Motorcycle Repair and Service from Pro-Hawg Performance - Profile of a Small Business
Businesses can be fun - especially on two wheels. How about your own motorcycle repair, service and performance bike shop? That's exactly what Paul Fisher and Steve Murray have to offer.
This is one of the most fun small business ideas I've run across yet.
If you're in search of Harley service or high performance for your "hawg", then these are the guys to see. Even if you prefer to straddle a "rice burner", they can still help you out in the event you have a repair or service need.
They're not particular about what you ride, just particular about giving you good quality service at a competitive price.
From what I know about motorcycle dealerships, they offer sales and routine service, and repair when you need it. So, how can two guys start up a Harley service business that effectively competes with the "big boys" in town?
To understand the answer to the question, you'll need to remember that the term "small business" only describes the size of the company. It doesn't necessarily describe depth or breadth of service.
The scope and depth of service offering is completely up to the entrepreneur.
Pro-Hawg Performance in Cheyenne offers a wide range of services from routine maintenance to emergency repair. That matches what most dealerships offer, but it doesn't stop there.
Paul and Steve also offer custom modifications and high performance packages to suit the interests of their customers. That's where Pro-Hawg Performance differentiates itself from the dealerships - they help create the bike that you want.
It all started when…
In 2007, Paul Fisher and Steve Murray joined forces to start a motorcycle shop that offered routine service, repair and custom high performance. What started as a serious hobby operated out of a garage in 2004, quickly turned into a full time business as two-wheeled enthusiasts were drawn to the local "alternative" to dealership-based service and performance enhancement.
In just a few years, Pro-Hawg Performance moved from a garage to an old service station where vehicle lifts and service bays could be put to good use. They're thinking about expanding again in response to higher demand for their motorcycle repair and service.
Okay, so we have a Harley dealership in town, and these guys are seeing continued growth in their business? Yep, that's right, and that tells me that Paul and Steve have the right stuff.
This is an example of the right kind of small business ideas, and the right way to implement them. If it weren't true, their business wouldn't be growing.
How the business grows…
In a specialized service area, one of the keys to successfully growing a business is to "be known" as an expert. This "primes the pump" with respect to word of mouth advertising. Both of our entrepreneurs are known for their passion, skill and experience with motorcycles.
Another way the business grows is through reputation gained from satisfied customers. Folks who ride Harleys tend to hang out with other folks who ride Harleys, so getting the word out about this motorcycle repair and service enterprise is in many ways a "viral" marketing effort.
In addition, participation in motorcycling clubs and associations gives these fine gentlemen an opportunity to talk about what they do. This comradery, combined with advertising in the local trading paper, gives Pro-Hawg Performance in Cheyenne all the exposure they need.
Benefits of the business…
From an outsider looking in, I can see two key benefits of this motorcycle repair and service enterprise. First and foremost, whether you're talking to Paul or Steve, you're dealing with a principal of the firm.
You don't talk with a service manager, service tech or other employee. You always deal with the owners. I like that very much. Since I'm the owner and manager of my motorcycles, I like the idea of interacting with the folks that own and operate the business and also turn the wrenches.
Another great benefit of having your own motorcycle repair and service business is that you create your own business. You can be as busy as you want - it's all up to you. For many of us, that's a great benefit of running your own shop - keeping yourself busy with gainful employment.
We often think of the benefits of a business as being directed toward the business owner. They can also be directed toward the customer as well. As a "small business", Paul and Steve have been able to service customer needs during off hours and on days when most motorcycle service shops are closed.
That's a benefit to the customer, but also a great satisfaction for our entrepreneurs who set out to provide a much needed service to fellow two-wheelers. It also provides a unique benefit to the small enterprise operator, since it allows them to establish a relationship of trust with "customers in need" that the larger shops miss out on because they're not open for business.
Resources you’ll need…
This kind of business isn't something that you can get into in a flash. It takes years of experience, specialized tools and certain items of stock to be able to provide timely and effective services.
How about a complete set of gaskets and seals for heads, cylinders, transmission casings and the like?
In addition to a lot of hand and power tools, a performance bike shop and motorcycle service provider needs equipment that the average bike owner just won't be able to afford.
What about a tire changing machine? I can't imagine trying to take off a tire or mount a new one without such a labor saving device.
You'll also need a shop that has plenty of room for bikes, tools, equipment, replacement parts and supplies. Don't forget you'll need dedicated space for an air compressor and vehicle lifts too.
None of these items comes cheaply. They all have their price.
Once a small business like this is up and thriving with a solid customer base, it should have the potential to gross $100K or more a year. Keep in mind that there are lots of expenses that will chip away at that number.
Remember, you'll have expenses like:
- specialized shop services
- stock (like the tires shown below)
All of these costs have to come off the top of whatever you make, so keep things in perspective when calculating income.
Challenges to overcome…
One of the challenges for a business like this is keeping expenses paced with business coming in the door. As a specific example of this type of challenge, let's look at the need for space.
Motorcycle repair takes up a fair amount of space. There is a need for space to work on the bikes, a space for tools and equipment, and a space for office work.
The challenge for a motorcycle repair and service operation is to know when to get into a larger facility. The conservative nature of most people would suggest waiting until you're busting at the seams before you spring for larger quarters.
Another approach would suggest that having room to "grow into" would be more comfortable for a motorcycle repair and service business. It can be a bit dicey too since you'll probably have to sign a lease.
Either way you look at it, the idea of office and shop space is going to be a challenge. Typically, the larger your operation, the more space you're going to have to dedicate to tools, materials, supplies and equipment.
Most certainly the quality workmanship and reasonable prices of Pro-Hawg Performance in Cheyenne can be seen as notable achievements. These hallmarks have been instrumental in gaining market share in the face of the motorcycle repair and service offerings of larger dealerships in town.
Anytime your small business ideas can stand up to the larger established outfits in town, you've got yourself some good ideas indeed.
I am most impressed with the off-hours services provided to various motorcyclists who were stranded with flat tires, failed drive belts and what have you. These are most certainly achievements to be proud of.
Paul and Steve own these fine trailers in support of their motorcycle repair and service business. They come in handy for hauling in bikes that can't make it in on their own.
Another fine achievement is quick turn around for many jobs they take in. Paul and Steve like to get all the parts and materials in for a job before accepting the motorcycle for service. That way, when the owner drops off the bike they often get it back within 24 hours.
That's uncommon for larger service organizations like a dealership, and that's what sets our entrepreneurs off from the rest.
Special message from our featured entrepreneur…
In talking with Paul and Steve, they have a few things they want to share with you about motorcycle repair and service. Consider these to be words of wisdom from the fine gents at Pro-Hawg Performance in Cheyenne.
They want us to know, "We provide a quality service for a reasonable price and our customers are very happy with our performance. So much so that our business has recently grown exponentially."
They also advise that customers appreciate "straight talk and honest, fair dealings. It is essential to success. Do things right, NEVER compromise on quality and safety."
Lastly, Paul emphasizes that their motorcycle repair and service work is based on "relations" instead of "transactions", and that makes all the difference in the world. "It’s the little things that make people feel comfortable - remembering their name, asking about the family, and always making time to talk with them if they stop in."
That kind of personal business relationship makes any of the small business ideas even better, because most customers will enjoy that kind of treatment.
Done with Motorcycle Repair, take me back to Small Biz Profiles