If you’ve ever been intimidated to walk into a bike shop, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. It’s common to feel nervous in any specialty store, and bike shops are no exception. The intricate mechanics and technical jargon can be confusing.
The good news is, retailers understand and shop owners have been in your shoes. Even the strongest riders started out as a novice and their main concern is getting more people on bikes. It’s not about skill level, gender or disposable income. Their goal is simply to make sure everyone has a safe, comfortable and enjoyable ride.
We reached out to Trek retailers across the country and asked about the most valuable lesson they’ve learned from owning a bike shop. We were amazed by the number of responses that talked about this very issue–customer service. Read their stories then stop in to the bike shop nearest you!
“The most important lesson I’ve learned over 34 years is to be patient and kind. People are often intimidated when they go into a bike shop. If employees are nice, helpful and patient the customer will come away with a positive experience. For customers, don’t try to impress the shop guy by talking about your high dollar equipment or bragging about you race results. The best way to make friends with the employees is simply to say, ‘Man, I love to ride my bike!'”
– Paul Kingsbury, Kingsbury’s Cyclery
“For me the most valuable lesson is to never assume someone knows about bikes or cycling. I’ve worked with beginners who surprised me with their knowledge and I’ve worked with expert racers who have surprised me with their lack of knowledge. No matter what I always try to pass along the little details that I take for granted as an experienced cyclist. Such as pumping up your tires before every ride and not to wear anything between you and your shorts/bibs. Anytime I feel myself getting impatient with someone’s lack of knowledge, I try to remember what it was like when I first started riding. The research that left me more confused or the bike shop that treated me inferior. I left that shop feeling quite disheartened and almost gave up on a sport that I absolutely love. Then there was the time I rode six months before someone told me to pump up my tires or the bike I ordered online thinking ‘compact’ referred to the frame size. I bought a 54cm frame that was way too big for me because I really ride a 50cm women specific frame with a compact chainring. Those details and memories have allowed me to better introduce many people to a sport they have grown to love. My best memories are of watching those newbies grow into experienced and accomplished cyclist. Life is too short not to ride a bike.”
– Michelle Clonce-Turner, Trace Bikes
“It was about 25 years ago that I started my journey to becoming a bike shop owner. I managed hotels for Marriott out of college and learned some great skills that I carry with me today. First, treat every customer that walks in the door as if it may be your last. Make them feel welcome and find out what serves their needs. To this day every customer is greeted within 30 seconds of walking in the door. And second, we’re in the bike business. Have fun, sell fun. Make cycling fun for everyone.”
– Michael Reuter, American Cycle & Fitness