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Bike Shop Marketing/PR(8 posts)

Bike Shop Marketing/PRsievers11
Mar 20, 2003 9:22 AM
A thread started by DRUNKIND got me thinking...

Main Question: Should a LBS cater to the racer/tech geek even if their core customer is the local hybrid rider?

1. Does this "catering" realisticly bring more business from the racer/tech geek give you shop the thumbs-up to their friends?

2. Is the racer/tech geek irrelevant because of the internet?
In my opinion , no customer is irrelevant. (nm)onespeed
Mar 20, 2003 9:46 AM
agree, but...sievers11
Mar 20, 2003 9:55 AM
do you think you should actively spend time and $ on getting the stuff techy want to "see"? I say "see" because they may or may not end up purchasing because of the online market.

I don't suggest you turn away their business, I am questioning spending marketing and PR time on them.

Will stocking a $4000 bike be worth it if you have to sell at cost at the end of each year? Should that $4000 bike be considered advertising to convince the techy that you know what you are doing.
Define "catering".PseuZQ
Mar 20, 2003 10:55 AM
Do you mean stocking high-end bikes? Sponsoring a team? Leading weekend rides that are more than just a cruise?

A lot of it could be part of brand building and differentiation in a local metro that has more than one shop. For example, I just took my road bike to one well known high-end shop here in SF because they have a reputation for selling and servicing high-end bikes. But I took my commuter bike to another well-known shop here because I knew that they "specialized," if you will, on every-day bikes, like my kinda rusty, very dirty commuter.

The high-end shop probably wouldn't have touched it.
Re: Define "catering".sievers11
Mar 20, 2003 11:39 AM
I would say stocking highend parts, accessories and clothing.

Do you think, if you specialize in "everyday" you should stick to that "everyday" customer?

I would think it might be tough to compete with the high-end shops, but I see what you mean.
My Bike Shop Marketing Treatise...TJeanloz
Mar 20, 2003 12:29 PM
The bicycle shop is an interesting business proposition for the owners and employees. Generally, people who own and work in bike shops have a strong interest in bicycles -- as compared to say, the dry cleaner, who probably doesn't have any special place in his heart for dry cleaning. That said, there are a few other truths to the business: except in cities of 1 million people +, or a special interest place like Boulder, a strictly "high end" bike shop cannot survive. They survive in these places, not because of the racers but because of the people that racers call posers. People who will lay down $10,000 on a Colnago with every bell and whistle.

So, outside of these "high end" shops, everybody else deals with the general public. In the profit and loss equation, the racer is almost always a losing cause. Racers are the most demanding, cheapest, and most often rudest class of customer. The problem comes from the very fact that they know what a job entails, and they get upset that it costs so much to "only" strip a bike, repaint it, and put it all back together. They look at the bike shop mechanic as a high school kid who doesn't have nearly enough experience to be in the pit, let alone work on their bike. These people are only worthwhile from a business perspective because they recommend their friends and relatives (and then get mad because you didn't give their fourth cousin once removed a big enough discount).

The bread and butter of most shops is the person who rides a hybrid and doesn't even know the meaning of the word hybrid. To them, the work of the bicycle mechanic is a lost art, that they managed to mess up at least once before, and will only trust professionals from here on out. We had customers bet us that we couldn't change a tire (tube, actually) in less than ten minutes -- something a good wrench can do in less than one (unless its a Trek Matrix rim). We charge these people $10 to fix a flat, and its a bargain for them. The racer gets pissed off, because he knows the tube cost us $0.75, and the three minutes of labor cost $0.50. When the repair is done, the hybrid customers bring a platefull of cookies to show their appreciation; the racer comes back to complain that we didn't put the tire label back in exactly the position that it had been.

But at the bottom of it all is the fact that people in the bike shop enjoy the company of the racing crowd. Most of us were once racers, or very serious riders. We order bikes with all the latest gear, not because we think we'll sell them for a ridiculous sum, but because we want to see them too. Racers are almost universally friends of the bike shop, but woe unto whomever tries to make a business out of catering to racers.
I think so too. (nm)Spoke Wrench
Mar 20, 2003 7:51 PM
well stated. thanks for the perspective!!! nmJS Haiku Shop
Mar 21, 2003 6:58 AM