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  1. #1
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    In the perfect bike shop...

    Just for fun ! It would be preferable not to mention any names or specific details, just looking to hear some of your input.

    I work in a bike shop myself, and like to think we give pretty good service, but you never know where there is room for learning and improvement. Is there any thing you don't like about bike shops? What would you like to see change?

    Love to hear some stories, whether good or bad.

  2. #2
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    Make free service, free service when you buy a bike!!

    Took my bike to the LBS that I bought it from a month after I bought it. Brakes sounded like crap. They did from the time I took it home. They said that the brakes needed adjusted and cleaned. I was even told that when they get them, the rotors usually have crap on them that cause them to squeal.... When I go to pick up the bike, the adjusting was covered, cleaning the rotors was not. Charged me 20 bucks!

    To me, this should have been done when they assembled the bike........ Especially if they know they come in with crap on the rotors.

  3. #3
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    at the shop where I work, basic service is free for the life of the bike if you buy the bike from us. everything that does not involve replacing a part (chain, tires, bar tape, etc) is free- truing wheels, adjusting brakes, headsets/hub adjustments, cleaning the bike off, etc. we are also very reasonable about getting a relatively new bike working immediately if something goes wrong. if you, to cite a recent example, buy a new mountain bike and the fork's air sleeve blows the wiper seal off after a month, we will get another fork on it asap or bug the manufacturer until they overnight the right parts to get it working again.

  4. #4
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    In a perfect shop every employee rides to work and preferably doesn't own a car. Also no one working at the perfect shop can have even a hint of an attitude that suggests "I am above you, or better than you".

  5. #5
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    I feel it needs to be a cycling community gathering point. Make cyclists welcome, not just as customers. Have a place where people can meet and talk, have a drink, peruse a magazine and basically just spend time with others who share their passions.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  6. #6
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    Beer on tap.

  7. #7
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    Treating customers as something other and more than a "customer.". More like a potential or shared member of the experience.

  8. #8
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    4 acres of racks and display cases of everything you'd find at your 5 favorite online stores, plus another acre of niche stuff from another 5 onlines. Not gonna happen, I understand the economics, but a guy can dream. It'd be great to be able to go to the lbs for more than lube or the occasional item they have in stock that I'm actually looking for.

    That said, helmets and shoes are always lbs items - fit is too important.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  9. #9
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    Obviously customer service is key. The LBS I got my bike from is very friendly, has cut me a couple deals, and has worked with me so I could get the things I wanted/needed. And that was really before they knew me, but were going more off the word of a friend. They have a customer for the rest of the time I am at this location, and I have and will send business their way.

    An old boss of mine had a saying, "The customer is not always right. But the customer is always the customer, right or wrong." It actually makes sense, and I think is a good philosophy for any business.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    I feel it needs to be a cycling community gathering point. Make cyclists welcome, not just as customers. Have a place where people can meet and talk, have a drink, peruse a magazine and basically just spend time with others who share their passions.
    ^^this, One of my favorite shops has a coffee bar and is caddy corner to a trail head.

  11. #11
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    I like that the shop I got my bike from didn't try to upsell me on everything, or talk down to me. I told them what king of riding I was going to be doing and they sold me an appropriate bike for that and then some. I went in for a ~$400 bike and walked out spending $700 and didn't feel bad about it in the least (it was the wife's money anway!). While I was test riding the Hardrock I went in looking at, a customer (plant? lol) who was there getting his bike serviced told my wife I should look at a 29er. The shop didn't push me to buy either. I like that they didn't try to get me onto a more expensive bike, rather, they tried to get me on the RIGHT bike. Totally satisfied with their service. Plus, free tune-ups for life is sweet. And they hooked a buddy of mine up and he was satisfied with their service as well. I just wish they had more fun toys for me to ogle...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncfisherman View Post
    Beer on tap.
    Check.

  13. #13
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    How 'bout just having the stuff I want to buy in stock. And be a resource, not just a turd who's only interested in a commission.

  14. #14
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    Two minor annoyances, which come more from salesmanship and customer interaction skills than anything:

    1) teach employees that the top of the line isn't necessary for everyone. It is annoying when I go in say, for brake pads, and they come back only with the $60 organic super set. I ask what else they have and get that eye roll, come back with the 'normal' ones that are what I'm after. I know, the shop may make more if they sell me expensive stuff, but I don't really want or need an XTR chain or whatever. It really is both refreshing and confidence-inspiring when an LBS employee steers me toward what will work well for me, even if it isn't their most expensive item. Makes me want to go back, because I believe I'll get good advice, and not just be sold or be made to feel like I'm cheaping out. And if you really think that item is worth 100% more, please explain why, and don't just tell me "well, it's better..."

