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Starting Up A Garage

This is a discussion on Starting Up A Garage within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hello everybody! I've been a member for a while, but being sidetracked with other projects makes this is my first actual post. Anyway, I've been ...

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  1. #1
    Junior Member Jenks750's Avatar
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    Starting Up A Garage

    Hello everybody! I've been a member for a while, but being sidetracked with other projects makes this is my first actual post. Anyway, I've been thinking about opening a garage building bikes, more specifically Cafe Racers. I just love them! lol I'm on my third bike currently, a 1981 Suzuki GS450, which is a surprisingly good ride. I am having a hard time thinking of an original and catchy name for the garage. I don't want it to be too on the nose either, like "Josh's Custom Motorcycles." So, I was hoping you guys could help me out. And, who knows, maybe a few of you will like the bikes. Anyway, thanks for checking it out.

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldy's Avatar
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    If you're going to start doing this on your own...I've been doing it for the past 11 years full time since retirement, so here's my 2 cents:

    If you you like doing it and want to keep on liking it, then don't quit your day job. As soon as you HAVE to make a living at it it, will just put the pressure on you and will soon become 'just another job'.

    Remember you're getting into this to make money, not friends. Don't go out of pocket for other peoples parts, make 'em pay up front...the labour charges can come later, but NEVER hand over a machine until you have been paid in full...it's the people you trust most who will shaft you.
    Be honest to the point of stupidity: Why? Happy client = more clients and above all don't screw people over, it will come back to haunt you.
    Don't do things you're not qualified to do...somebody's life may depend on it.
    Use common sense, if somebody is asking you to do something you know will adversely affect the safety of the machine, turn the job down.

    As far as the name goes...in the words of William Shakespeare "Whats in a name?" It's the product that really matters.
    Last edited by goldy; 03-02-2013 at 12:12 PM.
    “And this you can know – fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”
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  3. #3
    Senior Member OC Steve's Avatar
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    OK, you are considering opening a garage. This forum could be helpful to you. There are pro bike mechanics here, parts fabricators, custom builders, and other experts. Lots of guys who have worked on bikes for a living, signed leases for shop space, built bike- related businesses, made money (and lost money), and bought and sold more bikes than you could shake a stick at.

    Now, look at the one and only question you have come up with for us. You want us to help you think of a name for the business. Really?
    Last edited by OC Steve; 03-02-2013 at 12:16 PM.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member BigAl8295's Avatar
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    Is there really any money is building custom Cafe Racers? I look at some of the bikes that shops are turning out and while beautiful, they have so much time and money tied up, they can't make a profit. After all, even with thousands of dollars of work, it's still a CB750 or XS650 or whatever.

    It seems like the guys that make the money are doing service and selling parts. Am I off here guys?

  6. #5
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Ok....do you want to open a general motorcycle shop? or do you want to have a "cafe racer shop" like there used to be "chopper shops". that's right I said used to be, because there are far far fewer niche shops than there used to be.

    honestly, I have never heard of you or seen your work. what are your credentials? how about you post a pic of the bikes you have "built" already.

    If I were to do it....and keep in mind I am not a professional mechanic and at most have worked for small niche shops for short periods.....what I would do is get "semi famous" first. what does that mean? I would build a full out no holds bared all my talents in one motorcycle kind of bike and then whore it out to the magazines and TV as well as every single local bike show there is. Then I would make contacts with people who would want to replicate the bike as well as journalism people. When the time is ready I would sell the bike, find a customer with deep pockets to have me build the next bike for him and repeat. work out of your home garage and take jobs by appointment only. The other way is to get known for something special like setting an LSR record for a turbo bike - then everyone comes to you because you are the only turbo bike guy in MI.

    the other way you could do it is to be a jobber - taking in small jobs one at a time until you have a full schedule. I don't advise it because the kind of people that use jobbers will literally argue with you about a $15 handlebar being too expensive. The advantage is little overhead and you don't have to keep a lot of spares in stock.

    THE biggest thing that makes or breaks a motorcycle shop is scheduling. Too many shops take on job after job with no idea when the bike will actually be finished. Customers are used to dealer style schedules, they will wait a week, they will hem and haw about two weeks, they will be pissed off about three weeks. I'm not talking big jobs here - just the small basic stuff.

    having a physical location without a means to pay for it out of the gate is near worthless. if you get a shop first and then look to find business you won't make any money for 2 years and you will be lucky to break even in the first year. If you start with a book of business and customers and then get a shop out of need you have a better chance of survival.

    honestly, if you just want a shop to have a shop then open a motorcycle themed coffee shop or bar instead. All the costs are the same but people actually want to hang out and spend money in those kinds of businesses.
    Last edited by Geeto67; 03-02-2013 at 01:29 PM.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member jaguar's Avatar
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  8. #7
    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    "Anything For A Buck"
    I seriously doubt the genre of Cafe Racers these days is enough to open a specific Cafe Racer only shop, you'll starve to death. Is there a Cafe racer scene in your area? If you don't see others around in abundance. It reminds me of what my dad keeps telling me when I say that I want to remanufacture the fairing that was on my bike that is no longer available. He reminds me if there isn't anyone making one now like what I want there must be a reason for that. Just because I think it is the best since sliced white doesn't mean 1000 others see it my way.
    Last edited by o1marc; 03-02-2013 at 02:16 PM.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Marc, that clear fairing you used to have , was it made by Tracy? If so I think I can help you with finding another. Pm me.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  10. #9
    Senior Member JackC's Avatar
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    Check prices on garageman insurance. It could change your whole line of thought.

  11. #10
    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    Marc, that clear fairing you used to have , was it made by Tracy? If so I think I can help you with finding another. Pm me.
    No, it was made by a company called "Futura" out of Italy. When my friend went back to get more they were out of business. This was back in 1979. I don't know how many of you Ca. guys remember RaceCrafters in Canoga Park owned by Lyn Abrams. Please do see what you can find on the Tracy fairing though and post it here for me or PM me the info.Thanks
    www.CreativeCandy.org

    I carry a gun because I'm too young to die, too old to take an ass whooping, and a cop is too heavy.

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