A Fort Collins veterinarian wants to perform checkups of a different sort.
Trent Newcomer launched the Denver branch of mobile bike repair franchise Velofix. The business runs from vans that come to clients’ homes or offices.
“Compared to your regular brick-and-mortar bike shop, it’s a lower initial investment,” Newcomer said. “Plus, life these days is hectic. People have less time to take their bikes into the shop. I think it’s a superior business model to the traditional bike store.”
Newcomer runs the franchise from two 24-foot Mercedes Sprint vans: one covers Fort Collins and Boulder, and the other covers Denver. Clients can schedule service appointments on Velofix’s website, and vans show up at their home or place of work at the designated time.
The vans are equipped with all the tools and inventory of a regular bike shop, he said. In addition, each van has a built-in TV, WiFi and a coffee maker to entertain clients while the mechanics work.
He’s invested about $25,000 in tools, inventory, legal fees and other startup costs to start the business. He’s also purchased two of the Sprint vans, which cost $44,000 each for a base model. Velofix charges $25,000 in franchise fees.
The company also is targeting companies as clients by offering them bike maintenance packages for their employees, Newcomer said.
Newcomer’s biggest challenge has been exposing the public to the mobile bike shop concept, he said.
“Usually if you open a new business, you just have to make people aware of the fact that you’re doing something they’re aware of,” he said. “But this is different because it’s an idea that a lot of people have never heard of. If you open a restaurant, you just need people to know that there’s a new restaurant in town; you don’t need to introduce them to the idea of eating out.”
The mobile bike shop model isn’t a new idea. In January, two Denver bike mechanics opened Colorado’s Beeline Bikes franchise, another mobile bike shop run out of vans.
Newcomer has Velofix franchise rights for Colorado. While he operates only in Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder at the moment, he plans to expand to other cities as business ramps up. Colorado Springs is on his short list.
Newcomer, a Kansas City native, studied business at CU-Boulder and received his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University in 2005. He moved to Fort Collins in 2000, where he runs the Front Range Veterinary Clinic with two other vets.