Renting lifts to riders raises bikes, loyalty
Shop’s side business designed to assist DIY mechanics
At Wrench It Yourself, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a guy who appears to have recently traded his suit and tie for a T-shirt and pair of jeans, or someone with his hands in the air trying to figure out lefty-loosey, righty-tighty. That’s because Wrench It Yourself is a garage that rents its space out to do-it-yourself mechanics.
Wrench It Yourself (WIY) was founded as a sister company to Addiction Motors, a cooperative offering service from independent technicians.
The premise is based on the fact that many in the San Francisco Bay Area don’t have their own garages, and garage rental fees locally can be outrageous. Wrench It Yourself aims to provide garage rentals at reasonable rates for those who are capable of completing minor service on their bikes but don’t have the space to do so. The hope is that the clients will become a part of the larger Addiction Motors community and grow comfortable leaning on the techs at Addiction Motors when more difficult repairs are needed.
“It was an idea that was original to the business way back when,” Wrench It Yourself owner Jay Larson said.
The goal of Addiction Motors has always been to provide a community for motorcyclists, and the Wrench It Yourself business model fit in perfectly with that goal. However, the company had a hard time finding an insurance provider until recently. Once one was acquired, Wrench It Yourself opened on Sept. 15.
“This is one little piece of the pie that we’re creating in building a community space and creating loyalty,” Larson explained.
Clients can rent one of two lifts by the hour, with prices starting at $20 per hour and discounts available when multiple hours or pre-paid packages are purchased. A lift, a basic set of mechanic’s tools, a community supply of specialty tools (such as torque wrenches, feeler gauges and a compression tester), a computer, shop manuals and other resources are available to each WIY mechanic.
Each mechanic who rents space must sign a legal release of liability waiver and attend a mandatory class before using the shop.
“We have a mandatory safety class that talks about shop safety in general and specific safety instructions that are specific to our shop,” Larson explained.
In addition to the compulsory class, Wrench It Yourself University also offers basic repair classes for a fee. The classes teach the basics of suspension setups, brake jobs, accessory installation and more.
“Just based on what I’ve seen so far, my guess is the educational component of this program is going to be the most successful,” Larson said.
Though Wrench It Yourself mechanics may not have certifications or any formal training, they do have to sign a waiver that says they know what they’re doing, and a staffer is always on hand to keep a watchful eye on their activity. The company will also penalize anyone who steals a tool.
“We’re going to charge $75 for each missing piece, so we put kind of a high value on keeping track of our tools while you’re there,” Larson explained.
When a WIY mechanic gets stuck on a project, consultations from Addiction Motors techs are available for purchase in 15-minute increments. This rewards the techs in the short term and allows them to get to know the WIY mechanics.
“These are potential customers for them, you know. They’re going to run into some situation where they’re in over their heads; they’re going to talk to the mechanic, and they’re going to build a relationship with them,” Larson said, adding that the hope is that when a larger issue comes to light, they’ll turn to that tech for professional services.
In the first few weeks Wrench It Yourself was open, the company was already seeing clients rent lifts and attend its optional classes. The business has only two lifts available to start, but has the space to add more if necessary. WIY isn’t yet profitable, but Larson expects it can be as more lifts are added and more classes are offered.
“The people have been asking for this for a long time, so we’re kind of answering our customers’ requests by opening this facility,” he said.
The formula may not work perfectly in a dealership setting, Larson said, but it could work for some.
“It depends on the franchise, I would think,” he reported. “I would think if the franchise had a family sort of community feel about their space, and they could dedicate the space and the staff to monitor the space, and they could deal with the booking, I think it’s possible.”