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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is not going to be easy, but I do need some serious and honest feedback. Having spent most of my life on the consumer side of the counter, I recently decided to put my know-how to work in my LBS. I have to say, it's been brutal. This is not going to be an easy job, and I knew that, having had friends growing up who ran or worked in local shops. Anyway, I am going to hold off on my complaints, and let anyone open up about what they wish, within realistic parameters, that their favorite shop had, or comment on what their favorite shop already does right. I have to say that there were several shops in Tucson where I spent most of my life that bring back fond memories. I don't find much of that in my new locale. Any honest input will be greatly appreciated.
 

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local trails rider
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Who is your customer?
What sort of bikes and parts do they want.

You need to be able to figure out and fix every problem a bike might have... and convert that to service that people are willing to pay for.
 

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I would also add treating the customer well.. So often I hear tales of LBS' treating customers like crap because they're not spending a lot of money or hanging around drooling at the bikes- Lets face it the LBS is a lifestyle hub, a place of gathering for all of those who eat, sleep, and drink the sport. I feel I've learned unaccountable amounts hanging around the shop and when I did have the scratch to buy a new bike, that's exactly where I went.
 

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As said above, a good coffee machine, having the the work area with bikesatands etc a fical point of the LBS, not down the back hidden. I loved at my LBS in New Zealand to be able to hang out and chat whilst a tune up was being done........

A discount on all parts after a complete bike purchase has been made. I guess that also depends on the build, am not talking a 399 bike.

Staff that are not young smart a s s punks whom think they know it all........... Its not them that are spending the dollars really.......... Not saying at all that there are not at all some young cats who are great fella´s, theres loads of them, BUT there are also loads of Smart A s s cats, who think they know it all............

Good luck though, not an easy one really. Take all the good points you ahd memories of when you were reminising..............:thumbsup:
 

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I play hard to want
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360 Posts
1. Advertise. People who buy walmart bikes will need to get them fixed, and while they're getting them fixed they will have all sorts of real bikes to look at.

2. Make customer service a top priority. If someone comes into your shop 20 times and is treated well 19 times and poorly 1 time, he will always remember the one time he was not happy with the service.

3. Lots of perks for the customer. Like someone mentioned, a good coffee machine. An area where kids can play while the parents shop.

4. Depending on how much property you have, an area for test rides that will give the customer a feel for riding the bike (sort of a mini-trail with some obstacles) rather than riding in circles around a parking lot.

5. Of course the usual things like free tuneups for a year or two

6. A good layaway plan. My LBS lets me put bikes on layaway until it's paid for, regardless of how long it takes. That's a big plus when buying a $2500 bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Every suggestion has been noted and appreciated. Keep them coming. Service and atmosphere seem to be key to the equation. Sounds like a no-brainer, but that's the facts. At this point, I would love to turn this into a vent session and tell you all the gory details of running a shop, but I would rather have some more response.
 

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Out with the gory details. I think some customers would be more sympathetic to the LBS if they actually realized how hard it is to run a shop. My father and I own an auto parts store and we know what it's like to always be asked for discounts or terms on paying for stuff and that gets old real quick. We are in a small town so customer service is #1 and keeping what few customers we have is important. Saturday mornings for us can turn into 6-10 guys in our store just hanging out and BS'ing. The coffee idea is great. I never even thought of that.
 

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mountaindewberry said:
Every suggestion has been noted and appreciated. Keep them coming. Service and atmosphere seem to be key to the equation. Sounds like a no-brainer, but that's the facts. At this point, I would love to turn this into a vent session and tell you all the gory details of running a shop, but I would rather have some more response.
I am thinking for those that dont have a clue about runnign a business some details could be worth while........

Service and atmosphere is number one. I myself would really look into having the bikes being fixed built etc at the front, it is an interesting art. Should be more focal point.

This topic gets harder too by the fact of the online retailers...

As a customer, what does a customer do when he gets a quote for some cranks from his LBS that he is faithful too and the online dealer is some dollars cheaper. Am talking around 250 USD cheaper. What is someone to do that is fully committed to LBS's. Dam hard, that could be a good one to answer from yourself.
 

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pronounced may-duh
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It all depends on what your market is. If your market is high end mtn bikers like you are reaching on this forum then the best thing you could have is a test track. So people can test ride the latest suspension bikes on real dirt before they buy.

A womens department. Women are getting into the sport and complain that LBS don't cater to thier needs. We all know, women love to shop.

