Lysterfield Cycles - a new way of funding trail work

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
Feel free to give me a right spanking if this isnt ok mods. I know there's advertising rules for bike shops here and i respect that, but there's no shop yet so i think this slips under that grey area...

Instead of discussing it on the lysterfield thread, i thought i'd start a new thread. you guys have been the best source of feedback so far, and definitely given us a few things to think about and maybe rethink. I'd like to keep the feedback coming and the dialogue flowing, this shop is intended to be for your benefit so it'd be stupid to tell you how you want things to work :p Any and all feedback or ideas or advice is welcome at this stage. Hell, i'll even take "you shoulda" at this stage, because it seems we have a bit to learn about marketing.

A small group of people from LDTR have been working on this in the background for a little while now and we're coming to the make or break bit. the cat couldn't be let out of the bag earlier due to industry politics so it will appear a bit rushed (and my noobiness wont help this) but it has been in the works for a fair while. Extra incentive to try and make this happen is that there's a better than even chance that another bike shop will pop up in that spot if we're unsuccessful, but its unlikely to benefit the park and its users in the same way.

The basic idea is that we have a bike shop at the lysterfield main carpark at the top of horsewood rd that runs for the benefit of the riding community - all profit goes back to trails and community projects etc.

The big hitch we have here is that we need to raise money for this, and a fair bit of it, and fairly quickly.
https://www.pozible.com/profile/lysterfield-cycles

Our social media volunteer has been trying, but generating more interest is proving harder than we thought.
https://www.facebook.com/lysterfieldcycles

i've just ripped this from the crowdfunding page:

Lysterfield Cycles hopes to offer at launch:
  • Servicing and repairs
  • Bike demo/hire
  • Parts and accessories sales
  • No bike sales!
Lysterfield Cycles doesn’t aim to compete with Melbourne bike shops and has no intention to sell bikes. In fact, with a thriving trail network and an increase in the number of riders, we see local bike shops benefiting in the long term due to our increase exposure of the sport, creating a strong and prominent riding community and promoting the wonderful trails we have so close to urban residential areas.


Possible future services we're hoping to be able to provide:
  • Trailside assist
  • Bike wash station
  • Lost and found
  • Skills clinics
  • Guided tours
It’s planned any profits raised from the shop will directly fund future trail maintenance. This will include:
• Engaging professional trail builders,
• Helping the Lysterfield District Trail Riders (the local MTB Club) pay for materials
• Support broader community activities such as:
– Facility upgrades like bench seating, gym stations, more MTB trails, bike stands around the park
– Local rider support or sponsorship
– Support for official social rides, such as first aid kits and basic tool kits for leaders, and last minute spares for riders
– Providing a hub for local riders to catch up before or after rides
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
Selling coffee, snacks and beer would be an absolute goldmine.
Yeah, I think we'll have to at the very least investigate that. Given that we'll be renting a space in a cafe complex thats owned and run by Montague's, it could be a tricky sell. But we have to at least ask

Maybe we can approach it from the angle that their fine dining customers might not want a hoarde of smelly MTB riders sitting down to eat? Keep them in the shop for their basic, high volume post ride needs

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wkkie

Does my arse look big on this saddle?
Selling coffee, snacks and beer would be an absolute goldmine.
Yep, get a licence and a few craft beers on board and you'll be laughing.

Also, hot food... Pies, sausage rolls, hot dogs, something hot.
 

danncam

Likes Dirt
If you are able to provide decent suspension servicing, that would be a bonus.

I agree with a previous suggestion that to be a hub for demo days from a wide range of bike brands could be very appealing.
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
If you are able to provide decent suspension servicing, that would be a bonus.

