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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So since I’m starting to use the 29er more for trail specific purposes I decided I needed some mtb shoes and clipless pedals, and because I am in the RPS (Research, Pondering, and Saving) phase of purchasing a road bike this has caused me to not only ramp up my online research, but also to visit some Local Bike Shops (LBS).

When purchasing the 29er, I visited about 7 LBS.’ I have mixed feelings about all of them, and none of them hit me with the right vibe, but I keep trying, as I’m still not sure what road bike I’ll get, and whether I want to purchase it at an LBS or online.

Sunday tends to be a good day for me to attend to my bike needs. That scratches a couple of shops as they are closed on Sunday. However I did visit one shop (Pembroke Cycle) that has an owner and usually just one employee this past Sunday. He sells Trek exclusively, and did show me that he does usually come a little lower than the prices on their website (that’s good news). He doesn’t sell roof bike carrier racks. He does sell MTB shoes, they’re “$90 and in boxes on the top shelf.” So I walk over to the area he was pointing at and looked at the lovely boxes all lined up, he didn’t have a display shoe. While I was looking longingly at the shoe boxes, he started dealing with another customer, and after a couple of minutes I left. He never said the magic sales words, “Would you like to try on a pair?” He never left the chair at his computer command center the entire time I was there. I know that I could have asked to see a pair and try them on, but lately I’ve had some customer service experiences at various shops (a drum shop that my son takes lessons at for instance) that have made me feel like I should see how their customer rapport is.

So Monday, I go over to another store that is considered a high-end LBS (Alex Bicycles). They sell Cervelo, Pinarello, Felt, Scott, Jamis, and Orbea. I walk into the store and see four people. After a couple of minutes I was able to determine that all four are staff, no customers in the store except me. I start walking around the store looking at merchandise. I look at some of the bikes. I start leaning over so I can read derailleur names, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and so on. Nobody in the store has spoken to me. At one point while I was looking at something, I hear a guy say loudly, “Hey brother!” I say “Hey” and look up, he’s talking on a cordless phone. He walks away from me behind the counter to the back of the shop. I continue walking around examining merchandise. A customer comes in wearing biking attire, (I’m a teacher, and was in my work clothes, khakis, a casual shirt, and New Balance walking shoes). This customer brings in a MTB and a broken chain. Immediately the staff member behind the counter (who was actually working on something) stops what he was doing and offers assistance to this guy. Meanwhile I walk around the store some more. I am purposely not being pushy and demanding attention. I want to see how much they want to work for my business. I go over and look at a Mavic rim display and give them a couple of spins. I do another “lap” around the store looking at bikes, walking past the counter, pausing near some store staff, continuing walking around, and then leave after 10 minutes in the store and nobody speaking to me. Maybe I’m really a ghost. Too bad Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t on staff to see me. This is the shop I was hoping to go to for a professional fitting session. I seriously doubt I’ll ever buy one thing from them, let alone do a fitting with them.

I drive over to Z-Bikes (they primarily carry Giant). This time I’m greeted immediately by a staff member. I have purchased shorts, glove, and a pump from them previously. He shows me some Louis Garneau shoes that are decent for about $100. Louis Garneau are the only shoes they stock. He shows me a Shimano XT-M770 pedal for $140. Having done some online research ahead of time I was prepared to spend $200. So their limited selection made me hold off on a purchase.

I went to one more shop, a chain LBS called Bike America. They gave me immediate attention. They had Bontrager and Louis Garneau shoes in a variety of price ranges. I chose some Bontrager’s for $90. He showed me some pedals (Shimano 520’s and XT’s), I asked about the Shimano m540’s, they had them in stock for about $90 as well. So I was able to get my shoes and pedals for under $200. I was glad to get the pedals here as he also gave me a small inservice on installation. I know that I could have saved money buying these same items from JensonUSA, Amazon.com, Pricepoint.com, or Nashbar.com, but I like buying clothing and shoes from places where I can touch them and try them on. I must say that in the future I’ll probably buy the pedals online.

I have no idea how this will impact my road bike shopping decisions. The shop that ultimately served me well this time sells Trek and Cannondale, which I might or might not be interested in.

Customer service is dying off. In the age of increased competition for my dollar, the one thing that a local store should be able to do is provide friendly service, since they usually can’t beat the inventory and pricing options of many online retailers. I get irritated when I am on the checkout line at the grocery store and the cashier doesn’t talk to me, they just continue a conversation with another employee (I will complain to a manager about this, particularly at Publix, as I have many friends in Publix management, and they tell me they want this feedback. Meanwhile, I bring my son to a drum shop every week for lessons. We also have spent almost $2,000 there buying drums and accessories. Last week I’m there with cash in hand to purchase a $100+ item. While waiting on me the phone rings, the guy dealing with me answers it. He tells me to wait while he deals with the phone customer, then he finishes our transaction. Now, while I appreciate him communicating to me that I will be placed “on hold.” I was irritated that a customer calling in with a question on the phone got priority over a cash in hand customer who was actually giving them money right at that moment. No wonder I tend to prefer shopping online. “Teh interwebs” is always open. I don’t have to worry about what time they close.
 

