Friday, September 21, 2007

Maybe I am Dreaming

I have been envisioning for a while a few features of the "Perfect" bike shop.
Maybe I am dreaming on some of these things, but as a cyclist and a person with enough bikes to ride a different one each day of the week with spares, here are the features I think would make the ideal shop.

1. Service.
Not just the ability to repair a bike, but also responsiveness for parts ordering and completion. The big point here is in timely execution. Calling the customer back when promised and making sure parts that were ordered actually got ordered.
This might have to be a dedicated position and even set to a schedule.
Follow up and execution are the key.

2. Top certified (if that exists) mechanics. Yeah, bicycles are not that complicated and most things are pretty easy to fix on road or mt. bikes, but there are important details here and there that the average mechanic doesn't seem to know about.
I want to know that the person wrenching on my bike is more knowledgeable than I. Unfortunately this is not always the case. "Dude, aren't you supposed to use a torque wrench on that stem and carbon bar?".

3. A high level of expertise and product knowledge. New products are constantly coming out, and the bicycle industry constantly pushes the envelope on engineering and design. The ideal bike shop would be up on these innovations, even excited about them, and be able to explain them to even the more advanced avid cyclists.
The folks that own and work at the shop better be on better bikes than I ride. They don't have to better riders, but they need to have the bling.

4. High end parts in stock.
One of the things I have seen on a consistent basis is riders needing parts right away and hearing from the shop "we can order that for you". As I have heard my teammates say "um, I can order it myself, there are a bazillion online resource for me to order it from". The rider came into the store because they need the part today. Maybe it just broke, maybe they have an event in the next day or two, but the bottom line...they need it now.
Mostly, having the things that break in stock are critical.

5. A nice selection of tires and different decent prices.
Tires might be an area where the shop just has to take a wash. But if riders know that there is a good selection at good prices, they will come in and they will likely buy other things.

6. Tubes: I am going to be very clear here. BUY a SHIT LOAD of TUBES! Buy so many that you can blow them out at under $4.00 and still make money. Maybe even make your own brand and go direct to the factory. As our team found out, tubes are to riders like cigarettes are to inmates at a jail.

7. Environment: The store needs to be inviting, impressive, and it needs to flow. If I opened a shop I would definitely consult a Feng Shui expert.

8. Link it to a coffee house. Cyclists drink coffee, why not get in on that action? Get the thing opened up before the morning rides on the weekend, then be ready to serve some smoothies for after ride recovery. It would also be a place where riders could hang out and BS about the rides, races, or any of the other stupid things we occupy ourselves with.

9. Training room/meeting room:
Having a room that could accommodate a good number of trainers during the winter could bring more traffic into the shop. It could be a bring your own, or rent a shop trainer situation. It could be a situation where spin like classes could be lead by local fitness trainers or coaches.
Have a big screen TV in place, show movies or cycling videos to ride to. There could even be designated sessions where the feature is a specific Spinnerval video. Perhaps a different one each week, or run in a series.
As a team president making sure I have a location for team meetings is critical. This room could double as a meeting room for local clubs and even local cycling advocacy groups.
(make sure the coffee house is open).

10. High-end race wheels available for rent:
Mostly I am talking about time trial wheels. Disks are hugely expensive and yet see very little use on a per rider basis. A shop could rent these out to the riders at a pretty decent penny. Heck, I would pay $100 to use a really nice disk wheel for a weekend versus spending a $1000+ to have it sit in my bike garage collecting dust 360 days a year.
Considering the value of these wheels, a shop could easily rent it out for a year then sell it on Ebay for probably close to the shop's cost. That makes the rental money pure profit.

As I said, I am probably dreaming, but it is my dream and I have exclusive license to dream anything I want.
You never know though, reality sometimes starts with a dream.

I am sure I will have people tell me I am crazy, or give me all their justifications for why these ideas won't work. But you know what? People told me my ideas for how a bike racing team/club should be run wouldn't work, and well, 5 years regrets.

Maybe some folks are just afraid to try. Perhaps comfortable in their current state of existence.


Blogger imike said...

Sounds good to me ! ( if only
we had more riders in Angels Camp, it might work )

10:29 AM  

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