Bike Shop Hub Center:

The business and work culture of Bike Shop Hub in all it's glory.

When we have new products, sales, weird marketing ideas, commentary on the cycling industry, or embarrasing photos of of the staff, this is where you'll find it.

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We get to see and touch and test all sorts of great cycling gear here at our world headquarters. But we actually get to meet very few of our customers in person.

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Monthly Archives: January 2007

Setting up the Bike Trailer Blog

Another week of living the dream, doing business, making sales, & dreaming some more.

Here’s our list of projects started and completed during the week:
1. The new workshop got insulated. Now I can stay warm for the rest of the winter.
2. I started looking for an improved FedEx account so I can have deliveries picked up here and hopefully at a better rate.
3. I began setting up another weekly Blog that will be focused on bike cargo trailers: news & reviews called the Bike Trailer Blog . This effort will be in part to help raise the profile of the Bike Trailer Shop.
4. Wandertec workshop expansion drawings were started in my CAD program.

On the somewhat downside of things, my part-time employee decided he wanted to focus in on his classes. So I am back to being a one-manned operation. Having worked with my first employee for about 4 months now, I’ve come to one main conclusion. The next time I hire an employee, it should be ready to offer a full time gig. Hiring employees on a part-time basis only works if there are plenty of very basic tasks available. At the moment, the work that is available takes some time and training. After investing in an employee’s training, I would like to have them committed to the business just as I would be committed to offering them steady employment. Perhaps, I will be in the position to make this next step once the summer sales get underway.

The plan for the new Bike Trailer Blog was come up with by my web designer, Ben Robinson – Chicago Style SEO. He explained to me how blogs can be a powerful marketing tool in conjunction with an Ecommerce website. A blog can get very high in the Search Engine Rankings because it contains up to date and specific information. As it grows it will gain links as a reference point from other blogs and websites. The blog will conversely pass on these benefits to a sales website by being linked to it. The traffic from the blog will also pass directly onto the sales site through the numerous reference links to it.

The most successful blogs are generally those blogs that provide expert knowledge in a specific area. I realized that given my extensive work with selling and developing add-ons for bike cargo trailers, I had this knowledge. The blog is an opportunity for me to share, not just about the trailers and accessories that I offer, but also about all of the other bike cargo trailers available in various forms. I can do so in a way that instead of being sales oriented, shows other areas of interest such as in depth trailer comparisons, a variety of uses for trailers, tours trailers are being used on and much more.

Keeping the Warmth Inside

This week at Wandertec:
-I completed setting up the Wandertec CELLO bike case’s new streamlined accounting.
-Brian and I started putting insulation into our new location’s workshop.
-I had a shipment of 10 Burley Cargo Trailers delivered to the wrong address.
-I came up with a promising design for a product I’ve been working on: a fabric liner/bag for the BOB trailer.

With the new accounting setup, we are ready to order more materials and restart the manufacturing process for the year ahead. Inventory levels are decent, and our new accounting will really improve our accuracy in forecasting and preparing to have just the right amount of products on hand to fulfill orders.

Our new location’s workshop came without heat or insulation. When we complete the workshop’s expansion, a furnace will be installed. For the time being, we are staying warm with a propane construction heater. All the heat is going straight through the buildings metal roof. So now we are in the process of sweeping out the rafters and stapling up some insulation.

This weeks biggest adventure was having a pallet of our pre-season order of Burley Cargo Trailers arrive across town at the wrong address. Both Burley and FedEx didn’t want to accept the blame for the mishap so I begrudgingly drove across town and packed all of the trailers inside of my Honda Element. In the process I managed to dislodge my rear view mirror, which I ended up having to take to the dealer to have reinstalled. It was definitely one of those days.

I had a burst of inspiration in my work on a design of a liner for the BOB Trailer. This product is a fabric cover shaped to fit in the bottom of the BOB trailer. It is very useful for using the BOB for commuter and local use as you can simply toss items in the trailer. We are designing the product (Wandertec Sax) to work together nicely with the Wandertec Cargo Net. The Wandertec Cargo Net works great to keep your items from bouncing out of the Sax. The new inspiration was to make the liner out of our heavy duty ballistic nylon used on the Wandertec CELLO. I realized how to keep the design very simple yet very effective. A big part of this will be to use a bungee cord with a ball end to hold the liner along the rails of the BOB trailer. This devise will allow for a very smooth profile of the liner that will have a secure yet easy way to mount it in place.

