+1 the no pressure sales tactics. The town I live and work in is only 5000 people and has 4 bike shops, so there is lots of competition. Between all the shops their is a choice of about 15 major bike brands to choose from. It would be so arrogant of an employee to suggest that their shop has the bike for them. I always recommend people go to the other shops and see what they have. I think this earns their respect. Even if they don't purchase a bike from you, you can be sure that they will come back for honest and reliable service.
Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser
hard at work right now, you just can't tell because I'm wearing an apron!"
In Russian bike shop, bicycle buys you!
I like and agree with everything you stated except the "on the spot five minute service". You have to imagine it from the techs perspective. This probably does not apply to the shop you mention, otherwise they wouldn't do it.
Originally Posted by likeaboss
I work in a very large chain shop. In addition to scheduled repairs, estimating and taking in new work, and larger jobs, We are expected to build 30 bikes a week for the sales floor. Not to mention ship to stores from online retailers, etc. Your eight hour shift and productivity as a tech diminishes at a rapid rate if you are adjusting derailleurs and fixing flats every ten minutes for customers. Small bike shops are better for this type of service. No offense, but there are literally lines off "good customers" wanting on the spot repairs every day where I work. I already have a whole days schedule set up for me. It can get really frustrating........for them and me.
Originally Posted by VTSession
I normally experience the opposite. Im 6'2" 220lbs. I have 140lb bike shop pencil boys who literally can not comprehend what i do to bikes. They try to sell me weight weenie parts, 28 spoke wheels, under inflate tires and shocks while servicing, etc etc etc.
Id love to have a mechanic take my mass into consideration for once.
My perfect shop.... A combination of the three shops that I shop at, and they give me stuff for free.
Just kidding. If a start-up would take attributes from the three shops that I currently use, that would be the perfect shop. For now, I'm happy with the shops that I know now.
Sometimes, I question the value of my content.
They also wear pants that fit!
Originally Posted by J.B. Weld
A perfect bike shop would have to reside within a perfect world. Guess what's growing outside that perfect bike shop within a perfect world??? A money tree!
I'm going to pick some cash from that money tree within my perfect world and take it inside that perfect bike shop to buy the perfect bike for me.
Well if it was a perfect world, we wouldn't need money, so you wouldn't have to concern yourself with the money tree growing outside.
this is strange to me. do any bike shops pay their employees on commission? it might happen, but I have never encountered one and it sounds like a horrible idea.
Originally Posted by justin_amador
this is why bicycle co-ops exist. I know from experience that letting customers "borrow" tools means that you will end up watching over their should 90% of the time and do most of the work for them, for free, when they have not bought anything. then the tools "disappear" as the customer leaves. if you want to borrow tools, find a bike co-op or start your own.
Originally Posted by VTSession
I agree. I should have stated 5 minute adjustments if you aren't too busy. I would never expect this service in a high volume store such as yours. But I generally do not shop in those type of shops. The shop where that happened, it was the owner who did the work as he is one of the mechanics.
Originally Posted by ghettocop
Your experience sounds like my experience working at an unnamed "very large chain shop," possibly the same one where your work. We were so busy that some of our basic repairs took three weeks to get done, in early spring, because we were just buried in work orders. I'd hate to see what their backlog looks like in July! checking in new work, on-the-spot adjustments, taking phone calls, and ordering small parts also took a lot of time, so it took us forever to get anything done. it was very stressful.
Originally Posted by ghettocop
all this pressure to get so much done caused the quality of my work to suffer. the manager chastised me for doing my job right. if someone asked me to adjust a derailleur, i would get yelled at if I took the time to lube the cables too. we rarely even test rode bikes, which I have found is 100% necessary if you want to make sure the job was done right, because there was absolutely no time. it was like working in a fast food restaurant!
for some reason, the company did not see the obvious solution: hire more wrenches. we were turning out so much crappy work per hour anyways, we could have doubled the amount of work we did if we had more staff, and it would have made a lot of customers happy, to feel like they are customers and not cattle, which is obviously good for business. but we had dozens of jobs to do each day with two mechanics on staff.
I quit after about a month, left on good terms with a full two-week notice, and went on to work at a shop where I get paid a lot more and am able to take pride in my work because I get to do quality work. We have enough mechanics on staff, we work our @sses off all day, and we turn around every work order (that does not need special-order parts) in 24-48 hours. the prices at the former bike shop were cheaper because of the high volume, but the customers got what their paid for them in a relative sense.
joshh just cut my money tree down.
Originally Posted by joshh
Didn't mean to burst your bubble. But perfect worlds shouldn't have a need for money. Everything free and everyone helping each other out.
A money tree would be perfect in today's world though.
Perfect bike shop.
- Trailhead just off the right side of the shop.
- Microbrewery next door as well with outdoor seating and fire ring in the middle for cool winter nights post ride.
- Knowledgeable mechanics for those that require service.
