In a nonprofit bike shop setting, I have asked a customer: what can you afford to pay for this work today. Often I have correctly guessed the answer in advance.

It seems to turn out better for all of us if the customer has some investment in the outcome, though often that shows in serious attachment to and need for a functioning bicycle.

If the customer can give nothing, I still happily give the repair to the bicycle and to the customer; especially with kids. (I prefer to see the kid as my customer rather than a parent as my customer, and interact that way.)

If the customer can pay nothing, I have asked for help, and it has turned out very well. I ask for something I really need (not bs transparent make-work): help moving bikes or cleaning up or something similar. I have asked for help that spares me time and effort and lets me spend more time working on bikes, and explain it as such to the customer.

So keep in mind things that you need done, that help the day flow, like moving boxes of parts or tidying donated bikes. Something simple that doesn't take too much time but that really does spare you effort.

I put the bike up in the stand and begin the repair before asking the customer what they can pay. This helps makes very clear that I will do the repair in any case. And I do not wait until near the end of the repair to ask what they can pay so they don't feel like something they thought free suddenly has a price sprung on them.

And consider the word customer instead of client. It makes a difference.

On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 6:19 AM Sue Plummer <> wrote:
HI Folks,

I'm part of a start-up effort in an urban neighborhood in Cincinnati.  We hope to have our own shop, one day, where we will rebuild and sell bikes, affordably.  In the meantime, we have pop-up repair sessions (2 Saturdays/month) planned for the spring/summer, this year.  

We did a few of these part of last summer, but didn't charge anything.  I am not completely comfortable with that, and would like to ask clients to offer something in exchange.  i'd love any ideas about this.


Sue Plummer
WheelHouse Cincy

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