    2) employees have biases and preferences, to be sure, but sometimes they get a little carried away trying to sell the bike they have or want to everyone. A little more listening than talking would be nice. And some product knowledge. If you're just going to pick up the item and read the tag to me, don't bother ... I already did that ...

    I'm sure it is hard to find good people persons and salespeople in an LBS -- the applicants are attracted because they like bikes, not because they want to sell stuff. But I wonder how much training is given to some of these kids before they are put out on the sales floor.
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  15. #15
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    I have been working summers and on breaks from school at a bike shop for the past 8 years. Though as a business we are obviously trying too sell goods in order to pay the bills etc, I try to not necessarily try to sell someone a specific bike and accessories, but to sell them on biking itself. I attempt to not only discuss the bikes and there differences, but the fun and camaraderie that I have experienced as a cyclist. More or less I am selling an experience that the bicycle enables and to me that is more powerful to some people.

    Basically, I figure If I sell a low cost bicycle to a customer, but do my best to ensure that they are going to have a good time riding it (suggest riding locations, give riding tips, etc), then they will probably be back at some point for a better bike or for upgrades to their current bike.

  16. #16
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    Tools for customers to use free of charge. As a consumer its hard to justify pricey tools like trueing stands, headset presses, air compressors, etc when I only need to use them a few times per year.

    It'd be nice if you could pay pay a shop a cheap flat rate to use some of their equipment.
    2016 Santa Cruz Hightower 29er
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  17. #17
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    All based on past experience: All different shops except the last two are the same.

    Don't act like you are doing my wife some great favor by selling her the last new leftover bike well into the next season at the price that the manufacturer has already discounted it to. And the fake call to the owner of the shop to see if he would accept our offer was pitiful. And not including the factory accessories should get me something.

    Don't push the bike you have in stock if it is not the right bike for me. This actually goes for many components. "No really, it is just as good as all the others". Yeah, I am gonna buy a wide gel saddle after asking for a WTB Rocket.

    Don't comment on my physique when I am shopping for a light weight component.

    Do try to price match. I know this stuff is cheap online and your overhead is high for a seasonal business but if you just budge a little on that printed price sticker, I would buy more stuff at your store.

    Do continue to give me on the spot free service for a 5 minute adjustment knowing that I buy stuff from you and am happy to pay for the more complicated service.

    Do continue to advocate for new trails.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    Don't comment on my physique when I am shopping for a light weight component.
    I was in a shop the other day talking to a mechanic about forks and he mentioned a coil fork would be best for me because I'm a "big guy."

    Really? I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs., I was a little offended by this remark.
    2016 Santa Cruz Hightower 29er
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    In a perfect shop every employee rides to work and preferably doesn't own a car. Also no one working at the perfect shop can have even a hint of an attitude that suggests "I am above you, or better than you".
    If you drive your car to the shop we can.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    I was in a shop the other day talking to a mechanic about forks and he mentioned a coil fork would be best for me because I'm a "big guy."

    Really? I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs., I was a little offended by this remark.
    Actually sounds like pretty good advice, to me.

    I welcome my LBS trying to help me find what works for me and what I'll be happiest with. I think it is fairly well settled that coil forks work well for heavier riders, and at 6'2", 200#, you're bigger than most.
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
    '13 Felt Z4 for the road

  21. #21
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    My shop knows me as a regular now and will take time and talk to me about my current project and actually make helpful suggestions. Yes, their parts cost more than I can find on the Internet, but I like supporting my LBS. Many times I have saved or reduced the cost of labor for things I con't do myself by buying there.

    When I was in the market for a new bike they actually listened to what I wanted and made reasionable recommendations.

    I guess I feel like they treated me the way I wanted. For that, I will probably keep coming back.

  22. #22
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    hot topless salesgirls.

  23. #23
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    ^^^ +5

  24. #24
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    I like a place to chill...because in the Winter I'm cold and in the Summer I'm hot and I always like hanging out with other cyclists. And free beer.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    I was in a shop the other day talking to a mechanic about forks and he mentioned a coil fork would be best for me because I'm a "big guy."

