WARNING! ATTENTION! ACHTUNG!
Your Local Bike Shop wants to Help You!
The information contained in this article will grant you great power when it comes to navigating your local bike shop. But just remember, for your own safety, what Spiderman’s late Uncle Ben had said to him:
“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
3 Powerful Tips to Help You Get the Most From Your Local Bike Shop
I have been employed in a bike shop for about 7 years, and I’d like to share with you some insights that will help you get the best experience out of your local bike shop.
Some people already understand these concepts, and are putting them to use, yet they appear to make up a fairly small percentage of the customers we see these days. These concepts are very simple, and have obvious benefits, so it must be that most people just haven’t thought of them before. Once they are made aware of these secrets, I have no doubt they will choose to use some of them to improve their shopping experience.
Remember that every shop is different, as is every customer so just follow the approaches outlined below and adapt them to the needs of you and your local bike shop’s employees.
These tips are guaranteed to work at Ski Shops and your local Automotive Shop too. They may also work at the Dentist’s and Lawyer’s office, but this has not been thoroughly tested, so proceed there at your own risk!
1) Don’t Ask For Deals
Don’t ask for deals? Sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but you have to hear this. Many people believe that asking for a deal is a good way to get a deal. That’s because in a way it is, yet the truth may be that it’s not. Now allow me to explain that illogical statement.
It is a fact that if you ask something like, “Is that the best you can do?” you will sometimes get a deal that you would not have otherwise. To most customers, this behaviour seems rewarded, and so they learn to repeat it over and over again every time they visit the shop.
But if only we could make this one point clear to any one who might be that customer: As shop employees, we will find you rather annoying, and will be much less inclined to give you any help above and beyond the bare minimum, if you are always asking for deals. We don’t work for commission, so selling things is not our primary motivation for being there. It is important for the store to sell product, but the employees that are helping you out are there because they love talking to other people about bikes, and biking. We are there, (or at least should be there,) because we have a real passion about cycling and just like working in bike shops. These jobs aren’t making us rich.
As a customer, you are going to get far better service if you share your love for bikes with us! When a customer displays a genuine love for the sport, an instant bond is formed that will see that customer getting great service, and the best deals we can afford, once a relationship has been built.
So be nice, your local bike shop is not there to loose money, and give away stuff for cheap. They are there to share their love of biking with you, and to help you in your pursuit of happiness via the bicycle.
In short, you gotta give a little, to get a little!
2) Bring Your Friends
The best customers are the ones that are stoked on your shop. They have brought their own business to your shop, had great experiences and kept coming back.
If you want to improve your standing at the local shop you frequent, do your best to bring them some new business in the form of your friends and family. Introduce them to the shop and two great things will happen. Firstly, your friend or family member will earn some valuable trust points from your local shop based on their relationship with you. It kind of gets them “in through the back door” if you know what I mean. Secondly, bringing all the new business you can to your local bike shop earns you some major shop karma points, and any good shop (which your’s is, because you’re stoked on them for a reason, right?) will not hesitate to give you a great price on your next big purchase. After all, the relationship is now moving past Retailer/Customer-ship and into the zone of Friendship!
Be a good friend of your Local Bike Shop, and it will be rewarded in savings, swag, and probably some good riding buddies!
Did you just wreck something on a bike trip, and need it fixed right away? Bike shops are often busy with service and repairs, and depending on the time of year, getting your bike fixed can take anywhere from an hour to a week. Shops typically work on a first come – first serve basis, so customers should keep in mind that they are not the only rider in the whole world that wants their bike done NOW! Usually your bike is, “Just another drop in the bucket,” so to speak.
Don’t lose heart though, as this little trick I’m about to teach you will probably get you just the results you were looking for! Although it is illegal to bribe your local government officials, it is actually common practice to bribe your local bike shop. In some cases, it may even be considered as being a good person!
