Bike shop etiquette part 2: what not to do
Last week, we asked a bike shop manager for some tips on what you, as a customer, can do to get the best possible bike shop experience. Today, she’s following up with what not to do when visiting a bike shop.
On the whole, bike shops are owned and staffed by people who are really passionate about cycling, and they are usually really willing to share their knowledge with you. But there’s a few things you should avoid if you’re planning to make the most of your bike shop visit, and potentially develop an ongoing relationship with them.
1. Women, don’t assume a man or a person who is younger than you won’t understand your needs
I’ve often heard women comment that they don’t like to visit bike shops because the staff don’t understand their needs. My personal experience has been quite different, so don’t assume that they won’t understand you. As a bike shop manager, I treat all my customers as riders, or potential riders, rather than being gender specific. Certainly a discussion about gender can be relevant but it’s not necessarily the starting point. A salesperson who is good at their job will be focusing on you and your individual needs, which is a win for both people.
2. Don’t expect the mechanics to tell you how to fix your bike if you plan to repair it yourself
There’s nothing wrong with asking a couple of quick questions about fixing your bike at your local bike shop, but don’t expect the mechanics to stop what they are doing and have an in-depth discussion about how to fix your bike. This particularly applies if you are planning to fix it yourself using the knowledge you have gained from them, and have no intention of spending money in the store.
Some bike shops hold regular maintenance workshops for customers to attend and learn about basic repairs, so keep a look out for these on social media or ask in store.
3. Don’t make ‘can I have a discount?’ your opening line
By all means you should be negotiating a good deal but don’t walk in the door, and ask for a discount before you’ve even had a discussion. The whole benefit of shopping in a retail store is to draw on the experience of the people who work there, not to attempt to run them out of business.
It also helps if you have an existing relationship with your local bike shop, many of whom offer discounts to regular customers who give them ongoing support.
4. Don’t quote your bike expert friend or bring them to the shop
Give the salesperson an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience. If you constantly quote your ‘expert’ friend you will only put them offside. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ask advice from your friends who ride bikes regularly, but don’t rely only on their knowledge and quote it like indisputable facts.
It can also be counterproductive if you bring them to the shop when you’re considering buying a bike, particularly if they constantly interrupt or ask irrelevant questions.
5. Please don’t take up the time of the people who work in the shop if there are lots of customers waiting
We all like a good chat but know when to take your exit. Retail stores can get very busy, particularly on weekends, and staff will work hard to keep all customers happy. If you take up too much of their time then nobody benefits. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have all your requirements met, but just know when to walk away.