Q for LBS bike-hagglers

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  • Q for LBS bike-hagglers
  • cynic-al
    Member

    I’ve sold a few bikes to folk at a good discount in response to online prices – usually at a slightly higher price to a) make it worthwhile b) pay for/justify the after sales check and potential warranty time and c) pay for/justify any time spent advising the customer.

    These customers don’t seem to come back.

    My guess is they are the type of shopper that buys 95% on price (and hence shops mostly online) and either has an lbs they use for work or does it themselves.

    Any other ideas (other than saying “they don’t come back becase you are clearly crap” 😛 )

    TooTall
    Member

    Some people understand cost but not value and place more weight on that cost and it being as low as possible. It is the way of the world.

    wrecker
    Member

    Al, could you define “good” discount please?

    LoCo
    Member

    Do they actually ride the bikes? 😉

    cynic-al
    Member

    wrecker – Member

    Al, could you define “good” discount please?

    I could, my guess is my definition may be different to yours. Think 8-15% on current or still-avilable-from-distributor bikes.

    BTW I’m not being critical of these shoppers, I’m just wondering if it’s worth selling to them at minimal profit if you’re not going to win a new customer.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    value = cheap as possible
    LBS = rip off merchant
    German Bike Shop = amazing

    ask STW 30 questions on how to fix something rather than go to a lbs and sort it properly.

    Who cares tell them to do one next time

    Rscott
    Member

    I know That my wage doesn’t stretch enough to shop in my LBS,and i understand they cant reduce as much as the likes of chain reaction cycles. So i will use them when I can, but haveing worked and been a mike mechanic for local bike shops other than upto date things such as shocks i genraly need no service from them.

    My relationshipwith my lbs is,

    walk in
    say Hi
    ask for specific part.
    either they have or haven’t got it.
    Thanks
    walkout with part or with out part.

    For some stuff i cant justify paying the extra cost, And i know people have other relationships with there bike shops but i have no need for it as i know what i want and howto fit it.

    An exception i posted about a rear shock I will be going to them to get hold of the right shock and fitting kit.

    Rscott
    Member

    Ps, profit is profit,in this day an age with shops going bust all over the place can you risk not selling that bike to some one who may or may not come back.

    fourbanger
    Member

    Are you selling at profit? If so I’d suggest its a good thing…

    druidh
    Member

    Al – why did they come to the shop in the first place?

    If they just wanted to see the item before buying over the internet then at least you managed to convert your time into a sale. If they were placing some value on “service” and “servicing” then they took that into account when buying.

    On that basis, for smaller items like accessories then the LBS has less to offer.

    For clothing, you run the danger of just being a changing room for CRC unless the shopper values that as a service too (my morals won’t let me treat a LBS like that).

    Some folk are just too busy/can’t be bothered traipsing round shops when you can get it delivered to your door, next day, via t’internet. That’s especially true if they also drive and there are issues around car parking in town.

    fourbanger
    Member

    To redress the balance regarding bike shop as fitting room for online retailer, I’ll buy a couple of sizes online and send the one back that doesn’t fit using Collect+ for free. Make them work for it a bit!

    Regarding LBS pricing and hagglers, the price you charge as a LBS owner isn’t decreed by god. It’s just how much you think you can sell it for. If someone agrees, they’ll buy it. If they don’t, no reason they shouldn’t offer what they’re willing to pay.

    atlaz
    Member

    cynic-al – Surely if they come in, you sell them a bike and they never come back you’ve still sold the bike and made a small profit. If they’re available from the distributer it’s not like you can’t sell the same model bike to someone else.

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    Be interesting to know how many people continue to make purchases once they’ve bought a bike.

    For me I’ve bought three bikes over the last couple of years, one from Leisure Lakes, £1800 full suss, rarely go back, find them a bit impersonal and the 6 week service was a bit of a joke, frame on line (won the group set), then forked out another grand with the LBS to finish it off, valued their input even though I built it up, and a road bike from Wiggle, purely on price / components.

