The Stirling Revolution Aug / Sept 2019: The Perfect Storm

The relationship between a customer and the bike shop is either a fleeting affair or a long-term relationship, says STIRLING SENIOR. Between these two is a relationship of convenience. Then there is also the perfect storm.

LET’S FIRST GET THE FLEETING AFFAIR OUT THE WAY:

This is where the so-called sales guys are hanging around together with none of them particularly keen on breaking away and helping the “old” guy who is wandering around looking at the entry level hardtails and
feeling the tyres. After 10 or 15 minutes the ‘old guy’ straightens his tie, pushes his spectacles back on to the bridge of his nose and briskly heads for the door. Three steps more, almost out of the door when one of the sales guys yells: “Need any help sir?”“Just looking,” mutters the “old” guy and thinking to himself: “I was just looking because no one gave me the opportunity to buy.” We’ve all been in this situation in a retail
store and, yes, we hit the one-star Google review and haven’t been back again.

The “fleeting affair” isn’t always the bike shop’s fault -for example: sometimes first-time customers come in and all they want is the biggest discount possible (actually, impossible!). Basically, they don’t give a damn about whether the store is still in business in a year’s time.

 

THE RELATIONSHIP OF CONVENIENCE:

Essentially, this is a rider who engages with a bike shop because it’s convenient for him or her. It’s in his neighbourhood. He doesn’t have any real brand loyalty. Or, he’s driving in a different “hood” and pops in to buy a set of brake pads. Gets an urge to buy orange flat pedals, checks online, and orders them online. On vacation, the kids are driving him crazy, tosses up between a fishing rod and a road bike. The road bike wins and so does the seaside local bike shop (which sells fishing rods as well). The cool thing about this guy is
he’ll happily tell his neighbourhood bike shop about each of his buying adventures – sharing the love. And if his bike shop is cool, they’ll share his enthusiasm (or tease him, just a bit, if his purchase lacked a bit of judgement).

 

THE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP:

This is the so called regular. These relationships don’t just happen. There is a courtship, there are ups and downs and sometimes a rocky road to bike shops earning a regular. A good bike shop only becomes a good bike shop once it has built up a regular customer base. A perfect regular doesn’t ask for a discount as
he know he will be looked after at the till. He’ll be squeezed into a busy workshop when he has an emergency. He’ll accept a delay when his bike shop has a flu epidemic in the workshop. If he sees something online at a great price, he’ll first ask his LBS if they can match the price. The shop can or it can’t – but all is fair in love and war. Regulars and the bike shop don’t just talk bikes. We share stories about our lives, we sometimes/often/ always ride together. We’re sad when our regular has to move his life elsewhere. We’re supportive when he has injured himself in a “toughen the f… up” sort of way. And our regulars are sincerely interested in how well our store is doing.

 

WHY IS THE HEADING TO THIS ARTICLE “THE PERFECT STORM”?

It’s quite simple: Often, our very, very best customers are those where there has been a major blow-up. Mostly the customer has the blow-up. Sometimes the bike shop has the blow-up. It’s like in any human relationship (read: best buddies/living together/engaged/ married/business partners).

The perfect storm is where everyone survives and the survivors have a special bond forever. Mmm … forever? Well, at least in a philosophical sense.

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