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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:05 pm 
King of the Skip Monkeys
King of the Skip Monkeys
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Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:34 pm
Posts: 31828
Location: Crayon-Munching-Fart-Muppet
When I worked in a busy branch of Rutland Cycling a few years ago, the mechanics leaped all over the posh bikes but ignored the older stuff - the stuff I took care of and eventually people came to seek me out. If I hadnt of been there with a sympathetic ear, they were pretty much told to eff off. I was told to send them away but I dug my heels in and it was only when the service turnover had gone up a hefty notch that I was taken seriously (until I was sacked - much to the joy of one of the mechanics)

Its a real tizzy, employ experienced people but then you cant afford them, employ kids and have to turn away work due to lack of experience with that old weird shit.

Theres lots of other factors too but who'd want to be a cycle shop owner?

 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:10 am 
Section Moderator & South West AEC
Section Moderator & South West AEC
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Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:33 pm
Posts: 8519
Location: new forest
and another one gone:- ... ney/022051

bike shops are dropping like flies, there are lots of reasons. most of the above comments are correct, LGF and Rod specifically.

the reasons are (as i see it):-

the internet
bad service in LBS
snobbishness in the bike world generally
tired/worn out/stagnant staff and owners
customers threaten shops with bad publicity (i'll tell none of my mates to come here etc plus facebook shaming etc)
but mainly, the business model is flawed now.

most of these things can be addressed, but a lot of shops close their senses to it i think. they just gradually see a decline in sales and just hope it'll get better, then it doesn't, then they panic and then they close.

as some of you know i set up my little shop about 18 months ago, none of what i see on Bike Biz worries me, i realise that sounds very arrogant especially for someone who's only been in business a short time but that is the honest truth, so below is a list of answers to the things i see as the problem.

the internet:-
it's been there for a while now, you have to go with it not against it. i set my stall up to aim for the low end customer, this was very deliberate, the low end customer does not know CRC/wiggle etc exists, they don't know how to fix their bike and they probably don't want to. that's where i come in. the trade has changed, you need to look for your place to fit in.

bad service in LBS:-
you have to keep trying, it's hard these days but sometimes you just have to grin a bear it, staff need to be trained and taught customer service, while i do not believe the customer is always right i do believe in educating them and being upfront and honest. because i am still a new shop most of my customers come here because they are pissed off with another shop in someway, whether it is a bad repair of being ignored or just bad advice, i try my best to get to know my customers, their name, their riding etc, it makes them want to come back.

we've all done it, i've done it, it's almost automatic, we all start somewhere, but we forget. frankly i hate working on crappy bikes, they are frustrating with their cheap bendy steel components etc. that needs to stop from a shop point of view, i don't care what comes through the door, if i can fix it i will. i use words like "entry level" and "standard" etc because no one wants to be told their bike is crap, it's insulting and you won't win a customer with that attitude, but maybe next time they'll buy an entry level bike from you and not a halfords special. it's not rocket science is it.

staff is your biggest asset and potentially your biggest liability. good staff are so important, they need to be looked after by the employer and not taken for granted, the crap need to be told, retrained and if that doesn't work they need to go, harsh but true. it's pretty much the same for owners, if as an owner you are tired of it all you need to either get out of the business or stop being the face of the shop and let your manager do it, especially if he/she is more enthusiastic than you.

some are idiots, that's just people and the world we live in now, do you think the bike trade is in any way different? everyday people have to deal with idiots, learning how to do it is important.

i was asked to price match Dura Ace, a full group and fit it. i didn't even let him get as far as quoting me the price, luckily i sort of knew him and could be frank, i told him to buy it all mail order and i would fit it for a labour rate, he then asked why as he was surprised, and i told him the truth, that price is trade price and you have no official warranty on the parts. he then asked me to get the parts saying well if you get the parts i'll pay you more for the labour, i refused because to order the parts would take about 20 mins (to get all the correct sizes etc) and he wanted the price match which meant on £1062 worth of Dura Ace (the price he found online) i would have made £3 and the parts would have been in warranty, i explained to him that if he wanted that price he would potentially have to sacrifice the warranty on the parts, i said i'd charge him £100 to build the bike, he felt this was too much, he was already getting £700 off the retail price of Dura Ace and £100 (for potentially 4 hours work) was too much. basically i didn't want to have to be responsible for the warranty if a part failed as i'd would have only made £3 which means any labour i would have got would be wiped out in phone calls and postage to suppliers to return parts. this is why i have never chased this type of customer but most other shops seem to aim for the high end guy. why? it's almost pointless.

the above is just one example, i never got that job but then i also know the customer stuck with the Ultegra group on his bike so maybe he was testing the water, he still comes in though.