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It's about showing up.
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Getting what you want when you want it.

The manager on the computer behind the counter may have been fulfilling someone's online purchase.:D

Distributing personnel resources to manage sales floor, stock wrenching, phone, and Internet sales to keep everyone happy is not easy. Back when I was in high school I worked at the mall. In our department we had a cashier who answered phones which left everybody else to work on the sales floor. You could give all of your customers undivided attention. Being from the locale and understanding the community, being earnest and bright, understanding needs and the stock at hand, and simply being fast and courteous seem to come naturally. It was part of the culture of our department. We worked hard and we made the company a lot of money. We had a lot of happy customers. We had a great boss who was in his 50s and I will remember him forever. We were just kids and he took us seriously and supported us even in the face of a complaining customer.

I think retail demands today are very different. All those labor saving devices that were supposed to make our life so much easier simply make it possible for us to work harder more frequently and more intensely. And I'm not talking just about computers, but every clown has a cell phone in the facility for making phone contact is much higher. Profit margins are closer and there are more bases to cover. One of the things I have noticed in working with small businesses is that people who come from a business background, perhaps within the family, have a very different attitude about how to work with people and how to work their business. People whose business are based upon a talent have a very different view of how to work their businesses. Customer service from those two perspectives can be very different. Throw in personality and it ends up being all over the lot.

I know I have purchased cars simply based upon where I ended up after not being happy with the way I was treated at other lots. Then it was based upon more than a single visit. In an economy where people are really hopeful of business and eager to have that customer walk in the door who wants to spend money with them, one might expect a little bit more effort. At the same time one visit may not be enough to determine how a bike shop will treat you.

I am spoiled by my local bike shop. I've been working with them for 20 years and they have sponsored my teams and other programs. When I walk in the door I get pretty much what I want. Yet if there is another customer who walks in after me with questions I always turn The the staff loose to help a new customer. My needs are not urgent and when they are these guys are right on it so I can stand aside. It's not the same in another shop. I have six very strong well established shops and an REI within 7 miles and they all have a different format and expertise. I use them for different things. For service, though, I only use two, where I know the owners and the primary managers and staff, and that is where I have purchased bikes. That has taken time and energy from both sides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nah, he wasn't fulfilling someone's order. He went to the Trek website to show me some models that he didn't have in stock. When I asked him about shoes, he pointed up to the boxes and said, "They're up there. They cost $90." I couldn't tell the brand or model from where I was standing, so I walked over there to try and see, and he just started helping someone else.

This is not the first time I've been to any of these shops in the past 6 months, since I was shopping for my MTB in the late summer/early fall.
 

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Bloated Cubs Fan
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Garilia said:
So since I'm starting to use the 29er more for trail specific purposes I decided I needed some mtb shoes and clipless pedals, and because I am in the RPS (Research, Pondering, and Saving) phase of purchasing a road bike this has caused me to not only ramp up my online research, but also to visit some Local Bike Shops (LBS).

When purchasing the 29er, I visited about 7 LBS.' I have mixed feelings about all of them, and none of them hit me with the right vibe, but I keep trying, as I'm still not sure what road bike I'll get, and whether I want to purchase it at an LBS or online.

Sunday tends to be a good day for me to attend to my bike needs. That scratches a couple of shops as they are closed on Sunday. However I did visit one shop (Pembroke Cycle) that has an owner and usually just one employee this past Sunday. He sells Trek exclusively, and did show me that he does usually come a little lower than the prices on their website (that's good news). He doesn't sell roof bike carrier racks. He does sell MTB shoes, they're "$90 and in boxes on the top shelf." So I walk over to the area he was pointing at and looked at the lovely boxes all lined up, he didn't have a display shoe. While I was looking longingly at the shoe boxes, he started dealing with another customer, and after a couple of minutes I left. He never said the magic sales words, "Would you like to try on a pair?" He never left the chair at his computer command center the entire time I was there. I know that I could have asked to see a pair and try them on, but lately I've had some customer service experiences at various shops (a drum shop that my son takes lessons at for instance) that have made me feel like I should see how their customer rapport is.

So Monday, I go over to another store that is considered a high-end LBS (Alex Bicycles). They sell Cervelo, Pinarello, Felt, Scott, Jamis, and Orbea. I walk into the store and see four people. After a couple of minutes I was able to determine that all four are staff, no customers in the store except me. I start walking around the store looking at merchandise. I look at some of the bikes. I start leaning over so I can read derailleur names, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and so on. Nobody in the store has spoken to me. At one point while I was looking at something, I hear a guy say loudly, "Hey brother!" I say "Hey" and look up, he's talking on a cordless phone. He walks away from me behind the counter to the back of the shop. I continue walking around examining merchandise. A customer comes in wearing biking attire, (I'm a teacher, and was in my work clothes, khakis, a casual shirt, and New Balance walking shoes). This customer brings in a MTB and a broken chain. Immediately the staff member behind the counter (who was actually working on something) stops what he was doing and offers assistance to this guy. Meanwhile I walk around the store some more. I am purposely not being pushy and demanding attention. I want to see how much they want to work for my business. I go over and look at a Mavic rim display and give them a couple of spins. I do another "lap" around the store looking at bikes, walking past the counter, pausing near some store staff, continuing walking around, and then leave after 10 minutes in the store and nobody speaking to me. Maybe I'm really a ghost. Too bad Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn't on staff to see me. This is the shop I was hoping to go to for a professional fitting session. I seriously doubt I'll ever buy one thing from them, let alone do a fitting with them.