High end bike rentals. people out of town come to ride your trails and need a decent bike. People want and extended test ride of a high end bike before they ride.

Seat rentals. How do decide if a seat is comfy for you before you spend 100.00 for the ti rail model? Easy you rent it for a week for a few bucks and try it out on an epic ride.

Provide high quality repair service. People who buy high end parts from a LBS are the type who can't do the work themselves. They are willing to pay extra for the service but the service must be the best in town.

If your market is low end bikes I'm sorry but it's all about price and walmarts got you beat.
 

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conjoinicorned
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Maida7 said:
People who buy high end parts from a LBS are the type who can't do the work themselves. They are willing to pay extra for the service but the service must be the best in town.
ha ha ha what a stupid statement. drop the attitudes, and the shop will flourish.
 

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when selling a new bike, customers need a GREAT way to get the correct size and setup.

I hate when a shop sizes a frame like walmart. 2" between crotch and top tube is almost worthless. for serious customers, find a way to measure thier body including arms, back, legs and identify candidate correct sized frames. Then sell bike with a full fit. Include cleat position, seat height, fore-aft, tilt. stem length and rise. And replace with like parts for free.

And do a correct suspension setup. full suspension is a mystery to people that are new to it. and, is worthless if configured poorly.
 

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conjoinicorned
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because it's bullsh*t. i have some very high end stuff, and i can guarantee i'm a better wrench than most out there. all of my riding partners are the same way. i'm sick and tired of people making assumptions on how someone rides, or how much they know about bikes, based on what they ride. it's stupid ;)

it's attitudes that keep me out of the LBS, making any assumption about a customer is the best way to lose their business. ASK them if they can wrench themselves, ASK them what they need, ASK them what they want. don't EVER assume.
 

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I'll offer my two cents:

First, I wish you the best of luck on your venture. I was a small business owner for several years and have experienced the joys of being your own boss.

Be unique and more creative than the other bike shops in your area. Here are some thoughts I have:

-Offer mechanics classes and rent a work station or two for those DIY'ers. Rent out tools.
There are a lot of folks who like to do their own mechanics, yet don/t have the space and/or tools to do it. Take advantage of this.

-I ride a trail system that has lots of traffic on the weekends. During the riding season, a mobil bike repair van shows up in the parking lot to offer repairs and sell bike related items. This is also a great way to make themselves more visible to potential future customers.

-The shop I usually go to has a small cafe in which they offer smoothies, coffee, juices and sandwiches. They do a good business.

-Maybe offer a mountain biking "skills" class. Riding techniques and such.

-Be involved in your local community and join your local chamber of commerce.

Just some thoughts.

Good Luck
 

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pronounced may-duh
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ferday said:
because it's bullsh*t. i have some very high end stuff, and i can guarantee i'm a better wrench than most out there. all of my riding partners are the same way. i'm sick and tired of people making assumptions on how someone rides, or how much they know about bikes, based on what they ride. it's stupid ;)

it's attitudes that keep me out of the LBS, making any assumption about a customer is the best way to lose their business. ASK them if they can wrench themselves, ASK them what they need, ASK them what they want. don't EVER assume.
Do you and your buds buy your high end stuff at a LBS? Do you and your buds use the LBS mechanic service? What I'm saying is people who have the time and skills to do their own work will buy mail order and do it themselves. People who buy parts from a LBS and pay for the repair services tend to be people who have no time or skills to do it themselves. These people who can't do the work themselves would be the core customers of a LBS. They demand a high quality of repair service and will go to the LBS that can provide the best. If you want to sell high end parts from your LBS then you need a top notch service department to back it up. A pro shop requires pro mechanics. Of coarse it's a generalization. All marketing and business planing is based on generalizations and assumptions. Do you disagree?
 

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Which way? Uphill.
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I'll second AlliKat's suggestion on selling a bike with a fit, at least for the more expensive bikes.

The saddle rental idea is brilliant!

I would suggest becoming the local expert on trails and conditions for your area, that way anyone that wants to know what the trail is looking like in early/late season they can come in and find out. Also works out great then if people are coming in from out of town and everyone says "Stop by this shop, they'll tell you where the good riding is whenyou're out there."
Maybe have some flyers you make up that have directions to trailheads and a quick description to give any newbies or out-of-towners that stop in the shop, of course with a map of where the shop is so they can find their way back.
 
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