I work in a shop and this is one thing I hear pretty often...customers wondering why they can't use our tools. The biggest issue is the possibility of them getting hurt using said tool. Aside from that, if you let someone use a tool and they damage that tool, you're at fault for letting them use it. If someone asks politely to borrow a hex wrench to snug up a stem bolt that's one thing...but to borrow something that is more expensive to replace is out of the question.
Originally Posted by VTSession
In a perfect world it would be sweet to walk into a shop and have everything that any customer could possibly want in stock, but the reality of that is slim. I've had plenty of customers get upset with me because we don't have X part in stock and they would have to wait a few days for us to order it.
LOL.. same place.
Originally Posted by mack_turtle
+1, even if it is just a smalls skills course
Originally Posted by bt2S88
This is just some advice, I'm sure it's all been done before, but never in a single shop (to my knowledge)
1. Posted service prices, so if I know what I want, I'll know what I'll pay.
Headset installation - $520
chase/face BB - $10
Build wheel - $40
Complete Tuneup - $65
I know some shops have it, but there are so many that you walk in and ask for service (ok I do all my own service) and the guy eyeballs your bike and gives you an estimate
2. Loaner bikes - for a charge of course. If you tell me you need to keep my bike for a week, I'd like a loaner bike, specially if that's my way of commuting. These guys have the right idea: WRENCH | bicycle workshop
3. Mobile service, ie: they have a van they park at a popular trail head and pass out business cards and have a few mechanics on the spot to fix stuff...and if you get a flat/mechanical on the trail, call the number on the card and they will come to you and fix it (if possible.) All this for a charge for course.
4. Partner with a shop like pricepoint/jensonusa to have dedicated terminals in the shop where a customer can order parts online...any part online.
-No more of this hidden "let me check the computer to order" and then BTI/QBP will take a week for the part to get in etc.
-Or just put your damn QBP/BTI ordering screen online. Add small margin to the prices automatically so if you don't have a part, customer themselves can go to the catalog and order it and shop still gets a (small) margin.
5. Have a demo program, like these guys do: JRA Cycles | 229 Salem St., Medford, MA | (781) 391-3636 - Demo Fleet
6. Provide healthcare to your employees so they can ride (many shops do this, some do not because of costs) and be happier.
7. Make your salespeople actually ride/test every product. Don't hire a**holes as sales people.
8. Two words: liquor license
9. Offer classes for complete beginners...like cyclocross/mountain biking/road biking/commuting to work for complete beginners. People like to take formal introduction classes...make people pay reasonable rates for them.
LL Bean does this with their discovery courses, short 1-2 hour introductions to a sport where they provide everything you will need (and instruction.) Charge something like $40 so people don't feel ripped off. As an adult I don't have the time/patience to dedicate to teaching myself a new activity, having someone introduce it to me helped a lot. And don't give me any baloney about liability, LL bean does a clay shooting course with shotguns with few problems (AFAIK)
I have never been a "hang-out-at-a-bike-shop" kind of customer. As I try my best to support my LBS, admittedly I order most of my stuff online. Usually the bike shops I have around here just don't have the stuff I want, when I want it. And... unfortunately, it's marked up so much that I grit my teeth when I buy something locally. Like $30 lock-on grips... that's a tough one for me when I can get it half that price online.
Even back in the late 80's - early 90's when I was BMX'ing, NOBODY in Santa Cruz, Ca. had a selection of BMX parts - so I phoned in orders from magazine ads (thanks Mom!).
I've been working on my own bikes/building them frame-up since I was in junior high, and quite frankly, my mechanical skills are on par with any bike shop guy (except specialty wheel building). So, I don't need a mechanic.
Tools? I believe in buying my own tools and having them forever - even if it's for just one use at that time. There's been weird instances when I actually did need that strange freewheel remover tool at some point and was glad I had it in my shop.
Bottom line, it comes down to what the receipt is going to say at the end of the day. When I bought a complete for my wife, we did some shopping - and, we ended up driving 30 min. to the next town over to buy it, simply because they 1) had it in stock 2) beat any price around and 3) have a great taqueria across the street.
Admittedly, I buy 99% of my stuff online. Small stuff like tubes, sealant, lubricants and chains, I will buy locally. Unfortunately for LBS's, online purchases with free shipping and no tax is hard to compete with for a bottom-line kind of guy.
So, to answer the question - what I like in a bike shop is to be left alone. Carry the stuff I need at a great competitive price, and I will go there. The "big box" chain bike shop that I go to does just that. They have "mega sales" that I take advantage of, and I'm left alone. I also like sporting goods stores that have a good bike section - I'm not bothered, not hassled, not sold - because I'm in there on a mission to get what I need and to get out.
I don't need to be pampered by a bike shop. Carry what I need for a great price and be nice at the register.
I think all LBS should give basic tuning and maintenance classes. I get free tuneup ups and basic service (lifetime) on my bike. I understand the drive behind this because it brings people into the shop... But imagine if you sold 30 bikes in a month. Now you (possibly) have 30 bikes to service. I know most people buy the bike and never come back, but imagine if you had a class that taught 20 of those people how to do the basics. Now you only have 10 bikes to service and 20 people who will come into the shop for tools/gear. Or maybe they'd just buy it online and youtube/ehow the install... Who knows?
