So Cal couple takes motorcycle service business on the road

Publish Date: 
Mar 26, 2012
By Mike Vaughan

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. - Anthony and Melissa Garcia opened Splitting Lanes, their repair, modification and custom bike business, in a brick-and-mortar facility in Mission Viejo, Calif., back in 2002. A couple of years later, high rents forced them to relocate the shop to City of Commerce, near Los Angeles.

Even with a lower rent, they struggled to keep the business afloat. All the logistics of running a standalone shop — customers getting the time to drop off and pick up bikes, offering rides home or providing pickups — proved to be roadblocks to success. So in 2008, the Garcias opted to close down the shop.

Anthony went to work designing forward controls for an aftermarket company while building custom bikes on the side. He was even commissioned by General Motors to build a bike that was displayed in GM's exhibit at SEMA in 2008.

The Garcias still dreamt of owning their own business, but knew customer access was a key problem in running a successful repair shop. Given the busy schedules of most people, what was the best way to get customers to bring them their business?

How about taking the business directly to the customer? And with that, Anthony and Melissa took Splitting Lanes mobile.

First, the van. The two began working on a different business model, what they conceived of as a rolling brick-and-mortar motorcycle repair, maintenance and custom shop. They recognized that mobile repair services already existed and that theirs would have to offer something different to compete. They noticed that most mobile services operated out of the back of a van or pickup truck. Theirs would be different. It would utilize a larger vehicle that could provide a more professional appearance, and allow Anthony to work in some comfort, out-of-sight in the cargo area of the truck.

They settled on a used Chevrolet T65 step van — a former Snap-on Tools truck. They gutted the back and added lighting, a compressor, a large tool box, a hydraulic lift, and a tire changer (see photo, right). What they ended up with is a totally self-contained repair shop, one that can contain all liquids, including hazardous materials on board until they can be delivered to an authorized disposal facility. The rig finally finished and they opened for business in August 2011.

Paperwork required by state and local governments has been minimal, and not difficult to deal with, the Garcias maintain. They carry a business insurance policy like any brick-and-mortar operation and have had to secure a business licenses from several cities, though it’s not a requirement for all the cities in which they operate.