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  • Matt

    “Please don’t take up the time of the people who work in the shop if there are lots of customers waiting”

    Seriously? The whole tone of this article and the one before it shits me. If I’m spending my hard earned money I’m going to take as long as I need. If you can’t staff your business effectively that’s not my problem.

    The reason I’ve given up on most bike shops is the shitty attitude from many staff and owners. This article isn’t helping change my opinion.

    • CB

      I’ve waited patiently behind this type of customer before and I can tell you, it is very annoying, particularly if you only have a few minutes to pop into the shop and know exactly what you are after. By all means take as long as you need, but as the author says, know when to walk away, in consideration of other customers who want to do as you have done, spend their hard earned on their Cycling needs.

      • jules

        I agree with both of you, in different circumstances. Sure, take the time you need to make a proper purchase. If there are other customers waiting, that’s not your fault. But don’t lock onto a salesperson for 1/2 hour, tyre kicking on what type of bike may best suit you while other customers are waiting around, giving you greasies.

        On the flip side, there’s definitely an art to how shop staff should handle customers when they are short-staffed. I once had a sales person (not in a bike shop) go and help another customer who walked up and asked for help, while they were helping me – and then left me there. I walked out and they lost a sale. I doubt they did it deliberately but very unskilful.

        I reckon it’s important for sale staff to acknowledge waiting customers, figure out what they want (a 30 second purchase?) and work out how to deal with them most fairly. I did once walk out of a bike shop that I was trying to buy a new bike from. They were just too busy and no one would make eye contact with me.

        Untrained sales staff cost businesses a lot of money.

    • scottmanning

      I think you might have missed the point of that paragraph. Nicola says you should have all your needs met, just that you shouldn’t expect to have a chat about something not relevant to the reason you are in store. If you have got what you need, and it’s busy, it would be a selfish to continue to take up the staff’s time with a conversation about last weekends race.

    • bigstu_

      here, here

    • velo

      Self-entitled customers like you shit me to be honest. “I’m the most important person in the world because I have money to spend!!”

    • ummm…

      I was slightly bothered by this as well. Bike shops always have the hangers on. I think it is good for business, especially when it is not exactly a supermarket. Hang about, chat. If a customer comes in, then take a step back. Whats the harm? I dont do it, but I’m not bothered when I come in and somebody is chatting. They just give me a moment. Seems like more of a problem of staff asserting themselves.

  • mzungu

    I worked at a shop, don’t think ,me or my boss mind people bring their expert friends along…. we can use some new potential customers. Foot traffics is a good thing,…. and some customers do know the bikes better than us sometimes.

  • RayG

    6. Try it for size then buy it on line.

  • jules

    I agree on not patronising sales people. if I go to a bike shop, I want to benefit from their knowledge. but I also want to have a discussion. as a customer, a pet peeve is shop staff talking down to me as if I am a newbie – even if their voice is still breaking. make some effort to understand how knowledgeable the customer is – at least before treating them as clueless. you want them to come back and customers are more likely to do that if they feel valued and understood – not if they feel treated as a fool. I’ve found that so many shop staff betray a condascending attitude when I talk to them, even if some are more subtle than others about it. a real turn off.

    • Nicola

      Hi Jules. I completely agree with you and I’m sure it happens quite often but I work hard to treat everyone equally.

  • Arfy

    I always find shopping in retail stores an exercise in frustration (not just bike shops), and prefer to tell staff “I’m just browsing” when approached even if I’m there on a buying expedition. It astounds me how little sales skills development shop owners put into staff, but maybe that’s to do with the transient nature of sales people. Still, when your staff are your business frontline, you’re better off investing in people than fancy signs and shop windows. It’s no good getting people in the door if they have a bad time shopping there, all good businesses are looking for repeat customers. You can’t grow without them.

    Here are my hot tip replies for the shop owner:

    If you don’t have staff that makes the customer feel comfortable and trusting, then you need to invest in staff who do. If it’s as simple as hiring a female sales rep, then do so if it makes business sense. Otherwise you need to identify that you are not able to satisfactorily serve this market segment. It’s a similar scenario if I’m buying a road bike but the sales rep only ever rides MTB, then I’m not confident the rep really knows anything more than I can find in the marketing material.

    Sure this is true, but again invest in some basic sales training for your mechanics. It could be as simple as “Well, book your bike in for a service and we’ll take a look at it, we can go through all these issues for you”, this will politely fend off most freebie advice seekers, and may actually turn a few into extra business.

    Sales skills 101: You need to turn a price discussion into a product requirements discussion. Ask the customer what they’re really after in a bike (the “need to haves”), and start from there, adding in “nice to have” features that they desire. Skilled sales people can turn any price discussion into a value-added sale based on what the customer really desires, this is how to generate extra revenue from a sale while actually satisfying a customer at the same time.

    Sales skills 101: A customer quoting an outside “expert”, or bringing a friend to the shop, should immediately be identified as a sale by a good sales rep and should be treated seriously. Usually this type of customer is lacking in their own confidence at making a correct purchase, this is where a good sales rep who is able to show empathy and product knowledge can help give the customer the information on the shop’s products that they need to feel secure and confident in the advice your sales rep is giving them. These customers are also the ones that you can “upsell” to by adding in extras such as lights, helmets, clothing, shoes, pedals, pumps, etc.

    Don’t blame the customer for this, but take the time to train staff how to politely move onto another customer. Simply asking “Is there anything else you’re after today?” is a good way of doing this, when they say “No thanks” then you’ve got your cue to say “Well please excuse me while I help these people over here” and move on.