I drive over to Z-Bikes (they primarily carry Giant). This time I'm greeted immediately by a staff member. I have purchased shorts, glove, and a pump from them previously. He shows me some Louis Garneau shoes that are decent for about $100. Louis Garneau are the only shoes they stock. He shows me a Shimano XT-M770 pedal for $140. Having done some online research ahead of time I was prepared to spend $200. So their limited selection made me hold off on a purchase.

I went to one more shop, a chain LBS called Bike America. They gave me immediate attention. They had Bontrager and Louis Garneau shoes in a variety of price ranges. I chose some Bontrager's for $90. He showed me some pedals (Shimano 520's and XT's), I asked about the Shimano m540's, they had them in stock for about $90 as well. So I was able to get my shoes and pedals for under $200. I was glad to get the pedals here as he also gave me a small inservice on installation. I know that I could have saved money buying these same items from JensonUSA, Amazon.com, Pricepoint.com, or Nashbar.com, but I like buying clothing and shoes from places where I can touch them and try them on. I must say that in the future I'll probably buy the pedals online.

I have no idea how this will impact my road bike shopping decisions. The shop that ultimately served me well this time sells Trek and Cannondale, which I might or might not be interested in.

Customer service is dying off. In the age of increased competition for my dollar, the one thing that a local store should be able to do is provide friendly service, since they usually can't beat the inventory and pricing options of many online retailers. I get irritated when I am on the checkout line at the grocery store and the cashier doesn't talk to me, they just continue a conversation with another employee (I will complain to a manager about this, particularly at Publix, as I have many friends in Publix management, and they tell me they want this feedback. Meanwhile, I bring my son to a drum shop every week for lessons. We also have spent almost $2,000 there buying drums and accessories. Last week I'm there with cash in hand to purchase a $100+ item. While waiting on me the phone rings, the guy dealing with me answers it. He tells me to wait while he deals with the phone customer, then he finishes our transaction. Now, while I appreciate him communicating to me that I will be placed "on hold." I was irritated that a customer calling in with a question on the phone got a priority a cash in hand customer who was actually giving them money right at that moment. No wonder I tend to prefer shopping online. "Teh interwebs" is always open. I don't have to worry about what time they close.
I grew up in Pembroke Pines. I ran for the hills at the first opportunity. I could be sarcastic and chalk it up to life in SoFla, but I think you're absoluetly right: customer service is a dying art. :mad: I'd do my road bike shopping at the same place I did my 29er shooping if I were you.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
waterdude said:
I grew up in Pembroke Pines. I ran for the hills at the first opportunity. I could be sarcastic and chalk it up to life in SoFla, but I think you're absoluetly right: customer service is a dying art. :mad: I'd do my road bike shopping at the same place I did my 29er shooping if I were you.:thumbsup:
Due to our jobs, we're shackled to Pines for at least 6 more years when I can retire. It's just not worth walking away at this stage of the game.
 

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Masher
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If a customer ever comes in that isn't asked if they need help immediately where I work, someones head will roll.

It's actually funny. A bell rings and everyone in the shop, no matter what they are doing, perks up like a pack of dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
MisterC said:
If a customer ever comes in that isn't asked if they need help immediately where I work, someones head will roll.

It's actually funny. A bell rings and everyone in the shop, no matter what they are doing, perks up like a pack of dogs.
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! The thing is, all four people saw me and knew i was there.
 

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i've only ever been in one bike shop. its a small place and is only a mile from my house. the people there know their stuff and have always treated me well. they are more than willing to explain the differences between different products and let me try out things without being pushy. i bought 2 bikes from them along with some accessories and they've cut me a break on prices for everything thus far.

i do know what you're talking about though. i am also into motorcycling and ride a Suzuki GSXR600. i stopped in to a BMW/triumph/ducati/ ktm dealership since they're one of the few places that sells high end gloves. i tried on gloves, looked at all the bikes, and wandered around for a good 20 minutes or so and nobody ever acknowledged me. a few preppy older guys came in with Ducati jackets on though and were on a first name basis though. i guess they just assumed that a 20 something year old kid was just dreaming. oh well, my money spends just as easily elsewhere.

also, my LBS that i highly recommend is WEST LIBERTY CYCLES in Pittsburgh, PA
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Berkeley Mike said:
Well then, the only answer I can come up with is your just not cool enough. Can 6 bike shops be wrong?:D
Naturally. I am a balding 50 year old who has lost 50 pounds, but could stand to lose 50 more. I am a Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader. Ironically, when I went to the store that I eventually purchased stuff at, I was on my way to an Eagle Board of Review and was in my boy scout uniform.

 
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