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Asking bike shops to build with pre-purchased parts?(18 posts)

Asking bike shops to build with pre-purchased parts?dunkind
Mar 20, 2003 6:59 AM
Should be a fairly common problem...I basically am upgrading a trainer to threadless and have found all my parts online at very low prices. but will need the shop to press in the headset, (I can do the rest) I sort of feel guilty and do not have a shop that I am comfortable with here. Any reccomendations?
are you paying for labor? if so, why the guilt? nmJS Haiku Shop
Mar 20, 2003 7:04 AM
I sort of feel like I am bringing my own food into a restaurantdunkind
Mar 20, 2003 7:25 AM
and asking them to cook it for me, yes I would be paying for service, thanks for the post below.
I do it all the timePaulCL
Mar 20, 2003 7:32 AM
With wine. When friends and I go out to dinner, I'll often called the restuarant first to ask their 'corkage' fee. Corkage fee is the amount they charge to open a bottle of wine you carry in. It's usually zero to $15.

Why not?? When restuarants charge $50 for a $15 bottle of wine, I'll bring my own. They usually don't care - they don't want to lose the other business (like your LBS).

I was going to upgrade my Ultegra years ago from 7 to 9 speeds. I called several LBS's and asked them the charge for installation - never implying that I would buy the components from them. They were all OK with it. I never did it...I went with Campy purchased through my LBS. Nothing like an unexpected infusion of cash to make you a spendthrift.....
i'd rather eat at homeJS Haiku Shop
Mar 20, 2003 7:37 AM
but i don't have a headset press. i do have all the other kitchen stuff, though.

agree with pmf1--if they aren't willing to do it for you, find a shop that is willing. if you can't, it might be worth buying or making a headset press and doing it yourself. ask cycling buds or club members to pitch in, and make it a community press. otherwise, use it, clean it off, and put it over the fireplace mantle--a headset press sure looks cool in the family room.

a shop stuck on selling the parts they install (usually at stratospherically higher rates than catalog) is fighting a losing battle with upper-end (component and frame) customers.
You should not feel bad about itpmf1
Mar 20, 2003 7:15 AM
IMO, what LBS have to offer these days is service. You can't get that on the web. If they get PO'ed when you bring in your own headset, then they don't deserve your business. As Spring nears, don't expect them to drop everything and do it ASAP for you though.

I have done this several times. The shop I deal with has no problems with a customer bringing in parts for them to install. They know they can't compete pricewise with the mail order places. But they do get my service business, plus I buy stuff from them (water bottles, bags, sunglasses, etc). In all honesty, I don't think the components they sell earn them very much anyway. I've seen the catalogues they order from and the prices are higher than what you'd pay if you ordered through places on the web.

If they turn down $40 to press in a headset at the expense of $10 profit on that headset had they sold it to you, plus other stuff you'll probably buy from them, then they're stupid.
Mar 20, 2003 7:37 AM
I've done it a tiny bit, but only when the shop tells me they cannot get the parts I want.

One problem that has been mentioned to me is warranty. If you buy it from and have it installed by the shop and something goes wrong, warranty is not an issue. If you bought somewhere else, and something fails, there may be dispute as to whether it was the part or the labor, and you can't expect to get free labor to replace a failed part you bought somewhere else.

Plus, they make their money on parts and service. Cutting them off from part of the profit may not be fair, when you still want them to be there in the future for you. It's hard enough to make it in that business.

Of course, every shop could vary in how they feel about this. Just ask them and see that they say. Or, just buy or make a press and do it yourself. It isn't hard.

Why not? Service is very profitable (even more than parts)Fez
Mar 20, 2003 7:44 AM
At a car repair shop, the shop makes huge markup on parts and a fat labor rate for service. But if you drive a late model car, you are going to want OEM parts and there aren't many places that sell them besides the dealership (independent shops still get them wholesale from a dealership).

Bike parts are another story. THere are very few proprietary parts - with few exceptions, you don't have to buy Colnago or Trek component parts that are only available at the bike dealer. So the LBS knows if they have to compete with big mail order shops they are going to make very little on parts. So they really don't care whether they sell it to you or not. The real margins are in the service and they would still be happy to service you.

The only sticky thing that may arise is if the parts you hand them are defective. You may have to pay labor twice to get it right. If the shop sold you the defective part, they would probably swap it at no extra charge.
Wronge...(except on high end stuff)sievers11
Mar 20, 2003 8:30 AM
Fez is part right, but only on high end stuff and groupos.

Parts are very profitable even more so than labor. Labor is good but for most shops the margins on part are outragous. Tires, tubes, chains, spokes...easy 150-200% mark ups.

I work at a my LBS and I look around online and can get some items cheaper online (and do) even with shipping, than I could ever get through our shops distributors. I recently got a dura ace chain, rear derailer and trans-am flite saddle for 15% bellow wholesale shipped.

There were are few good articles in the bicycle retailer magazine about this as it relates to shimano parts and part tools. These two companies have found several instances where shipments have been diverted or "lost" coming to the US. They were then sold/distributed illegally through online outlets, auctions and online stores.

It has been alleged that Supergo was unknowingly involved, but this might be alittle shop gosip.
Yes, high end vs. low endFez
Mar 20, 2003 8:53 AM
If you are talking about a shop that has a steady stream of kids and easy riders that come in and want to buy tires, tubes, chains and minor tuneups because they never work on their bike and the only thing they do is pump their own tires, then you are right - they make $30 on the labor and $30 gross margin on the parts on the average ticket so the parts are significant.

However in this case, the original poster needs headset work done. Assuming he gets high end stuff, the cost difference between mail order and LBS will be substantial. If the LBS will price match they will make very little gross margin. The only profitable part of the transaction would be in the labor. So most LBS would rather not bother and just gladly accept the labor portion of the transaction.