    I use my LBS a fair bit, at leat 50/50 with online, probably more recently. I’ve built up a good relationship with them, know they’ll help when I get stuck and I get an automatic discount whenever I go in now, probably still cheaper on CRC etc. but it makes me feel valued. Thought of giving anyone buying a bike a loyalty card? 5% to 10% off purchases for a year after buying (with caveats & exemptions obviously). Might make them think twice about coming back.

    I reckon a lot of people though either buy a bike and then that’s it, or are pretty canny and can do their own fettling / specification of parts online.

    For me the trick is providing the thing you can’t get online which is the personal touch and being open on Sundays (one thing my LBS doesn’t do, sometimes next day working day delivery doesn’t cut it, walking out of the shop is where it’s at).

    cynic-al
    Member

    druid – good point – they are clearly wanting to buy from a shop rather than online, I think I’ve pitched my price at about the right point to make buy from me but thinking about it first.

    fourbanger – agreed.

    Dickyboy
    Member

    go to a lbs and sort it properly

    I have found to my cost that local LBS’s seem incapable of doing this & have therefore attached no additional “value” in buying locally 🙁 If I do buy locally I certainly don’t bother with taking bikes back for services.

    druidh
    Member

    cynic-al wrote:

    druid – good point – they are clearly wanting to buy from a shop rather than online, I think I’ve pitched my price at about the right point to make buy from me but thinking about it first.

    So – what service can you offer for stuff other than bikes? Free fitting of accessories for example. Is that affordable?

    cynic-al
    Member

    druidh – Member

    So – what service can you offer for stuff other than bikes? Free fitting of accessories for example. Is that affordable?

    **** knows, the boss tells me nothing! Thing is he prices EVERYTHING at RRP, so online shoppers won’t even look at our accessories.

    druidh
    Member

    The “now you’re a customer, have a loyalty discount” thing would therefore be useful to encourage folk back.

    Jimalmighty
    Member

    It is totally cost and value here.

    Cost is, at worst, full RRP (most LBS will do a discount or throw some free stuff in) and a drive / ride / walk to the shop.

    Value is a fully built and ready to ride bike, a service after a few weeks, warranty back up and (most importantly) a properly sized bike.

    druidh
    Member

    Is this research for you owning/managing your own shop Al?

    jota180
    Member

    Some people understand cost but not value and place more weight on that cost and it being as low as possible. It is the way of the world.

    A lot of people understand both
    I’ve just bought a Cannondale CAAD10 kitted out with 105, I’t’ll be exactly the same bike regardless of where I buy it.
    Does an LBS add value? perhaps but not for me, I can’t recall ever having to take a bike back after purchase. For some people, it will be of great value as they either don’t want to or are not capable of sorting minor issues themselves.
    Those that don’t want any value that an LBS has to offer shouldn’t feel the need to subsidise those that do.

    as for the OP – I’ve bought from plenty of LBSs in the past and rarely return, it purely is the best deal I can get on a known commodity for me.

    bland
    Member

    If its current stock then i dont see the problem of selling it at a reduced rate as you can just replenish stock and get another in to replace it, you up your sales with the distributor therefore push yourself towards a better price point on your purchases. Profit is profit at the end of the day! I think gone are the days where people who know bikes will walk in and pay full RRP for a bike.

    Accessories are a difficult one. You have shoppers who need it there and then who will pay, sometimes reluctantly for items, then others who will buy in advance.

    I needed a chain tool to replace a broken one in a rush before an alps trip and all teh local bike shop had (decent shop) was park at full RRP. £18 for a chain tool to do one fix when skint before going away after just buying a new frame forks and wheels was too much to stomach so the old raleigh shop in tows was visited where a cyclo one was £5.

    I wish i could afford bike shop prices but when i can fix a bike better than they can i dont see what benefit it offers other than price.

    Maybe look at what you stock and who your customers are. If £4k bikes arent selling anymore then focus on commuters, kids, electric, £500-£1000 bikes where the buyer will be a typical shopper who knows little about maintenance and will buy there and then or on the ride to work scheme.

    Also stock accesories to match. If you are selling mostly in the £500- £1000 bracket a £100+ jacket isnt likely to sell in droves when Aldi will do one for £15 which will perfectly well suffice. Sell a range at £25-£50 that are a bit better but affordable impulse purchases.

    cynic-al
    Member

    No druid, just an interesting discussion for the hive-mind.

