Franchising accelerates growth for bike repair firm
Davide Xausa’s experience with a local bike repair shop led to the booming business he founded with two partners.
An avid cyclist with a busy life in Vancouver, Xausa grew frustrated taking his bike to the repair shop and then waiting for a week or more for repairs to be finished.
“I asked myself: ‘Wouldn't it be great if someone could come to your home or office to do repairs and service on the spot?’” says Xausa, President of Velofix, a mobile cycle repair company.
Xausa, Chris Guillemet and Boris Martin founded Velofix in 2012 with one fix‑it van. First year revenue topped expectations by 120%, and the company has since expanded rapidly via franchising.
High-tech image attracts customers
The three partners are challenging the image of bike shops with emblazoned Mercedes Benz vans that act as giant mobile billboards. The high‑tech vans contain a premium workshop, espresso machine, flat‑screen TV, skylights and wireless Internet.
“Our fees are comparable to bricks and mortar competitors—without the downtime and travel,” Xausa says. “We calculate that 80% of our customers stay with the mechanic to get educated, have a coffee, or just watch cycling videos.”
“We could have gone with a cheaper van, but we wanted to offer a concierge service with a modern, welcoming environment.”
Velofix, a BDC client, uses its proprietary software to manage online booking, paperless billing, customer service records and a just-in-time inventory system.
Franchise opportunities for young entrepreneurs
To meet demand and accelerate growth, Velofix started franchising in 2014, supported by a Dragons’ Den investment of $300,000. The company sold 14 franchises in the first year with many more to come. The royalty fee is 8% of sales.
“For about $35,000 to $45,000 in upfront capital you can get a Velofix van on the road,” Xausa says. “It's very affordable and opens up a market to young, enthusiastic mechanics with limited capital who want to start their own business, or multi-unit investors looking to expand into a broader territory.”
Franchisees are chosen carefully and trained to ensure customer service standards are maintained. All lead mechanics are required to be professionally certified and maintain a minimum certification level.
Aware that rapid growth requires careful management, Velofix wants to first establish itself throughout Canada. At the same time, the company is investigating expansion to U.S. and Britain with the goal of 500 to 700 franchises.
The right place at the right time
Xausa believes timing was a major factor in his company’s success. “Cycling is the new golf,” he says. “We’re lucky to ride the wave.”
It helps too that the partners are athletes with a complementary set of business, marketing and technical backgrounds. They consider their shared passion for cycling as another key to company growth.
In addition to promoting company services and taking bookings, Velofix uses its website and social media forums to cultivate a community of enthusiasts interested in cycling news, events and training tips.
“Our tagline ‘Save time. Ride more’ is not just about fixing bikes at your door,” Xausa says. “We’re committed to a more healthy, enjoyable and environmentally‑friendly lifestyle.”
Davide Xausa’s Top 5 Tips for entrepreneurs
- Do something you love so it doesn’t seem like work.
- The world is changing. Don’t be afraid to disrupt the established way of doing things.
- Look long‑term not short‑term.
- Choose partners who are top people in their field, trustworthy and good to work with.
- Think big, but don’t take on too much until you’re ready—a long ride takes training.