1. my shop does not do that, but I gave them a list just the other day with the dozen or so most common services. we are going to put up such a list/sign soon. good idea.
Originally Posted by dompedro3
2. I have been to some shops that do this. I agree that it's a great idea!
3. I think I will pitch the idea of a mobile shop to my managers some time soon.
4. Online ordering- I am not sure how it works, but a lot of shops use a program called Shopatron. Also, Surly has links to buy their products locally as well. many shops have online stores, but customers rarely use them. I don't think you get s discount this way, so there's really no point.
additionally, I find that 99% of customers with whom I speak have no clue what part they need when ordering small parts. most customers don't even know what size tire they have on their bike, let alone whether they need the top-swing, bottom pull, funky swing, swingin' ape, etc front derailleur. allowing customers to order parts online would mean making those customers take responsibility for their choices. a lot of customers are very well informed, but honestly, most of them have no clue and the shop would get stuck with a lot of products they don't need, or pay re-stocking fees to the distros, or just have to tell the customer he/she is wrong , which, of course, is always the wrong answer. something like this could work, but not for every shop.
5. Demo fleet- A lot of manufacturers tour around with demo fleets, but you have to be free that particular day, once a year, and hope the weather is nice. my shop has a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy on everything, including bikes. that policy is abused occasionally, but usually it works in the customer's favor and ours.
6. I have that, and a 401(K), and dental. what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
7. I would hope so. we get generous discounts from manufacturers. sometimes we even get stuff for free from them. I can sell anyone on some Stan's wheels, Conti tires, Gore Wear, and Nite Rider lights because of this.
bike shops should formally train their employees, something I have only seen at one bike shop so far. at bike shops where I have worked in the past, I found myself making stuff up because I was uninformed but thrown onto the sales floor anyways. informational visits from industry reps should happen whenever possible. more experienced employees should mentor the newer ones daily, and less experienced employees should have no problems asking questions all day.
8. liquor license- I wish!
9. I would love to do that. I will teach any customer how to do basic repairs if they ask, or even invite them to show them how I do it. if they want to buy the tools and learn to do it themselves, I am happy to help them with that. they have to pay me to do it at least once though!
Any LBS that did that would be shooting themselves in the foot.
Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser
That's like drug companies finding cures for diseases instead of creating drugs to allow people to live with their ailment. Or any service-based job: like a dog groomer. Why would a dog groomer give anybody lessons on how to groom their dog for free? That would write them out of a lot of business once people started become DIY'ers.
Once somebody gives basic tuning classes and maintenance, why would there be a need to bring it in for a tune-up?
Park Tools gives instructional how-to's because, usually, the videos they post requires one (or more) of THEIR tools. Win-win.
Take me, for example. I do all my own wrenching, derived from 25 years of working on my own stuff. By me having those mechanical skills, I am one less customer that needs work done by a shop, and therefore, they don't get my business.
I think their has to be an understanding by the consumer - MONEY needs to be made by the bike shop. They just can't do a bunch of stuff for free - there's no profit in that. Great for marketing, but they still have to have a return in some form or another.
This is what I believed until I actually started working in a shop. Their are so many componet groups out there in different combinations...... I was shocked and felt in over my head when road bikes/commuter bikes/kids bikes/internal geared hubs etc, started showing up on my schedule. When it's your own stuff you are familiar with it. When it is something you have never worked on before, and you are expected to be fast and professional it can get a little scary.
Originally Posted by Dion
Not necessarily. I've taken a 4-night course at my local. I did it with a friend partly for something fun to do and because I learn better that way. I took a similar one in high school but that pre-dated suspension and I wanted a refresher. Plus, my friend's shop was just getting off the ground so paying him for the course was advantageous for both of us. I got my bike good to go for the season for not quite 2x what I might have paid anyway, and had fun hanging out and drinking beer.
I still have some jobs that I don't want to do or can't be bothered to do. I live in a condo, so my workspace is pretty limited. Dragging my bike and my repair stand up the stairs in the winter is a pain. I don't mind supporting the local for some jobs, although what I do myself keeps increasing.One of the major reasons I wanted to take a course like that, even knowing I'd keep paying for some service, was to increase my working knowledge of the various systems on the bike with an eye towards backcountry repairs. I asked a lot of questions about how you would handle this breaking or that breaking.
To return to the topic at hand, one thing I like about my local is that it aspires to be a hub (pun not really intended, but not avoided) of the local bike culture. Hanging out is welcomed and encouraged. There's a fridge and a kegerator. There's a lounge with sofas, a TV and a DJing table. There are parties there every couple months.
They don't really want to get into retail too deeply, since it's a losing game against the internet. So the business model is service and custom builds, and that gives them a good local niche. They're working on building up a stable of used bikes to sell on consignment. They do have a shop bike / loaner, but only one at the moment. It's a Chilcotin with a CCDBA, so most people are pretty happy to take it out.
"Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman
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