Managing CELLO Inventory/Google AdWords on the Side

This past week, I spent most of my time organizing the multiple parts of the Wandertec CELLO into our new QuickBook’s Manufacturing software. This time consuming task should pay off as it will result in a very clear picture of how many CELLOS are available and what parts need to be ordered. Developing a smooth manufacturing process from ordering materials through to shipping the product will give me a great deal of confidence as I look towards adding some new products into the mix.

This new accounting system will make it easier to hold lower overall inventory because I will know much more precisely when I am close to running out. Holding less inventory results in using up less storage space, having to generally handle less inventory, and having less cash sitting in inventory. Lower inventory levels also allow for more rapid developments and improvements to the product applying new ideas to each successive building of CELLOS. This new accounting software will support implementing these improvements as it very gracefully allows for inventories of upgraded parts to be shifted in and out.

As a new business, I’ve found the need to pursue alternative sources of cash-flow. Recently, I’ve been earning additional dollars by contracting out my skills in running Google AdWords to the local snowshoe & crampon manufacturer Kahtoola.

My main efforts with Google AdWords has been for our subsidiary business BikeTrailerShop.com. I was convinced by the book Winning Results with Google Adwords that Google is the perfect mode for advertising niche products on the Internet. Google’s system is setup to give advantages to ads that are the most relevant to the Google searches that they are linked to. With these advantages an affordable campaign can be developed that focuses in on a very specific group of interested shoppers who are looking for what you’ve got. Besides these advantages, Google Adwords is incredibly dynamic, providing a great deal of insight into what is working within the campaign.

After mastering the setup of the AdWords for my bike cargo trailer products, I was ready to help out at Kahtoola. Last week the effort for Kahtoola has been paying off with their ads are up and running smoothly. Kahtoola is getting targeted traffic and we are earning some extra cash flow through managing their accounts.

Check back next week to see what tasks I am gliding (more likely trudging) through.

THE GUTS OF WANDERTEC

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to become much more revealing in the Wandertec Blog. My goal in this is to try to get to the guts of what happens here at Wandertec. I hope the readers of this Blog will find this perspective an interesting and revealing example of a start up business.

Wandertec, Inc. is a small start-up business. Wandertec, Inc. is owned primarily by myself, Josh Lipton. Other owners include my family and some friends including Ben Robinson who designed the Wandertec website. I work full time to operate the business and have one part time employee.

I started down the path of developing the CELLO in 1998. In 2003 I formerly created the business Wandertec. In 2005 I first began selling the CELLO. In 2006 I also launched a subsidiary business to Wandertec. This is the website BikeTrailerShop.com.

To date, 40 CELLOS have been purchased. While this is a very modest number, the word is slowly getting out there. The majority of our revenue stream has been coming in through the BikeTrailerShop.com. This has been very helpful allowing me to both work full time and to hire a part-time employee.

With that brief introduction, I will get straight to our current operations. At the moment, I’m working on plans to expand my workshop. I recently purchased a house on the east side of Flagstaff that is zoned residential with a commercial overlay. Currently we are set up in the small (360 square foot) shop. In the coming months, I will be adding on a 700 square foot addition. With this addition we will have plenty of room for both CELLO and Bike Trailer Shop inventory and our main manufacturing tool, the ShopBot.

Another important project is organizing all of the parts of the CELLO into our new accounting setup – QuickBooks Manufacturing Edition. This should be very helpful in streamlining the manufacturing of the CELLO. We are working towards a more efficient production philosophy of Just-In-Time manufacturing as described in the book “Lean Thinking”.

One of the advantages of Just-In-Time manufacturing is that new designs and improvements can be implemented as they are developed. Every CELLO off our assembly line will have some small incremental improvements applied as they are developed, rather than having to wait for the new “model” to become available.

Check back next week to find out what is burning on Wandertec’s hot plate.