I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

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scenetoomuch
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I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby scenetoomuch » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:05 am

Morning all,

I've noticed many threads on here about starting up shops and various input everyone has given. I'm in the planning stages of starting my own shop and wanted to ask you all for some help. I have created a quick online survey. If you could find the time to fill it in I'd be very grateful.

http://dotsurvey.me/a51hm2ce-e38oy9b

I'm planning to start out a shop specialising in bespoke builds and stuff that's slightly less run of the mill. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.
Cheers

Wardster00
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Wardster00 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:08 am

Done!

Good Luck with the shop!

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ugo.santalucia
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby ugo.santalucia » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:16 am

Good luck... I think it's important not to get swallowed by the suppliers... Madison and the likes are sharks with small independent retailers. You might be better off selling niche products and dealing with smaller distributors. I don't know whether you have previous experience in running retail businesses, but it is essential to keep the overheads and costs low. The first year is make or break, if you don't make it, you'll probably be in too much debt to have another shot.

Re. custom builds: it is a good idea in theory, but in practice those who want a bespoke bike typically have enough knowledge to build it themselves, maybe with a bit of help from friends... I am not sure you can offer a competitive price on this, taking into account one can buy any part at reduced price at any time online

End of doom and gloom, if you have a solid business plan the chances of succeeding are quite good

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Pumpkin Positive
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Pumpkin Positive » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:18 pm

Done.

Good luck

scenetoomuch
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby scenetoomuch » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:40 pm

Thanks everyone that's answered so far. I've been working in bike shops for 5 years and have picked up a fair bit of knowledge here and there. I'm just trying to fill in the blanks and find out all those hidden bits the boss doesn't burden the shop staff with. The custom route is a tricky road to go down but i'm really trying to keep focused and measured so that i don't end up sinking money into something which people aren't going to be interested in.

AchillesLeftKnee
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby AchillesLeftKnee » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:54 pm

Done.

All I can really add is, for my money (literally, if you open near me), for goodness' sake try and be open in the evenings! I'll never understand why the various LBSs near me time their weekday opening hours so as to ensure they coincide neatly with normal office hours, thereby ensuring the bulk of their customers will end up at Evans or Halfords if they need anything in a hurry \ for the weekend.
Mangeur

lawrences
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby lawrences » Wed Oct 03, 2012 13:08 pm

Done survey,

best of luck with the shop, Do you know where you're planning to open it yet?

would also add that although road cyclists spend alot you may have to do a few kids bikes to make a decent profit.

scenetoomuch
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby scenetoomuch » Wed Oct 03, 2012 13:15 pm

Brighton some place, dunno where exactly as there's a fair few shops about. Worth a crack though!

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Flâneur
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Flâneur » Wed Oct 03, 2012 14:56 pm

Done, forgot to put a few other comments in from my recent experience of buying a new road bike.

Spending time and engaging with the customer and their needs is crucial.
I was going to get an Allez, however the guys in the shop were not helpful or really seemed to care as I wasn't buying anything too serious (first bike). So of I went to Giant to have a look, had a guy talk through what I wanted being a newbie, the size differences, possible options from last years models. I couldn't take the bike I have got out as it was the last one, but he did set up a trainer and spent time adjusting everything to ensure it was a good fit.
It was a personal service to a T, even from the girl who helped at the start before she passed me over.

Dress code.
Honestly as look as you look either smart (I'm not talking a 3 piece suit) or that you have a reason to be covered in bike dirt (hence the jeans and T-shirt combo) I don't mind. Either give a good impression, looking like neither doesn't create a great first impression.

Opening times.
As mentioned above try to be open for when customers are walking past after their commute home or have had time to go home and come back out, 7pm may be good 8pm may be better, it all depends on your area. I get incredibly annoyed that places such as the local butchers are all shut up by 5.05pm when I don't finish work till 5, and rarely get out before 6. You can open later, close some of the day, all sorts but be consistent.

I liked the idea of workshops even if its just the really basic stuff you would give a regular customer for free or charge very little. Be cautious of doing too much and losing some maintenance custom if you want that to be a part of the shop. (Some like myself would probably still drop the bike in due to time)

Stock.
To compete with online just try and make it aware if you don't have it you will get it in tomorrow or certainly the day after, Offer to fit it for free if you can't compete with the online savings/delivery (you know the industry better than me)

On that note back to work, thanks for the distraction and good luck.
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confused@BR
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby confused@BR » Wed Oct 03, 2012 15:15 pm

Done. Good luck, Brighton may seem a crowded marketplace but the rising demand for cycling should help.

+1 0n the flexible opening times, that may give you the U S P you need at a minimum of expense.
'fool'

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Pumpkin Positive
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Pumpkin Positive » Wed Oct 03, 2012 15:22 pm

AchillesLeftKnee wrote:Done.

All I can really add is, for my money (literally, if you open near me), for goodness' sake try and be open in the evenings! I'll never understand why the various LBSs near me time their weekday opening hours so as to ensure they coincide neatly with normal office hours, thereby ensuring the bulk of their customers will end up at Evans or Halfords if they need anything in a hurry \ for the weekend.

I'd echo this.

The retail landscape has changed so much in recent years that shops of every description need to work harder at getting our custom.

It's always going to be hard to compete with the internet for small traders. I'm of the opinion that small traders need to really work at providing what the online and larger retailers cant deliver - top class service. Longer opening hours, personal service, seminars / classes, bike fitting, social events, etc. Retailers need to stop complaining about competition from the internet and actively encourage people who buy their bikes online to have them built-up, fitted and serviced in their establishments. if you feel you're been treated as a 2nd class customer when you come in with your web-bought bike then you'll take your custom elsewhere.

