At the shop we are backed up on repairs. We have one full time mechanic and another employee who performs repairs part-time. We schedule about 25 repairs/tune-ups per week. The rest of the time we reserve for building bikes and other stuff that needs to be done, such as warranty work. But we will try and help customers that need a little something done to their bikes--especially if the bike came from Performance. What kind of work will we do while the customer is waiting? There is not any set rule or set of rules, but I do have some suggestions on how NOT to go about getting us to help you out while you wait. I also have some recommendations on what you can do to get helped out quickly while others have to wait upwards of three weeks.
What NOT to do:
1) Be an able bodied male that only needs a flat tire repaired. If I am the one being asked I will teach you to fish if needed, but I am going to go out of my way to not do this for you. Doing this simplest of tasks makes me feel like I am your bitch for some reason. It is the worst sort of thing you can ask me to do for you at the shop. It more than bugs me. I would often rather have you ask if you can kick me in the shin with your Sidi Dominators (with the toe spikes in even) than that. To me part of the sport is being self sufficient when out on the road or trail and having someone else fix you flats is rediculous when you have a $2,000 bike. If you aren't willing to change you own tube you shouldn't be riding, or at the very least you should pay a penalty for your laziness. I have told people that the rate was $20 labor for a 5 minute job and they still won't do it themselves. Note: There is a gender bias here. I cut women slack for some reason, especially newbie women riders. I still would rather show them how to do it than do if for them.
2) Bring a bike in on Saturday or Sunday when we are busy. Sorry, not even if we wanted to help you could we do so on a weekend usually.
3) Have an attitude that expects us to drop everything just because your derailleurs aren't shifting as well as they should. The fact that you are doing the STP the next day is a you-problem, not a me-problem. Next time, plan ahead. This would be a classic DTP thing to do.
4) You were someone that was a jerk when you bought the bike from us. Yeah, I may be a lowly grunt, but this is when I get payback. it doesn't really matter how much you try to kiss butt now. Back of the line for you, jerk. Bring it back in two and a half weeks.
5) Call on the phone first. For some reason if you call you are going to get shut down automatically 95% of the time--at least by me. I don't remember names or voices and so it doesn't matter if we made a real rider-to-rider connection when you have been in--I don't care, I just want to get off the phone. I hate answering the phone.
6) Smell bad.
7) Acting like a know it all or that it is our fault that your bike won't shift when you haven't had it adjusted during the 2 years you have owned it. When you come in assuming that we are just going to drop everything to help you out then and there when others have to wait for their turn this can really turn us off to helping you. In fact a guy stormed out of the store saying he would never come back who did this to us last week. We told him we were too busy to do it right then and that we would have to schedule an appointment. After acting totally offended, then dropping some f-bombs he left us alone, thank goodness.
8) Ride in on a BMX bike.
9) Ride in on your bike that is held together by chicken wire. There is an exception to this rule for those that have obvious mental/physical difficulties or who are otherwise very much down on there luck. I still don't want to mess with your bike in this condition but my pity or empathy wins out.
10) Having a laundry list of things for us to do. There is probably a two item maximum at best, unless Joel, the manager is around and you are a moderately good lucking female. If this is the case then he will likely have us drop everything and do it right then and there even if it you want a complete tear down, clean and rebuild. See number 1 below.
Tips on how to get work done while you wait:
1) As per number 10 above, if you are even a moderately good lucking female and Joel is around, your ability to get something done right then and there depends upon whether you can draw a breath or not. Joel will do anything for any woman if she is under the age of 50, over the age of 18, and not obese. Yeah, pretty much anything that walks is of some interest to Joel. Not that he has any luck with any of them, but that would be a topic for another time and someone else's blog.
2) Be a kid that is humble and loves to ride his bike. Most of us will go out of our way for a pre-pubescent kid that needs help. Number 8 above applies if you are a kid riding in on a BMX bike and you are looking like a future crack/meth-head. However, even if you are a nice little Jonny or Jenny and you are on a BMX bike you may be out of luck because we have almost no BMX stuff laying around in the shop.
3) If you are one of the guys that occasionally stops in to say hi and chats while you are picking the cheapest tubes in the nation, then it is possible that you are one of those that we also like to chat with. This may help you to make it to the inner cicle of our clientele. We will bend over backwards for you for some reason. We don't know why. Maybe you stroke our egos or something. Whatever it is, it works. I was chatting with Neal about this the other day. This one fellow came in and stood near the shop area and just chatted with us for about 10 to 15 minutes. He asked for some advice, talked about cyclocross and was very nice. After a bit I asked him if there wasn't something I could do for him other than talk about cyclocross--which I could do for much longer than that. He said, "Nope, I just wanted to stop by and say hello." That was cool, it brings me a little bit of happiness that someone would want to waste some time with us. I used to love to waste a bit of time in shops and I appreciated those who would spend some time chatting with me. I was loyal to them and they often went beyond the call of duty for me. I used to frequent a shop in the area and they gave me a heck of a lot of free labor and all I had to do was shoot the breeze with them and ask there advice here and there. Oh, going on a ride with them helped too.
4) Bring food. One time I needed to get a bike built for a trip. The frame arrived about a month later than promised and that put me in a difficult spot. I wanted to take it with me on that trip so I tried to use my connections at the shop to work for me. I couldn't do the build myself because I didn't have the tools and I didn't have the ability to do myself back then. Nope, the shop was just too backed up to help me out they said. I tried to offer a tip, to pay overtime, etc. Nope. I offered to buy all the employees in the store some gourmet pizza--not Dominos, stuff that costs over $20 per pie, and they willingly caved in. It was done the same day. They loved the thick steaming pizza and I loved the work they did--we were all very happy.
5) Have an obvious warranty issue--we feel bad that we sold you crap that broke so we will try to do whatever to get you back on the road. This is not always possible, but we usually try. Unless you are a jerk, then there is no hope for you.
6) Be one of the older members of our clientele. If you are over the age of let's say maybe 65, but 70 for sure, we will probably do what we can for you then and there. After all, we don't want to be stuck with your bike should you kick the bucket during the next two and a half weeks should we have to make an appointment for your work to be done.
7) Did I mention that if you are hot any of the single associates will do anything you want just to touch your saddle? It is sick, but true.
Then there are those who seem to fit into the group that get helped right away but have there bikes at the shop for weeks and months. You know who you are. And it is likely that one bald-headed mechanic is the one that promised to fix it or warranty it or order it for you. I am sorry, you are in purgatory. Nothing much I can do for you, nor anyone else since the gleaming domed demigod of the shop will instantly get wound-up if you ask him what is going on with any of the unlucky denizens of this realm. No one knows when they will be released from their prisons. And yes, sorry to say Brian, you are one of those unlucky ones. Let me know how that Lapierre of yours rides when it is ready to go around Christmas time.