    Really? I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs., I was a little offended by this remark.
    Well, I think they were right. Big doesn't mean fat, and in your case I can't see how you could be fat, so.....I wouldn't be offended. I think the whole business is overly focused on the 140-160 lb audience. IMHO.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser View Post
    I like that the shop I got my bike from didn't try to upsell me on everything, or talk down to me. . . I like that they didn't try to get me onto a more expensive bike, rather, they tried to get me on the RIGHT bike. . .Totally satisfied with their service.
    +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.
    "I am hard at work right now, you just can't tell because I'm wearing an apron!"

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  27. #27
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    In Russian bike shop, bicycle buys you!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    All based on past experience: All different shops except the last two are the same.

    Don't act like you are doing my wife some great favor by selling her the last new leftover bike well into the next season at the price that the manufacturer has already discounted it to. And the fake call to the owner of the shop to see if he would accept our offer was pitiful. And not including the factory accessories should get me something.

    Don't push the bike you have in stock if it is not the right bike for me. This actually goes for many components. "No really, it is just as good as all the others". Yeah, I am gonna buy a wide gel saddle after asking for a WTB Rocket.

    Don't comment on my physique when I am shopping for a light weight component.

    Do try to price match. I know this stuff is cheap online and your overhead is high for a seasonal business but if you just budge a little on that printed price sticker, I would buy more stuff at your store.

    Do continue to give me on the spot free service for a 5 minute adjustment knowing that I buy stuff from you and am happy to pay for the more complicated service.

    Do continue to advocate for new trails.
    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.
    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.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    I was in a shop the other day talking to a mechanic about forks and he mentioned a coil fork would be best for me because I'm a "big guy."

    Really? I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs., I was a little offended by this remark.

    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.

  30. #30
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    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.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    In a perfect shop every employee rides to work and preferably doesn't own a car. Also no one working at the perfect shop can have even a hint of an attitude that suggests "I am above you, or better than you".
    They also wear pants that fit!

  32. #32
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    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.

  33. #33
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    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.
    2012 Rockhopper 29er.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin_amador View Post
    How 'bout just having the stuff I want to buy in stock. And be a resource, not just a turd who's only interested in a commission.
    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.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    Tools for customers to use free of charge.
    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.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    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.
    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.
    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.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    I work in a very large chain shop...
    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.

    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.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshh View Post
    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.
    joshh just cut my money tree down.

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    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.
    2012 Rockhopper 29er.

  40. #40
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    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.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    Tools for customers to use free of charge. As a consumer its hard to justify pricey tools like trueing stands, headset presses, air compressors, etc when I only need to use them a few times per year.

    It'd be nice if you could pay pay a shop a cheap flat rate to use some of their equipment.
    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.

    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.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    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.

    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.
    LOL.. same place.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by bt2S88 View Post
    I have always envisioned the perfect bike shop having a perfect test facility.
    +1, even if it is just a smalls skills course

  44. #44
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    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.
    for example:
    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)

  45. #45
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    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.

  46. #46
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    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?

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by dompedro3 View Post
    This is just some advice, I'm sure it's all been done before, but never in a single shop (to my knowledge)
    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.

    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!

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser View Post
    I think all LBS should give basic tuning and maintenance classes.
    Any LBS that did that would be shooting themselves in the foot.

    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.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post

    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.
    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.

  50. #50
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    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.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    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.
    I still, aside from the above mentioned wheel building, have NEVER had to take my bike(s) in for work. For anything - and I ride everything from BMX to road riding and everything in between.

  52. #52
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    To the the perfect bike shop is as follows

    Knowledgeable - not just in one aspect either, but having people there who excel in all areas of the sport (have staff who races and have other staff who trail rides and other staff who dirt jumps ect.) That way there is always someone who is knowledgeable about the specific area or niche you are looking to get involved with.

    Inventory - having proper inventory is key but far to often a shop will try and fill their store with something that moves quickly or maybe just have high end stuff to try and cater to a more mature(for lack of a better word) audience. This is not how it should be done IMO. There is a company Ideal with for my motorcycle racing called sportbiketrackgear. They have a saying that if they wont use it they wont sell it. What I find intriguing about them is that there are many products I see other companies carry that then do not even if it is something that sells popularly. They will only stock a part if they feel its a good part but they cater to all levels of need, meaning they carry one brand of race glass for example that is a little easier on the wallet than others they carry but the fit is decent and its relatively strong in a crash but it has some downsides like flexibility and weight which can be had by purchasing one of the better sets. Basically have options that are realistic and even on a budget are not crap.