people always want the lowest price, i get that, no one in the real world is earning big money, each pound has to go further, it's not surprising that a customer looks at ebay and wiggle etc, so i deal where i can and tell them to buy on line if i can't but when i do that i offer a fitting rate on the parts, it means i'm trying to meet them half way and most understand that.

flawed business model:-
this one i think is the big one, it's all changed, does anyone remember their local video tape rental place? it's gone, innovate, change or die.

it started years ago with the internet, people have been buying online for years now, people now buy bikes online aswel, the rise of YT and Canyon etc, people now assume that the bike will ride ok handling wise which means they will sacrifice a test ride for a better deal at retail price. gone are the days when a customer would test ride 2 or 3 bikes and pick the one they like, they research the bike they like the look of, work out the correct size and order it, done.

so the bike shop owner is stuffed, his bikes have gone through importers etc and on average are 15% higher priced than the equivalent YT or Canyon and you can't say that YT etc are crap as they are not, the reason they are cheaper is the business model, basically they are selling direct from the manufacturer to the customer, that cuts out the importer and the shop, frankly the bike should be cheaper than they are as they have cut out 2 mark ups! shops can't fight that price, they just have to hope that their bike is more desired by the customer but even then they'll have to do a deal.

the other part of the business model that is wrong is the selling window of bikes, the dealer is stuffed from the get go. obviously a manufacturer can't can't build all the next years model over night so there has to be a rolling in time of the new models but for shops it's a nightmare. you go to a show in september, to continue your brand you are told to sign up to a level of stock, some of which you will have to order with in a week of that show, so you have to guess what models will sell in what sizes etc, some of those suppliers are a nightmare aswel, they will insist that to get on a certain rate you must stock pretty much the entire range from a £300 bike to a £3000 bike, so you order 40 bikes in september and they start coming in over the next few months, the high end stuff in maybe late november/early december, they'll give you a 60 day invoice, so a top end bike comes in to stock when you realistically have no chance of selling it, the winter. then you get an invoice for it in late january/early february when you're taking no major money in the shop, and you have a whole bunch of these invoices, you're buggered. so here's the selling window problem, you get a bike, have to pay for it inside 60 days but you don't really have any chance of that, you then sit on that bike for a while then spring happens, hopefully you sell it, but guess what, the new model is gonna be launched in 3 months time, the customer thinks should i wait for the new model or should i try and get discount. so again the shop is buggered, drop the price or don't sell it. it's maddening.

these are the reasons i see before me, retail is different now, owners need to see this and change to suit it if they can, i set up my place to try and avoid all these pitfalls, i try and work with the internet, i don't sell bikes, i repair stuff rather than replace the bike, the customer only deals with me so there is never a communication issue because i know what i said. and i do my best to treat everyone who comes through the door as best i can.

this isn't a rant, it's just what i see, and i have seen it like this for atleast 15 years, the above looks quite depressing really, i have just read it back before hitting submit but i'm sat here on a monday morning in my shop on a rainy day thinking that i'd rather be doing this than the previous job i had on that god awful chemical plant.

to all the guys in the bike trade, keep you chin up, worse things happen at sea.


 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:04 pm 
rBoTM Winner
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Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:24 pm
Posts: 881
Location: N.Staffs
I cant disagree with much that has been said here. The Internet eventually commoditises everything it touches. Also, the evolution of the logistics industry means that you can order something at 10pm and get it tomorrow.

The reality is that you don't need specialist advice because Google will tell you everything you need to know ... and some!

The demise of the bike shop is not unexpected. It has happened to book shops, toy shops and many other specialist retailers. At least the bike shop has better chance because the can offer specialist repairs and services - but they need to adapt.

A good friend of mine started his bike repair shop only about 18 month ago. He had 12 years experience as a shop mechanic from a local bike shop who also built steel frames - so he had all of the frame prep, wheel building and retro experience. He's doing well because he has the right attitude and know where he fits. He doesn't want to sell new bikes or groupsets but is happy to fit the stuff you buy from Wiggle.

As others have said - Use it or lose it! You cant complain if all you do is buy from CRC and Wiggle and fit things yourself. I use a few of my local shops - they are always more expensive but that's the trade off. I buy gels, and consumables like tubes and bar tape (the value add things that give them a decent margin) I get my wheels built for me at bike shops and I use them for things that I know they will do better than me.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:04 am 
King of the Skip Monkeys
King of the Skip Monkeys
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Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:34 pm
Posts: 31828
Location: Crayon-Munching-Fart-Muppet
I've stuck to just doing repairs locally and am often brutally honest with most as their bikes are usually Tesco finest lovelies.

I still get the odd nicety in but have wound things in a little for now. I like having clean nails.

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