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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:46 pm 
Road Moderator
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Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:07 pm
Posts: 4715
Location: Sheppey, Kent
Running my little bike shop I come across all sorts of scenarios where I'm in a bit of predicament as to what to charge or what is expected from me. I'll give two recent examples:

1. Having done pretty much a full strip and rebuild of a tatty old BSO getting it back to a useable state the owner picked it up and happily rode off on it. About an hour later I get a phone call informing me that a jockey wheel had fallen off (my fault for not checking them I'm ashamed to admit). I jumped in my car and did a roadside repair and offered him a free new set of pedals when he brings his bike in next week for a new bb and chainset. As a result of this I have fast forwarded the service checklist making sure that no bolt remains unchecked.

2. Fella brings in a low quality but ok rear wheel with two broken spokes. As they were on the driveside I needed to get the freewheel off unfortunately exerting the force vertically through the wheel to remove the freewheel resulted in the wheel buckling to the point of beyond repair. I quoted the original work to be £15. Now it needs a new wheel, but I can't get an exact match so I am getting a new pair of wheels. Furthermore the freewheel is not ever going to come off the old wheel so I need to replace the freewheel and the worn out chain too. I quoted him £35 for the new wheelset, chain and freewheel taking his old front that I can sell on I won't be out of pocket but he hasn't got to pay out loads more than I quoted.

Opinions on the above but also your own horror stories or stories of greatness will be equally appreciated.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:24 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:55 pm
Posts: 8209
Location: New Forest, UK
Exceptional customer service is a long-term investment. I once took a day trip to Poland to bring back a suitcase full of transformer components for a customer's urgent build.

Hopefully you will start to get recommended, and word of mouth is the best marketing tool. At that point your investment gets repaid.

At the same time, there is no shame in warning in cases like that wheel with things like "this job costs X, however, the fact that the wheel has broken spokes means that all the others are on point of going...IF it all falls to bits as I get it out, then it will cost Y"


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:48 pm 
rBoTM Winner
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hamster wrote:
"this job costs X, however, the fact that the wheel has broken spokes means that all the others are on point of going...IF it all falls to bits as I get it out, then it will cost Y"


I worked at a bike shop that was, and is, very customer service oriented and we always used this tactic with repairs like the wheel situation. For the most part people understood when things went awry. But we would comp repairs when it was our fault.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1321
Location: Cotswolds
Tel, I always preferred to get the freewheel off using the bench vice. Equal pressure both sides. If its a clamp on remover the firm pressure as you tighten the hub nut helps to release the block.
I have felt the wheels spring a bit.
The ones that amused me were those who had chopped the spokes out, and brought in a rear hub with the block in place and a lot of dangly bits of spokes. What I used to term "magic wand and striped apron time" for. The difficult bit was cutting a few spokes on the gear side close enough to clear the spoke holes.

Keith


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:40 pm 
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I think the main thing in cases like this would be to warn of what might go wrong and what it mighat cost, before it does. If customers are aware of the possible problems and extra cost and accept that, then you should have no problem. If things do go wrong and it was your fault, then get them put right asap, at your cost, and do everything possible to keep a happy customer. The will always be a few plonkers who won't be happy with this, but the vast majority will remember that you put your mistakes right, not that you made them in the first place.

I assume you have some sort of insurance? Does it cover expensive mistakes or accidents to people's bikes while they're in your shop? An expensive carbon frame can easily be broken y a simple accident or falling over onto something!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:16 pm
Posts: 1568
Location: NOTTINGHAM
Wear disposable gloves! My LBS is superb, and will drop whatever they are doing to help me out with whatever little job I need doing BUT they always leave filthy oil marks everywhere, including saddles, bar tape etc. Disposable gloves would eliminate this instead of me having to clean it up.

From a business point of view I think you have to accept that some jobs will cost you and not the customer. However, if you point out to the customer that there is a 'possibility' that it may go wrong due to age, condition or whatever, then you don't then need get into a confrontational situation should things go awry. Repairs either work or they don't - it's 50/50 - this notion should be applied to all jobs irrespective of whether it's a bike worth £20 or £2000.

I wouldn't be wanting to start giving stuff away free as recompense - I'd sooner do a job for free although any offer in kind suggests an element of error or guilt, but at the end of it all, I guess you do whatever is necessary to keep the customer satisfied


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:20 pm 
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Location: Cumbria
What you have to do is add into the equation a cost to put things right, at no cost to the customer, if something unexpected goes wrong and you can't get them to back out.........the so called hassle factor.

It means that people who have jobs that go according to plan pay more than they need to, as they cover the cost of the things that go wrong. They do so because their job might have gone wrong.....

Shaun


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm
Posts: 1112
Midlife wrote:
What you have to do is add into the equation a cost to put things right, at no cost to the customer, if something unexpected goes wrong and you can't get them to back out.........the so called hassle factor.

It means that people who have jobs that go according to plan pay more than they need to, as they cover the cost of the things that go wrong. They do so because their job might have gone wrong.....

Shaun


This seems like a really good solution.

The problem with offering refunds or compensation or whatever is that customers often don't understand the difference between things that are the mechanic's fault and things that are just unexpected problems. Midlife's solution gives you the room to deal with the unexpected issues without having to explain every detail of every repair job to every customer. Of course, if you know the problem was an error on your part you should admit it (as you rightly did with the customer with the pulley wheel problem).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:07 am 
r.B.o.T.M. & P.o.T.M. Winner
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:51 am
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Location: Camel Land
Point 2 - invest in some proper quality tooling for these kinds of jobs
Point 1 - Improve your own Quality Controls before a bike is completed


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:19 pm
Posts: 7006
Location: Odense, Denmark
I'm in the lucky situation of working on full capacity constantly at the moment (which I've not been on here for a bit - run off my feet - holiday period has now kicked in so can take a breather) and am able to charge an hourly rate that would never make doing a full service on a BSO cost-effective.

There are some bikes that I just say to the customer - "If I'm going to do this and guarantee the work - because once it's been done you WILL find something else wrong with the bike so it needs the full service - then you might as well just buy this bike for £300. If a bike isn't going to run properly after the repair I just won't do it.

Now in my third year of trading and people seldom bring BSOs in anymore.

I like it better that way.

Also tools... very important. Pretty much have the full kit now barring a couple of steerer thread cutters and reamers. But as soon as they get needed for a repair - then I buy them.


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