    • Nicola

      Thanks for the tips Arfy.

    • bigstu_

      Wisdom and insight. Great to see example of both on this blog.

    • A

      Great response! Saved me from a long rant.

      Blame the customer – great sales approach hey… but so typical in bike industry.

  • Dom

    Don’t worry mechanics in bike shops will always have work as long as press-fit bottom brackets exist.

  • bigstu_

    And to the 20 something shop attendant/mechanic/manager: Don’t think that a 50s overweight customer is a wood duck waiting to be fleeced. It’s possible (likely) they are an ex-racer that has forgotten more than you’ll ever know (and, shock horror was even around in the early days of downhill when you fabricated and custom tuned your own suspension).

    • Chuck6421

      I resemble that customer, and have seen that movie.
      (Me: “It IS pronounced ‘doMAHNee’, mmkay?”

  • bigstu_

    And to the over confident, under informed, hipster shop manager who refuses to sell a chain breaker or a rear cog C Spanner because: We don’t sell tools that will do us out of business: Do you want to drive all your high value, repeat customers elsewhere shaking their heads in WTF mode? Because that’s how you drive all your high value, repeat customers elsewhere shaking their heads in WTF mode.

    • Geoff

      Reminds me of the last time I went into a local shop. I was looking for one of those little plastic sockets for taking apart Shimano pedals. Condescending shop person said even if they had one he wouldn’t sell it to me because this was a job for an experienced mechanic. This is why they invented the internet.

  • And don’t tell our local shop about all the times I fix your shit for free. They are my friends too! -Former Wrench

  • david__g

    haha, seriously? Don’t bring someone you trust who knows more about a subject than you do, so you feel more comfortable spending a huge chunk of cash? Scared they might see through the sales bullshit or something? Worried your sales person won;t be able to convince them to buy something they don’t need?

  • winkybiker

    Number 4 is garbage. Should we really worry about a sales person that can be put “offside” by challenges to their authority? Not all “expert” friends offer good advice, but neither do all salespeople.

  • Andrew

    And at shoppe owners – don’t whine endlessly about the internet killing your business, esp when there are more local bike shops then ever. If it was true then bike shops would be like video hire places – a thing of the distant past.

  • Andrew

    And how about…

    If you’re a shop that deals in a particular brand then you should stock stuff like spare hangers for that brand…
    I’ll come to your shop happy to pay a premium for a hanger so I can get the right one conveniently and quickly. If you have to order it then don’t be surprised when I walk out and do it myself. Hell I know I can order one from ‘the evil interwebbie thing you despise’ for less and quicker then you can. I can even have it delivered to my house. Next time I this happens I might even get out my phone and do it the shop while in front of you.

    Sh*t stirring aside for moment. The frustrations I have a with local bike shops are usually the fault of the importer or manufacture.

    Me to the local bike shop hipster guy “Can you order me a replace rim for a M**** wheel? I can’t seem to find one on the internet and rebuilding wheels is not my thing”.

    Bike shop guy “Yea that’s something we don’t stock so let me call the importer”… a few minutes later “they have that in stock it will be $ and will take a week or so to get in”

    Me “OK can your order that in and then fit it etc”

    Me about 3, 4, 5 weeks later etc “How are you getting with fixing my wheel?”

    Bike shop guy “Umm we’re still waiting on the importer to send over the rim, sorry”

    But because the importer and manufactures have stitched up the market for spare then they can get away with sloppy service and daylight robbery on the prices.

    • Spider

      I recognize that situation….the company was called Groupe Slackif or something like that. Truly shocking service never went near another M**** again.

  • Durian Rider

    I went to one bike shop with a friend and this hubbard who couldnt hold my wheel for 30 seconds up a climb was trying to tell us that ‘compact cranks are for people who don’t train much’. Sorry Hubbard Worker, Contador/Froome/Basso run compact in their arsenal and you would know that if you were not living in 1994 still.

    ‘Don’t bring your clued up friends as they might know more than our staff who only work in a bike shop cos it was the only job they could get at the time being.’.


  • CGradeCyckist

    Lolz at how bike shops are still blaming customers for their demise. So ironic…

  • Sean parker

    1 & 4.

    I accompanied my 5 ft wife to a certain bike shop in wangamouser in Victoria.
    The hungover sales ‘assistant’ attempted to sell her a bike two sizes two big. Luckily her ‘bike expert friend’ was there to prevent the waste of $1k + the cost of a shorter stem that would ‘make it fit’. Just one of many anecdotes I can relate.

    Service from LBS’s in Australia, in my 25 year experience as a consumer, is generally atrocious. Which makes this article even more insulting.

    Thank god for Wiggle.

  • George Darroch


    Respectfully, quality advice is what separates a bike store from Wiggle or Amazon, or the “other” bike store on the block. Far better to talk about what the problem is, and then offer to sell me the parts and tools to fix it, or to offer to make a workshop booking.

    On the opposite end, having an expert friend along with you can be very helpful if you’re starting out. You don’t know your bottom bracket from your head tube, and you need a filter you can trust.

    As for tyre kickers… Sometimes they have $3000 burning a hole in their pocket, other times they’re imagining how much joy it would give them. Sometimes they’re the same person and only a few months separates them. I think that if shops opened more consistently across the weekend or slightly later in the evening, they’d be less rushed in the hours they do operate. How many people are buying at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, and how many would like to spend their cash at 2:30pm on a Sunday?


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