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kieranb
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby kieranb » Wed Oct 03, 2012 15:39 pm

Be aware of those who use real shops as fitting stores for online shops if you're going to stock much in the way of helmets, shoes and clothes. Flexible opening hours and a good location are very important. Try and have the shop big enough for customers to bring their bikes in whilst buying stuff, and also put a few bike stands out front.

Oh, be nice to every one, even the kids (their parents may be bike mad!) or those buying nothing (but maybe later) , unfriendly service spreads around very quickly by word of mouth very quickly. A good example would be Brixton Bikes who are great with the local kids.

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Pumpkin Positive
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Pumpkin Positive » Wed Oct 03, 2012 16:13 pm

kieranb wrote:Be aware of those who use real shops as fitting stores for online shops if you're going to stock much in the way of helmets, shoes and clothes.

This must be incredibly frustrating for those that work in LBS’s but I’m not sure if there is much you can do to avoid it. There is no point in swimming against the tide, the internet is here to stay.

If someone’s in trying out a bike that they are going to go and buy online don’t alienate them by shooing them out of your shop. If you provide knowledgeable and helpful advice then perhaps they’ll realise that the £100 extra that they might pay extra in a high street shop is a price worth paying. At the very least they’ll back in for servicing and accessories.

I’ve bought two bikes online in the last few years but when I went looking for a new bike for my wife I went to my LBS (“The Bike Shed” in Exeter). Their prices were competitive, the staff were knowledgeable / enthusiastic / helpful and I was able to negotiate a bike fit – needless to say they got my business.

GBR1
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby GBR1 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 17:52 pm

Done..

I wish you luck and echo most of the comments above!!

GBR1

studmuffin
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby studmuffin » Wed Oct 03, 2012 18:25 pm

Done

Good Luck!

Routier
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Routier » Wed Oct 03, 2012 18:42 pm

Done

One thing that I think is important is to have personable staff. There's a basically very good shop near here which these days is let down a little by the employees who seem to be incapable of even acknowledging you until you talk to them, and even then they'll say the minimum they can get away with. It really doesn't encourage you to go back to buy anything where you need advice.

Good luck!

Teisetrotter
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby Teisetrotter » Wed Oct 03, 2012 19:37 pm

I sell marketing solutions and in reality you need to differentiate your brand and create loyalty. The head of marketing for O2 came up with the strap line 'turning customers into fans'. She was right on the money with that as their goal.

There are lots of bike shops where I live in London and actually it is the ones that are different that get me back every time. For me Cadence: http://www.cadenceperformance.com is awesome and is always reasonably busy but doesn't sell bikes. I think if you can create that community and get a reason for people to be in shop other than just browsing or buying you will get that precious commodity of brand loyalty.

Also the web, a good brand is easy to set up now and there are plenty of very innovative ways for marketing your brand through it (http://promote.autonomy.com/). Look at Ribble for example as a very very easy custom bike build programme. Then there is de ver http://devercycles.com/, their custom builds offer a far greater variety ....... but is it as attractive to customers?

Also on pricing. We are all experts and I can point my phone camera at a bar code and it will compare the prices online with that in the shop. No one minds a small premium as you can try the product on and get advice. But be kind to your customers, you won't always have a competitive price for many reasons but where possible do price matching.

But coming back to the first point, you have to create loyalty and get your fans to market for you. There are some well documented disasters in the marketing world. Remember Dell laptops, they caught fire. The resultant anti Dell web campaign by the public halved the size of their sales in a month ........ three months later it had halved again!

Get your brand right and your customers happy and you have won the important part of the battle.

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declan1
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby declan1 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 20:34 pm

Good luck with the shop! I've just completed the survey, so hopefully a little more info for you to work with!

I haven't read the rest of the thread, so sorry if this has already been discussed:

Loyalty scheme is a great idea. Perhaps for every £50 you spend, you get a free £5 component (brake pads or something of customer's choice).

Also, make sure you look after your 'regulars'. My LBS has a really nice guy that owns it, and it makes a huge difference.

Another point - try to be open as often as you can. It's such a pain cycling to my LBS to discover he's closed and I can't get what I needed. Maybe evenings so people can come in after work?

Anyway - good luck with it! Make sure you give us some PHOTOS when it's done!!! :P

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wishitwasallflat
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby wishitwasallflat » Wed Oct 03, 2012 21:02 pm

Open on Sundays and till 21.00 if you can I have reluctantly gone to Halfords mant times cause they do ....

daviegb
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Re: I'm Planning a Shop - Help Please

Postby daviegb » Wed Oct 03, 2012 21:33 pm

Done - I generally buy online when I know exactly what I want.

A shop offers me the opportunity to meet a like minded cycling enthusiast who can help me identify the 'best' bike/accessory/part for my needs. The rapport in a shop is a key factor to me - I recently had a service done at Mud Dock in Bristol & Charlie took the time to make me feel welcome & valued.....needless to say I stocked up on inner tubes & a spare tyre while I was there. It was slightly more expensive than online, but I felt that my custom was valued!

Finally, as others have said, open early (e.g. 8.30am) & close late (e.g. 6.30pm) so people can drop off their bikes for repairs/buy parts on their way to & from work.

Good luck Scene - hope your venture is successful.


Gavin


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