Customer service is a great tool for building long-time relationships with bike shop customers.
But good customer service requires qualified and motivated people on staff, and this is not easy to achieve or maintain. Staff issues are frequently cited as one of the most vexing challenges for retail bike stores. Why? One reason is that it’s hard to recruit the talented people you need when offering the relatively low wages available in bike retail.
Bicycle mechanic salaries made the news earlier this month when Bicycle Retailer and Industry News reported on a blog post that had gone semi-viral (by bicycle industry standards anyway), with 197,000 views as of this writing.
Donny Perry, a global development manager at Specialized, posted a presentation in mid-February (http://www.slideshare.net/donnyperry/bike-mechanic-salaries) that called out the sub-standard average pay offered to bicycle mechanics.
He noted that the average bicycle mechanic earns just $22,337 per year (according to salary.com). This compares to $23,013 for high school dropouts, $25,188 for janitors, and $29,962 for gardeners. The average wage for a full-time worker in the United States is $40,584, according to the U.S. Census, Continue reading
When a person walks into a local bike shop and uses their smartphone to compare prices with on-line retailers (AKA showrooming), some store owners take offense.
After all, they have made a sizeable investment in the store, people and inventory. When consumers use that investment against them to compare and buy elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to be within the limits of fair play.
But showrooming may not be the biggest driver of Internet shopping trends versus brick-and-mortar. A new study from RR Donnelly suggests that the most significant trend may be its opposite: webrooming.
Webrooming is when a customer starts their shopping on-line to gather information, but uses that information to visit a local brick-and-mortar store to buy.
Donnelly reported that during the 2012 holiday season, showrooming was up 400% over 2011. But in 2013, a Harris Poll Continue reading
Several independent bicycle dealers are planning to participate in March 4 Congressional meetings in Washington, D.C., to push for sales tax reform.
This comes at a time when there is some apparent movement on this issue in the House of Representatives to address the problem of brick-and-mortar businesses being required to collect sales tax while their direct competitors, Internet retailers, often do not.
The bicycle dealers will be joining a larger group of independent businesses from several industries under the umbrella of the Advocates for Independent Businesses (AIB). Meetings are being arranged by the American Booksellers Association, an AIB member.
The meetings may be well-timed because there appears to be some movement in the House of Representatives where reform efforts had stalled. The Senate Continue reading
Are casual bike consumers being frightened away from bike shops because of sticker shock? Does the industry’s need to appeal to a wider range of people include offering good products for less?
A lot of independent dealers seem to think so, and many are taking steps to bring in more products that won’t scare people away. And while this may run counter to a basic business goal of achieving higher average ticket totals, many believe there is a downside to focusing only on those with a lot of money to spend.
While much of the evidence for a trend toward lower price points remains anecdotal, and average selling prices of new bikes continue to rise, after a tough 2013 a number of dealers are aggressively looking for options. A good case can also be made Continue reading
Weather will continue to play an important role in the U.S. bicycle business in 2014, but other issues are driving a continuing soft market, according to a new analysis from the Gluskin Townley Group (GTG).
The report includes seven predictions for 2014 based on research, analysis of demographic trends and, alas, weather reports:
1. Weather will play an important role in 2014. GTG points out, “Mother Nature has her own timetable and sense of humor when it comes to the weather, but global warming and climate change have made weather an important factor impacting the U.S. bicycle business.”
GTG suggests that the industry adapt by taking advantage Continue reading
A December 15 Boston Globe article declared that bicycles are emerging as a new target for conservatives in the ongoing “culture wars” in America.
Bikes, it seems, have finally become visible enough to receive the kind of colorful and aggressive comments more frequently reserved for hot-button issues like abortion rights, school prayer and gay marriage.
In the article, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is quoted as comparing cycling to swimming with sharks, “sooner or later you’re going to get bitten.” He then summed up his statesmanlike thinking with the comment, “cyclists are a pain in the ass to motorists.” He then backed it up by having some bike lanes removed at a cost of about $300,000.
The Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz was then quoted as calling bicyclists “the most important danger in the city” of New York. She added that New York is a “city whose best neighborhoods are absolutely – begrimed, is the word – by these blazing blue Citibank bikes.”
Dan Maes, a Republican candidate for governor in Colorado, opined that a local bike-sharing program “could threaten our personal freedoms.” He added that efforts to boost cycling are “part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.”
A unnamed conservative Washington Times columnist declared bike sharing to be “broken down socialism.” Another declared that bike sharing is favored by “commune enthusiasts that are Continue reading
The reaction to showrooming from bicycle dealers has been strong and generally negative since it first came into existence a few years ago.
The idea that a customer would walk into a retail store, smartphone in hand, and compare prices on-site rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It’s just so low.
Some choose to look the other way. Some ask phone-wielding customers to leave. Some ask that they put the phone away. But none of these responses helps the customer, and none are conducive to making a sale.
Dan Mann, president of The Mann Group, suggests a very different approach: smile and help the customer. With genuine enthusiasm, a supportive tone, and a welcoming attitude, showrooming can be the first step toward a positive business relationship, Continue reading