    I get buying on price – I do it too, and I have little need for an lbs.

    30-odd bike shops in Edinburgh, it seems there is the business there!

    Premier Icon JoeG
    Subscriber

    I’m not in the bike industry, just a consumer. But here is one approach that might work for the LBS to compete with the online sellers. I can’t see how this would work for parts, but possibly for complete bikes.

    So a customer comes into the store and says “You want $2000 for a Stinkbike 2000 SUX. I can get it online for $1500.” And sure enough, he can. And you have one in stock that cost you $1400 which is already assembled and on the sales floor. They are still available from your distributor, too. If you sell it to him for $1500, you might even lose money with the time invested in assembly, etc. But walking out of the store today with an assembled bike is not what he would get if he ordered it online.

    So order him one from your distributor. Charge his credit card $1500 the minute that the bike ships from the warehouse. When it arrives, turn the bike over to him in exactly the same state that it would be if he ordered it online. If that is in an unopened box, then fine. If that is partially assembled, bring it to the same level but no further. If the manufacturer didn’t true the wheels, resist the urge to tweak them up. Do not provide the customary fitting, tune up, or free adjustments; if he needs any of these he’ll have to pay your normal rates. The same goes if he doesn’t have his own tools for assembly. And he has to get rid of the cardboard box, too!

    If there is a warranty issue, he needs to remove the defective part, pack it for shipping, and pay the shipping costs. If the mfr pays for shipping, then this may let you ship it back to the customer with no $ out of your pocket. He’s on his own to reinstall the part, or you do it at your normal shop rate.

    If you put a shop sticker on the bike, have one made that is a different design for the price matched bikes. Your staff will then know not to do any free or discounted work on the bike. Or just don’t sticker it at all.

    I realize that your agreement with the bike manufacturer might not let you do the above, either. And you run the risk of a disgruntled customer telling his friends only 1/2 of the story; that your shop didn’t assemble his bike. So there is a downside.

    Just my thoughts…

    Edit – And have a lawyer come up with a big, long list the terms and conditions (to include your standard shop rates) that he as to sign when he orders. That way he can’t say “I didn’t know.”

    why would the customer pay $1500 to get it delivered thru the LBS with no added value rather than $1400 from an online retailer? How is that competing? The punter is paying $100 for the honour of having to drive somewhere to collect a bike he could have had delivered to his door?

    Premier Icon jasonm945
    Subscriber

    What JoeG is saying is if the LBS price matches the online store then the customer should receive the bike in the same state, ie delivered in a box without all the tweeks the LBS offers to ensure the bike is running right.

    shotsaway
    Member

    The Internet has changed and will continue to change the way we shop. In the 1980’s when I started visiting my LBS, they had what you wanted/needed or didn’t but you had to visit or phone to find out the availability. Google now does this quickly and with prices, so consumers can make quick informed decisions. If fact you had to speak to them to find out if the said part would fit, where as now we can do online research (tech docs, ask other forum members etc).

    LBS’s need to change their thinking from that of a bicycle retailer to that of a service provider. You have to give your customers reasons to need or want to come back to you. Rather than discount bikes, why not offer an own brand service plan. For example the customer buys the bike and gets a free 2 or 3 year service plan. Once a year the customer books the bike in for or a once over/safety check, although in all likelihood most customers will forget, so you would need to remind the customers. The service could be a basic safety check and adjustment. All parts that need replacing would have to be paid for by the customer.

    Whilst the customer is dropping off/picking up his or her pride of joy they may browse the shop stock and could potentially purchase. You would also make money from the parts you replace. The customer is loyal, through the service plan and if they never come back, you haven’t lost anything as the bike was originally sold with little or no discount.

    Halfords offer a 1 year service plan and I’m amazed at the number of my daughters friends parents who buy these plans. I think they cost £20 but if does guarantee that Halfords get plenty of loyal/repeat customers.

