Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Your LBS...worthy of support.

The last 4 days in the shop have been consumed with cutting, bending, swaging, and mitering luv handle centers.  As each center takes 4 long cuts to complete the miter, I have some time to burn as I wait for the 3 minute and 20 second cut to complete.  Today, feeling a bit run down, I set up the laptop next to the mill and have been surfing the web between dabbing on coolant to the hole saw.

One of the forum posts that caught my attention was a cyclist who was dissapointed with the Local Bike Shops in his area and their unwilingness to source special order high end parts for him.  A few folks chimed in hypothesizing about why this may be.

Truth be told, not many cyclists truly understand the business side of retail bicycle shop sales and what makes it possible and profitable.  Here's were some thoughts I threw down that I've accumulated through the years...

...after more than 23 years in the cycling industry, here are some truths I've learned...

It is impossible for a LBS to stock every part that may be desired by folks who walk through the door. Shops that are experienced know the bread and butter items that need to be on the shelves daily, the upgrade components/parts that make economical and performance sense as replacement items, and those parts that we desire but end up being operating money vampires due to niche markets.

Operating a LBS is a tough business in today's online/mail order economy. When a customer can purchase a part and have it shipped in 2-3 days to their home for less money than the shop can simply purchase it for from a wholesale distributor, it takes a strong service oriented shop to keep customers.

Contrary to what's been stated, QBP, BTI-USA, Seattle, etc... do not care if you order daily or once a week. There are no minimums from their perspective. However, economically, the LBS is better off grouping a larger order together to qualify for free/discounted shipping and purchasing incentives, lowering their overhead and increasing the potential for some profit. Want a special item ordered? Insure that you are purchasing your every day needs from the shop as well and they'll be right on it. Customer loyalty justifies the effort to find those niche items for ya.

Most LBS need to hit the marketing mean to survive; that means selling lots of low to mid range models for the average family consumer and stocking the parts to accommodate their repair needs. The high end niche is one that is hard to feed as the top end of the tech and design spectrum literally changes seasonally. There are a few NE Ohio shops that come to mind that cater to this market and do it well, it is up to you to patronize these establishments if you want to see these "go to" shops survive.

Want to piss off a LBS? Come in, ask lots of questions, test ride and size bikes/products/clothing/shoes, then walk out and buy those items online. Yes, they may be cheaper and delivered more quickly, but the increase in cost you pay at the LBS insures those fine folks are there to provide technical wrenching, talk with you to educate, share knowledge and camaraderie, and help foster a grass roots cycling vibe. The good local shops are the ones that invest in you and the local scene because they know it will return to them in loyal customers.

Operating a local business in the cycling industry is one that will provide a sustainable living with a lot of work. Most who choose this area do so because like you, they believe in the cycling lifestyle and those that embrace it. Isn't that worthy of our support?

I personally support and appreciate out local shops (Ride On and Orrville Cycling) and try to extend my services to them when possible, even if it does put a stretch on my time.  I hope y'all will stop in your LBS and let them know that you have some love for them too.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Doug dropped off his retro single speed for an upgrade of sorts; a new fork with custom paint.

As cool as it is, the Ti fork held more vintage value for him than performance.   Doug is rapidly using this bike for more saddle time and desired a little more cush and carefree maneuvering, so on goes the work.

I painted up the X Fusion fork to match the rest of the bike in a nice vanilla shake with pink, blue, and brown retro rectangles.

A pretty nice match if I do say so myself.

Hope it meets all your expectations Doug,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A little housekeeping goes a long way...

This week, a customer contacted me, quite frustrated with his belt drive single speed, complaining that it was not as smooth as it should be, had a tight spot in the pedal stroke, and was making an intermittent noise.

After dumping a hundred bucks having it worked on at two bike shops with no improvement (changed the belt line, adjusted tension) and an attempt over the phone to walk him through a few adjustments, we decided it was best to bring it back to Groovy headquarters for a quick shakedown to determine the origin of his problems.

It took about 20 seconds to see what the issue was...
Impacted in the belt's center track was a bunch of wood pulp that was causing the belt to climb up on top of the chainwheel and cog rather than mesh cleanly with it.

A couple minutes work with some tweezers and a quick wash down with some soap and water and all was well with the world again.

As amazing as the Gates/Carbon Drive product is, we must remember folks, there is no product on the market that will perform 100% of the time without a little maintenance.  Take some time to learn your bike, the adjustments and maintenance required, and it will pay off ten fold by expanding your skill set for trouble shooting.

Best of all, it will reduce stress (yours and mine) and allow you to spend your time on the trail enjoying your ride.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nahbs newletter interview...

Thanks to Don and the fine folks at Nahbs for allowing me to put out a few words about the importance of "our show".

What the Builders Say
Groovy Cycles
Rody Walter of Groovy Cycles has been making hand-made bikes since the early 90's. Building out of his shop in Ohio, Rody's mantra now, as it ever was, is: design it with the rider in mind; involve the customer in process, build it to last forever; and settle for nothing less than big smiles. He offers designs for road, mountain bikes or tandems, all available in steel, titanium, or aluminum.
NAHBS is an event that Rody says provides regular show-goers with the opportunity each year to observe builders advance at their craft, solidify their dedication to the customer and build business stability.
The personal interaction that takes place in the show hall is hugely important to him, a builder that really likes to know and communicate with his customers. "So much of the communication as a frame builder is usually done via email or over the phone, so I wouldn't miss the opportunity of meeting people at NAHBS," he says.
But customer interactions are only half the story. Rody sees his participation in NAHBS as a way of giving back the frame building community, which generously educated him many years ago, and helped change his path in life. "The continued evolution of this profession depends on the willingness to share knowledge, techniques, and career development tools with each other, to collectively advance the success of our trade," he says.
The instructional seminars that have always formed the backbone of knowledge at NAHBS are one of the most valuable aspects of the show for him.
He advocates for a dedicated day prior to the public opening that allows for instructional seminars to take place, allowing more builders to participate without the stress of leaving their booths.
These seminars, he says, "Enrich the educational value of the gathering for exhibitors, having an open forum, to discuss business trends, customer service, problem solving, etc... creating an environment of beneficial open/cooperative discourse.
He concludes, "Personally, I thrive on meeting folks, sharing stories, and passing on a smile. NAHBS marks the one time a year I can do that with friends and customers alike."
You can check out more at the official web page... 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Family of LUV handles...

Family of LUV: 

an interesting group of finishes for these individual bars...raw Ti, two tone ceramic coated steel, ceramic coated Ti, silver powder, and a standard black powder bar. 

I really like the black ceramic with polished Ti, the contrasting matte and bright logo go well together.  I've expolored this combination, adding in paint, for a bike going to Nahbs in Denver this year and I think folks will dig it.  Can't wait to see for sure.

In other news, Jeff P came by the shop last week and we built up a winter cross bike for him so that he can begin cycling again. Jeff has methodically taken charge of his life, knocking off the actions that make up a "normal" day;  cooking his own food, eating without a straw, dressing himself, getting back to school at Akron U's School of Nursing, being able to drive again, etc...  Yesterday, he completed the last item on his list, to ride again. Congrats Jeff on the recovery!