I would start with beer. I have yet to meet a bike mechanic or ski technician that would turn down beer, (If you ever meet one that does, perform a quick background check to make sure he can be trusted!)
Coffee may also work, but it doesn’t have the buying power of beer. Don’t even bother with coffee after lunch, as your local bike mechanic has probably already drank too much espresso, and his hand is shaking so much he can barely get a shift cable into a piece of housing!
That’s it. Not to complicated at all now, is it? If you have any other tips on how to get more from your local bike shop, leave them in the comments below.
For more information about proper bike shop etiquette, check out this article:
Interesting point about #3. I’d say this: “Don’t go to a bike shop just to check out what you can buy online.” Sure, you can save a buck or two, but they’re providing you a service, and if everyone did that we wouldn’t have them to rely on.
I submitted a link to this article in Reddit, and received a lot of negative comments! It seems to offend some people to suggest that they should take some time building a relationship, based on reciprocity, before asking their LBS for a deal. At work sometimes, I’m simply amazed at how little respect people have for small businesses.
Thankfully they are not the majority, but unfortunately it seems they are rather outspoken.
I would love some comments from other small business owners. I doubt this is a problem facing only bike shops.
It is enlightening to read something like this from your perspective. Keep it coming!
As a mechanic at a local shop I have to disagree with the first rule. personally i’d rather match a price online and make less money than not even get the sale at all. now i do know that most shops don’t want to do this but this but this is me talking as an individual . as far as bribes you are 100 percent right and it doesn’t have to be a beverage it can be food in fact that may even get you further. give your shop a call around lunch time to see if they ate yet and if they haven’t ask how many people are working ( usually 2-4 on average) and buy some taco’s or some pizza that’s gunna get your mechanic just as stoked if not more so than beer or coffee. but do let them know in advance so you don’t buy lunch to find out they already ate.
Food is awesome, nice add! Any gesture that shows employees that you care about them is going to make for a great relationship with the shop. As far as matching prices of the big online retailers, I might agree up to a point, but where is the limit? Firstly i don’t think that every customer that asks for a deal and doesn’t get one is going to leave your shop to go buy online. Some might, but we should let that be okay with us.
What is wrong with saying, “I really wish that I could right now, but it just wouldn’t be good for us?” Even if you don’t get their money, you will at least have their respect. Sometimes product sits around and its nice to see it move, so there will always be opportunities for people to get a great price when the time is right for it.
This cheaper! cheaper! Wal-mart mentality some of us have (which I am guilty of too, I know)and the belief that we are all entitled to the best that money can buy, for the least money as possible, seems to me like a race to the bottom. Certainly not a race we want to win is it?
I saw this on pinkbike the other day, and it was honestly a good read. For the five years that I worked in a shop from 16 to 21, the beers and coffee and other things never got old. I will add that coming in just for a chat, or to browse around, can help too. But I think that goes hand it hand with your “becoming friends” with your local shop. Immediately I wanted to disagree with your #1 statement, because honestly, working in a bike shop for that long and then not, paying retail for something is rather difficult. I think there are ways to go about asking for a deal, to do it the right away as opposed to “Chain reaction can sell it for x, match this price or I’m leaving” mentality. When I first started a relationship with a bike shop after working in one, on my first big purchased I used “Do you think you could help me out a bit on this?” where they gave me 15% right off the bat. They could have easily said no, and I would have been okay with that, but it never hurts to ask… politely.
Either way, great write up, and I hope lots of people read this and learn from it and we can possibly bring more service into our local shops! Cheers!
I’m glad you brought up the point about us shop employees not paying retail. I have to admit that I’ve given it some thought myself, would I be willing to pay the full-pop for the stuff I now get for cost? Most of the time, probably not, and I too would find myself hoping for deals, though I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to ask for them, without first feeling like I have developed some form of friendship with that shop. In other words, I only want a deal if I believe that the shop feels happy to give it to me, if that makes sense!