    This is exactly what the motor industry now does. Customers started to filter off to the independents to get their vehicles serviced, so they needed to think of a way to combat it. So now they sell service plans cheaply or for free and this guarantees loyalty. These service plans include oil and filters but that’s it really. Customers come back and the likelihood of them repurchasing another vehicle from them in the future is also far greater than those customers without service plans. However the service plans give the dealer the chance of upselling additional work, which could be discovered at the free service.

    jota180
    Member

    What JoeG is saying is if the LBS price matches the online store then the customer should receive the bike in the same state, ie delivered in a box without all the tweeks the LBS offers to ensure the bike is running right.

    If it’s not running right the customer will bring it back and demand it’s rectified and rightly so.
    You can’t simply write you’re own TCs that drives a coach and horses through the SOGA, well you can but they’d be worthless.

    tarquin
    Member

    This is exactly what the motor industry now does. Customers started to filter off to the independents to get their vehicles serviced, so they needed to think of a way to combat it. So now they sell service plans cheaply or for free and this guarantees loyalty. These service plans include oil and filters but that’s it really. Customers come back and the likelihood of them repurchasing another vehicle from them in the future is also far greater than those customers without service plans. However the service plans give the dealer the chance of upselling additional work, which could be discovered at the free service.

    I see the point your making and it has some merit, but using your example in the motor industry there is more “value” from having full manufacturer service history than an independant garage.

    And more often than not, with all the computers stuffed in cars now, only the manufacturers garage can connect up to their computer/software to read/fix any fault codes.

    It doesn’t quite work the same with a push bike, I can’t have Giant service my bike for example.

    atlaz
    Member

    And more often than not, with all the computers stuffed in cars now, only the manufacturers garage can connect up to their computer/software to read/fix any fault codes

    Last couple of times my car needed diagnosing, the main dealer wanted 80 quid to connect the computer, the Bosch service centre by my office wanted 20 quid and that was refundable against any work done. Given half of the alerts I’d get were false warnings (the VW/Citroen dealers would pretend they’d fixed it), I saved a lot with the guy around the corner.

    bencooper
    Member

    My experience selling bikes at full price and pretty much never discounting is that most of those customers never come back either 😉

    Thinking about it more, there are a few categories:

    – Serious enthusiasts: they are perfectly capable of doing everything themselves so never need to visit again, getting spares if needed online.

    – Impulsive customers: people who buy a bike almost on a whim (though sometimes an extended whim, with lots of research) then never get around to riding it much.

    wrecker
    Member

    I could, my guess is my definition may be different to yours. Think 8-15% on current or still-avilable-from-distributor bikes.

    Maybe not. I reckon 15% is a pretty decent discount for a mid-value bike. If I were spending mega bucks (£4k+), I may shop around for a bit more.

    DrP
    Member

    If it were me, I’d go in knowing what I wanted, and what I ‘could’ pay for it.
    If you offered the same, or a ‘near enough’ price to online, I’d get from you.
    TBH, I’d only come back if it broke beyond repair, and I wanted warranty input.
    Anything else, I’d sort myself as a)I enjoy that, and 2)I’m always sorely disappointed at the response from LBSs when I have a specific need – it never seems to be met!
    Case in point – I need a half link for my 1/8th SS chain. Pop into LBS:-
    “can I have a 1/8th half link please, if you sell it?”
    “if it’s for a mountain bike they don’t make them. They only make them for BMX, and they’re too big (shows me a big fat BMX chain…)”
    “can I have a 1/8th half link please, if you sell it? It’s for a single speed chain. 1/8th, not 9 or 10 speed.”
    “if it’s for a mountain bike they don’t make them. They only make them for BMX, and they’re too big. Use a different size chainring if you can.”
    “OK. Thanks. Bye.”

    DrP

    freeagent
    Member

    I buy most of my stuff on line – however I have used several LBS’s since I bought my bike, and have now settled on one which I go back to.
    I’ll use them to do a service, sort out wheels and index gears.
    They always do what they said they would, when they said they would.
    I’ve also bought accessories from them – and discovered they aren’t that much dearer than the on-line giants.
    If I was in the market for a new MTB, i’d buy on-line, probably from Germany.
    However, I want to buy a road-bike next year and will go to my LBS because I want to be sure it fits (bit more important than on an MTB – where i’d just buy medium) and because I know nothing about them.
    The ‘other’ LBS, which I won’t be going back to, let me down twice on servicing, and is well overpriced on parts/bikes.
    I think there is a place for good LBS’s and there always will be – but I think customer service is key – if you are rude, unreliable and act like you are doing me a favour by even talking to me I’ll never come back…

    Premier Icon DaveRambo
    Subscriber

    I’m a big fan of decent suppliers be that LBS or online.