I agree with a previous suggestion that to be a hub for demo days from a wide range of bike brands could be very appealing.
The pipe dream idea is to be able to provide quality in house suspension servicing, probably a bit ambitious off the starting line though. Unless we can employ @link1896 and his new shed full of service gear

And I'm personally very keen to get a variety in there. Myself, I'd like to see a big brand or two, and a few smaller ones that you can't usually get a ride on. Small Aussie ones would be even better. Pipe dreams again maybe, but if the idea takes off it could be a winner for all

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Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
You should get in touch with parks first and see what permits and public liability are required. It's usually what dampens the whole exercise of vendors and commercial activities on public land. Our local council here was asking for 10k per year just for a permanent caravan site in a park.
 
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Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
You should get in touch with parks first and see what permits and public liability are required. It's usually what dampens the whole excise of vendors and commercial activities on public land. Our local council here was asking for 10k per year just for a permanent caravan site in a park.
There's a new building in the montague farm property adjoining with the lysterfield carpark, we've got a space in that building reserved for the shop so nil issues with PV from that angle



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Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
There's a new building in the montague farm property adjoining with the lysterfield carpark, we've got a space in that building reserved for the shop so nil issues with PV from that angle



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Any commercial activity on the trails will need a permit and insurance, eg. trailside assist, guided tours & skills clinics. I'd say you're better off going down the route of not for profit org. and applying for grants and donations.
 

slowmick

Eats Squid
If you are not going to sell bikes would you consider assembling customer direct bikes? Migh help out a few riders who need to have the new bike assembled away from the marital home so they can bring home a dirty bike of the same colour and wheel it into the shed. actually - if you had storage the other halves would never need to see it...
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
Any commercial activity on the trails will need a permit and insurance, eg. trailside assist, guided tours & skills clinics. I'd say you're better off going down the route of not for profit org. and applying for grants and donations.
This is where my knowledge gets fuzzy, I'll pass it along and see if someone has a better answer.

I believe we are registered not for profit, and skills/tours would likely be handled by the club just using the shop as a facilitator. Without a doubt bears looking into when/if the time comes - mtba event insurance should cover at least the skills/tours side I'd be thinking?

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Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
If you are not going to sell bikes would you consider assembling customer direct bikes? Migh help out a few riders who need to have the new bike assembled away from the marital home so they can bring home a dirty bike of the same colour and wheel it into the shed. actually - if you had storage the other halves would never need to see it...
Absolutely, assembly of bikes and parts purchased elsewhere would be welcome. It's definitely not clear on anything we've made public so I'll see what we can do to fix that. Not having a horse in the race when it comes to major sales like that should make it less awkward to bring stuff to us to piece it all together


I've heard storage mentioned too, but based on what ive seen I highly doubt that'll be feasible with the space. You'll have an entire ride and a drive home to think of an appropriate reason for the bike looking different

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link1896

Wheel size expert
The pipe dream idea is to be able to provide quality in house suspension servicing, probably a bit ambitious off the starting line though. Unless we can employ @link1896 and his new shed full of service gear

And I'm personally very keen to get a variety in there. Myself, I'd like to see a big brand or two, and a few smaller ones that you can't usually get a ride on. Small Aussie ones would be even better. Pipe dreams again maybe, but if the idea takes off it could be a winner for all

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I'd be happy to work something out. Lower services and Aircans done on site. Full rebuilds back at the workshop?
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
On another note, I've got this idea in my head that if this is successful here it might be able to be successful elsewhere. More shops pumping more money into more trails and advocating for MTB in general...

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Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
I'd be happy to work something out. Lower services and Aircans done on site. Full rebuilds back at the workshop?
We'll have to chat more if we end up going live. I'm not in charge here, not by a long shot, but as yet I don't believe there's any staffing set up...

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Tubbsy

Flying a Scotsman
Staff member
The proposed ideas sound not dissimilar to the setup at Stromlo in Canberra.

Basically two shipping containers spanning a roof, cafe and bar in one, bike rental and spare parts shop in the other. Not sure if they offer anything beyond basic mechanical on site.

Has only been up and running for a year or two; the cafe and bar certainly does a good trade, can’t speak for the shop side of things. There's a pump track right out front too.