I don't know many people that will intentionally pay full retail (hundreds of $$$ more) just to keep the LBS happy. And also, the LBS has to order the parts anyway (usually not in stock) so mail order can actually be quicker.

BTW, a full switch from threaded to threadless should run you $50 or so for labor. That includes removal of the old stuff and installation of the new and cutting the steer tube. If you don't know what length you want, ask how much it would cost to come back in a few weeks and cut off the remaining length of the steer tube.
why are there shops like this...sievers11
Mar 20, 2003 8:19 AM
There are a few shops out there that will have a problem. They have a holyer-than-thow aditude towards this type of thing. I did the exact same thing as you, found a sweet deal on a headset online and went to me LBS and the basically chased me out of their store in a rant and loud language. I had spend a good deal of money there on tubes, tires and really offended me.

So I went to try a new shop, they were very helpful and I paid them $10 bucks and we were friends. I have since recomended this shop to many many friends and have gave them all of my cycling business.

A word to those holyer-than-thow shops with negative online part are turning away knowlegable cyclists because you are pissed off about the internet. Knowlegable cyclist's friends trust their opinions and LBS bread and butter are from word of mouth.

Oh yeah, one more thing at the new shop I work at we get a ton of business from the less knowlegable online shopper who became a solid in store customer from purchasing a ton of crap online that is incompaible or messed up their bike to various degrees.
What's wrong with just being open and direct?Spoke Wrench
Mar 20, 2003 8:52 AM
Call them on the phone. Tell them what you have. Tell them what you would like for them to do. Ask how much it will cost.

If they don't want to do it for any reason, they can tell you. Most likely they'll appreciate the business. They're aware of the realities of bicycle component prices.

I can anticipate two possible problems:
1. Do you have the right compatable parts? Probably not a problem but that kind of stuff happens.
2. Don't expect them to do the work while you wait. It might work out that way, but I once threw a guy out of my shop who used to come in at lunchtime, wanted us to stop whatever we were doing to take care of his adjustment, and then complained about the labor charge.
Id buy a pressctisevn
Mar 20, 2003 9:30 AM
Id buy the press, install it and keep it for future use if you're not buying the part at the shop. Ive never turned anyone away in my bike shop years but IMHO it doesn't make for the beginning of a lasting relationship to bring a mail order bit into the lbs. if you don't have a shop youre comfortable with then maybe return the headset and buy one at a shop and have it installed. go back a couple times and maybe the next time you need something done youll get a deal. every shop Ive known has a small group of customers that get really, really good deals on labor(usually grata) and often parts. the best way to be in that group is to pay in the beginning and frequent them. it'll pay in the end and youll have somebody to turn to for your next headset install.
No Problem...Just ask them firstzmarke
Mar 20, 2003 11:07 AM
I think you should support your LBS but not at your own expense. Our economy has changed from an industrial economy to an information/service economy. You should be able to purchase parts from anyone and pay someone else for thier time to install/setup the parts.

This may kill the LBS but in the end it may make the few LBS left better at what they do and hopefully more profitable. Maybe they will end up with less salespeople trying to push overpriced crap but have more wrenches which means we could get our bikes back from service faster. IMHO, LBS are there to keep "emergency parts on hand" and as a result you should pay more for these parts since it costs them money to stock them. Other than that, by your parts wherever you damn please!

I recently built a new bike from a 2002 leftover frame I purchased on eBay and parts from Nashbar. I visited a few shops and was honest in telling them what I needed for them to do. They all were very helpful and admitted that this was the new way of doing business.

One shop was even open enough to tell me that if I had purchased the parts from him he would not charge any build fee but based on what I needed the charge would be $150 to build up my bike from my parts.

A second shop said the build fee was the same whether or not I purchased the parts from him. They said they routinely swap parts when customers upgrade frames (even if not purchased from them) so why should they charge extra just becasue you are bringing them new parts instead of old parts from your old frame.

This may seem like a nasty response but why is it my job to keep the LBS in business?

Why is Nashbar, Performance, and the other on-line shops doing so well?
Make your own.lsg
Mar 20, 2003 12:01 PM
I use a long threaded bolt with large washers and tighten it down gradually - no problem. Got idea from MTBR web site you might want to go over there and do a search. Someone posted complete with pictures and instructions. They also had instructions on how to make your own headset cup remover from pvc pipe and it actually works, I've done it twice.
Yup.. threaded rod from home depot...MrDan
Mar 20, 2003 1:42 PM
and if you can't find washer big enough, make a couple from hardwood...
thanks all and a long detailed follow up for you!dunkind
Mar 20, 2003 2:54 PM
I made a 4-5 phone calls completly being honest with the shops today that probably will "open a can of worms here"
I am new to the area I live in and have not consistently used one shop.

One local shop actually asked me what kind of bike I was upgrading and when I told them,(GT Course 853 steel, full DA) they said that they did not sell those bikes and I would have better luck somewhere else. This really sucks because it was a shop really close to my house that I would frequent (not any more.)

The last call of the day,was a great little skate, bike shop and he said he would press the cups in for 5 bucks while I waited if I brought it by... I am happy and in the long run will spend a lot more $ at this shop because he was willing to do this.

I found out later that the first shop I called is famous for pulling that stuff. a father handed down the business to his two sons (now middle aged) and they are just not bike people. The mortgage is paid for and told they do not care anymore. Sad sad sad. The little shop got my business, and will in the future......
re: Asking bike shops to build with pre-purchased parts?peter1
Mar 20, 2003 8:56 PM
My lbs has a policy that splits the difference: If they stock the part, or they regularly order it, they'd rather you buy it from them. Otherwise, they'd just as soon have you track down th part, and they'll install it at their normal rate. i think this is fair.