Although the Joiner is several days behind schedule (big surprise) and hasn’t made much progress since last Friday, we’ve made good progress. We set up the cash wrap area and filled the shelves with stuff to sell. We also set up a desk and workspace for Milton and some parts storage in the back room. The Joiner did come through with the workbenches and the front counter (but of course they’re not finished). So we went to work on setting up the tools on the benches. They’re organized in the typical Mike’s Bikes fashion, each tool wall set up identically, so that any mechanic can work at either bench and the tool placement will be familiar. Up until now, it’s been a cluster. The guys were impressed by this, and a bit surprised – to this point, the tools have been scattered through the store haphazardly with regular shouts of “who has the damn 5 mil?” One guy even commented when he saw the tools all neatly hanging from nails, that he had always wondered what those holes were for. Also, we were able to locate and purchase a 4-way clothing rack and hangers to display the cycling clothing we brought. Buying this thing is a story in itself, but for another time. And lastly, the electrician was able to complete all of the lighting additions so the store is now much brighter. There’s even an impressive bank of lights over the front sidewalk that turns on each night at dusk.
With the shop set up as much as possible, we bought pizzas for the crew and it turned into an impromptu store meeting. Milton led the discussion and we spent the early afternoon working with the guys on shop procedures. They learned about how to provide professional customer service and how to be attentive, yet not pushy. Milton gave them some good sales training and spent a lot of time talking about how to describe features and benefits. We reminded them that we were leaving the next day and that both the future of MK Cycles and the growth of cycling in Bulawayo now rests on their shoulders. They’re solid guys and their confidence has grown in just the past few days – we’re sure that they’re up for the challenge.
The highlight of the meeting was when we announced an incentive program for Q and Cephas that would be in addition to their salary of $150 per month. Their faces lit up at the prospect of bringing home a couple extra bucks at the end of each day. While they do feel fortunate to have steady employment, an extra $50 at the end of the month can make a big difference in their lifestyle.
We also showed them how we use our service tags to write up work orders, and how to keep track of bikes on layaway (called “Lay-Bye” here and very common since the only form of payment is cash, and people can’t walk around with much of it).
Lastly, we wanted to make sure before we left that the guys were totally comfortable with all aspects of servicing bikes, so we did a recap of what they’ve learned so far and went over some additional areas. Matt grabbed a bike and went over every adjustment of it, front to back. We then did the typical Mike’s Bikes “show-me” step, handing a bike to each mechanic and having them demonstrate to us that they had fully absorbed the information. We’re happy to report that they all passed with flying colors. Q even pulled us aside later to show how he had nailed yet another difficult derailleur adjustment!