    Be Inviting - I hate walking into a store just to have the people that work there look at me like I dont belong/fit in. I recently went into a skate shop that opened up in my area that is owned by one of the largest mail order skateboard companies in the country whom I have used for the last 15+ years of my life. What I was presented with was people who ignored me because I didnt look the part, even after I went up to the guy and said what I was looking for he was reluctant to help me as if he was better than me. At this point I laughed at the guy and said you know what kid I have been skating since you were in diapers, Im sorry if that is not good enough for you and turned around and left. I later called the mail order company to let them know what I thought of their stores service towards me and they were very displeased to say the least. On the other hand I walked into a LBS recently to discuss my desire to cross train utilizing MTB and the guy was super inviting and honestly seemed like he just wanted to hang out. Even offered me a drink from the fridge. I went back to that shop and bought my bike from him even though it was cheaper elsewhere because to me dealing with good people is worth the extra money. The personal experience is what separates local businesses from internet shops and yet there are so many companies that forget this, if I wanted to be treated like a number I would get online.

    I think that those three things are key to creating a good culture for a bike shop to thrive.

  53. #53
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    Some shops are eager to help you find a trail (print outs, maps on the wall, etc), and other want you to buy a 12 dollar pamphlet. I don't want a book for a place I might only visit every few years, but when I'm helped out for what seem like for free, I'm compelled to spend a little money even if its just a bar.

  54. #54
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    I would like to see a bike shop with a demo course. Some rocky terrain, roots, slippery moss...etc. So I can actually test out the bike instead of riding around a flat paved parking lot.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    I was in a shop the other day talking to a mechanic about forks and he mentioned a coil fork would be best for me because I'm a "big guy."

    Really? I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs., I was a little offended by this remark.
    Really? Grow some thicker skin. In what way is 6 2 and 200 # not big? "fat" might be offensive but "big guy" isnt. Coil suspension definitely works better for heavier folks because air forks lose small-bump compliance at those high psi's. (theyre pretty much designed for 160 # riders.) Im 5'8 and 215, mostly muscle but a little chub and bike shop guys often mention my weight when talking about suspension or components, they would be doing me a disservice if they didnt. Doesnt offend me at all, i am what I am.
    Last edited by dwyooaj; 01-17-2013 at 01:06 PM.
    '14 rocky mountain altitude, rally edition
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser View Post
    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?
    Very wise, me thinks! I think I'll run this past my employer. I can't help but think that the best part of this idea is that all the guys who buy bikes will probably be to embarrassed to admit they don't know how to fix bikes, leaving only the women to sign up because they'll find the idea fun. I'm in!
    "I am hard at work right now, you just can't tell because I'm wearing an apron!"

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  57. #57
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    Yeah, once you get over 200# you can really start to find that Air presents a LOT of compromise.

    You get great small bump compliance and bottom horribly
    OR
    You get crap compliance and a nice end-stroke ramp up.

    Also, once you are a "big guy" NO MORE QR or even QR15, just use 20mm Through Axle forks.

  58. #58
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    The LBS near my house has high school aged kids working in there that don't know the inventory and have under-developed people skills, to put it mildly. Also, I was talking to the owner of the shop about the local trail scene and he went off on a minor tirade about the timber company owner of a local riding area starting to require a yearly permit fee to enter their property (we're talking $45/year). He was advocating ignoring the permit as a protest, etc, blah blah blah. I just want to talk about good trails I haven't riden yet. Not a ration of politics and protest.

    I drive across town to a place where everyone is a little older and deeply into the biking scene themselves. They are down to earth and friendly. Even their shop dogs are super friendly. They charge me for things that take a while or certainly for new parts, but they drop what they are doing to help me out for free if it is minor. They know the trails and are happy to share what they know. What it comes down to is a relaxed and friendly vibe. If I have to give my bike related money to someone, it is definitely going to be them.

  59. #59
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    Every Model of Bike so you could compare them all! So annoying not being able to side by side comparo on two bikes your looking at

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuel&Fire View Post
    Every Model of Bike so you could compare them all! So annoying not being able to side by side comparo on two bikes your looking at
    And every one of them in your size.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    And every one of them in your size.
    Damn straight. Every color too.