Would definitely make good sense to leave your bike at a trailhead workshop for service, and pick it up right there at the trail. I guess you’d want good security leaving your bike in an isolated shop though (I haven’t been to Lysterfield so I don’t know what it’s like at night.)

Shuttles, tours and coaching are offered by separate businesses which is probably a better way to go about it for various reasons.


https://www.handlebarstromlo.com.au/

However these are all commercial operations as far as I know, I don’t think they contribute funds to trails. If you can swing it to run these operations and fund trail work with the profits you deserve to succeed, that's for sure.
 
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Elbo

Eats Squid
Love the idea. I think there is definitely room for this sort of thing in MTBing. So many shops say they support the local cycling scene, but really they just ride on the backs of the volunteers drumming up interest in the sport.
The trailhead aspect of the location reminded me of a (for-profit) bike shop in Cannock Chase, UK. Might be worth checking out how they run things for further inspiration: https://www.cannockchasecyclecentre.co.uk
 

Calvin27

Eats Squid
Basically two shipping containers spanning a roof, cafe and bar in one, bike rental and spare parts shop in the other. Not sure if they offer anything beyond basic mechanical on site.
The challenge here is the retail premise and presumably costs a lot more than two shipping containers. This is still a commercial enterprise that directly competes with the (I think) the landlords own business venture. If you could have a beast coffee shop there, you won't have to worry about making rent on that alone - a quality machine and a decent operator and no competition in sight.

A bike service only shop is going to be a tough on to balance the books - normal bike shops have it tough already. Not sure what the rental rate is but it has to be real cheap to even have the slightest chance of working I rekon. Hate to be a pessimist, but I can't see the business model working without a lot (and I mean a LOT) of free volunteer hours or something that appeals more broadly to all park users.

Mind dump:
  • Brewery is good but not necessarily a recipe for success. A lot of the breweries rely on food to chip into the revenue and the licensing and brewing itself is a lot more work.
  • Club style events would work as a good base. I am thinking the bunnings sausage sizzle model, but then again this is at the whim of the landlords.
  • Coffee coffee coffee - I said it in the other thread, get this done and easy days. I recall there used to be a guy in a van that sold coffee in the carpark, I think PV came down hard on the guy but he was making good money!
  • Keep in mine, all the other servicing and bike stuff is what we want to provides, not necessarily the bits that bring in the revenue.
  • Factor in insurance and security. Due to the location, this is going to be an easy one for organized theft.
  • What about getting a reputable frame builder to bunk up and share the tenancy? MTBA/OneCycling whatever to co locate their Vic office, share the costs of tenancy?
  • How big is this tenancy? Does it have an expandable outdoor space? Would be good to have plans.
I'm not the best expert out there but have been involved in two or three tenancies and business startups. Devil is in the detail .
 

nathanm

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I really like the idea of this concept and am happy to provide my thoughts which I hope may be of some assistance. However I'm not familiar with the actual location and although I've run a few business's I haven't done anything retail bike related

Positives -
Bike stores at a trailhead have a captive audience and if you're going to be the only one of that type in the area then you don't have to worry about competition.
The concept of using the profits to funds trails and community projects is unique and must be applauded. It's also an excellent marketing point. It's what will set you apart form all else and needs to be the big focus, base everything around that and that its the first of it's kind (if not then at least for the state/city/area)

Negatives (to overcome) -
Crowdfunding - It's going to be a super tough sell, particularly as you've factored in a budget for wages. You're asking people, during a pandemic, to donate money so people can get paid to run a "bike store". Obviously its much more than this but that point wont be lost. As your concept is not purely philanthropic you need to heavily push the message of returning profits to those that use the trails.
Potential donors will need to know much more than you've provided, not that you're guessing $10k for tools and $40k for bikes, how have you arrived at these figures and what are you going to be getting for that money. Partnering up with other brands/business will add a much higher rate of credibility as if Brand X wants to be a part of this then so will they. In fact the only real way you'll hit that target is through a big partner I'd foresee.
$100k is a lot of money for a concept particularly if it's unknown, who are the people behind this, what have they done for MTB, what will this do for the area/city/state/riders
What makes this stand apart, what is in it for the riders etc. If I'm donating I don't care what it costs for tools, or bikes etc. I want to know whats in it for me. If I chuck in $50 to crowdfund your idea what am I going to get back from it?

