We’ve resisted it for as long as possible but – and you probably saw this coming – we’re reluctantly raising some of our labour prices. I hope I can explain that it’s not us being “less nice” to our customers, but being “more fair” to our team, ensuring that we can pay them a decent salary for their hard work and skills.
We’ll continue to try and keep the costs as low as we can. We know times are hard for everyone at the moment, and we’ll always do our best to make sure your bike is safe to ride at minimal cost if you really can’t afford a service. But as the costs of running our shop have risen, and our team’s costs of living have risen, we need to increase our prices so that we can keep paying them fairly.
Our aim has always been to be the best bike workshop in London. Over the last ten years in Nunhead, we’ve built up a strong and loyal customer base, from everyday commuters to leisure riders to keen (and now professional) racers. We take pride in having excellent technical skills, and delivering superb customer service.
We’ve always striven to keep our prices as low as possible because we’re proudly part of our community and we know plenty of our customers rely on their bikes as an economical way of getting themselves and their families around.
From the start I’ve always wanted to make sure we look after our staff well, too. The bike industry is notoriously poorly-paid and mechanics with years of expertise often earn little more than the minimum wage. Many national chains’ floor staff are on zero-hours contracts and tiny salaries, so the industry as a whole tends only to attract people who either have a second job or other means of financial support, or are so enthusiastic about cycling that they are willing to compromise earning a fair wage. I don’t think that’s fair, and I’m very proud that we were the first bike shop in London to become part of the Living Wage initiative. Thankfully, there are others now following suit.
Rat Race Cycles has always sought to employ the best people. We know our customers (and all customers!) deserve excellent service, and we know our technical experience, skills, specialist tools and training keep us able to build and service the latest and greatest components.
Over the last year we’ve seen many of our shop’s running costs increase, and later this year the renewal of our energy contract will see that bill more than treble. We know that this is happening for everyone, including our team, and the real Living Wage rises proportionately with living costs. I feel strongly that we want to keep in line with our promise to pay our team members the London Living Wage, and in order to do this I need to increase our prices.
I’m sorry if this news feels like the latest in a long line of hits to your wallet, but I hope you understand the reasoning behind it. If you are really struggling to make ends meet, you rely on your bike to get you around, and find yourself unable to afford a basic repair (a puncture or similar) do come and see us. If we can help, we will. I should also add that if you are in the fortunate position of being able to help others, we have a ‘pot’ where you can put money towards our emergency repair fund for those in need.