  62. #62
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    Or every one in all sizes, so you could make sure youre getting the right size, and not just the size in stock tehy wanna sell.
    '14 rocky mountain altitude, rally edition
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  63. #63
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    Faster special orders - I will buy from a LBS, but I am not going to wait 2 weeks and pay more for something I can order online and have in 2 days. Understand the online thing - understand that the SRAM XO derailleur you are asking $200 for is only $130 online. I am not saying price match, but be realistic if you want folks to order from you b/c you don't have it in stock. I like the comment above about a special-order kiosk! Put your already-marked up prices on there and then there is no hassle, no "let me check", not showing the customer the wholesale price etc. Finally, keep a stock of the basic stuff so you don't have to do special orders. I have argued before in these LBS threads that customers will pay more to buy local and get it now. Note - I worked in a shop for 4 years.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  64. #64
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    Avoid personal politics being a binding-point for Customer relations, and do not have others poach upon public trail networks for personal gain.

    Me, I'd found that I was watching someone who'd been an acqaintance of sorts up-end a local riding-center to interject a warped personal politic into the community. Through operating a business, a bike shop. Contending w/ it while blissfully unaware, and then when rudely made aware, it rapdily became a nightmare-scenario. And sustained an already disproportionate ego.

    Any effort such as this on company time really do place any & all customer base at high risk for losing their own identity; as a valued customer, or as a bike nerd, or even for a hopeful friend.

    Simply, when in the postion of influencing potential customers decision making, leave it to the reason they chose your sales-radius to begin with. If people wanted muscle they'd join a gym.
    But keep it up, it stinks like Laundered Money.

    This is an extreme example, but when Public and Private Land allows the ability to generate revenue anyone who has a business that supports the persuit of these activities should really choose their manners wisely.

    'Silent' and 'Listen' have the same Letters of the Alphabet.

    End Rant.
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  65. #65
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    The perfect bike shop is the one who builds relationships with their customers regardless of the type of bikes they ride.

  66. #66
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    There is a good book that talks about bike shops and owners a little. The majority of it is about cyclists and their passions, as strange and fun as they can be. Bike Tribes by Mike Magnuson
    There is a big difference between ripping and skidding.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chalkpaw View Post
    There is a good book that talks about bike shops and owners a little. The majority of it is about cyclists and their passions, as strange and fun as they can be. Bike Tribes by Mike Magnuson
    Just read it - wife got it for me for Christmas. Its *OK*. I think he missed a lot of the "tribes" within the mountainbike community, but the shop part is good.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by daves4mtb View Post
    What are you trying to say here? I feel like I read some crappy spam email.
    My attempt to show others when poorly chosen manners and attitudes choke-off repeat business. The rant highlights an 'extreme example' of pushy individuals and of sprawl within 'growth industry'.
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  69. #69
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    The perfect bike shop already exists. Repairs while I wait. Parts usually no more than a day away. It's in my garage.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncfisherman View Post
    Beer on tap.
    this, and maybe a dirt park in the back lot?

  71. #71
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    I am very close to parting ways with the LBS closest to my house. The latest is a charge of $50 to install a headset (I was expecting $20 or $30, if they would have told me it was going to be $50 I would have done it myself). I regularly visit the shop (i.e. I'm not a stranger at this point), yet I always feel like I should have either done the repair work myself or ordered the product online. Trust that I would much rather see a local business thrive than to support a nameless/faceless internet shop, but when you walk out of the store with a $90 tire that you could have bought online for $60, AND you feel like a sucker (that is, not appreciated), then why go back? I think I've finally decided that this shop really just wants to suck the teat of the local doctors and lawyers, and they don't care at all about the real riders in the area (I regularly lead rides through local advocacy group, etc.)

    Meanwhile, the bike shop 10 miles away is awesome: 1) they make me feel like an old friend the instant I walk in the door (even if they don't remember my name), 2) they regularly provide small parts "on the house" (small bolts, even a used seatpost clamp, whereas I was once charged $5/ for a pair of seatpost clamps from the other shop), 3) mechanical or training advice is regularly shared (once adjusted derailleur for no charge, whereas the other place charged me $20), and 4) prices are competitive enough with online ($5 or $10 more for LBS is good, $40 more for LBS is ridiculous). For these reasons I often make the trip, even though the other shop is right down the street from my house, and I don't hesitate to recommend to others to check them out.

    Like I said, I'd like to see a local business do well, but it's very hard for me to justify stepping foot in there anymore. Friends have sworn off the place years ago because of the very same reasons.

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