Actually I could continue listing the negatives but my message is going to be all the same, it's a good concept but not necessarily a good plan, yet? Have you done the market research, what's the traffic, whats the competition, what's your demographic. How are you going to turn that $100k initial investment into $100k per year. (I personally have lived through this. I got a $50k loan to start a business, made a $25k loss in the first five months before grossing $158k, for $52k profit in the next 12)
$100k is a big start up amount and can the business sustain it's overheads? Even if you get this money what's it going to cost you to run the business per month and you will need at least 15-20% of that initially amount again in reserve whilst you build the business. $1000s of dollars won't pour through the till on day 1, or week 1 or month 1 and mostly likely not even year 1.

Who is going to run it, if you don't have quality staff the business will never gain the reputation it needs to survive. Riders go to stores they know and trust and you'll need a good local following as well as transient and tourist numbers.

Ultimately I see your problem being that you want people to donate you a massive sum of money before you'll even start and you haven't said how much you (collective) are putting in yourselves. You've got no skin in the game. Yes you've spent time and effort planning and building a website etc but have you actually done anything "on the ground". I think you've gone too big too early. Why not start out with a small "pop up" shop doing just servicing, with a couple of hire bikes? Build a reputation and expand from there. If it fails then you're out a few grand and some time not $100k of other peoples money. If it succeeds (more than 50% of new business fail in the first year) then expand and grow like every other successful business has.

Locally (here in Tas) there's been a few really good success stories you can learn from. Vertigo is the benchmark, starting out as little more than a guy with a shitty old troopy and a trailer, but a desperation to make it work and that he certainly has.
Gravity Isle in St Helens have started out just as you intend to. It's a brand new park and they have a portable trailer they park everyday and do hire bikes, small selection of clothes and tools and do shuttles. The enclosed trailer is an excellent concept as it is transportable, so no fear of being broken into every night. It's also an asset so if something unexpected happens and it goes tits up. You can recover some of the money.

Anyway TL;DR, good luck with it all and PM me if you every want anymore of my crappy advice.
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
bit to unpack there!

@nathanm - thanks for going into as much detail as that, theres a lot of food for thought and i think some very valid points to try and work on quickly. I'm just a tag-a-long here, concept and getting the foundations started have been the babies of a couple of other passionate individuals. i'll do my best to address the points though.

* Marketing that is a not for profit business and that the proceeds go back to the trails and users probably needs to be hit harder. i'll see what we can do to push that a bit more.

* I dont think its reasonable to expect people to work in a bike shop for free. I'd do it gladly, but then how do i buy all my bike parts or feed my family? (note the order i put those in :p ) We fully expect that we'll be providing service and repairs etc. on the same level as any good bike shop, wages is going to have to be factored in.

* good point about not having credibility, we're an unknown. I'm not sure if it helps the situation to know that the committee formed to get this running are all committee members from LDTR, and the only reward being asked for this is to be able to pump money into the trails and users. It sure would help to have a team of big name service guru's on board, but how do we get that without a shop or funding? its a tough one thats well out past my expertise.

* return for investment is a tough one. none of us are going to put a house on the line to build a business that puts all its profits back to the trails, and investors would laugh us out the door with a strategy like that, so we're left with crowdfunding. I actually suggested a substantial change to the reward system that currently doesnt give a lot of value back, that would see servicing and bike hire in exchange for the dollars donated. So far it looks like this will go ahead and hopefully make a marked difference on peoples willingness to give.

* the small scale operation is definitely a thought worth considering. run it low key to begin with andbuild it up, possibly with another crowdfunding campaign once we're a known quantity?


Big thanks, appreciate the effort :D
 
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