That's me, 100%
My experience.slide
Feb 12, 2003 6:55 AM
I first started working in a shop as a wrench when I was 15. Did that untill I was 19 and went off to photography school. Then, about a year and a half ago I moved to a University town to persue a degree here and got a job as a salesperson at a 3 store shop in the midwest. So I have spend around 5 years off and on working in bike shops. From what I have learned, its different everywhere. Both shops that I worked for were cyclist owned and run which was really nice. The store managers race, the owner rides and most sales employees are rodies while most of the shop guys are mtbr's. The first shop I got paid minimum wage with a small raise a couple years later, but I was still in high school and everybody my age was making minimum wage. I felt lucky because I had just about the coolest job in town. Don't really remember what my discount was then.

At my current job I'm making $8.00 an hour, though that is one of the higher wages that is paid their. Many employees my age (23) are working for just slightly above minimum wage. It is mostly becuase when I started I told them I needed that much money and I started as full time (though now I am part time while I go to school) I hoping for a raise this summer.

At neithe job did I earn commission or spiffs and that is the way I like it. I don't want my income to depend on what sort of month the store is having or right now I would be broke! Sure, when I sell the $2000-$3000 dollar bikes I would love to get a little peice of that but I'm content with my hourly wage (and discounts!) It lets me concentrate on selling the customer what they need and want, not what will will get me some extra money. It makes me happier with my self and the job knowing that I am always doind what is right for the customer without the thought of what will this do for me.

Discounts, now that is the best part. I get everything for cost plus 10% unless the company has an EP (employee purchase) program in which case I get it for less (usually 10-20% below cost, plus shipping but then you don't have to pay tax) You'll be surprised on some things though. Sometime cost on certain items (things like Shimano components) is barely any lower then what it is sold for on the net (much to the dismay of the shop!) I recently bought a bunch of Campy stuff to switch my bike over from Shimano. Since it was such a large order I ordered it directly from the distributor on my own credit card (avoiding the 10% over cost charge and the tax) which saved me some good money. Had I not done that, the prices would have been really close to what the discount online places are selling for. Bike EP is great and will deffinetly save you a ton.

So basically the pay is just ok, and the discounts vary from almost nothing compared to the net to very good on some items. The best part though is that your working in a bike shop. Their is no cooler job out there.

Also, if your not already you will get jaded. We have pretty seriouse riders who come in with 105 equipped bikes and look at the Ultegra equipped Trek 5200 or the Dura Ace equipped Giant TCR Composite O and are just in awe. I look at them and think they are just nice bikes, nothing more. After working in a shop for years it takes something really nice to impress you anymore.

It's great!