    I’ve bought 3 bikes in the past few years.

    First was a Yeti ASR bought from the LBS. They sorted out a test ride, did a deal on the price that I was happy with ( I could have gone cheaper via the internet) and threw in some XTR pedals at cost.

    I went back there for other bits and clothing for ages as the staff knew me and showed me stuff they thought I might like plus I got an automatic discount. Got the bike serviced as they did it at a reasonable cost as well.

    Second was a road bike – bought via the cycle to work scheme. Went into LBS to see if they could do anything to compete and they couldn’t go got a team boardman from Halfords.

    Then they swapped staff – the main mechanic left and the service went downhill. I became just another customer and when the servicing wasn’t done as it had before I stopped going in.

    Third bike was a Ti frame custom built up – Bought the bits from anther shop after they offered a similar level of service. They want to know me, what I like, suggested components, signed up to be suppliers of stuff they didn’t have. Result is I’m now spending £1200 with them again upgrading the Yeti.

    Now I’m probably not the average customer but I spend my money where I get the best service. I would often just stop in to look around and say hi

    As to why people don’t come back – I imagine it’s because they don’t need to. If you service yourself (or don’t service) have enough riding kit, then there may be no need to go back.

    orangeboy
    Member

    I would imagine for a lot of lbs the people on this forum are not the target market
    Its things like changing tubes and tyres and servicing bikes for those that have no interest in mechanical things

    rkk01
    Member

    Staff

    The LBS’ biggest asset and liability….

    My “next”* bike will come from an LBS, and is unlikely to be bought on price. I want a Trek Madone 4 or 5. I guess discount is unlikely on such a bike. Size and fit will be most important for me.

    Have visited two local Trek dealers, and both have been very dependent on who spoke to me on the day. Being told the 58 will be the best fit “because your about the same height as me” doesn’t cut it on a bike at that price – especially when you’ve just explained that your current 59 frame has always felt a bit cramped….

    The same dealer 1 week later, speaking to the owner results in a measure up, shop try of a few bikes, suggestion that a 60 would be the best size and the offer of some test rides when I’m ready to buy

    Chalk and cheese

    But same shop

    flatpat
    Member

    Other factors on servicing:

    Most LBS around my way have a long waiting list and awkward opening hours. E.g. we can fit you in in 4 weeks time. You can drop you bike off after 9:30am and you’ll have to pick it up by 5:30pm.

    Sometimes you can’t talk directly to the mechanic directly so things don’t get done as you like (e.g. fork steerer cut down further than asked).

    I either go to a friendly market stall or a bike hub who do nothing but repairs/servicing. They can usually find some time for emergency work when necessary, are more flexible with early morning/lunchtime drop-offs/pickups and I’m speaking directly to the mechanic.

    Of course, your shop may already bend over backwards to help people out at short notice and work unsociable hours just for the convenience for your customers.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Service plans? Really? for a bike?
    Would people actually go for that sort of thing?

    That’s up there with Tea and Biscuits in terms of “adding value”.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t really buy new bikes, kit, servicing or anything else from my LBS, but if I did the main reason would be because I wanted it properly fitted, adjusted and setup from day one.

    TBH I think I’d be more interested in an LBS that had someone qualified to carry out proper bike fitting as part of the sale than having a Cytec qualified spanned monkey to turn the bars and tweak the mechs or change the cables after 6 months, I can operate an allen key hence the interwebs will get my money if assembly and servicing are the only USPs the LBS can offer.

    But I would definitely see value in a shop that could assess my freakish, wonkey physique and correctly size and fit a bike to it…

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    cookeaa – Member
    Service plans? Really? for a bike?
    Would people actually go for that sort of thing?

    Not all people can bleed brake, change cassettes, even change tubes…

    Don’t forget, by the fact we are on this forum implies we’re fairly bike savvy.

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