Faster Service: Case #1 for the BBI Methodology

Repeatable, quantifiable results make service more efficient

Words by Graham Thompson

One of the most common questions I get from my students, especially after demonstrating a particularly complex procedure is, “Is this how you did it in your own shop?” My answer is always an unequivocal “YES!”, and in this article, the first in a series of three, I’ll explain why.

Over the course of my career in the bicycle industry, I’ve had the opportunity to see things from both sides. At the first bike business that hired me, they approached bike mechanics subjectively, working largely by feel. Then I worked for a second, larger retailer that made a point to send every one of its top technicians to Barnett Bicycle Institute (BBI). These top technicians trained the less experienced techs, and they required that all techs use a standardized approach, based on the BBI methods.

Fair Wheel Bikes

When my second employer sent me to BBI, I immediately recognized the potential in taking an approach that gives you consistent, repeatable and quantifiable results. Empowered and impassioned, I returned to my service department and began to apply what I had learned over the 10-day course. Over the next six years, I was able to vastly improve three core components of our service department—1) I significantly reduced our turnaround time for labor, 2) I greatly elevated our customer experience and, most importantly, 3) I was able to exponentially grow our service department's revenue.

It’s a familiar story in the bike business; the first warm days of spring bring an onslaught of customers and, next thing you know, you’re quoting a two-week (or longer) turnaround on labor. After attending BBI, I recognized that one key benefit of BBI methodology was the ability to greatly reduce my time spent (and my team’s time) on labor tasks, and that had the potential to separate my shop from others in my market.

The principle behind it is pretty simple: Following a procedure that is repeatable and quantifiable makes you more efficient. Clear step-by-step procedures eliminate guesswork, or speculating, when it comes to optimizing an adjustment. Perhaps my favorite example of this is the straightforward BBI procedure for correcting a dish error while truing a wheel—measure the dish error, do some quick and easy math, and then you can correct your dish error in a single operation.

BBI Founder John Barnett, in his natural element.  (   BBI   )

BBI Founder John Barnett, in his natural element. (BBI)

Because of the quantifiable aspect to BBI methodology, auditing work becomes a breeze, which means less time spent on quality control. Your quality control is built into your procedures, a concept known as “quality engineering.” Quantifiable procedures also mean you can give meaningful and precise feedback to your team, which reduces the need for lengthy training and coaching sessions.

The consistent results you get from following set procedures eliminates “boomerang bikes” that come back for tweaks and adjustments again and again; the job is done right the first time. That means less time dealing with customers' service complaints. Consistency allows you to schedule work more efficiently; the work always comes out the same, no matter which mechanic works on it. Properly applied, the results appear as if you’ve personally worked on every single bike.

Applying the BBI methodology to labor in my shop allowed me to greatly reduce my service department's turnaround times. Within six months after attending BBI, my service department had implemented a 48-hour turnaround on all bike labor. This turned out to be a key differentiator, separating my store from others in the area (especially in today’s instant gratification era). That difference vastly improved our customer experience, and we saw significant gains in revenue. But we’ll talk more about that in the next article…

Master Technician Graham Thompson is a Bicycle Mechanic Instructor at Barnett Bicycle Institute. For more information on Barnett, and how it can train your mechanics for success, visit